Nationalized Health Care: The Counter Argument II

One of the arguments set forth by the Nationalized Health Care crowd is that doctors perform unnecessary tests on patients.  They say that there are more Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests done on patients in the United States than in any other coutry.  They say that there are more X-rays, more berium tests, more cat scans, etc.  They say that these tests are done uneccesarily, and that the greedy doctors are subjecting the patients with good insurance plans to these tests to recoup the costs of the procedures done on patients with poorer plans that could not pay.  I don’t believe that is true in all cases, but it may be in some.  I believe that doctors perform these tests to help them reach an ultimate conclusion.  I say ultimate conclusion, because in my life I’ve seen doctors change.  I’ve seen them fear diagnosing an illness for fear that they may be wrong, and they may face a lawsuit because of it.  I’ve had the same family practioner my whole life, and I’ve seen the man change. 

     But let’s say that it’s generally true that doctors overtest for the sole pursuit of money.  Let’s say that we need this nationalized health care to put limits on “unneccessary” testing of patients.  What happens in the anecdotal case where a patient comes into a family practioner’s office with a cough.  Let’s say that the government states that a doctor can only perform tests A and B or C and D.  What happens when that patient dies of pneumonia.  Obama has stated that he will not place caps on Health Care lawsuits.  He has basically stated that there will be no tort reform at all, as far as I know.  Who does that patient’s family sue then?  You have to have permission to sue the government.  If you attempt to sue the doctor, he’ll say that he was limited by the national health care edicts on such testing, so he couldn’t perform all of the tests necessary to locate that strain of pneumonia.  How can we even think of passing a boondoggle such as this without some reform in the legal arena?  It makes no sense to me. 

      Another phrase being bandied about is the idea that we have to “cut health care costs.”  While I do not doubt that health care costs must be cut, I have to ask from where will these costs be cut?  We don’t spend any money on assisting those who are not sick, so we will be cutting costs on the sick and infirmed.  How will these “cuts” manifest themselves.  Who will determine where these cuts occur and on who?   This is a big question that no one will answer. 

        The answer to that question, to some of you, may be: “Then, why don’t you just pay for these procedures rather than putting such a strain on the health care system.”  This has been addressed by some U.S. politicians, and in Britian.  They have laid the notion that it is not fair that one person receives the A and B procedures when a person who does not have the same means doesn’t have that kind of money. 

       An answer other people may have is that they will eventually work all this out.  Through the procedures of government, with all of the factions having their input, we will eventually arrive at a compromise that is well considered by all.  Really?  I hope so.  I hope that the politicians reach a compromise that accounts for all voices, but I still have one fear.  This fear was compounded when I heard that years before his election Obama talked about an entering wedge strategy.  He said that a “single payer system” could not be put into place all at once, and that it would take years to advance, step by step to the goal.  In others words, they foresaw that this would hit some potholes.  They probably even knew that certain facets would be rejected outright, but I’m assuming that they’re very patient, as all good liberals are.  I’m assuming that they will compromise on the End of Life proposals and the public option, but once they get that bill passed into law, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are able to get those proposals back on the table after some anecdotal situations arise in some state that provided an unforeseen circumstance that was not addressed in the original bill. 

        In the end, the question must be asked: Is it all that bad?  Have we been driven into a tizzy by political opportunists that seek to gather more political capital by preying on our fears?  And will the eventual proposal that gets signed into law cure all of the problems in the health care bill, or will it expand some of the problems and create new ones?  I think we’ve all had run ins with government on one level or another, whether it’s the DMV, in the taxes we pay, or with state legislation proposals.  How many of them have worked out to a degree where we wanted to turn to government again?  The answer to that question from some I have encountered is: the government is not some scary monolith.  It’s made up of people like you and I.  Ah, but there is the rub.  In my experience, it has been easier to deal with the individuals from private corporations, because I have the ultimate threat with them: I can tell them they’re not getting one more cent of my money.  This has usually caused a favorable reaction.  Those who work for the government have usually snickered at me in the face of similar threats.  “Where else you gonna go?” they ask without saying it.


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