Patient Safety - Reality Check

Universal Insurance

I say very little about insurance and costs and such on this site. As bad as not having healthcare is, it is worse when having it kills you. So I'm working on that problem. However, I will raise this concern about the way in which we are trying to achieve coverage for everyone, a goal I like when a workable method can be found.

Jack Hedin, in Rushford, Minnesota is a farmer who was growing produce for local markets. Then the government stepped in.

His own 100 acres no longer were enough to meet the demand. There was no vacant land, so to begin expanding he rented 25 acres from another farmer, plowed it and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables. But that farmer was getting paid by the government not to grow corn there. Mr. Hedin already had paid $8,771 to rent the 25 acres for one season when the government notified the property owner that it was illegal to receive a subsidy and receive rent for the same acreage.

That is sensible. We taxpayers do not want to pay farmers not to grow things on land on which something else is being grown. For doing so that farm owner would be fined and banned from ever receiving a subsidy again. He can't afford that. So the fruits and vegetables cannot be grown there. The local markets will have to get their expanding supply from Florida and California instead of right next door.

Mr. Hedin says that that is the way growers in California and Florida want it. Those growers fear competition from regional producers and through their influence over their states' Congressional delegates virtually monopolize the country's fresh produce markets. Efforts to fix this problem are defeated by those delegates. [see "My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)" By JACK HEDIN, New York Times, March 1, 2008]

Who pays the price? Consumers. Taxpayers. We the people.

How is this any different from what will happen if government exerts more control over medicine and medical insurance? Politics and special interests will exert the same kind of influence that they do in the above example. Needed and available care will not be delivered because someone somewhere doesn't want it delivered. Costs will not be realistic but will be the product of lobbying and influence.

Everyone needs to be covered. The people who cannot get covered within the market need help from the rest of us, probably through the government. But if the rest of us have healthcare run by the government that ran that farmer out of that field, we will have worse health care.

We never have had a free market in medicine. It always has been a command economy because patients never have had the information they need to rate providers and procedures and make informed, intelligent cost/benefit analyses. Finally the means to start changing that are available. How much sense would it make to go even further in the wrong direction by cutting that off by making it even more of a command economy?