Why health care should not be subject to the laws of supply and demand

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by Diuretic, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    Health care is a convenient name for a collection of services provided by various people and organisations to those in need of that care.

    I contend that the provision of health care is not something which should be influenced by the economic laws of supply and demand but instead should be provided on the basis of need.

    In an ordinary supply and demand situation there is usually a product, good service or whatever that is subject to consumer demand, whatever that level of demand might be. General Motors has found out that consumer demand is important to a firm. Lots of people have eschewed purchasing GM products and have gone to other suppliers instead. So consumers can decide to purchase a GM product, a product from another competing firm or not to purchase a product at all. They have discretion.

    A sick person isn’t a consumer. They don’t have a purchasing discretion. They are sick and in need of health care. They can’t put off buying a new model until next year, they need health care now. This is what I mean when I say there is “need.”

    That is my argument for why I think a sick person should not be defined as a consumer.

    As I said before, health care is a name of a collection of services. I contend that those services should be made available to people on the basis of need and that there is no consumer demand at work in that situation. That’s probably my central point in this.

    There is no question that there is a requirement for payment for those services lumped together under the term “health care”. Individual providers such as doctors work at providing those services and so should be paid for their work. This is one area I can allow for some sort of concept of supply and demand. There are doctors who want to provide their services in return for payment. But of course the guild nature of doctors organisations interfere with this and in reality there are no laws of supply and demand in operation. But that’s another issue.

    So who should pay for the work done by doctors? The patient or someone else?

    If it’s to be the patient then the issue of ability to pay comes up immediately. Since this is about need and not consumer demand there is no discretion here. If the position is that the patient should pay then like in anything if someone can’t pay for something they don’t get it. This means that sick people in need of health care will not get it. Is that acceptable?

    I think from here the argument enters the realm of how health care should be provided – through a universal health care system (which may or may not be totally free in terms of price for services) or via insurance schemes of various types or to a you don’t get it because you can’t pay for it situation. But that’s another topic.

    My point here was just to try to explain why I think that health care shouldn’t be regarded as a consumer commodity (“commodity” in the usual and not technical economic sense). I contend that any assertion that health care should be subjected to the laws of demand and supply fall down because there is no consumer demand, only human need.
     
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  2. Amanda
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    Amanda Calm as a Hindu cow

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    I pretty much agree. I don't think it should be 100% free of capitalistic constraints but I don't think anyone should do without because they can't pay. I think health care should be a basic human right in a country as great as the USA.
     
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  3. KittenKoder
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    KittenKoder Senior Member

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    I actually agree, I believe the best model is what they have in Japan though. The costs are mandated but the payment system itself remains through insurance. It cuts the excessive rates we see allowing even uninsured low income patients could afford it.
     
  4. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    Haven't been paying much attention to foreign news lately have we? Might want to do a search on that "GREAT" health care provided by the Japanese.
     
  5. KittenKoder
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    KittenKoder Senior Member

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    Okay ... the system they had at the time of the information I last saw which maybe very outdated since no, I haven't been paying attention lately because there is too much of that pop star on lately. So meh .. :tongue:
     
  6. American Horse
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    American Horse AKA "Mustang"

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    I sympathize with sick people who are poor. Before people become sick they are well. They should arrange for their medical services in advance of becoming sick in the same way a person should insure a leak in their roof is repaired before the spring rains come. As poor as my family of 6-children and two adults were in 1940, we had a family doctor. I was born at home and our family doctor showed up that morning (after the mid-wife had arrived) for the big event. The bill got payed in monthly installments.

    The availability of medical services today is similar in one important way; clinics. they will provide services for a set fee between $50.00-and-up for office visits. They also offer pharmaceuticals from samples or from their own pharmacies. Since people show up randomly as related to their needs, waits are for the most part short. For critical needs they will send someone to the local hospital or E.R.

    People too poor to insure them selves for health services qualify for state medicaid.
    People who aren't that poor can buy for themselves a health policy that fits their budget and level of risk for health problems, but they do have to take some responsibility for their future health-care needs.

