HEALTH CARE FOR THE NEW MILLENIUM
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© June 2008, The Center for Development
America is discussing switching to a European-style socialized health care system. Common refrains go something like this. We spend too much on health care, over twice that of Canada or Great Britain. Care is unaffordable for many, as there are some 47 million uninsured (about 1/6 of the nation).
The problem, it is said, is free enterprise capitalism. The answer, according to many, is “universal care”. This must include all Americans or it would not be fair and moral because there is a right to health care. Let us address these concerns.
WHY DO WE SPEND SO MUCH ON HEALTH CARE?
First, Americans spend more on health care than nations with socialized medicine because we are permitted to do so! European and Canadian governments cap their health spending.
We spend a lot on health care, but who is to say how much is enough? Spending money on it is hardly a waste, unless the funds do not produce more health. This, unfortunately, is the case in America and anywhere that the allopathic approach dominates the system.
So it is important to know that when pundits say we spend too much, they mean we do not get much for all our spending. With this, I agree, although it prevents Americans currently from having to wait in line for their surgery, for instance.
Unless we examine in detail the costs involved in our health care system, all attempts at reform will be futile. Here are some of the less well-known causes:
1. Little Prevention Or Self Responsibility. The allopathic or diagnose-and-cure model of health care is not based on individuals taking care of themselves. It is based almost wholly on “curing” people once they are sick. This is a reversal of a basic principle of maintenance of complex machinery - prevention. No one waits for the engine to explode before changing the oil, but that is how much of American and European health care operates.
Also, the preventive measures used by the allopathic cartel are often deadlier than the diseases they are supposed to prevent. These include such items as vaccines, fluoridation of the drinking water, preventive drug use and millions of scans that expose people to harmful x-rays. Meanwhile, pollution of the food, air and water do not cause any reaction from the medical community.
Real prevention is about more rest and sleep, dietary improvements and other lifestyle modifications. However, Americans and Europeans are instead encouraged to eat junk food by their governments.
Excellent preventive care is offered by people such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and foot reflexologists. These, however, are rarely included in allopathic recommendations. Often they are derided as a waste of time and money.
2. A Very Ill Population. Here I also agree with the pundits and candidates. America’s high health care costs are due to our sickness, no doubt. The reasons for the sickness, however, are never discussed in depth.
However, they include a socialist agency, The Food and Drug Administration, that encourages Americans to eat sugar while not permitting many healthful products such as raw, certified dairy products.
It also includes public health agencies, another socialist group, that insists on, as much as they can, that we add toxic fluoride to the water supplies of most cities and that all babies, children and adults, now, be subjected to questionable vaccines. The worst group affected are babies and children, who are most prone to the side effects of autism, ADHD, and even death.
Another important reason we are ill is discussed in the next few sections.
3. Iatrogenic Or Doctor-Caused Illness. A massive amount of illness, disability and death occur due to diagnostic errors, drug side effects, hospital infections, unnecessary surgeries and more. Even the Journal of the AMA, which is not a reliable source for this information, wrote that modern medicine is the third or fourth leading cause of death in America. According to others such as Gary Null, PhD, it is the leading cause of death and/or disability in America.
4. Malpractice. Billions of dollars today go for malpractice insurance, malpractice lawyers, judges, jails and other parts of the criminal justice system. Medicare alone spends several billion on “enforcement”. Fraud in Medicare, another serious problem, is estimated at about $33 billion this year (2007).
This is not a total waste because some legal controls on every endeavor are important. However, health insurance rates, for example, are probably twice what they would be without malpractice. This problem stems directly from the dangerous and toxic effects of many procedures and drugs used in allopathic care.
5. “Defensive Medicine”. This is not real healing at all, for which reason the topic is in quotes. It is the costly and at times disastrous practice of prescribing extra x-ray scans, blood tests and even operations than are known to be needed in a particular case. It is “standard practice” so often today, especially in hospitals, that most people take it for granted. It, too, stems directly from legal concerns or licensing regulations and it adds billions more to our health care bill.
6. Lobbying. This is a hidden cost that one can only notice in the high prices of many health care products and services, including vitamins. The advent of government-regulated medical care in America and abroad greatly politicizes care. This means that anyone doing business in health care must spend money to lobby legislators and other policy makers at every level of government.
They are forced to do this to make sure their device, procedure, medication or even their medical facility receives its fair share of positive attention from the authorities. Today it is government authorities such as Medicare and Medicaid bureaucrats who decide which practices, products and services will be paid for and therefore used by the medical care industry.
