I just watched Money-Driven Medicine this evening. It’s a documentary about our profit-driven health care system that shows how money-making infuses and corrupts our system. My fiancee, who works as a nurse at both a hospital and a doctor’s office, says that the film portrayed the system very fairly. Here are a couple of things that stood out to me:
- For the market enthusiasts: Repeating “we have the best health care system in the world” is not enough. Idealizing free-market competition in the health care system doesn’t make sense to me. One central point of the documentary is that the health care industry is based on paying for services. This incentivizes all sorts of unnecessary tests and often turns doctors into dispensers of procedures rather than counselors who can help you improve your health and live a healthy lifestyle. The most extreme example in the film was that Dr. Donald Berwick, who researches the health care system, called a hospital in Texas that advertised a great procedure. He asked for information about it to share with other hospitals, but the hospital refused to share it because sole possession of the procedure gave them a competitive edge in their market.
- For those who want to increase the role of government: It appears that the documentary was based on Maggie Mahar’s book of the same name. Mahar said in the movie that you can trace the rise of medicine as an industry to the creation of Medicare in 1965. This meant that medicine was big business, and businesses that built lots and lots of hospitals with lots and lots of technology and placed businessmen in charge of health care companies became the norm. So that’s a serious challenge to the Democrats’ plans for more government involvement and money in the system. Wouldn’t that suggest that companies will line up to get lots of money from the government as the government spends more? It seems like the Obama plan will entrench the medical industry that much more, as some critics are saying.
I’d encourage you to watch the movie if you’re interested in this topic. For now, it looks like it’s only free until the end of November, but maybe they’ll extend the free period.
Finally, an interesting way to look at the economy from Doug Wilson. It’s an old post that I was reminded of when thinking about this:
We still have more capitalist traces and remnants than (say) Europe, but ours is a managed and manipulated economy, not a free economy. This means, in the long run, we have a system where subsidized and regulated business and officious government put their heads together and decide the best way to screw the little guy. In response, the little guy howls and, not having read basic economics, calls for the government to “do something.” The government is happy to pretend to do so because this bestows more power on them, and the government will then have more resources to work with the next group of lobbyists for this interest or that one. Free market?