Health Care - Caleb Jones

Today I’ll talk about how healthcare would be handled in a free society, in a way that everyone who needed medical care would receive it. As usual, both the left-wing and the right-wing are wrong when it comes to their societal opinions regarding healthcare.

The Left-Wing View of Healthcare

The left-wing believes that, unsurprisingly, government should provide all healthcare services. American leftists call this “single payer,” that “single” entity being government. Many European countries already have this system, and if you live in Europe, you already know how badly this system works (unless you’re somewhat young and haven’t had any major health problems yet). When government controls all healthcare, things like this are considered normal:

– Waiting months and months for needed surgeries.

– Not being allowed to take certain prescription medicine that may be needed.

– Not being allowed to go to the doctor for checkups and blood tests when you choose.

– Doctors facing criminal charges if they provide healthcare services outside of the government network. (Isn’t that amazing?)

– Government healthcare entities that are essentially bankrupt or close to it. As just a few examples: UK, France, Canada, but there are countless others.

As usual, if you want to screw something up and make it massively bankrupt and inefficient, let the government take control of it.

The argument left-wingers use is that since healthcare is a needed service for all, government should be the sole provider of it to ensure everyone gets it. If this is true, then why doesn’t government control all food? Don’t people need food even more than healthcare? Yes. Then why don’t we turn over all farming and grocery stores to the government, make all food free, and have the government run all of it?

Left-wingers never have an answer for this question, because they know if government took over all food, we’d probably all starve. Left-wingers have this very weird mental block about healthcare, almost identical to how they think making marijuana illegal would never work since government could never enforce such a thing, but somehow government making certain guns illegal would work out fine.

The Right-Wing View of Healthcare

The right-wing view of healthcare is…well…this is a little difficult to describe, since unlike with issues such as taxes or abortion, the right-wing isn’t monolithic about their view on healthcare like the left-wing is. There’s a lot of variation in what conservatives want when it comes to healthcare, and left-wingers are often correct when they say that right-wingers don’t actually have any real solutions in this area.

Speaking very generally, and there are plenty of exceptions to this, right-wingers tend to prefer the horrible type of healthcare we have in the United States. If you ignore what right-wingers say and instead look at what they actually vote for and enact, they clearly favor a heavily corporatist healthcare system with massive insurance companies and HMOs closely tied with big government that regulates the crap out of them and is also their largest purchaser of healthcare services. This results in what we have today in the US, a corporatist nightmare healthcare system that’s hugely bloated, massively overregulated, and most importantly, ridiculously expensive beyond belief for the average person, to the point of being a scam, which it is.

In the US, these two conflicting opinions have created this sick spiral of death, with right-wing corporatists jacking up the cost of healthcare, and left-wing socialists reacting by screaming that since healthcare is so expensive now we need big government to pay for it all.

Which side is right? As usual, neither is. Fortunately, recent history can show us a least-bad third option.

What We Used To Do

Were people complaining that healthcare was shitty and too expensive back in the 1950s? Nope. During the 50s and 60s, American healthcare was not only the best in the world, it was also among the least expensive in the civilized world. Back then:

– Health insurance cost only a few dollars a month, making it affordable to even very poor people, even those with pre-existing conditions.

Doctors actually, get this, came to your house.

– The typical hospital stay cost just a few days of the average American’s income. (Today it’s many months of your income.)

– The typical major surgery cost less than five weeks of the average American’s income. (Today it’s likely more than you make in a year.)

– 100% free clinics, that had nothing to do with government or taxpayer money, were widely available for the few people so poor they could not afford a doctor.

Sound like an nice healthcare system? It wasn’t perfect, but it was quite good. That’s how the free market works. There was minimal government interference. There weren’t any gigantic, massive HMOs or insurance companies bossing you around. The relationship was pretty much between you and your doctor with no government or big business middleman. It worked well. Not perfect, but well.

So what happened? You know what happened. The right-wingers in government went corporatist and the left-wingers went socialist. Medicare. Medicaid. The HMO Act of 1973. Medicare Part D. Obamacare. Tens of thousands of laws and regulations on doctors, hospitals, healthcare networks, and insurance companies. Government forcing your insurance policy to cover things like mandatory coverage of chiropractors, acupuncture, naturopathy, marriage counseling (even if you’re not married), abortions (even if you’re a man), drug abuse, alcoholism (even if you don’t drink), treatments to stop smoking (even if you don’t smoke), weight loss (even if you’re skinny), pregnancy (even if you’re a man), Christian Science practitioners, and dozens of other possibilities.