The cost of lobbying, which has nothing to do with health or healing, runs into the billions of dollars. Much of it is disguised as gifts, conferences, vacations, speaking fees, fund raising events and so forth. Any time government controls an industry, this occurs in spades. Decision-making is taken away from the consumer and given to committees and agencies such as the Food And Drug Administration(see below). While it is hard to focus lobbying money on 200 million people, it is easy to woo a small number of policy makers who are empowered by the government to make billion-dollar decisions that affect health care purchasing.
8. The Food And Drug Administration . If I had to pick one agency responsible for more loss of life and disability in America than any other, it would be the FDA. This thoroughly corrupt group has been pushing junk food and dangerous drugs on the American people for over 100 years. At the same time, they have destroyed or at least hindered the advertising, production and distribution of thousands of low-cost, safe products that save lives.
A close second among corrupt regulatory agencies is the Federal Trade Commission. This group approves the drug ads on television but will often destroy anyone who attempts to advertise natural products that would save lives and reduce health costs.
9. Licensing And Faulty Medical Education. Licensing keeps the entire allopathic system in control. Let us not mince words. If certification replaced licensure, there would soon be no allopathic monopoly or cartel. Others who can offer less costly care would win out very quickly.
Licensing seems “natural” but is relatively recent in American history. About 100 years ago, the American Medical Association and its wealthy supporters lobbied all 50 state legislatures to pass medical licensing laws. Since then, hundreds or perhaps thousands more licensing laws have made it impossible to change American health care without the approval of boards that mostly stand to gain from the status quo.
Whether our system is “private” or government-controlled matters little if allopathic licensing is in place. Real change requires a different system to protect the people. Only a free market can offer this.
Many of these people do not want insurance. Some are working poor who would rather spend the money elsewhere. Some are illegal aliens who cannot get insurance without a social security number.
Others are healthy people who self-insure by taking vitamins, resting adequately and practicing real preventive care. Up to 20%, according to a news report, already qualify for a government program and just have not signed up. In summary, there is no crisis of the uninsured, the way it is presented.
IS THERE A RIGHT TO HEALTH CARE?
Let us examine this carefully. Rights can be of several types.
Natural rights are those that come from the Creator. The American Declaration of Independence describes inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A right to unlimited health care services was not among them.
Entitlements are government-bestowed rights. They are more like promises from the government of certain defined goods or services.
For example, the right to a “speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers” is one of just a few entitlements in our original Bill of Rights.
Problems with entitlements, including jury trials, are:
1) Enormous cost. In fact, our government has “modified” the right to a jury trial due to its cost. Few people actually get a jury trial today, even though it would be fairer.
A problem with the right to health care goods and services is deciding which ones would be included? This would be debated endlessly and subject to total political manipulation. In other words, the fine print is everything in an entitlement. Otherwise the promise is empty.
Another part of the cost is that someone must be paid to provide the goods and services. This means armies of government employees are required to dole out the goods and services and monitor the entire process.
Entitlements also cost far more than anyone can estimate due, in large part, to the next problem with them.
2) They reverse the positive incentive to take responsibility for oneself and one’s family. After all, why bother caring for yourself if the government will clean up your messes?
One way out of this dilemma is what Mr. McCain proposes. This may be called a right to choice in health care.
Rights to choice are from the government, just like entitlements. However, they don’t cost the taxpayers a nickel. No one promises goods or services with all that this entails.
Freedoms, or rights to choice, are prohibitions against government interference with a particular activity or behavior. Many of these are in our founding documents.
They include the right to speak freely, to worship as one chooses and the right to bear arms. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, suggested a right to choice in health care, but it was left out of the Bill of Rights.
This kind of right would mean that the government may never impose one type of health care. Citizens would always have a right to choose their health care, just as they choose their religion or speech.
A few in Congress, such as Ron Paul and John McCain, have called for such a change. It would be a step in the right direction to break up the cartel-based system we currently have. It would also not require a new bureaucracy and higher taxes, as entitlements always do.
A positive right to health care is a financial nightmare. Freedom of the right to choose one’s health care would be a blessing that would reduce costs and vastly improve the health of Americans.
IS “UNIVERSAL CARE” THE MORAL SOLUTION?
