It’s Wishful Thinking to Believe that the Private Health Care Sector Will Get Spiraling Costs Under Control

The health care system is seriously flawed in this country and getting worse.  Many in Congress, especially those within the GOP/TeaParty, want to do more of the same that has created this quagmire.  Clearer thinking about what’s involved with a government-funded single payer program could help alleviate the concern many have about their increasing medical expenses.

The main argument being touted by those who oppose single-payer programs like the ones in most every other Western Country, including our neighbors to the north and south of us, is that it will ration care and increase our taxes.  There is no real evidence of any consequence that justifies the “rationing health care” claim but clearly taxes will increase if such programs are implemented.  Health care after all isn’t free.

This latter fact however really shouldn’t alarm people if they would only look closer at their overall out of pocket expenses they already pay for health insurance and other health care coverage not covered by insurance.

We spend almost $3 trillion nationwide on health care, about twice the average of all other wealthy nations. Our health care system has plenty of problems, but a shortage of money is not one of them. Historically, we in the U.S. have responded to problems in health care by throwing money at them. This mountain of money has led to a lot of wasteful spending.

High health care costs have raised taxes and insurance premiums, depressed wages and eroded public budgets. The more money we pump into our health care system, the worse it seems to get.

We spend so much because we have the highest prices for products and services in the world and often overuse them. Experts estimate that 30 percent of health care services provided in the U.S. offer little or no benefit to patients.   SOURCE

That we pay too much for products and services that we overuse was brought to light in a recent “60 Minutes” segment.  In Leslie Stahl’s report, Treating Depression: Is there a placebo effect?,  research has shown that anti-depressant medication like Prozac has little if any affect on many patients who are treated with this product that rakes in $11.3 billion annually.  This information was revealed in Stahl’s interview with the Harvard expert who has done the research.

Irving Kirsch is the associate director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School, and he says that his research challenges the very effectiveness of antidepressants.

Irving Kirsch: The difference between the effect of a placebo and the effect of an antidepressant is minimal for most people.

Lesley Stahl: So you’re saying if they took a sugar pill, they’d have the same effect?

Irving Kirsch: They’d have almost as large an effect and whatever difference there would be would be clinically insignificant.

Stahl: But people are getting better taking antidepressants. I know them.

Kirsch: Oh, yes.

Stahl: We all know them.

Kirsch: People get better when they take the drug. But it’s not the chemical ingredients of the drug that are making them better. It’s largely the placebo effect.

Irving Kirsch’s specialty has been the study of the placebo effect: the taking of a dummy pill without any medication in it that creates an expectation of healing that is so powerful, symptoms are actually alleviated.

What appeared to go unnoticed late in the 60 Minutes report was an example that demonstrated how a government-controlled single payer health care program could eliminate such needless costs and better utilize those funds to treat depression without invasive drug use.  Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has changed it practices following its own review of clinical trials with anti-depressants, eliminating the use of drugs in most cases where they serve no real benefit, and redirecting those funds to create jobs by training more talk therapists to bypass the chemical dependency of anti-depressants.

Dr. Tim Kendall, a practicing psychiatrist and co-director of the [NHS] commission that did the review says that like Irving Kirsch – they were surprised by what they found in the drug companies’ unpublished data.

Kendall: With the published evidence, it significantly overestimated the effectiveness of these drugs and it underestimated the side effects.

Stahl: The FDA would say that some of these unpublished studies are unpublished because there were flaws in the way the trials were conducted.

Kendall: This is a multibillion dollar industry. I doubt that they are spending $10 million per trial to come up with a poor methodology. What characterizes the unpublished is that they’re negative. Now I don’t think it’s that their method is somehow wrong; it’s that their outcome is not suitable from the company’s point of view.

Because of the review, new public health guidelines were issued. Now drugs are given only to the severely depressed as the first line of treatment. For those with mild to moderate depression, the British government is spending nearly half a billion dollars training an army of talk therapists.

Further evidence revealed by the NHS showed that physical exercise has an equal curative effect for those on anti-depressants who are classified as mildly depressed.  Imagine the costs savings to this program which gets passed on to the taxpayer because of this study and the policy change it effected.  Now imagine if there were a single-payer program in this country that severely limited this needless drug for many of the 17 million Americans currently taking some form of anti-depressants.  The argument by those who oppose government-managed health care would be significantly weakened.