And so here we are today. The once fantastic healthcare system (with flaws of course, remember no system is perfect) we had in the 50s and 60s is now a chaotic and inefficient healthcare system where most people can’t afford basic healthcare services unless big government (which caused the problem in the first place) forces their neighbors at gunpoint to pay for their healthcare.

The Skewed Concept of “Insurance”

An important point that is rarely brought up when discussing healthcare is people’s view of what “insurance” is.

Many left-wingers love to say that “many Americans can’t get healthcare because they can’t afford it.” This is false. Under our corporatist healthcare system, hospitals are required by law to treat anyone who comes in for anything, for any reason, no matter what, even if they can’t pay.

I have worked with, known, and dated many people in the healthcare industry. Because of this crazy law, these people tell me that hospitals have “regulars” who come in all the time, often many times a week(!) with some kind of false “problem” they have, and the hospitals are required to take these people in and treat them as if the problems are real. Sometimes these people are bored, sometimes they’re just lonely, and sometimes they’re just assholes. Regardless, these people constantly logjam the emergency room and prevent people with real problems from getting fast care. They also jack up the price of emergency care for everyone, for literally no reason.

The point is, all Americans can get healthcare. The problem is that some can’t get health insurance. The reason health insurance is so expense is for the reasons I outlined above, but there’s a second reason: modern-day Westerners have a vastly skewed perception of what health “insurance” means. Insurance is supposed to mean a system by which you cover major, unexpected expenses that are far beyond your ability to pay out of pocket.

When you buy car insurance, that insurance covers you if you get into a major car accident and suddenly need to whip out $20,000 to buy a new car. You probably don’t have $20,000 laying around, so you spend a small monthly amount (called an insurance premium) to cover you in case this happens. However, you don’t expect your car insurance company to cover the cost of oil changes, brake pads, new shocks, new tires, stains on your car seat, or every little chip and ding in your paint job. That stuff you pay YOURSELF. If you purchased a car insurance policy that literally covered all this extra stuff, the monthly cost would be astronomical, so you don’t do that.

In the world of car insurance, people more or less understand this, but in the world of health insurance, people suddenly think that the insurance must cover absolutely everything that goes wrong with your body at all times, no matter how minor.

No!

Health insurance is used to cover you in case you get cancer and suddenly need to spend $50,000 on surgery or other expensive procedures. Health insurance was never intended to pay for you to run to the doctor for every little ache, pain, sniffle, or cold. There is a huge population of worried, modern day helicopter moms who run their kids down to the doctor every time they have a little sniffle. What do you think this does to the cost of health insurance?

If you want to seek a doctor for these little things, that’s fine, but you need to pay for those things YOURSELF. Hell, insurance shouldn’t even cover things like childbirth. That’s an optional procedure, thus you should pay for that YOURSELF.

And remember, in a 100% free market healthcare system, which we currently do not have, common procedures like childbirth would be very inexpensive and affordable for just about everyone. It would be something you would budget for before having kids, just like how you budget for baby food and diapers.

You can’t point a gun to my head and force me to pay inflated insurance premiums because you want to have three babies while I don’t want any. That’s the current system we have in Europe (government healthcare paid via taxes) and in the US (corporatist healthcare paid via giant insurance companies, linked at the hip to government).

For an effective, inexpensive healthcare system available to everyone, all we need to do is:

1. Go back to the (mostly) free market system we had in the US back in the 50s and 60s.

2. Change our perception of health insurance to only cover major, expensive events that are not optional, while paying all the other stuff ourselves, just like we do with our cars.

Under such a system, healthcare would be so inexpensive, everyone would have access to it (via paying for it themselves, or inexpensive health insurance, or free charity hospitals), and everyone would have the exact type of healthcare and health insurance they wanted.

22 Comments on “Health Care

  1. This is a very insightful article and actually you’ve conviced me to change my view.

    I live in Spain where you have public healthcare paid by everyone, and you can if you want purchase an additional insurance, which usually is very expensive. The thing is, for major operations the public healthcare is way way better, while for small issues like getting your blood tested is way faster and efficient. So if you want the best coverage you must have both.

    I would really love what you propose here. Pay insurance for any major issue, and get the smaller things like blood tests done for a small amount of money. It looks like a system that could actually work.

  2. “For an effective, inexpensive healthcare system available to everyone, all we need to do is:

    1. Go back to the (mostly) free market system we had in the US back in the 50s and 60s.

    2. Change our perception of health insurance to only cover major, expensive events that are not optional, while paying all the other stuff ourselves, just like we do with our cars.”

