…And This Is What We Want Here?

Whenever the subject of health care in the United States comes up, a lot of people talk about the “health care crisis” and the need to move towards a single-payer, government-run system.

The first part of that is a crock. We have no health care crisis in the United States. We have considerable disagreement about health care FUNDING, but the care itself is unimpeachable.

The other part is almost as easily dismissed.

Virtually without exception, there is one simple rule to governance. If you want to find the least efficient, least effective, and most expensive way to achieve something, put the government in charge of it.

So, just what does that mean when applied to the field of health care?

Well, for starters, long waits. Perhaps too long waits, as one former Liberal cabinet member discovered. She has cancer, but it’s a readily-treatable kind. So readily treatable, officials decided she could wait. She disagreed, and fled to a country where the health-care system is so horrifically messed-up, someone recently made a documentary showing how terrible things are.

Government control can also lead to other things… such as rationing health care. When bureaucrats are in charge of micromanaging the funding of health care, they become de facto deciders on such matters. “If you take the King’s gold, you play the King’s tune,” as the old saying goes. And when the King says that you will take his gold and no one else’s, you do what he says.

And if the King (or his functionaries) decide that a cigarette smoker won’t properly benefit from treatment, then that’s just too damned bad. He can just learn to live with his broken ankle until he smartens up and stops smoking.

A while ago, there was some discussion about denying certain health care to people who would “abuse” their treatment. Liver transplants to people with a history of alcoholism, or other types of transplants to drug users. The idea was that transplant organs are an extremely scarce resource, and should be reserved for those cases where people will gain the most benefit from them. This case is a step beyond that, where treatment is being denied for reasons only tangentially related to the treatment.

Can this be far from state-run euthenasia? Where the government does a cost-benefit analysis and says that certain people simply are too expensive to treat? Before I read about Mr. Nuttall’s case, I would have said that anyone who said such a thing was being hysterical. But now, I’m not so sure.

Yes, our system of paying for health care has problems. But I remain absolutely convinced that the surest way to make it even worse would be to put the government in charge of the whole shebang.

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