In fact if you go back to the argument that government-managed health care would “ration” health care you would find that such rationing is exemplified in changes like that with England’s NHS’s decision to eliminate unnecessary products.  Much of what is increasing our health care costs in this country are physician prescribed tests and drugs that many patients ask for having been influenced by the heavy commercialization of these controlled medications and procedures.

What all this points to, like the information I shared with you in my last post concerning Merck Corporation’s bogus claims about Vioxx,  is that there is a concerted effort in this country in the health care field where private, for-profit interests take precedent over a patient’s need.  Also, those governmental agencies that are established to look out after our interests are found to be too friendly and cozy with Big Pharma and the major health care providers in this country, often looking the other way when evidence shows that services and products are being needlessly touted for the beneficial needs of consumers.

Corruption and inefficiency can occur in any effort where large sums of money are involved, public or private.  Examples like this show that unjustified expenses which impact high health care costs occuring where private sector policies and practices along with weak and negligent government oversight exist, have negative consequences for American citizens.

Private industries don’t review their practices in ways that necessarily cut consumer costs because it is the profit they seek over any savings for consumers.  Only when some outside watch-dog group has spotted this profiteering does the company then either try to justify it or take corrective action.  But by then a lot of damage has been done and huge profits have already been paid out in the form of stock holder dividends and executive bonuses.

Medicare and Medicaid have been judged too costly and inefficient in this country by those who champion privatization but research has shown that rising costs are the result of fraudulent claims in the private sector by medical suppliers, some physicians and health care institutions.  However, consumers can also be conned into adding to this cost issue.  The influences of those companies that manufacture medical devices, pharmaceuticals and provide services, through their direct appeal to consumers on TV, radio and newsprint ads, has increased a needless demand for such commodities that either insurers are expected to cover or must come out of our own pockets.  As these unwarranted procedures and medication usages increases, those costs get passed on to us directly in the form of higher premiums.

To their advantage a diligent, certified set of people within the insurance industry  can often catch needless health care recommendations, refusing to pay for them and thus help keep overall costs down.  But like the pharmaceutical companies and health care providers that they have to deal with, health insurance companies are also motivated by profits and sometimes get too zealous in their efforts to deny services for patients; services that are genuinely needed to save a life.  There are also built-in incentives at some insurance companies for employees to deny as many claims as they can through various unethical methods.

A government run health care program that’s always being transparently scrutinized by the public and their representatives is highly motivated to keep tax payer costs down by insuring that only qualified and necessary goods and services are being utilized.  What’s key in implementing such a program though is to establish criteria that makes it tough if not impossible for people who serve this government function to have any ties or allegiances to the private sector.

With better access to affordable and adequate health care for all people we become a more productive society and thus set the stage for generating greater wealth for more people.  This is something that clearly needs to be addressed as we have slowly watched a once vibrant middle class in this country disappear over the last few decades.

People now sense something new. Something fundamental is wrong, not just if we elect the next guy. That’s a big deal in history when that begins to happen and I think that’s one of the things coming out of this pattern of decay and stagnation. – Gar Alpwerovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalsism

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10 responses to “It’s Wishful Thinking to Believe that the Private Health Care Sector Will Get Spiraling Costs Under Control

  1. As you pointed out so well the other day, corporations are about making money, not having a heart. Those in the health care field care about the bottom line. They will pursue the avenue that makes the most until they are forcibly stopped. They will peddle products that are worthless until they are stopped. Where did we ever get the idea these corporations cared? Oh, I guess it’s the Madison Avenue ads where they tell us they do. Yeah, that must be it.

  2. I know somebody whose dog is Prozac. It does make him dopier and easier to control, but happier? Nope. In fact, he has engaged in several activities that, if he were human, would be considered suicide attempts. It says a lot about how sick a society is when even their perfectly healthy dogs are severely depressed.

    Meanwhile, drug companies are now peddling “boosters” for their happy pills.

    “When our pills no longer numb your pain, try our new extra-strength tranquilizers.”

  3. Larry,

    I watched that 60 Minutes episode, too. They said antidepressants work well for the “severely depressed,” but not those mild or moderately depressed. They recommend exercise for those people.

    I caught the point about Great Britain. The problem I see is that they’re taking healthcare decisions away from patients and doctors and giving it to big government. Now I realize there are conservative code words in there for “death panels,” but tell me you can’t see how such a thing [i]might[/i] lead to that? My biggest problem with universal healthcare: cost containment strategies.

