From Pine View Farm

Bush’s Delusional Healthcare Fantasies 2

WASHINGTON — President Bush argued Thursday that the United States needs a health care system in which patients pay more directly for their care, because that will turn them into comparison shoppers whose interest in a good deal will drive costs down.

Bush said the current system, in which employers and insurance companies are the most involved in paying health care bills, makes individuals less engaged in the cost of the procedures they get.

“When somebody else pays the bills, rarely do you ask price or ask the cost of something,” the president said during a panel discussion on his health care initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services. “The problem with that is that there’s no kind of market force, there’s no consumer advocacy for reasonable price when somebody else pays the bills. One of the reasons why we’re having inflation in health care is because there is no sense of market.”

Let us look at this critically.

It’s Republi elephant dung.

When the doctor sends someone to a specialist, how often do real people shop around?

If one trusts one’s doctor, one goes to the specialist one’s doctor recommends. Period.

When the doctor gives someone a prescription for a lab test, whether it is something relatively inexpensive, such as a CBC or something expensive, such as an MRI, how likely is one to say, “Gee, Doc, is this the best deal? Can I get it more cheaply somewhere else?” Nooooo, indebtedness breath.

One goes where one is sent.

Also to the point, how often are there competing prices? In my part of the world, we have a choice between Labcorp and, er, Labcorp. (Now, this is not a criticism of Labcorp. They’ve always treated me well and haven’t screwed up any results.)

And even more also to the point, the most expensive treatments and tests take place when someone is in the hospital. In the hospital, there is no choice. Period. Ever.

Try it. Get sick. Get admitted. Wait until the attending physician orders tests. Then ask for competitive bids.

Yeah. Right.

Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The rich are different from you and me.”

Mr. Bush is a child of privilege. He perhaps could, while on his sick bed, negotiate with the hospital for an RFQ on the tests that have to be done within the next two hours to save his life.

But the rest of us could not.

He has no idea what real life is like for most of us.

This proposal does not contemplate the well-being of the citizenry of the United States of America.

But I got a dollar to a doughnut that, if it is enacted, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

After all, that is his track record, is it not?



  1. Opie

    February 16, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    I think we ignore the principal of shopping for health care at our own peril. Yes, it doesn’t take long to find examples of where it’s impractical, but it doesn’t take long to find impracticalities in the present system either. I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t want to look at some improvements in the system.

  2. Frank

    February 22, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    Yeah, the system needs to be changed. But I don’t trust a single idea from the current Federal Administration about how to change it. Look at the hash they have made of the Medicare drug plan–their own plan, I might add, rammed through Congress in the dead of night.

    In fact, look at the hash they have made of every original proposal they have enacted.

    They have created a Ponzi Scheme for the federal budget, lied us into a war while ignoring all warnings of danger, allowed thousands of our fellows to drown–the list just goes one.

    Mr. Bush was a failure at every job he had before he got his current job. He has not broken his string.

    I think a single-payer system makes the most sense: why pay 15 armies of clerks when you can pay one army of clerks.

    But that won’t fly with the current Federal Administration because it won’t make the rich, richer, and the poor, poorer. Especially the rich, richer.