The Denver Post published an abridged version of the following letter today. Scroll down on here.
Al Knight (Feb 27) attributes growing health care costs to advances in medical technology. Yet, if this were true, why have cosmetic surgery and corrective eye surgery costs decreased compared to similar services? According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, costs of medical services increased by 77%, almost twice that of the Consumer Price Index between 1992 and 2005. Yet, cosmetic surgery costs increased by just 22% and the cost of corrective eye surgery has actually decreased.
The difference? Customers are prudent when spending their own money, but are big spenders when spending someone else’s. Patients pay for cosmetic and eye surgery themselves, and to attract customers, providers must innovate to both lower costs and improve quality.
Health care costs so much because patients pay so little for it – just 14% out-of-pocket. Tax laws, Medicare, and Medicaid have made health care like a subsidized buffet-style restaurant. Legitimately concerned patients seek expensive MRIs and CAT scans, regardless of their cost and necessity. Yet, the RAND Health Insurance Experiment has shown that high-deductible policies reduce patient spending — with no measurable effect on their health. Policy-makers should repeal laws that discourage such policies and expand access to Health Savings Accounts.
Earlier in the week I submitted the following letter to the Denver Rocky Mountain News. It has yet to be published.
“My family is a victim,” said a protester calling for more government meddling in health care (Dozens rally for lower health-care costs, Feb 26.) Indeed, we are all victims — of destructive government policies that inflate costs, limit accessibility, and cripple technological advancement.According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, government insurance mandates boost policy costs between 20 and 45 percent.” Economist Chris Conover found that health-care industry “regulation” has caused chaos: it costs each household $1500 and is responsible for one-sixth of the daily uninsured.
Health insurance does not guarantee health care. Says Canadian Medical Association President Brian Day: “dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week,” while “humans can wait two to three years.” (The free-market cares for the dogs.) The Fraser Institute found that on average, Canadians wait more than 17 weeks to see a specialist. As Lindsay McCreith knows, brain tumors move faster than bureaucracy. Instead of waiting eight months for “universal care,” McCreith went to New York for life-saving diagnosis and surgery, and is suing the Ontario Provincial government for damages.
If the 20th Century Communism has taught us anything, it’s that government controlled economies result in poverty, stagnation, and misery. Let this be a warning: Government is hazardous to our health care.