Health Care Reform: A Market-Based Approach

There’s a doctor you can trust.

So, according to (Mormon) God’s own newsman, Glenn Beck, the health care reform that passed earlier in the year is incredibly unpopular. He doesn’t say how he knows this; perhaps there are some magical golden polls that only he can read. Anyway, if he says it, it must be true–why else would Rush Limbaugh agree with him?

Clearly, it’s time to junk that and start over. Let’s have something that the Republicans and the libertarians can agree on: Market-based reform. 

The free market, as you probably know, is second only to the Christian God in its infallibility. For those of you keeping score at home, it’s currently tied with the Pope and just ahead of Wikipedia. Since God hasn’t seen fit to add His two shekels in the matter, and the Pope doesn’t really have much sway over non-fetus-related things in this country, Obi Wan the market is our only hope.

And that only makes sense. Americans love choices, and the free market is nothing if not replete with choices. (If you’re not an American, I’m not sure how you’re reading the Internet by firelight. Is there some sort of Peace Corps program where we send town criers with iPads around to lesser-developed places like Sweden or–god forbid–Canada? If so, let’s cut that funding out. Can’t be spending money on foreign countries that isn’t explosive.) However, a big problem with effective market-based reforms is that free markets require informed choices to function efficiently. Now, prices are information, but that’s not enough. There needs to be some way of evaluating the quality of medical care you can expect other than price. And don’t start with some bullshit like Angie’s List. Not awesome enough for this country. We need bold solutions for a bold people.

So here’s the deal. For every awful mistake a doctor makes, instead of having expensive and lengthy litigation, that doctor gets one tooth removed. Calm down–I’m not talking about garage dentistry. I mean that, if a doctor does something like misdiagnoses a terminal illness or cuts off the wrong limb, he or she gets taken to the dentist, anesthetized, and has a tooth extracted. Said doctor is then billed for the service, prescribed the appropriate painkillers, and returned to work. You have 32 teeth. At an acceptable mistake rate of one per year, you could still have a 30+ year career in the field.

It’s an elegant scheme. Now you can evaluate the doctor’s price AND the doctor’s gums. And you can make your risk vs. cost calculation yourself. A doctor with many fewer teeth will be required to charge less than a doctor with all of his or her choppers, because the skill levels are so obviously different. So just how badly do you need that stent put in? And what’s it worth to you?  

We keep our precious choices, and the heavy hand of government is free to squash the shit out of brown people. Just the way (White) God intended.

2 thoughts on “Health Care Reform: A Market-Based Approach

  1. Dumb Question. If healthcare operates by a market-based approach, shouldn’t the various healthcare companies charge the amount which maximizes their profit?
    And if someone can’t afford their product, that isn’t a problem – in maximizing your profit you will, by necessity, price yourself out of some markets.

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