  4. They said antidepressants work well for the “severely depressed,” but not those mild or moderately depressed.

    That’s correct. I made that case in my post about how it affected those with mild depression. I never indicated that anti-depressants were not good for some people. If I wanted to conceal something I wouldn’t have given you the link to discover it by.

    “The problem I see is that they’re taking healthcare decisions away from patients and doctors and giving it to big government.

    That’s not what’s happening here Terrance. The “government” is making a decision based on scientific research done by medical professionals. This wasn’t some cost saving, random act by a bureaucrat. And besides, some people don’t always make the right choices for lack of having all of the information.

    Finally, the choice is not removed from the patient who insists on it as long as they are willing to pay for it

    • Larry,

      Whoa! Calm down, buddy. I wasn’t even thinking you were trying to conceal that information. I simply remember hearing that part of the report, didn’t see it in your post, so offered it. It was a conversation starter, not an attack. LOL.

      I understand that. My argument really is from “slippery-slope,” but it’s worth considering. If we allow government to start making those kind of decions, like they do in Great Britain, isn’t it possible that it could go far beyond simple antidepressant prescriptions? It did in Canada in the case of baby Joseph.

      • “Whoa! Calm down, buddy.

        That did come across as a bit too defensive a reaction Terrance. Sorry about that. Let me rephrase it.

        Thanks for pointing out this about the drug’s success with the more severe cases of depression. I appreciate that you took the time to read the entire 60 Minutes article in order to discover that. That is an important piece of information and though it was not my intent to address that part of the issue I did provide the link so interested people like yourself could pick that detail up when they read the story. Upon reflection, your suggestion that it should have been a part of my article is a correct call.

        ” My argument really is from “slippery-slope,” but it’s worth considering. If we allow government to start making those kind of decions, like they do in Great Britain, isn’t it possible that it could go far beyond simple antidepressant prescriptions?”

        Of course things can go wrong Terrance. We are of course dealing with human beings who if not being motivated by self-intersts and profits that causes them to overlook addressing critical care as I referred to with the link I attached regarding “services that are genuinely needed to save a life” or where efforts to minimize tax payer costs by removing questionable procedures or products.

        But let’s be clear. It wasn’t a government bureaucrat that made this particular call on some willy-nilly basis. Single-payer health programs like the one in Great Britain have legislative oversight but defer to the medical professionals who make such calls. There is a different mind-set in such countries where government-funded health care programs exist than there is here in the U.S. where for-profit corporations pull the strings on who does and who doesn’t get health care coverage. Counties like Great Britain, France, Canada, Mexico, etc. really do believe that basic health care coverage is a right and not a privilege. Errors can still occur within a system but people don’t die because they can’t afford basic health care.

        The fact that you “have a choice” about who does and doesn’t provide your health care coverage in this country doesn’t guarantee that some private insurer bureaucrat won’t block your need for a drug or procedure that can save your life. Health care isn’t like those commodities that work much better under free-market principles where their existence in your life isn’t so essential.

        When you buy other products on the market they don’t impose regulations that prevent your purchasing them because of a pre-existing condition or increase their costs because you are 65 years and older. When you spend a dollar on a product every dime of that goes to someone who helped produce, transport and sold it to you, unlike health insurance companies who charge you for being a middle man and for the risk they may incur but still expect you to pay something above and beyond you regular scheduled premium payments.

        Let’s not forget too that like those government-funded health care providers you are concerned about, these people in the private sector who actually don’t participate in healing what ails you can also limit what medications and procedures you and your doctor feel are necessary. They also will tell physicians and hospitals what they will and won’t pay for, leaving you with the choice of foregoing that care or paying for it out of your own pocket, even though you have been paying that insurer high monthly premiums with equally high deductibles for 10, 15, 20 years.

        “It did in Canada in the case of baby Joseph.”

        I don’t think choosing to eliminate a drug for some people because it has no value and issuing a DNR order for a 13 month old child in a vegetative state with all of the experts not expecting the child to live hardly serves as a comparative example Terrance.

        Baby Joseph didn’t die from being refused treatment Terrance and the fact that the hospital didn’t perform the tracheotomy the parents wanted in order to take their child home to die is indeed an emotional issue for the parents, but it was not an action that would have served any medical purpose or prolonged the child’s life beyond the short time it took to get him home and die under the roof of his parents.

        I understand your strong right to life views Terrance but baby Joseph was going to die today or tomorrow from a birth defect, not a failure of the medical team to do everything to cure his condition. The government’s decision here is unfortunate but it had little to do with what ultimately caused the demise of the child.

