Thursday, July 03, 2008

National healthcare is inevitable. There are 47 million uninsured and the public is demanding universal coverage. Obama appears to be a shoe in for the presidency and universal healthcare is one of his top priorities. Of course this will require a significant amount of increased expense for the government. I suspect I know where the revenue will come from. Many more entitlement programs will also follow, so the tax rate will be over 50% to fund the various programs. All this can be done, but the average person will have to learn to do with less and reduce our expectations. The people of Denmark don’t smile but they are said to be a happy bunch with a socialized state and a tax rate well over 50%.

The high gas prices may be serving us well in preparation for a socialized state. We are learning to expect less by driving smaller cars and restricting our travel. The price of everything is increasing and this should cut down on our consumption of most items including food. Maybe it will even help with the obesity problem.

This week a gas station in Louisiana was selling gas for 99 cents a gallon. The cars were lined up for miles. When something is free, people will line up for it and are willing to wait. That’s what we can expect with free healthcare. The waiting will even be more prolonged because there will be fewer providers. The lower paying field of healthcare will be less attractive for young folk and fewer will pursue this mediocre line of work. I have trouble getting a doctors appointment now and I shutter to think what it is going to be like with the single payer system. People are now dying while waiting in Emergency Rooms; this can only get worse.

It’s interesting that very few people in my area go without healthcare. They come to the free clinic or the emergency department and are never turned away. The only reason they leave the emergency department is out of anger for having to wait. It’s also interesting that most of the people visiting the Emergency Rooms don’t need to be there.

When national healthcare does come I predict that we will notice no change in life expectancy. Life expectancy may even decrease because of the lack of competence of the provider. Much of infant mortality and adult mortality is related to culture and ignorance. In our heterogeneous population, medicine is limited in its effect on breaking the barriers of culture and ignorance.

On a more positive note for national healthcare, perhaps the many unnecessary and costly procedures will diminish. The number of procedures such as CT and MRI scans will decrease when the financial incentives resulting from self-referral are removed. The number of operations performed each year should be drastically reduced as financial incentives vanish. Who knows, mortality figures may improve when the dangers of surgery are removed. One of the most positive things about national healthcare is that many malpractice lawyers will be out of work. There will be little incentive to sue when you can’t get blood from a turnip. Suits for malpractice may have to be against the government and could be a pain worse than the injury inflicted from malpractice.

From my perspective on the porch, it’s going to be interesting watching the fireworks resulting from the implementation of national healthcare. Unfortunately, I won’t escape the flames because I still have to be a patient. Goodbye, Golden Age; welcome, Universal Healthcare; hello, waiting and marginal care; so long, greedy doctors. It’s all a mixed bag, but a bag that will be opened.


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