    3. Reform medical liability legal issues so that doctors and medical suppliers don’t need to charge insanely high fees to cover the risk of being sued while at the same time increasing criminality and prosecution of malpractice so that crank docs and sub-par medical suppliers get shunted quickly out of the system to preserve public safety and the trust between the medical industry and the public.

    There may be a few other things missing here, because it seems to me a big part of why and how the old system worked was a combination of medicine being simpler and there being a better social contract between medical practitioners and the communities they served.

  3. I would really love what you propose here. Pay insurance for any major issue, and get the smaller things like blood tests done for a small amount of money. It looks like a system that could actually work.

    It can! It just flies in the face of everyone’s false Societal Programming regarding how healthcare works. That’s the problem.

    Reform medical liability legal issues so that doctors and medical suppliers don’t need to charge insanely high fees to cover the risk of being sued while at the same time increasing criminality and prosecution of malpractice

    That’s legal reform, and a different (though related) topic from healthcare. But you’re correct.

    All you have to do for legal reform is to make the U.S. into a loser-pay legal system instead of a winner-pay legal system, where if you sue someone and are wrong, YOU have to pay ALL legal bills for you AND the person you sued AND pay him damages AND for lost wages.

    Instead, in the U.S., you can make up the craziest crap, sue someone for it, ruin their life, cost them thousands, be wrong, and walk away scot free. It’s BS, not just for doctors but for everyone.

  4. Is it weird writing well though-out stuff and realizing that the exact opposite is likely to happen?

  5. Is it weird writing well though-out stuff and realizing that the exact opposite is likely to happen?

    A little, yes.

    But:

    1. I don’t care about society, so that helps a lot. When you don’t care, you’re able to A) think more rationally and objectively (rather than right-wingers and left-wingers who have a lot of emotional and ego investment in this stuff) and B) not feel too weird about the likelihood that society is likely going do the the opposite of what you recommend.

    2. My primary job here is not to effect societal change, but to teach men to think more rationally. Rational analysis of how to organize a society (what we call “politics”) is good mental practice for this.

    And who knows? Maybe if enough men read this information and it penetrates, those will be some of the guys who pick up the pieces after the final collapse and build a new society that actually works. (Not that I’m expecting that, but it’s a nice thought.)

  6. This last part of your article about what health insurance should cover reminds of the whole hoopla about Sandra fluke saying that birth control should be covered by insurance. She kept saying that it was important for women’s health which was hilarious because birth control ( aside from condoms) has nothing to do with that. Don’t get me wrong birth control is necessary and everyone should use it but she made it sound like akin to cancer treatments.
    I think that this is a perfect example of how some liberals distort the meaning of some phrases or concepts to fit their worldview. Kind of like how they say that some things are rape when they really aren’t.

  7. Well said here. I’ve always believed that the BIGGEST issue with healthcare was the cost. That’s why Obamacare was such a joke, YAY we got everyone on the insurance rolls but did nothing to curb costs! It was a band-aid at best to save a few people from going bankrupt I suppose when they have a big medical need.

    Always look at an itemized bill from a hospital just to see the madness firsthand. It’s insane what they charge for under this system because they know the insurance companies(or feds in the case of Medicare) will pay no matter what. 2 aspirin do not cost $50 last I checked.

  8. Does government regulated Healthcare factor into your decisions when leaving the US? I’d assume any country with more individual freedoms is likely to have lower costing Healthcare regardless…

  9. There are two other issues that you don’t mention (actually there are a lot, and I know there are limits to what you can put in an article) but these two are important, and I think you’ll disagree with me about one.

    Recently there was a big kerfuffle that the price of an epipen went from $100 to $500. Everyone was up in arms demanding the government “do something.” (For readers who don’t know, an epipen is an automatic epinephrine injector to help people subject to acute and severe anaphalaxis, such as from an allergic reaction to peanuts.)

    Now an epipen is a really simple thing. It has about 10 cents worth of epinephrine in a spring loaded syringe, stored in a sterile package. In any reasonable economy you could buy it for $3.99 at WalMart, or two for $4.99 with a coupon.

    So why does it cost $100, and why can the manufacturer raise the price 500% and not worry about it? Simply because he has no competition (and because demand is inelastic.) Why does he have no competition? Basically two reasons:

    1. The FDA regulates these devices and such approval is unbelievably expensive, and the manufacturers are in bed with the regulators preventing upstart competition.

    2. The manufacturer has patents on some crucial (but obvious) elements, so can use the force of government to prevent competition.

