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A new way of looking at the “health care system”

The Expert

The main reason why people, particularly the elderly, continue to cling to the state is that, quite understandably, they are afraid of pain and death, and they have been taught to believe that the state’s job is to protect them from both. Furthermore they believe that if the state fails to provide them this absolute protection for eternity, it is simply because some other greedy constituency has denied them what they were owed.

The most obvious example of this is all of the many opinions that people have regarding what the government should be doing about the “health care system.” As most readers will have heard by now, according to federal government statistics, the “health care industry” comprises 1/7 of the domestic economy in the United States. Most people have probably heard by now that we pay the most per capita for health care over any other industrialized country, and yet we get some of the worst care. That’s not even including the fact that almost half of the heads being counted for that statistic are not even participating in the health care system because of a lack of insurance coverage.

For those that do participate, they are paying constantly, and redundantly, over and over again. They pay for the insurance. They pay premiums and deductibles for the health care. They pay for the prescriptions. When they max out their allotted amount of insured care, they pay the same inflated prices that the insurance companies are charged. This, not to mention the fact that a portion of their income is also being confiscated, allegedly to pay for future health care that they may need (Medicaid), but which they may in fact be disqualified from using when they actually need it.

A portion of everybody’s taxes (whether they participate in the health care system or not) are also going to subsidize the health care of others through S-CHIP for poor and middle-class children (including those with parents making up to $66,000 a year), as well as to various state health insurance schemes. Most of these government programs are completely redundant because they only cover children and single mothers, who now have multiple options for endless, completely free health care, while the rest of the poor (all adult men, and all women without children) have none. They are also taxed to pay for the numerous do-nothing clinics funded by governments throughout the country, which serve mainly to collect data about demographics and rarely perform any real health care function besides handing out condoms to teenagers.

So what do those lucky enough to be insured get for their money? They get shuffled around the bureaucracy like cattle in filthy, disease-smeared holding pens. They are forced to wait an hour or more, first in the lobby, then in the doctor’s room, for pre-scheduled appointments that they must often make weeks or months in advance. They are asked extremely personal questions on forms, and are forbidden to see the files in which this data is collected, although it is available to any government entity and any corporate entity operating in the “health care industry.” The are treated mostly by underpaid (or even unpaid) nurses, orderlies, trainees and assistants, while the overpaid doctor makes a token appearance at the end of the visit. The patient is forced to explain his symptoms four or five times to different people, from the receptionist, to the nurse, to the doctor, and yet none of these people actually listen to the patient or even look at him while he’s talking.

Because the money for the health care industry is coming from gigantic collectivist institutions (insurance companies and governments), the patient is treated as a non-customer, and the doctor arrogates himself as God, with complete control over whether the patient lives or dies. The patient’s own thoughts about the causes of his symptoms are ignored. His preferences for tests and treatments are disregarded as irrelevant. The data collected on the patient is lazily glanced at, and a diagnosis is arbitrarily decided upon, usually influenced by whatever pharmaceuticals are trendy at the present.

The patient at that point has three options: go ahead and buy the product recommended by the doctor from the pharmaceutical cartel, pay another doctor and hope for a different result (which may not be covered by the insurance he already paid for), or do nothing. He is not permitted to act upon his own judgment about what he thinks is causing his symptoms and what might be an appropriate response. He is not even able to obtain the necessary tests to find out if his theories are correct, unless the doctor agrees to administrate them (and again, the insurance he has already paid for would likely not cover it).

The fallacy upon which this monstrously inefficient, unfair, and deadly system is based is the idea that anything having to do with the maintenance of the human body is something that should be systematized and controlled by government. So government creates license requirements for practitioners, and massive amounts of regulation about how they can practice their trade. It now takes a decade of one’s life, and half a million dollars or more, to acquire all of the training required before you are allowed to administer health care. Government also props up and encourages participation in health insurance, which allows the systematized bureaucracy of health care to operate on a blank check, with no limit to what they can charge for services.

It is no wonder then that doctors have sneering attitudes towards their patients. Most of them had to have a pretty good start in life to be able to obtain the necessary credit for such a costly education. After indebting themselves so heavily in their young adulthood, it only makes sense that they feel justified in charging top dollar for their services when they are finally allowed to practice their trade. Besides, once you are making six figures a year like your father before you, it’s really only natural that you spend most of your time thinking about golf.

Doctors are in no hurry to save the lives of all of their potential customers, because they can just do it for a few and get by quite nicely without anyone ever pressuring them to break a sweat. Besides, if they were really efficient at helping everybody, then people would just get used to it and go on expecting it every time. The fact that lack of access to health care and inappropriate treatment (including bad prescriptions) is one of the leading causes of death in the US shows us that leaving this to the “experts” has not worked.

The problem is not that more money needs to be spent on health care. It is is that there aren’t enough sources of health care, and too much money is being lavished upon the few sources there are, at the expense of the many (the general public), for the benefit of only a fraction of the populace. The problem is insurance, and government involvement. The problem is a lack of freedom in the health care industry. We need more doctors, and more people able to perform the functions currently only being performed by a closed society of licensed “experts.”

All this means that we need to stop letting the government decide who can and can’t be a doctor, what can and can’t be a college of medicine, who can or can’t perform a certain procedure, etc. They need to stop regulating and subsidizing these things. They need to stop making laws about pharmaceuticals and health supplements. They need to stop controlling the manufacture and distribution of health care equipment. People need to demand that they be respected as intelligent adults, capable of researching the facts and deciding on their own what type of help to seek. They need to be free to figure out on their own how to obtain the materials they need, and to even self-administrate those treatments, if that is what they desire.

Yes, there will be snake oil salesmen, and people will make dumb decisions about self-medication. Some people will suffer and die because of this. But I don’t think it will be any worse than what we currently have going on. I think in general there will be less of that, because you know what’s good for your own body better than someone staring at a clipboard with your name written on it. Once people figure out that they have the right to research their symptoms and design their own treatments, they will generally make informed decisions, because they will understand that it is their responsibility to do so. Nobody cares whether you live or die more than you do. So why should someone else be in charge of making that decision for you?

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