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The only thing that will save medicine is a good dose of free enterprise. Government regulations, entitlement programs and HMOs are leading us down the road to socialized medicine.
In 1960, only 21 % of personal medical care expenditures were paid by the government, 24% by insurance companies and 55% were paid by consumers out of their own pockets. Today, the government pays for over 50% of all medical expenses while consumers pay for only 15% of care out of pocket. HMOs and other insurance schemes pay the rest.
When my wife and I had our first baby in 1969 at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, the total cost, which we paid out of pocket, was $250 for three days in the hospital and $250 for the obstetrician. When adjusted for inflation, this would equal $2500 today. Yet the total cost of a delivery today, including hospital and doctor, has increased 6 times, to approximately $15,000. What has caused this dramatic increase?
Private medical practice is being choked by corporate socialism, which is the cooperative effort of insurance companies and government to destroy competition and replace it with central planning called “managed care.”
At the heart of capitalism is the voluntary exchange of goods and services for money between two individuals. Private enterprise encourages businesses to compete for consumer dollars. This system of independent economic actions, freely taken by millions of consumers and businesses, has proven to produce the highest standards of living in every country where it has been adopted. Free enterprise capitalism is the soil in which liberty flourishes.
Socialism opposes free enterprise and private property, seeking to govern the economy through central planning. All activity is planned by government bureaucrats and must be enforced by laws and funded through legalized theft of the productive citizens. Everywhere socialism has been tried it has discouraged innovation and led to shortages and rationing of goods and services. Socialism is the drought in which liberty wilts and dies.
Socialism undermines the doctor-patient relationship. If you are covered by an HMO or by Medicare, then your doctor no longer works for you but for whoever pays his bills. The doctor must follow their rules and accept their fees. This is why you may feel that your doctor is not listening to you or doesn’t seem to care. Your physician can only serve one master, and it’s not you.
The solution is to return to a free enterprise system for medicine with doctors charging a fee for service, just like any other business. Treatment is consumer-based and permits the patient to choose how to spend his money. This can be easily achieved through the use of a Health Saving Account (HSA) coupled with a high deductible catastrophic insurance policy. Ask your business to offer this option which is tax free, just like an IRA. What you don’t spend you can save.
Beware of politicians who promise to lead us into the Promised Land by giving us universal health coverage, which really means socialized medicine.