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Health care as a commodity

This is a discussion on Health care as a commodity within the Health and Lifestyle forums, part of the US Discussion category; I asked this question in one of the threads on healthcare. I don't expect it to be answered primarily I think because the thread has ...


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Old 03-05-2008, 07:05 PM
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Health care as a commodity

I asked this question in one of the threads on healthcare. I don't expect it to be answered primarily I think because the thread has gone beyond that question. So I'll ask it in this thread.

Should health care be a commodity?

Just some ideas rather than leaving it for others to try and work out. In western economies (by that I mean the mixed economies that we have) we allow market forces (to a greater or lesser degree) to regulate scarce commodities. The laws of supply and demand separately but in conjunctionn with one another do a quite remarkable job of making sure we have what we need and what we want (and even what we don't need but just have to have - provided we can afford it).

We have made food a commodity. In our earlier societies food wasn't a commodity, it was something you did for yourself. Sure you might barter but food of itself was available to all who could grow it or hunt it or gather it. Now we usually toddle down to Safeway to buy our food commodity. But even though it's a commodity we won't allow people to starve. We give them food or we give them money (or negotiable instruments) so that they can buy food to avoid starvation. I think we'd agree that not allowing our fellow citizens to starve is a good thing. Having said that we also may agree that if they want fillet steak they can get it themselves.

Following that line of thought, should health care be a commodity? Is that the best way of regulating its provision?
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:27 AM
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I know we're all busy and this subject has been pummelled close to death lately, so I decided to resuscitate it....it's okay though, I did it for free
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:47 AM
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its the path TO making it a commodity that is troublesome. Make it universal like HIllary proposes( taxpayer funded) or make universal coverage more affordable. Reigning in costs and taking advantage of economies of scale with buying power is the path to making it a commodity I would choose. Hell , just let wal-mart handle perscription plans they already are the cheapest! Let the solution come from the free market with gov. oversite. The problem I have with a gov provider is just look at the service the vets got at the VA and that mess . Thats not what I want for my family. We do need an oversite by the gov because greed will run rampant in the private sector. We need some protection from litigtion where ambulance chasers can advertise on TV during the deadbeat hours (jerry Springer shows and the like) hoping to convince the unemployed they are owed some BS compensation . There was a reason lawyers weren't allowed to advertise. The same as Bill Clinton did a dis-service to the kids of this nation by putting cocacola and pepsi machines in our schools. Bubba also taught them them about the birds and the bees but thats another thread. Drs in my state are leaving like crazy due to the malpractice costs. We need leaders who are not tied to campaign money to make decisions about our needs. Oh wake up I must be dreaming!!! Drug companies need to make a profit to fund further advances at the same time Americans need to be able to pool their resources to make purchases in bulk to keep them from having to decide on taking their meds or eating that day.

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Old 03-06-2008, 05:50 AM
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I didn't want to make it a difficult question, just a fundamental one.

Should health care be a commodity?

Should it be something that's bought and sold, like bananas? (Sorry, just finished reading jillian's Woody Allen quote).
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:21 AM
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I'm not sure you can you make it not be a commodity or uh....uncommodify (awesome word, write it down) it.

com·mod·i·ty
1. an article of trade or commerce, esp. a product as distinguished from a service.
2. something of use, advantage, or value.
3. Stock Exchange. any unprocessed or partially processed good, as grain, fruits, and vegetables, or precious metals.
4. Obsolete. a quantity of goods.

One of the big debates I see is kind of the opposite statement, that healthcare is not a commodity, that it is somehow different from every other good or service that is consumed. It is certainly more neccessary than most goods or services, but the term commodity doesn't seem to really care about that and nor do the laws of supply and demand for that matter.

When we debated this many times before I said one problem that very likely would arise from UHC has to do with those laws. Those laws state that as price goes down quantity demanded goes up. There is no reason to think that doesn't apply to healthcare and the question is are we equipped to handle the increased demand in this country.
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:43 AM
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If healthcare isn't a commodity is it a social service?
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:46 AM
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ok ..short answer. NO , just change your name to sound Hispanic and go to the emergency room for free!!!
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:50 AM
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El Jeffex? Go to the front of the queue my man, el jeffe!