        “According to the court documents, Baby Joseph appeared neurologically normal when he was born, but about six months later, he was taken to an emergency room in Windsor, Ontario, where he was found to have seizure activity. He was transferred to a hospital in Michigan, where an MRI showed “a reduction in brain size associated with cells dying from metabolic stress.”

        The baby was hospitalized a second time, in October, after he stopped breathing while riding in the parents’ car.

        “There is unanimous agreement among five [pediatric clinical care unit doctors] and three neurology physicians that there will be no recovery and no treatment options exist for this progressive neurodegenerative disorder,” Dr. F determined, according to court documents.

        “[Joseph Maraachli] will not interact meaningfully with his environment. He will require ongoing gastrostomy tube feeding and he will always be bedbound. He will require support for cough and pulmonary secretion clearance. It is likely that he will require ongoing ventilation. JM is at risk for infectious complications, such as pneumonia, and ongoing pulmonary aspirations, bedsores, and skin breakdown,” the documents continued.

        Baby Joseph’s sister died of a similar neurodegenerative condition several years before.” SOURCE

  5. Larry,

    Single-payer health programs like the one in Great Britain have legislative oversight but defer to the medical professionals who make such calls. There is a different mind-set in such countries where government-funded health care programs exist than there is here in the U.S. where for-profit corporations pull the strings on who does and who doesn’t get health care coverage. Counties like Great Britain, France, Canada, Mexico, etc. really do believe that basic health care coverage is a right and not a privilege. Errors can still occur within a system but people don’t die because they can’t afford basic health care.

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are many problems with our system of healthcare. I also recognize that government appoints medical professionals to reach decisions and it’s not, as you say, done will-nilly. But whether or not the panel members have a medical license does not, in my mind, make the panel any less of a bureaucracy. It is still a government appointed body making decisions that, in my view, belong with patients and personal physicians solely.

    The fact that you “have a choice” about who does and doesn’t provide your health care coverage in this country doesn’t guarantee that some private insurer bureaucrat won’t block your need for a drug or procedure that can save your life. Health care isn’t like those commodities that work much better under free-market principles where their existence in your life isn’t so essential.

    Let me first say that, obviously, we can’t be sure that when we purchase an insurance plan things are going to go swimmingly and we’ll get what we want. But I do think that, because it’s a free-market system where companies compete for your business, there is an incentive to stay true to your commitment. Only oil companies can afford repeated bad press. There is far too much competition in the insurance industry to be so blatantly pro-profit no matter the human cost.

    Of course, our system is not perfect and many people are, unfortunately, left out in the dark. It’s not as though I support the status quo. I don’t. I recognize that there are problems. But I don’t think any of those problems warrant such a drastic overall of our healthcare system, because, I believe, universal systems of healthcare can be dangerous, costly, and can reduce the quality of overall healthcare. Whether you love or hate the free market system, you must admit that it encourages competition and produces innovation. It certainly has in the United States. America leads the world in medical and scientific innovation. Sure, other nations produce some wonderful things in these areas, but the sheer number of innovations produced in the United States alone is staggering.

    You mention the regulations that exist in the insurance industry. For example, you’re denied policies if you have a preexisting condition, etc, etc, etc… That’s one of the things I’m talking about when I say I’m not a fan of the status quo. One of the things I like about “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is that it prevents insurance companies from denying you based on preexisting conditions. I support government regulations like that. I’m not one of those free-marketers that believes all regulation is bad. In my view, a free-market system MUST have some regulation.

    I don’t think choosing to eliminate a drug for some people because it has no value and issuing a DNR order for a 13 month old child in a vegetative state with all of the experts not expecting the child to live hardly serves as a comparative example Terrance.

    My point is that when you allow government (or a panel that takes its marching orders from government) to start making healthcare decisions that are normally left with the patient, unfortunate and tragic situations, like the baby Joseph situation, can happen.

    Baby Joseph didn’t die from being refused treatment Terrance and the fact that the hospital didn’t perform the tracheotomy the parents wanted in order to take their child home to die is indeed an emotional issue for the parents, but it was not an action that would have served any medical purpose or prolonged the child’s life beyond the short time it took to get him home and die under the roof of his parents.

    You’re right. He didn’t die from being refused treatment. I’m not suggesting that Canada has death panels, although some say they do. I rather think such a term is misleading and a bit too provocative. I do think, however, that Canada has in place cost-containment strategies that are, in my view, inhumane.

