Joe’s Reading Log

January 31, 2006

Healthcare: No Quick Fix

Filed under: Economics, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 1:24 pm

The problem with easy solutions is that they never are. Healthcare is a problem that has no easy solutions, despite what many politicians on both sides of the aisle will tell you. Take a look at The Fix-It Myth:

Here’s the paradox: A health care system that satisfies most of us
as individuals may hurt us as a society. Let me offer myself as an
example. All my doctors are in small practices. I like it that way. It
seems to make for closer personal connections. But I’m always stunned
by how many people they employ for nonmedical chores — appointments,
recordkeeping, insurance collections. A bigger practice, though more
impersonal, might be more efficient. Because insurance covers most of
my medical bills, though, I don’t have any stake in switching.

On
a grander scale, that’s our predicament. Americans generally want their
health care system to do three things: (1) provide needed care to all
people, regardless of income; (2) maintain our freedom to pick doctors
and their freedom to recommend the best care for us; and (3) control
costs. The trouble is that these laudable goals aren’t compatible. We
can have any two of them, but not all three. Everyone can get care with
complete choice — but costs will explode, because patients and doctors
have no reason to control them. We can control costs but only by
denying care or limiting choices.

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