Okay, if it's not a social service then how would it be defined?
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:54 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Diuretic View Post
El Jeffex? Go to the front of the queue my man, el jeffe!

Okay, if it's not a social service then how would it be defined?
It is a service. I don't know that it's a social service.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:11 AM
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with a commodity a banana is a banana is a banana ..whew, right??? if so I don't believe that theory holds true for health care although that is only one factor in the litmus test for defining commodity. I like a system where the more prosperous you are the more health care you can afford. I believe people make a choice to forgo health care ins. sometimes so they can get a better car or go on vacation. They cry about not having health care but if I had a job that did not provide it I would pay for it myself before I got satellite TV or a cell phone. I don't think MAKING them have coverage is they way to go but how about a TV commercial during American Idol that promotes a social conscience to step up and pay what you owe. A website or text a number to step up and get a plan for your family at a group rate and pay your way in this world. buy a few less redbulls and starbucks and get your own f'n insurance.
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:12 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Bern80 View Post
It is a service. I don't know that it's a social service.
Is it a service that can be sold and bought in the open market? Is it analogous to, say, legal services which can be bought from lawyers?
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Old 03-06-2008, 07:16 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by jeffex View Post
with a commodity a banana is a banana is a banana ..whew, right??? if so I don't believe that theory holds true for health care although that is only one factor in the litmus test for defining commodity. I like a system where the more prosperous you are the more health care you can afford. I believe people make a choice to forgo health care ins. sometimes so they can get a better car or go on vacation. They cry about not having health care but if I had a job that did not provide it I would pay for it myself before I got satellite TV or a cell phone. I don't think MAKING them have coverage is they way to go but how about a TV commercial during American Idol that promotes a social conscience to step up and pay what you owe. A website or text a number to step up and get a plan for your family at a group rate and pay your way in this world. buy a few less redbulls and starbucks and get your own f'n insurance.
You're getting ahead of me a bit. I was asking if health care should be a commodity? If you like a heath care system where the more prosperous you are, the more health care you can afford then that suggests you like the idea of health care as a commodity. Is that right?
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Old 03-06-2008, 09:04 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Diuretic View Post
Is it a service that can be sold and bought in the open market? Is it analogous to, say, legal services which can be bought from lawyers?
It could be. Healthcare is paid for differently of course. We don't pay premiums for legal insureance in case we incure unmanageable legal costs. That may not be relevant because it doesn't look like how something is paid for is a factor of what makes something a commodity. the definition I gave unfortunately is throwing me a bit because it gives the impression based on #1 that it must be something physical or tangible ('as distinguished from a service').
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Last edited by Bern80; 03-06-2008 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 03-06-2008, 09:25 AM
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Si senor e un NO! health care would pass the test if you consider relatively equal knowledge of current methods and practices from clinic to Johns Hopkins. I would still argue that as a service rather than a good it is a streatch to define health care as a commodity. Are auto services commodities? We don't as a whole shop around to area doctors to see who is having a sale on flu shots but that may be the answer. good ole' competition. Generally when I'm sick I don't cae what it costs because I have insurance. If the reverse were true I may risk staying home or call around.

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Old 03-06-2008, 06:13 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Bern80 View Post
It could be. Healthcare is paid for differently of course. We don't pay premiums for legal insureance in case we incure unmanageable legal costs. That may not be relevant because it doesn't look like how something is paid for is a factor of what makes something a commodity. the definition I gave unfortunately is throwing me a bit because it gives the impression based on #1 that it must be something physical or tangible ('as distinguished from a service').
I'm still working my way through the ideas myself. I really did post my question to get some thoughts and opinions from others that I could (just for myself) put together and consider. I made a legal analogy but it may be faulty in that we can live without a lawyer's advice but we'd have a pretty hard time without medical advice and care/treatment.

To make it more complex, to provide health care costs huge bucks, that's a given. I mean doctors can't be expected to work for nothing and hospitals cost money to build and of course money is needed to purchase equipment. The question I suppose is should people have to buy health care like they buy any commodity (I know I'm restating my question but I wanted to establish that I'm not trying to argue that everything is, or should be, free.
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