    But, since people have been so convinced that medical services aren't available to them, or that they are so costly that they have no hope, they operate on that basis, and don't take any responsibility for their own health care services. Market principles of competition and supply and demand work here too, and if people inform themselves, they will find that it is much better and more available than they are led to believe. It is actually affordable.

    If they do not have health insurance coverage, then in effect they are insuring themselves. But in a society in which people are told that they are entitled, they will not move to provide for themselves, but instead will wait for someone else to provide for them, or take responsibility for them. They are de-incentivized to arrange for their health problems in advance.

    Can someone in their 30's afford $100.00 per month for an individual health policy? Even as cheap as some of these policies are, many choose to "insure themselves" by going un-insured. Then as their medical history progresses they get what will one day be called a "pre-existing condition" and will become un-insurable except for the State-Default policies.

    The best way our government could be involved would be to find some way to incentivize people, as soon as they are out from under their parents umbrella, to seek and purchase a health insurance policy, and then allow those insurers to discover what the market wants to be insured for without mandates from government. The purchaser can then decide for themselves what the size of their deductible and co-pay will be.

    Without going into a lot of statistical data (but you can if you want; here> U.S. Cancer Care Is Number One - Brief Analysis ) I would much rather take my chances here than anywhere else in the world. I just had a skin cancer removed with only a one week wait for test results, between my first office visit and the removal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  7. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    Horse, I appreciate the info and your views. But insurance is still predicated on the notion that health care has to be purchased by a consumer. So we will have to agree to disagree.

    Re your skin cancer, I hope they got it all, it's a huge problem here.
     
  8. Tor Hershman
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    Tor Hershman Universal Toilet Cleaner

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    Heck, I just saw this post, Diuretic.
    You are most adroit.
     
  9. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    Try as I might to find a solution to this problem I see no solution that suits all of us.

    If we go back to a pure market system, the quality of health care for EVERYONE would go down the tubes.

    Everyone, you ask?

    Yes, everyone, says I.

    The enormous advances we have made in medicine, advances that both the wealthy and the poor get, came from the huge amount of money that went into health care and that much money came to HC because nearly EVERYONE was insured.

    If only 5 0r 19% of the population can pay for their health care there isn't enough DEMAND to drive those advances or to pay for much of the infrastruture modern HC needs and we have come to expect.

    If you're the one guy who can afford health care in your community, that community will NOT have a hospital, for example.

    So going into some kind of sink or swim pure capitalist solution is simply silly.

    Nobody wants that even though I don't boubt it sounds appealing to some of you who don't think about the ecnomic BLOWBACK of it.

    A mixed economy system (like single payer universal insurance) I am convinced will only work for a brief period because, while that insures everyone, and allows the PRIVATE MARKET to provide the services, the nature of capitalism WILL make the costs of that health care go up to capture the extra money going into the system until the cost of health care once again becomes a enormous problem.

    Finally there is the Soicalized Medicine solution.

    That sounds like it will serve all of us, except for the people who are IN the HC industry.

    In that case they all end up working for the government health service, and making far less money than they're currently used to getting, and I don't think I have to explain the shortcomings of THAT solution to anyone, now, do I?

    So there we have the three possible paths we might take, and in every path I see the basic flaws that are bound to become problems in the medium or shorter term.

    Any way you look at it, when we are facing an aging population, and a rapidly advancing quality of better (but more expensive health care) procedures which keep us ALL alive longer, the percentage of money the society will invest into HC is bound to rise enormously.

    And frankly, I cannot see any solution that I think works for the long run to solve this.

    The ONLY solution that will really work (sans society getting enormously richer immediately, of course) is some kind of solution involving killing off the sick.

    I guess I don't have to tell any of us that the culling the herd solution probably isn't going to be very politically popular, right?
     
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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  10. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    I just wish I were Tor - but thank you. I've got no illusions about my smarts though :D
     

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