Socialists say their government-run health plan is the only moral solution. I disagree and here is why:
1. It is compulsory. There is nothing moral about forcing people to accept and pay for drug cartel medicine, even if one doesn’t want it and won’t use it.
2. It is wasteful and would be riddled with fraud. This seems immoral to me. Instead, I prefer to be in control of my health records, not a large bureaucracy.
3. It is based on a lie. The lie is that the government is somehow smarter than you are in figuring out your real health care needs.
The Europeans and Canadians have discovered these problems with socialized medical systems. In fact, most Western European and Asian nations such as Japan, Great Britain, France and others are looking for ways to move away from socialistic schemes that bankrupt their nations.
May we think clearly whether to accept a candidate who wants to establish a new, large entitlement program that will likely further rob us of our money, our freedom and what is left of our health as a nation and a people.
CAPITALIST MARKET FAILURE?
This argument for socialized medicine is the exact opposite of the truth. To see this clearly, view the graph below of total US health costs over the past 50 years. It is clear that something dramatic happened after 1970 as costs escalated and the graph turns almost vertical.
What happened was socialized medicine in the form of Medicare and Medicaid. A physician friend said the cost of an emergency room visit doubled overnight when Medicare passed. The real explosion in health costs is not due to the market, but instead to its destruction.
Source: Vital Statistics of The United States
A market means there are buyers and sellers willing to bargain over prices so that each gets the best deal possible. A market means that prices and costs are transparent and nothing is hidden from view.
Compare this to a recent experience (2005) when I called around to get a price for a brain scan for a friend without insurance. Two hours were spent just locating all the scanning centers, as they don’t advertise. Then, only a few were able to provide a cash quote on the phone. When they called back, fees ranged from $800.00 to $2400.00 for the same scan. Later, we learned that had we said the right words, we could have gotten the MRI for about $400.00.
Car Care. Lest one think a free market would never work, witness how cars are fixed in America. Our health care system could operate the same way, with the same low costs and ease of access.
Many options exist for auto care. Some choose fancy certified or licened dealers to fix their car. Others choose certified mechanics. Other use local shade-tree mechanics. Still others choose to buy the tools and do the work themselves.
Prices are known to all and plenty of competition keeps everyone fairly honest. A spirit of helpfulness pervades the system so the even the poorest people seem to find ways to have their cars repaired adequately.
In fact, a market system worked well for American health care for about 120 years. Statistically, America was among the healthiest nation, unlike today. Most people are too young to recall these days, but they were so much better than health care today there is no comparison.
Many options existed side by side, with competing systems of care attempting to outdo each other in terms of their low cost and effectiveness. Everyone was cared for, even the poor at little cost, because a spirit of friendliness and giving permeated the system, as it does today in auto repair.
Today, this has been replaced by fears that one will report the doctor or even sue him for the slightest infraction of the rules. Auto care is a model Americans can turn to that works well without breaking the budget.
“UNIVERSAL CARE” MEANS WASTE AND FRAUD
“Universal care” is nothing more than the new word for socialized medicine. In practical terms, it means that everyone must be forced to join the system.
No one wishes to discuss the hidden costs of all such government programs, including waste and fraud. Instead of direct accountability to the customer, which means that every citizen watches his pocketbook, government systems employ huge armies of “health police” who chase down and prosecute cheaters.
Fraud and waste in Medicare alone is estimated at about $33 billion out of $426 billion total cost or about about 7.5% according to government estimates. Enforcement is through massive amounts of paperwork, another huge waste of time and money. Truly, the amount of waste in any government welfare program is so staggering no one dares really investigate.
Having reviewed the issues from a theoretical standpoint, let us hear from one Canadian who sent an email, unsolicited, to a friend of mine.
THE CANADIAN MODEL
America is considering copying our socialized medical system here in Canada. I thought you should know a little about how things work here:
1) Health care in Canada is not free. We pay a premium every month of $96.00 for Shirley and I to be covered. We also pay much more in taxes to keep the system afloat. I am personally in the 55% tax bracket! A large portion of it goes to health care, our #1 expense.
2) When you see the doctor, time is short because it is more important to move as many patients through as possible, each hour, for Government reimbursement.
3) I would not classify what we have as health care plan. It is more like a sickness diagnosis system. One can get in to see a doctor quick enough so he can tell you that yes, indeed, you are sick or you need an operation. The challenge becomes getting treated or operated on. We have waiting lists, some as much as 2 years.
4) Try to avoid requiring emergency treatment as you may wait hours in the emergency room for treatment.
