Health Care Not Entitlement

Bill Neinast

“Right” is a word of many meanings. One is a means of direction, as in turn right at the next corner or go right up to the front row.

Another is to designate a location, as it will be on the right of my car.  

Then there is the opposite of wrong, as in, “Yes, that is the right answer.”

The most common usage, however, is as a substitute for entitlement. 

This is most beautifully reflected in these words from the preamble to our Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Those thoughts were amplified by the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments when the rights to bear arms, to a speedy trial by a jury, to vote, and rights against self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure were specified.

Unfortunately, there are no criteria for determining what rights exist and no guidance for who can decide or declare a right.

So it is interesting how Democrats like Bernie Sanders can determine and declare that we have a right to medical care.  

They then go further and argue that since there is a right to medical care, the government is obligated to insure that everyone gets that care.  

That means, of course, that everyone in the U.S., citizen and non citizen, will be covered by Medicare or some other one payer system.  In other words, Uncle Sam will take over the entire medical care system.

As is normal in such socialist schemes, there is no consideration or discussion of how much this “free” medical care would cost or where the money will come from.  They just proceed on their theory that the  government is the sole arbiter of how the country’s wealth will be distributed.

Need more money? Just raise taxes and do not even think about cutting costs or studying history.

Sanders and his enthusiastic supporters might be surprised if they studied and understood a little of that history.

In the first half of the last century, there was no hand wringing over the need for medical care.  If care was needed, it was available at moderate costs.  In many areas, the doctor would come to your home instead of your visiting his office.

A main reason for this possibility was the lack of overhead.  A doctor’s office was normally staffed with one assistant to manage the office and possibly a nurse to assist the doctor.

Now look at modern doctors’ offices.  They are crowded with administrative assistants huddled around computers arguing with the government and insurance companies over existing claims or to get permission for a specific procedure.

A good example of that substantial part of medical bills is my last Medicare statement or report.  It is seven pages long and, frankly, I cannot decipher it.  

On every charge, Medicare ”approved” a much smaller amount but then, on some charges  paid less than a dollar.

Multiply that report by the millions of Americans on Medicare and Medicaid.  Then factor in the thousands of assistants in hospitals and medical offices sending in the claims for processing and writing of the reports by the government and insurance companies.

Could that government imposed overhead possibly be a major factor in the burgeoning medical bills?

If government were to do a serious study of why medical bills are so high, it could also ask why our pharmacy bills are so high.  Americans pay much more for prescription drugs than residents of other countries.

Why?  Could there be too much government meddling in the drug manufacturing business?

Another factor in sky high medical costs is lawsuits.  

Malpractice insurance premiums are not cheap.  That insurance is a necessity, however, because of the horde of hungry lawyers trolling for any possible mistake, major or minor.

That is aggravated, of course, by jurors more than willing to give that “poor” patient millions of dollars because they “know” the physician is very wealthy and/or is covered by rich insurance companies.

So here’s the perspective.

The right to medical care is a socialist invention.  

Today, because of costs, a fast food establishment employee may not be able to visit a doctor for  a minor cold, but he will not be turned away from the ER if the pot of boiling grease falls on his arms and torso.

If the government wants to make medical care available to everyone for everything, it should start by trying to make that care more affordable.  One avenue to those lower costs might be less government interference and regulation.

Then there is an easy solution to the malpractice insurance costs.  Simply adopt and enforce a procedural rule that loser pays all.  In other words, if the plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit loses, he and his lawyer are liable for all of the defendant’s costs and attorney fees.

Both of these approaches are better than socialized medicine.  Let’s try both.



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