Monday, April 11, 2011

Quick Links: Tourism, Insurance, Entitlements

The 4/4/2011 Washington Post reports, "Medical tourism draws growing numbers of Americans to seek health care abroad".

The author, a physician, visited a facility in India and was surprised to see that the care was comparable in quality to a good American hospital -- but much cheaper. Some reasons:
Devon Herrick, a policy expert at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank based in Dallas, identified other factors that make foreign hospitals less expensive: lower labor costs certainly, but also fewer third-party payments, price transparency, limited malpractice liability and fewer regulations.
Stella Zawistowski at ReasonPharm shows, "How insurance encourages us not to ask questions: An example":
...[T]here was no incentive at all for the doctor to charge a low price, or for me to question the bill afterward. After all, I'm not paying it -- my insurance company is. Except that, when this kind of decision is made by millions of people, guess what? Premiums go up!

Remember, we owe this distorted system to the tax policy that makes it advantageous for our employers to buy us generous health benefits rather than raising our salaries. In a free market -- free of coercive taxation -- most of us would likely buy far less comprehensive health care policies in order to save money, and then we'd scrutinize our health care expenses far more closely in order to save more money.
Dr. Richard Fogoros explains the deeper meaning of the court ruling that essential prevents senior citizens from opting out of Medicare at, "'Entitlements' Can No Longer Be Rejected".

One critical quote:
...[W]hen one has at last devised a centrally-controlled, "universal" healthcare system (again, for the purpose of maximizing the public good), then allowing individuals to spend some of their own money on healthcare services that have not been officially sanctioned for them by the Central Authority will wreck the very legitimacy of that system.

That is, to permit such individual prerogatives is tantamount to admitting that, perhaps, the Central Authority is actually NOT providing all useful healthcare services to all people (when, by definition, it is). Allowing individuals to purchase "extra" healthcare is a signal to the unwashed masses that there is "extra" healthcare to be had, and that the Central Authority may be holding out on them.

To say it another way, an essential feature of any Progressive healthcare system will be to carefully manage the expectations of the subject citizenry. To have certain subjects running around purchasing extra healthcare will fatally damage those managed expectations, and thus will fatally damage the Progressive healthcare system itself. Hence, it is imperative that individuals be constrained...