    Again, with it being a medical device, demand is inelastic, and so with monopoly pricing the maker can charge whatever he likes.

    The problem with epipens is not a lack of regulation, but too much regulation.

  10. I’ve always believed that the BIGGEST issue with healthcare was the cost. That’s why Obamacare was such a joke, YAY we got everyone on the insurance rolls but did nothing to curb costs!

    Exactly. Obamacare is putting a band aid on a guy who is gushing blood and then celebrating.

    Does government regulated Healthcare factor into your decisions when leaving the US?

    Not specifically, but it was yet another reason out of the hundreds.

    As a healthy guy with no medical history problems, no family history of cancer or heart attacks, and who’s never smoked anything, I pay almost $300 a month for a minimal healthcare plan that has a $12,000 annual deductible that I have to pay out of pocket.

    Ludicrous. And unacceptable.

    epipen is a really simple thing. It has about 10 cents worth of epinephrine in a spring loaded syringe, stored in a sterile package. In any reasonable economy you could buy it for $3.99 at WalMart, or two for $4.99 with a coupon.

    So why does it cost $100, and why can the manufacturer raise the price 500% and not worry about it?

    Yup. Corporatism: the kind of regulation that makes rich people richer and everyone else poorer.

  11. @Caleb Jones
    > Yup. Corporatism: the kind of regulation that makes rich people richer and everyone else poorer.

    So the reason I raise this is to give a specific concrete example, because people really don’t understand just how overpriced American healthcare is, and how regulation, licensure, patents and other government restrictions drive it that way.

    I can give a dozen very specific examples of this. We need to understand that when we say healthcare is overpriced we don’t just mean they are marking it up 60% — the bastards — no, I can give many concrete specific examples of how healthcare costs ten to one hundred times as much as it should were the market free.

    Imagine if family medical insurance didn’t cost $1,000 per month, but cost $50 a month. It would simply cease to be an issue. Imagine if a typical house didn’t cost $200,000 but instead cost $20,000,000. Then we would be slaves to government provided housing. (Sound crazy? That is exactly what happens in much of China, and even in the UK the lack of government subsidized housing is a huge political football.)

    The problem is the healthcare market is fundamentally that the system is in place to allow people to be MASSIVELY over charged. And the problem is not a lack of regulation, it is exactly the opposite, too much regulation.

    And BTW, just to offer a positive note for us red pill guys, if you do need significant medical intervention then you can readily fly to a number of foreign countries and get really spectacular care for 1-10% of the cost of American care. Go visit Bangkok. Beautiful, exotic, and they’ll do your gallbladder (with an American trained surgical team) for less than an American hospital will charge you for an overnight stay and a blood test.

    (Of course do your own research, I’m not a doctor.)

  12. “In the US, these two conflicting opinions have created this sick spiral of death, with right-wing corporatists jacking up the cost of healthcare, and left-wing socialists reacting by screaming that since healthcare is so expensive now we need big government to pay for it all.

    Which side is right? As usual, neither is. Fortunately, recent history can show us a least-bad third option”.

    There’s barely a difference. Just like the ‘differing views’ between Democrats and Republicans, they tend to lead to the same outcome.

    Its just two sides of the same coin. In the end, both viewpoints/parties’ goals serve the ends of the rich and elite at expense of the common folk. Both contribute to the expansion of the government’s power. Another reason why voting is pointless, since these two parties have grown with so much influence and marginalize any other political groups; the result will always be the same no matter who makes it into office.

    Trump is a slight subversion but he has several of his own issues. I also question the competence of a man that can’t even keep his own finances afloat (iirc he’s filed for bankruptcy more than once) and a large factor of his wealth is that he inherited it.

  13. “Government forcing your insurance policy to cover things like mandatory coverage of marriage counseling (even if you’re not married), abortions (even if you’re a man), weight loss (even if you’re skinny), pregnancy (even if you’re a man)”.

    This is exactly as they intended. As with taxes and income flow in general, men tend to create wealth and women disproportionately consume it. The point is to have men provide for women’s healthcare and other government related programs (the majority of which are also used or directed towards women).

    Obamacare is another blatant example of this. One might call it a pseudo bachelor tax. Women obviously use the lion’s share of healthcare related services as opposed to men (especially young men) who don’t, so men are essentially paying the difference to support women and their services. Its a complete sham, since Obamacare allows for such nonsense as things like birth control and other frivolous things to qualify for the it. Naturally, it does not allow for men to use it for the inverse. Obama also blatantly lied, saying that people on previous plans could keep them but in the end that was proven to be false. And attempting to punish those who choose not to have a healthcare plan is simply criminal. Unconstitutional.

