Single-Payer for Food, Shelter, Clothing and Transportation | The
June 7, 2017
By Mencken's Ghost
The non-thinking of many highly educated people is sobering.
Case in point: The Wall Street Journal ran a letter to the editor
yesterday, written by a physician from Berkeley, Calif., who spoke of
the efficiencies and wonders of a single-payer system for medical care
in the United States.
Gee, imagine that: Someone from Berkeley advocates socialism, which is
what single-payer is, but by a different name.
As with other advocates of single-payer medical care, the physician
apparently hasn't given much thought to where his thinking, or lack
thereof, logically leads. If single-payer is the best system for
providing a scarce good like medical care, then logically, single-payer
also would be the best system for such scarce goods as food, shelter,
clothing, and transportation.
Oh, wait, socializing the necessities of life and other goods has been
tried already, with disastrous results.
Another letter writer in the same WSJ edition spoke of the efficiencies
of the Swedish healthcare system. Unsurprisingly, the writer hails from
San Francisco, where public schools apparently don't teach that Sweden
is markedly different from the USA in size, history, culture, racial
make-up, and rates of violence and auto accidents. Or maybe the writer
knows this and wants the USA to become like Sweden by deporting
non-whites until the nation's population is 98% white.
Granted, medical care/insurance is different in some important ways from
other scarce goods. People use food, shelter, clothing, and
transportation every day, and they use these goods fairly consistently
throughout their lives. But they don't use medical care every day, and
they use far less of it when young than when old. Given human nature,
then, many people will not save for medical care/insurance, because the
need for medical care isn't as immediate and consistent, as, let's say,
the need or desire for eating breakfast, wearing clothes, and owning
status symbols like expensive cars and phones.
However, there are other ways than socialism, er, single-payer, to solve
this problem of the distant need for medical care, but that requires the
kind of economic thinking that doesn't seem to be taught in medical school.
Paradoxically, because it is used less frequently but can be costly when
used, medical care leaves the false impression with the public that it
is more expensive in total than other goods. But medical expenditures
aren't really higher than other major household expenditures, on
average. In fact, total household spending on medical care ranks lower
than spending on housing, cars, and taxes.
Not surprisingly, there is no hue and cry in Berkeley about the high
cost of taxes for working stiffs.
For sure, a catastrophic illness or injury can bankrupt a family, but so
can a catastrophic auto accident or house fire. That's why people take
out insurance on their homes and cars. And because such insurance
covers catastrophes and not incidentals, the premiums are lower than the
premiums for medical insurance. It also helps that there is a true
consumer market for homeowner and auto insurance, unlike the
half-socialist system that exists today for medical insurance.
On a related note, the costs of auto accidents are staggering. There
are over five million traffic accidents per year, resulting in nearly
33,000 deaths and approximately two million injuries. The average
bodily injury claim alone is over $15,000.
It's noteworthy that these bodily-injury claims are included in
statistics on what Americans spend on medical care, although much of the
costs are paid by auto insurance. A good gauge of the amount of money
involved is the number of commercials on TV for trial-lawyer hucksters
who specialize in auto accidents. The hucksters take a third of what
typically would have been paid in insurance settlements anyway without
their involvement, and they prey primarily on poorer people. Yet you
won't see an expose on this industry in America's stupid and lazy media
or attacks on the industry by Berkeley and San Francisco leftists.
There I go again, thinking too much. This explains why I never went to
medical school. If I could live my life over again, I'd learn to
memorize and regurgitate instead of think. That way, I could be a
wealthy physician living in Berkeley and swallowing popular canards,
tropes, and nostrums about single-payer.