The Cure For Obamacare Is Capitalism, Just Ask The Canadians


All we need to do is look to our northern neighbors to see the future of healthcare in the United States under Obamacare. Long wait times for procedures, rationing, and people dying while waiting for life saving treatments are all things we have to look forward to. The Freeman laid it all out in a post yesterday.

A new study on Canadian healthcare has been released. In it, the authors examine the deleterious effects of socialized medicine on patient wait times and the delivery of care. It offers Americans a revealing glimpse of the future economic implications of Obamacare.
Released by the Fraser Institute, the December 2012 survey of specialists reveals that Canadians are now waiting 17.7 weeks between the referral to a specialist and the delivery of treatment. This is 91 percent longer than in 1993, when the institute began studying wait times.
In essence, wait times in Canada have doubled in the past twenty years. Sadly, the rationing of care that results in lengthy wait times for patients is a predictable consequence of government interference in the medical system.
The article goes on to note how when services become “free” – ie: the users don’t have to pay for them – demand rises. But since these things aren’t really free – somebody, somewhere is paying for them after all – supply decreases. Without market controls the market stops working, and in the case of healthcare, the consequences are lowered standards of living and quality of life, and in some cases, premature death.
There is an answer to the Canadian problem, and our problem as well, and that’s capitalism. If only the market had been setting the price for health care all along perhaps people wouldn’t have felt they needed some form of massive government intervention in the first place. (Or in our case – the second, third or fourth place.)
Ultimately, as Murray Rothbard predicted, “everyone has the right to free medical care, but there is, in effect, no medicine and no care”.
The wait times, for example, satisfy the needs of seemingly everyone but the patient. According to the specialists consulted in the Fraser study, Canadians are waiting approximately three weeks longer than is reasonable between the initial consultation with a specialist and elective treatment. Importantly, a wait time that is deemed reasonable by a physician, especially one accustomed to practicing within the framework of socialized medicine in Canada, is likely less tolerable for the individual patient. For example, while a median twelve-week wait time for orthopedic surgery may seem reasonable to a specialist, it may not be for a bed-ridden long-term care resident awaiting hip replacement surgery. Nevertheless, these results were deemed satisfactory by Canadian provincial governments, who evidently hold themselves to lower standards of performance….
Rothbard saw the rise of the HMO/PPO state in America, which Obamacare essentially puts on steroids. Under this system, Americans received health “insurance” beyond catastrophic care. This amounted to an all-you-can-eat healthcare buffet for consumers, just as it did in Canada—only without the rationing. Care providers and health insurers formed a cartel around these profligate consumers and divided the spoils. The result has been steady medical inflation in America. But without accurate price signals for patients, rationing will have to follow. The Canadian example demonstrates that the egalitarian desideratum of “equal care for all” condemns society to poorer care for all. That is why Obamacare too will fail.
Instead, the cure for our metastasizing health care ills is freedom—that is, a restoration of the market process with the patient at the center. This restoration of patient sovereignty in the medical system is the only way to allocate health care resources efficiently and without shortages.
Wanna treat American healthcare? Prescribe capitalism.
Well, I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen under the current regime. But you should read the whole thing, if for no other reason than to gain an understanding of how we got here, and where we’re headed. In my lifetime there has not been a free market in health care, other than things like laser eye surgery that have been coming down in price. Ever since FDR decided to control wages and incentivize employer-sponsored health insurance the costs have been rising. Now it costs anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 a year to insure a family, so it’s no wonder people want to get some “free” stuff for that. They just don’t realize that they’re subsidizing the “free” stuff for everybody else who isn’t paying a dime into the system. Sooner or later it’s all going to come crashing down and we’ll be stuck with single-payer, which will be even worse.
(In all fairness, I have heard from a few of our Canadian friends who say that health care is improving somewhat where they live. Who knows, maybe they are young and healthy and aren’t in need of any life saving treatments. Or maybe there are some reforms going on under the radar. I don’t know, but I thought I’d throw it out there because Canada has been moving in a more conservative direction in recent years in some areas. But not all areas.)
H/T Michael A.