    The tracheotomy relieved baby Joseph’s suffering by alleviating the pain and discomfort that comes with breathing tubes inserted in the mouth or nasal passages, and it also allowed doctors to evacuate the lungs of any obstructing substances. It’s called palliative care and it’s purpose is to “promote the welfare of infants and children with life-threatening or terminal conditions.” It made baby Joseph more comfortable. It also prevented the slow death of suffocation. So, it’s not fair to say that it severed no medical purpose because it did. It may not have done anything to treat the disease or prolong his life, but it made him more comfortable. I think that is important because when an illness has progressed so far that even the wonders of medical science can do nothing, we should do everything we can to make that person comfortable. We shouldn’t be denying them healthcare because we’re trying to save a dollar, because when we do, we lose sight of the human element and become no better than the insurance companies of which you previously spoke.

    I’m not sure death panels exist, but I’m certain that cost-containment strategies that cause us to lose sight of the human element are indeed alive and well in government-run healthcare systems. We should be very careful before we as a society begin to judge the value of another’s life.

    • “But whether or not the panel members have a medical license does not, in my mind, make the panel any less of a bureaucracy. It is still a government appointed body making decisions that, in my view, belong with patients and personal physicians solely.”

      Terrance, with all due respect these comments make it appear you are under the illusion that not only do patients interact directly with “government bureaucracies” but that any thing outside the doctor/patient relationship serves no useful purpose. I am pretty sure you don’t ascribe to this narrow view. I’m sure instead that you see the utility of organizations that invest time, money and energy into studies, research, ethical behavior, latest practices and their benefits/disadvantages, scheduling conferences, sharing information amongst peers, etc., etc., and then making all of that available to the discipline they are themselves members of. This bureaucratic decision making process is pretty much the same in government as it is in the private sector.

      People of course can choose to dismiss such information but then they would be refused financial aid by the government agency they depend upon for some of their funding and be disbarred or ostracized from the free market agency that over sees them such as the AMA, National Bar Association, National Basketball Association, National Association of Realtors and the NationalAssociation of Professional and Executive Women, just to name a few.
      Without organizations to serve them and provide guidance for their fields, professionals on their own would have less to offer their customers/clients/patients than those who do not abide by standards and codes that govern their carer choices. And this is what is occurring where government-funded health care systems are involved. Contrary to what you believe, people who are receiving health care coverage under a single payer plan get some choice in their physician and physicians have a wide latitude in remedies they can prescribe to their patient.

      The big difference I see that would be considered a limiting factor within the public domain but that is also one that doesn’t negatively impact the health of the patient is that people can’t choose treatment and drugs that they feel will help them, where in fact they don’t but the doctor is willing to give them what they want, provided it doesn’t endanger their lives. On that latter point however we know that within medicine there are those who see profits over people and allow these self-interests to put their patients at risk.
      Secondly, there is the presumption in your comment that patients always know what’s better for them and though I think it’s true that patients know better than anyone else what ails them, they don’t always know what will cure them. That’s what their doctor is for but then it would be silly to assume that doctors always make the right decisions. They have to defer to the ethical standards, science and knowledge of those administrative boards I referred to above.

      In the case of baby Joseph, I’m not sure why the doctors and the other humans involved in their decision didn’t allow the child to return home with his parents. But this singular example is not indicative of how all “bureaucratic” organizations respond under such complicated circumstances and to assume that such human errors don’t occur in the free markets is naive I think. Again, there are emotional issues here that not all public and private enterprise entities take into consideration when they set policy. It requires an open mind and a human empathy to consider each case individually and I think that government bodies are no more likely to fail in this area than large corporate concerns who seek first profits before considering how their actions are going to impact human life.

      I would just close with this Terrance. I thought I read into most of your comments a reactionary style of thinking, much like those within the Tea Party who are adamantly anti-government without considering that there might be any virtue to a government/free market effort. I hope I am wrong

      • Terrance, with all due respect these comments make it appear you are under the illusion that not only do patients interact directly with “government bureaucracies” but that any thing outside the doctor/patient relationship serves no useful purpose. I am pretty sure you don’t ascribe to this narrow view. I’m sure instead that you see the utility of organizations that invest time, money and energy into studies, research, ethical behavior, latest practices and their benefits/disadvantages, scheduling conferences, sharing information amongst peers, etc., etc., and then making all of that available to the discipline they are themselves members of.

