Part I was here. You really should read all the comments if this topic interests you even a little bit.
I got a response back from Benjamin who gave me permission to use his name:
I think I’m picking up what you’re putting down, and it all makes sense. I do have some counter questions though.
If the cost of healthcare is too high to provide adequate healthcare to all through a government run system, is there a way to encourage healthcare to cost less?
When I got what was left of my appendix out, it cost me roughly $12,000 (This was 1999 and so I just don’t remember exactly) but included an overnight stay, and extensive surgery to get the poison out of my belly. Five years later I broke my arm and had outpatient surgery to have two screws put in my elbow so I would regain full range of movement, which I never got back. That surgery cost me $6,000, and both times the anesthesiologist cost around 60% of the total cost.
While I understand that medical costs are high because the penalty for failure is high. If I lose and arm because it gets infected, the surgeon doesn’t get all the poison out of my belly and I die, or the anesthesia isn’t administered properly I might die. But it seems like the amount that it costs to get basic or complex medical procedures done is disproportionate to their difficulty or cost in materials. My $12k and $3k bills, as well as lesser bills over the years have made me believe there is a lot of waste involved purely by the number of people I have to pay. Burning through 14 checks to pay for a single outpatient surgery is not reasonable.
You state that immortality or close to it will be achievable soon.
First by the rich and then later by the middle class. But what mechanism (Similar to supply and demand or some-such) is in place to drive the prices down and make it achievable?
It seems to me that in the small window of time I have been an alert adult, medical costs have only seemed to go up and not down. I’ve been paying for my own medical care for 11 years. The cost of stitches, X-rays, and CT scans has gone up, and not down. While I know that the medical field stretches far beyond emergency and trauma related care, my view point is not showing a drop in cost.
I want to try and say that race, socioeconomic status, what gender you choose to love, how much of an asshole you are, or church you attend (or don’t), won’t have any impact on the quality or duration of healthcare you receive. But it really hurts me to say that I know that I would be full of shit and wrong with every single syllable I strung together, no matter how beautifully I managed to do so. America rocks. I fucking love this place. But americans are ignorant, self centered, asshole cowards, on the whole. Fearful of what they don’t or choose not to understand.
P.S. Thanks for being informed and opinionated. I really like knowing that there are people out there who have an opinion for a reason, know how to share it, and do. I spend some time nearly every day listening to the two local conservative and an one liberal AM radio talk stations. Glenn Beck, Rush Vicodin, Randi Rhodes, Lars Larson, and whoever else sort of scare me.
Barb says she will write up something for me to post on my blog soon as well. She has a lot of experience with government run health care.
Basically, I don’t have any knock-out good answers.
Getting the government out of the health care business will help some. The price of drugs is probably 20 to 100 X what it would be without the FDA being involved. Just like anti-gun people only citing the costs of guns in society and not mentioning the benefits the FDA costs are seldom mentioned. Not only in the incredible expense to get a new drug to market but the number of lives lost because of the delays.
Requiring hospitals to give free health care to those that can’t pay raises the prices for everyone. All the paperwork required raises the price a bunch as well. This isn’t just the governments though. Insurance fraud has contributed a great deal as well. Insurance also raises the cost not just because of the extra documentation required but because they put a lot of pressure on providers to reduce the price and providers give them discounts of something like 40% over what an individual would pay.
A looser pays court system would help but I’m not entirely comfortable with that concept either.
Another thing that makes the comparison from 10 or 20 years ago to now difficult is that the quality isn’t the same. MRI’s weren’t available. Many of the drugs available now did not exist then. Lots of people that would have died or been permanently disabled a decade or two ago now go home and have many more healthful years left.
There will be lots of research, engineering, and failures going into the first efforts. Think of Microsoft Office–the first copy costs many millions, the second copy costs pennies. It won’t be that dramatic but drugs really aren’t that much different. The costs are weighted very, very heavily on the front end.
I hope Barb will be able contribute more.