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Hidden Image Four

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Hidden Image Four
 
Just as in the other Hidden Image essays, I am going to show you one more fact that no one discusses but is vital to functioning for our best interest as a society.  Of course it's up to you, for now, to ask the how and why are these Hidden Images being hidden.
 
Health Care.  A subject which has come to the forefront of discussion lately.  Yes, it's costly.  But why?  Seems the discussion has skipped over the why in favor of getting it for free, which eliminates for most people, much of the interest in the question of why.  It's not really free of course but the cost question has now been framed or boxed into only a couple of choices; single or non-single payer.  But there's some seriously obvious reasons for health care cost being high and for taking a serious looking at them.
 
Doctors and health care are a monopoly.  It's quantity and quality is regulated.  Yes, I know, who'd want a car mechanic doing your heart surgery?  But is this monopoly working?  If not then perhaps we should be taking a second look at supporting it?
 
According to Center for Disease Control, the third leading cause for preventable death is our health care system itself!  Yes, figures given by different studies all place things like, death by unnecessary surgery, medication errors etc. in hospitals, infections in hospitals, and negative effects of drugs third only to heart disease and cancer.
 
How about quality compared to the rest of the world?  The U. S. ranks differently according to different studies but 12th out of 13 industrialized countries, and 15th out of 25 or 37th out of 191 when included in other countries.  Hmmm.
 
Next we consider cost compared to other countries.  Without charts and graphs just consider how many people you know who go to foreign countries to get medical care.  They pay for their travel expensive and the care with less money than getting that care at home!  This is not uncommon. 
 
Now consider how may rational, thoughtful people have said this monopoly is not good.  Here's the Abstract from a peer reviewed paper titled:
 

Medical Licensure: Social Costs and Social Benefits, by Elton Rayack © 1983 Springer. http://www.jstor.org/pss/1393537

Abstract

Society has granted considerable regulatory powers to physician-dominated licensing boards. While achieving the social benefit of protecting the consumer by maintaining minimum standards for entry into the profession, the licensure mechanism has also resulted in substantial social costs. Excessive restriction on entry into the profession has occurred; difficulty in developing innovations in the distribution of medical care have resulted; and severe limitations on the activities of nonmedical health practitioners who pose a competitive threat to the physician have taken place. To reduce these social costs, the licensing mechanism should be reconstructed with physicians serving in advisory, not policy-making, positions. While it is not a governmental agency, the [American Medical] Association has maintained a lively interest in legislation bearing upon medical education, especially the organization of state licensing boards and the passage of basic science requirements as a prerequisite for medical school attendance and licensure.... The real beneficiary of this extensive activity is the patient (Bauer, 1965, pp. 308-310). For decades it [the American Medical Association] kept down the number of physicians, kept up the costs of medical care, and prevented competition with "duly apprenticed and sworn" physicians by people from outside the profession-all, of course, in the name of helping the patient.... It is clear that licensure is the key to the medical profession's ability to restrict the number of physicians who practice medicine. It is also the key to its ability to restrict technological and organizational changes in the way medicine is conducted (Friedman and Friedman, 1981, p. 221; Friedman, 1962, p. 154).
Here's what Wikipedia says:
Profession and monopoly, a book published in 1975 is critical of the AMA for limiting the supply of physicians and inflating the cost of medical care in the United States. The book claims that physician supply is kept low by the AMA to ensure high pay for practicing physicians. It states that in the United States the number, curriculum, and size of medical schools are restricted by state licensing boards controlled by representatives of state medical societies associated with the AMA. The book is also critical of the ethical rules adopted by the AMA which restrict advertisement and other types of competition between professionals. It points out that advertising and bargaining can result in expulsion from the AMA and legal revocation of licenses.
Here's some other reading material:
100 Years of Medical Robbery http://mises.org/story/1547
 
The Medical Monopoly: Protecting Consumers or Limiting Competition? by Sue Blevins http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=1105&full=1
 
The Case against Medical Licensing by Lawrence D. Wilson January 1994
http://www.fff.org/freedom/0194d.asp
 
Jay Mock

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