        Larry,

        This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Outside organizations that perform research into disease, ethical questions, and medical technology are not interfering with individual healthcare decisions, but instead are supplying additional information so that the individual and his doctor can make more informed healthcare decisions. These organizations that add so much to the entire system of healthcare would, in a universal system, be, in many ways, under the auspices of government, controlled and confined by a bureaucracy that may or may not see the value of their research. This is very different from private enterprise that, admittedly, may in part rely on government grants to produce research.

        This bureaucratic decision making process is pretty much the same in government as it is in the private sector.

        The private sector is driven by profit instead of the doctrine of utilitarianism. The latter interferes with the rights of the individual and its goal is abstract and philosophical, while the former consists of not one but many and the collective goal is profit.

        It’s possible that private enterprise can interfere with individual rights, but as I said in my last response, the possibility is much less because the individual is in control. He has choice.

        Without organizations to serve them and provide guidance for their fields, professionals on their own would have less to offer their customers/clients/patients than those who do not abide by standards and codes that govern their carer choices. And this is what is occurring where government-funded health care systems are involved. Contrary to what you believe, people who are receiving health care coverage under a single payer plan get some choice in their physician and physicians have a wide latitude in remedies they can prescribe to their patient.

        It’s not the same, Larry. All of those organizations you mention do not interfere with individual healthcare decisions – at least no more than necessary to produce a recommendation of treatment for a particular disease or disorder. Even then it’s still left up to the patient and the physician.

        You keep saying that this is what government does and this is what would occur under a single-payer system, etc, etc, etc…. But there is evidence of my fears transforming into reality. Baby Joseph, whether you see it or not, is a perfect example of the kind of bureaucratic nonsense I’m talking about.

        On that latter point however we know that within medicine there are those who see profits over people and allow these self-interests to put their patients at risk.

        We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I see cost-containment strategies that run rampant in single-payer systems as being detrimental to individual well-being. They cause harm to the patient and emotional harm to their families. They exist much less in a realm where people have choice.

        That aside, however, I honestly take issue with this statement because it seems a bit – and I mean no offense – naive. You must know that the FDA – a government bureaucracy – approves drugs it has no business approving. Why? They’re bought off.

        So, if people are going to be bought off thereby putting me at risk, then at least let it happen in the private sector where I can maneuver a bit! Eliminating the private sector healthcare system is not going to happen completely – since you’ll need drug companies – so a single-payer system is not going to eliminate the corruption. It’ll confine it more.

        Secondly, there is the presumption in your comment that patients always know what’s better for them and though I think it’s true that patients know better than anyone else what ails them, they don’t always know what will cure them. That’s what their doctor is for but then it would be silly to assume that doctors always make the right decisions.

        This sort of comment is very dangerous. It seems like you’re saying that because people cannot be trusted to always make the right decision, they require not just advice – from the organizations you mention – but forceful direction by government.

        They have to defer to the ethical standards, science and knowledge of those administrative boards I referred to above.

        Those boards can only make a recommendation. They do not force anything, withhold anything, or interfere in anyway with personal healthcare decisions. This is not the same in a single-payer system, as the case of Baby Joseph clearly demonstrates.

        In the case of baby Joseph, I’m not sure why the doctors and the other humans involved in their decision didn’t allow the child to return home with his parents. But this singular example is not indicative of how all “bureaucratic” organizations respond under such complicated circumstances and to assume that such human errors don’t occur in the free markets is naive I think.

        I am not suggesting that tragedies like this do not occur within private sector healthcare. I do, however, suggest the possibility is much less because the control private enterprise has over me is much less than what government would have under a single-payer system.

        I would also mention that Baby Joseph is just one example. There are others – many others. But you don’t need individual cases to know what I’m talking about. You only have to look at government and how they operate to see the dangers of a single-payer healthcare system.

        I will repeat that our system of healthcare is not perfect. It needs some help. I just don’t think that help should be such a drastic overall. As it stands now, individuals have choice, so I maintain that the possibility of usurpation of individual rights is much, much less.

        I would just close with this Terrance. I thought I read into most of your comments a reactionary style of thinking, much like those within the Tea Party who are adamantly anti-government without considering that there might be any virtue to a government/free market effort. I hope I am wrong.

        I know. I use the term big government a lot. I’m not a Tea Party member, but I’ve always leaned a bit libertarian. Sometimes I’m a left-libertarian and sometimes I’m a right-libertarian (as my former blog name indicated). I’m always suspicious of government, but that suspicion does not always translate into rejection. In this case, it does .

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