    This country’s government is utterly corrupt and under the thumb of corporate and gynocentric power.

  14. Single payer isn’t the government controlling everything in health care, but instead the government paying for it. So for your food question, the answer is quite simple. The government does provide food to the poor (in the form of food stamps and school lunches) but it’s so inexpensive that there’s no need to provide it to everyone. In health care the typical person couldn’t pay for cancer treatment, so almost everybody needs health insurance.

    Also the idea that it was so cheap that everybody could afford it in the 50’s is just not true. Truman pushed a health care plan in 1945 in part because people in poor and rural communities couldn’t get access to health care because it simply wasn’t profitable for doctors to work in those areas.

  15. Women obviously use the lion’s share of healthcare related services as opposed to men (especially young men) who don’t, so men are essentially paying the difference to support women and their services.

    Correct. The problem is that it’s societally inappropriate to point out the simple fact that women’s healthcare costs, on average, are always going to be more than a man’s. If you had a system that reflected this, women would pay more for healthcare than men would, but that would be “sexist.”

    So in other words, god/nature is sexist for making women’s bodies require more medical attention than men’s.

    Single payer isn’t the government controlling everything in health care, but instead the government paying for it.

    One and the same. If government paid for all healthcare, government politicians would exert massive control over it. If you seriously think politicians would hand over billions to the healthcare industry every year with no control, you’re living in a fantasy land.

    So for your food question, the answer is quite simple. The government does provide food to the poor (in the form of food stamps and school lunches) but it’s so inexpensive that there’s no need to provide it to everyone.

    Like all other left-wingers, you didn’t answer the question. You twisted it into something else. I’ll repeat it. Why shouldn’t the government take control of all food (farmers, grocery stores, etc) and hand out all food to all citizens for free? Or using your healthcare example, why shouldn’t the government just pay for everyone’s food (not just poor people)? Why shouldn’t all food be free for all? People need it, don’t they?

    Also the idea that it was so cheap that everybody could afford it in the 50’s is just not true.

    That is not what I said. Re-read the article. Slowly.

  16. “So in other words, god/nature is sexist for making women’s bodies require more medical attention than men’s”.

    I can’t say I agree with that. I think that women choose to use more medical service than men. I do not think they REQUIRE it. Also, Obamacare covers such things like birth control, abortions, etc which are obviously not legitimate ‘conditions’. You also noted in the article many moms tend to bring their children in for frivolous and minor reasons; do you really not believe women do not take the same mindset in regards to themselves?

    Men, especially young men tend to not use much medical services unless absolutely required. Society also tends to reinforce men to be self-sufficient and there are few safety nets in case they experience problems. For women it is acceptable to be a victim, to be perceived as weak and rely upon others. As a man, you are aware of this.

    I think the biggest divide here is that women are entitled and coddled; essentially aristocratic members in society that consume more than they create (the statistics support this, such as males paying over 70% in taxes).

    Men generally pay into and labor for the system while women take from it. Its that simple.

  17. I think that women choose to use more medical service than men. I do not think they REQUIRE it.

    Both is true and we’re both right. Women absolutely choose to use more medical services than men, and women’s bodies do require more, at least a little more healthcare (women’s bodies have more plumbing and things that can go wrong).

  18. “Then why don’t we turn over all farming and grocery stores to the government, make all food free, and have the government run all of it?

    Left-wingers never have an answer for this question, because they know if government took over all food, we’d probably all starve.”

    It´s not that. They just can´t opnely tell you: “Don´t worry, we´ll get to that. That´s the next thing on the agenda once we have the healthcare and education.”

  19. It´s not that. They just can´t opnely tell you: “Don´t worry, we´ll get to that. That´s the next thing on the agenda once we have the healthcare and education.”

    Yes, for many leftists, you’re absolutely right.

  20. Brilliant, Caleb! You share the exact same view as I’ve held for a long time regarding healthcare and health insurance. If you think about healthcare as a consumer product (it already is if you consider health/fitness clubs a form of healthcare), it would most likely get more efficient and cost effective over time. Just like flat panel TVs have over the last 10 or so years.

Leave a Reply

To leave a comment, enter your comment below. PLEASE make sure to read the commenting rules before commenting, since failure to follow these rules means your comment may be deleted. Also please do not use the username “Anonymous” or “Anon” or any variation thereof (makes things too confusing).

Off-topic comments are allowed, but Caleb will ignore those.

Caleb responds to comments in person, but he only does so on the two most current blog articles.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search.