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Socialized health care is another one of those topics that gets people up in arms. It sounds good and therefore it is good, they say. People such as ourselves are evil because we want the best to be available only for the rich and powerful, they say. We don’t see the “real” world, full of misery and despair, they say. We operate “up-there” on the top of our ivory towers disregarding reality, they say. In ultimate analysis, we are evil incarnated because we are against “human rights”, they say.

Fair enough, that’s their point of view. Never mind it is ridiculously erroneous, they are still entitled to their opinion. However, for those of you who are open to hear rationale, this is our story and although we would like to make it a comprehensive one, neither you nor us have the time. So we will only provide a snapshot. In addition, if you are interested in the economic side of this topic, you want to take a look at the article Health Insurance In Free And Managed Markets .

On with the show and tell.

WE ARE YOU

Very unfortunately we need to disclose a few points before we even begin. They are:

  • Most of the authors of this site are middle class and those who are not are middle class drifting towards one quarter.
  • None of us are rich, have inherited anything and don’t expect to do so either.
  • We come from different backgrounds and countries and have worked all our lives to support our families (yes, we have them too).
  • We are here not because we need people to hate us more, but because we are convinced that we found the best way out and would like to share it with you (for details see lesson We All Began As Something Else).
  • We have the very same needs as you have, we get sick and hungry, we need shelter and feel compassion, we despise misery and tyranny.
  • And yes, we are also here to learn something, we always said that we do not know everything and that any view can always be improved (including ours).

So please, do not tell us that we do not understand the situation. We live it every day.

UNLIMITED LIABILITIES

Beginning

All schemes of socialized medicine begin with unlimited access and unlimited coverage. This is, no matter who you are and no matter what you have, the government has you covered.

Middle

Soon reality takes over. There are only so many doctors and nurses and hospitals and medicines and treatments that can be used. Not every patient can be seen, not every patient can be treated and not every patient can be medicated.

End

As the system collides with reality all the predictable problems take place. Waiting lists become endless. Medicines are rationed. Treatments cut. User fees enacted. The quality of the system begins to decay until it collapses entirely.

Price to be paid

This collapse is entirely predictable since this standard scheme of socialized medicine is in reality an unlimited health insurance scheme (or should we say scam?). It is simply not possible to cover every person for everything and not go bankrupt. We have seen this in our lesson Health Insurance In Free And Managed Markets. However, since the government can tax, borrow or print, it can delay bankruptcy for a very long time. Eventually, inevitably, they always go bankrupt. We understand that this concept is difficult to grasp for the citizens of industrialized countries, however, for those living in under-industrialized countries, it is history. It did happen and continues to happen.

The price of this foolishness is not only loss of time, but the destruction of private initiatives and entrepreneurship, higher prices and lower standards of living; all in the name of a misguided solution to a human need.

HEALTH PRACTITIONERS NOT RATED

One of the key features of a socialized medicine system is that ranking systems or processes do not exist. In fact, in many countries the government in conjunction with medical lobbyists and licensing organizations create systems where key information is hidden from the public. Ostensibly, this is done to protect the “privacy” and “confidentiality” of patient information, which is in part true. However, the dark side of such regulations is that they also hide doctors’ or other health-care providers’ information and this is a large problem.

Because it is not possible to gauge if a given health care worker is skilled at its work, there is no incentive to do better. An incompetent worker receives the same pay as a competent one. As a matter of fact, such processes tend to foster incompetent and uncommitted people who thrive in ignorance and don’t bother improving their skills.

The strange thing is that if one asks these organizations why such critical information could not be released; there aren’t that many forthcoming answers. Even when one asks that “sanitized” information be released (i.e. information which does not contain private data). One of the few replies that sometimes is provided is that there is no objective way to rank a health worker.

This is strange to say the least. With the advent of the internet, ranking sites have exploded. People rank everything from juicers to cars, from piano teachers to astronauts, from pets to planets and the strangest thing is that all those rankings actually make sense! There is very little abuse or vilification. People seem to understand automatically that they are performing a service for other fellow people and try to be as objective as possible or at least as accurate as possible. In a word, distributed ranking systems simply work. However, when it comes to health workers, we can only go by peoples’ opinions because all other hard (i.e. accurate) information is hidden! We pay for their services. We pay for the generation of this information. We pay against our will and we still can’t have access to it? Does this make any sense to you?

Well, it does if you are a health practitioner and you are average or under average. Anonymity is your friend. Again, cui bono? (who benefits, as the Romans used to ask during trials).

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

Continue to Socialized health care - Part 2

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