5) Shirley's father cut his hand on a power saw a few weeks ago and it required a splint. To our surprise, we had to pay $125.00 for a splint because it is not a covered expense, plus we paid $60.00 each week for the doctor to check it.
6) Shirley's cousin was diagnosed with a heart blockage. He was placed on a waiting list and died before he could get treatment.
7) The government allots so many operations per year. When the quota is reached, no more operations are performed, unless you go to your local newspaper and plead your case. If you embarrass the government enough, then money may suddenly appear.
8) We give free needles to drug users to try and keep them healthy. However, people with diabetes, who pay in much more to the system, have to pay for their needles because it is not a covered expense.
9) A 65 year-old friend needs an operation for a blockage in her leg. However, because she is a smoker they will not do it, although she paid into the system all these years. Now there is talk that perhaps we should not treat obese people, either, because they are a drain on the system.
Let me see now, what we want in Canada is a health care system for healthy people only. That should reduce our health care costs.
I ask not for sympathy. I just want to make sure that you hear the truth about health care up here. Step wisely and don't make the same mistakes we have.”
IS “UNIVERSAL CARE” THE MORAL SOLUTION?
It is the least moral. It is compulsory, wasteful and riddled with fraud. The moral solution is to leave health care up to the people, rather than impose a monopoly upon us.
However, I do not see this happening in America today. Due to our brainwashed and ignorant population and their leaders, the socialists are winning this battle, and for many reasons. Let us examine several of them, as otherwise they go unnoticed and unopposed.
1. So many of us are afraid of sickness and just want to be taken care of. This is dependency syndrome, a huge problem in all socialist nations. America is moving this way fast!
2. The government school system mainly teaches children to just answer questions rather than think independently. It is no accident that many of America’s great entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, were either high school or college dropouts. The public schools are run by socialists, through and through. Unless the schools change, we will continue in our present direction, I believe.
3. The present discussion of “health care reform” is, in part, motivated by a move of the allopathic and drug cartels to consolidate its gains and eliminate all competition, although they will never admit it. It is time, in other words, to “bring America into the fold” of sheepish nations that cater to their most base desires and expect the government to clean up their messes. The cartels need total control of health care to do this.
Since they virtually own the FDA, FTC, the airwaves and the mainstream media, one notices that the drug ads have increased, as have the bogus “studies” proving that vitamins are a hoax. This was even the cover story of a recent Reader’s Digest magazine. As Hitler taught the world, if they say it long enough, many people believe it.
4. The leadership of America is bankrupt, with precious little understanding of the incredible heritage and gift to the world that is the American experience. They despair at the simply-solved problem of health care that a real market would handle, in may cases, overnight. Instead, they look to the old, failed monarchical societies of Europe, Canada and Asia for answers.
I hope this article helps wake up a few Americans to their incredible heritage of freedom and prosperity based on capitalist principles and market economics. Then, and only then, I fear, we will turn to a market-based solution, the one that honors the God within each individual that knows best how to solve most health woes.
So few also understand this simple economic system and structure that would heal us, as it has done in the past. Also, so few today are aware of the many wonderful methods and remedies that are so available and inexpensive, yet effective and far safer than what we use daily.
1. www.HHS.gov. This is an excellent source of information about the health care system.
2. Goodman, J.C. and Musgrave, G.L., Patient Power - Solving America’s Health Care Crisis, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 1992.
3. Health, US, 2006. Table 120, US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, National Center For health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, 2006.
4.Hornberger, J. and Ebeling, R., editors, The Dangers Of Socialized Medicine, Future Of Freedom Foundation, Fairfax, VA, 1994.
5. Illich, I., Medical Nemesis, Random House, NY, 1976.
6. Ruwart, M.J., Healing Our World, SunStar Press, Kalamazoo, MI, 1993.
7. Skousen, W.C., The Five Thousand Year Leap, The National Center For Constitutional Studies, Washington, DC, 1981.
8. Wasley, T., What Has Government Done To Our Health Care, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 1992.
9. Wiley, H., The History Of A Crime Against The Food Law: The Story Of The National Food And Drugs Law Intended To Protect The Health Of The People, Perverted To Protect Adulteration Of Foods And Drugs, Harvey Wiley, Washington, DC, 1929, 1955. (Wiley was the first director of the Bureau of Chemistry from 1906 to 1912. The bureau was later renamed the Food And Drug Administration.)