Opinion: Publicly-Owned Cooperatives Shine Light on Healthcare System
The author, Warren George, contends that the free market medical system no longer meets our healthcare and suggests the communities take ownership of healthcare facilities and hire competent officials to staff them.
George begins his article by explaining a failed model of free market economics: pay toilets. If no one put up with pay toilets, “why do we work so hard to protect the free market model for healthcare?”
Healthcare in the U.S. has never actually been a functioning example of open and free markets. Prices vary according to mysterious and hidden factors and are rarely known at all until well after a service is performed.
George continues by arguing that the healthcare system, by design, has little competition in most areas.
Decisions about treatment are largely left to the discretion of those who profit from increased treatment and testing. The anxiety of many medical circumstances, combined with our inborn will to live, has given healthcare providers a near vertical price curve which some have exploited and some not. To the extent that the free-market model works in healthcare, it too often achieves its highest success from catching people at their most vulnerable moments, and by discouraging those who can’t pay.
He continues his argument by breaking down the expectations and realities of health insurance. Real insurance, he states, works like the lottery: a large number of people ‘wager’ a small amount each in order to provide big payoff for just a few.
But using free-market betting pools to pay for normal events like a doctor visit, or a pair of glasses is silly and very expensive. Betting on the usual doesn’t cover the cost of the running the game. In fact, people who buy or accept a medical insurance plan that pays for nearly everything are buying the equivalent of a $1.00 lottery ticket that wins virtually every single time! … and pays 69 cents. Who would do that!
Ironically, the Affordable Care Act makes 69 cent lottery payouts the law, and makes major medical coverage, which is the only economically responsible type of medical insurance, illegal! Even worse, because low-deductable insurance policies for people who don’t have any savings can be double or triple the cost, our protected free-market system charges poor people more because they have less money.
Warren George has 30 years managerial experience in private industry, most of which has been for a major mid-valley manufacturing company. He is an advocate for trans-partisan dialogue and for returning to consensus building in public decision making rather than reliance on adversary systems.