I am not completely sure where I stand on the issue of government-controlled health insurance. Being a senior citizen, and a veteran, most of my healthcare needs are taken care of by the government. Since I have a military service connected disability, I receive even more complete coverage, and the VA does an excellent job of taking care of me. Let me share with you an experience, which caused me some concern however.
Just a few short years ago, my wife’s mother was put in the hospital for what turned out to be her final days. She was there for three days. During that time in the facility, she received no medical care. She ate no food. On occasion, a nurse or aide would wipe her lips with a water soaked sponge. That was the extent of her care. When she passed away, the hospital sent me a bill for $38,000, which was fully paid by Medicare and supplemental insurance.
I thought it had to be a mistake, so I called the hospital to inquire. The first thing I was asked was why would I care about the bill since it was paid in full? I explained that I was also a taxpayer and I wanted an explanation. They told me the hospital often extended care to individuals who couldn’t pay, so when they got a patient who had the type of insurance coverage that my mother-in-law had, they tried to make up for some of that shortage. I was further told that it was all completely legal.
The second time I had any dealings with a hospital was when my wife had to have an emergency appendectomy. That bill was $16,000. Between Medicare and supplemental insurance, we didn’t have to pay anything. I should have been thrilled, right? I was thrilled that she received good care and that the 15-minute surgery went well, but I was appalled by the cost of this event.
This brings me to the theme of this essay. The cost of the medical business is just too high. The medical business includes medical school, doctors, hospitals, ambulance service, pharmaceuticals and all things related to it including healthcare insurance. For a young doctor to expect, and receive a six-figure income, just out of medical school is obscene as is his facing $500,000 student loans.
This having been said, I do not believe “Obamacare” is the answer. There has to be a better way. I don’t know how the Supreme Court will rule, but if they are true to the Constitution, they have to find the law unconstitutional and that, of course, would put us back to square one.
Here then are my questions. Is medicine a commodity? Is medical care a right? Can any governmental agency control the price of medicine or care? As a capitalist, I have always believed in the marketplace as the arbiter of price. The problem is that the medical business has experienced subsidy from the government for so long through Medicare, Medicaid, plus all types of insurance, the price has continued to rise unabated. Now that industry has basically killed the goose that laid their golden eggs.
We have the best medical care available in the world, but it is too expensive. What good is it if no one can afford it? We need to develop ways of restraining the ever-growing cost, and that isn’t Obamacare. Should we have price controls?
As you can see, I don’t have the answer. I just have the questions.