Thursday, July 12, 2007

Health care just wants to be free!

The anti-dePresidential candidates, with the exception of Kucinich, are all pushing for some market-based solution to the current health care problem, either relying totally on the market [competition good!] with subsidies for the poor [maybe] to buy insurance, or insinuating Medicare into the market and waiting for the people to flock to the socialized solution.

Bryan lays it out for you in words of one syllable.

Force everyone to buy insurance!
The reality is when states started requiring automobile insurance, they had to create an auto insurance company to handle people that insurance companies refused to cover. Florida has had to do the same thing with homeowners’ insurance, create a state insurance company to cover people the insurance companies refuse to cover. The Federal government operates a life insurance company for the military, because the insurance companies don’t want to sell insurance to the military.

Markets just want to be free!
The market cannot work unless it is free. When the government or reality make it imperative that you buy something, the market loses its freedom and becomes distorted. The insurance companies are controlling the market and the healthcare industry, they aren’t free. The insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. The cost of healthcare is rising primarily as a result of the cost of insurance, not the salaries of doctors.

That last sentence got me wondering: if we had truly socialized medicine, where doctors are salaried employees of the state [as in the UK], wage slaves just like the rest of us [some of us], what would we pay them? From USAJOBS, the federal governments website for all federal civil service jobs, some current openings for physicians:

    Salary: From 86,445.00 to 175,000.00 USD per year

  • Physician (Interventional Radiologist)
    Salary: From 90,000.00 to 255,000.00 USD per year

  • Physician (Urgent Care)
    Salary: From 90,000.00 to 200,000.00 USD per year

  • Physician
    Salary: From 130,577.00 to 175,000.00 USD per year

    Salary: From 86,445.00 to 175,000.00 USD per year

  • Physician (MRI Radiologist)
    Salary: From 91,531.00 to 255,000.00 USD per year

  • Physician (Internal Medicine)
    Salary: From 100,000.00 to 200,000.00 USD per year

Not the princely sums that a few high-demand specialists might be making under our present system, but respectable salaries nonetheless.


TenaciousK said...

The solution for the "uninsurable" in this state is the state insurance pool. The state insurance pool offers coverage for everyone who has been denied coverage - at prohibitively high prices and laughably poor coverage.

Market solutions. Right.

ysujjmpd: you shoulda' jumped.

hipparchia said...

my state insurance pool closed several years ago. no plans to reopen it. you're right, i shoulda.

hipparchia said...

ps. love the tiger hug!

TenaciousK said...

Thanks! It seemed, er, appropriate somehow.

Nice to see you, BTW.

hwvvytka: however wavy, tk arrives.

hipparchia said...

[waving back] calling 1-800-rossignol now...

Steve Bates said...

There is such a thing in Texas as the insurance pool. The problem is, I'm theoretically covered by obscenely expensive private insurance right now, minus pre-existing conditions (even though it's illegal for the carrier to omit them, they do so), so I cannot apply for the pool until I can show that I am uninsurable. Catch-22 indeed... my situation is nominally, but not actually, better than tenaciousk's.

As my income has (temporarily, I hope) dropped to zero, those doctors' salaries in fed jobs look mighty good to me. Even in my absolute peak as an IT contractor (during the Clinton years, of course), I did not approach an appreciable fraction of the low end of those salaries. Yet today, my private medical insurance is my single biggest expense, by a factor of 1.5 over my next biggest expense... and I am having to contemplate whether to drop coverage. This should not be happening to me as a citizen of an allegedly wealthy industrialized nation. And I realize many others are far worse off than I am.

Bryan is right. A free market has give-and-take, interaction, competition on both price and quality; our current healthcare payment system has none of those things... we take what we get, and we "like" it. Yeah, right.

hipparchia said...

those salaries, especially the starting end of the scale, won't go all that far if you're planning to live in manhattan and a few other areas [possibly a high-cost-of-living allowance would be in order], but for most parts of the country they're more than comfortable.

back when i could get insurance, it cost me slightly more than 25% of my pre-tax income, and was more than my rent + utilities combined.

Steve Bates said...

"... more than my rent + utilities combined." - hipparchia

Yep. Same here. That is seriously wrong by any reasonable measure.

hipparchia said...