By Ralph Hood
Last week The Erwin Record ran a fine opinion piece by Caitlyn Lawson. She started by saying that healthcare costs are “whirling out of control” and she ended by saying that “Something MUST change.”
Ah, Caitlyn, I agree with you whole heartedly, and let me say that you stated your case extremely well.
Caitlyn, let me suggest one thing that can—and should—be changed. We are accustomed to buying goods and services in the competitive free market, in which retailers compete for your dollars. Healthcare, however, does not operate within the free market.
Our guvmint, it seems, thinks that healthcare is too important and/or too complex to be subject to the free market.
Take hospitals, for one example. If a group of investors decide to build, open, and operate a new hospital in Podunk, they aren’t allowed to do it without first getting permission from the guvmint (Don’t worry, Caitlyn, I really do know how to spell government. I just use the word guvmint to show my disdain in many cases.). Thus, the investors must spend a great deal of money convincing the powers that be that Podunk needs a new hospital and that they will provide what Podunk needs.
Caitlyn, after all that money is spent just to get permission, you can bet they have to get that back from—you guessed it—patients at the hospital. Not only that, but they will be protected from competition from other new hospitals.
And that’s not all. They will also be required to get permission to buy expensive new equipment for the hospital.
Consider the opposite case—if a group of investors want to open a new retail store they do not have to get permission, and they do not get protection from competitors. Obviously, they must compete with every other retail store in Podunk.
Health insurance? There are restrictions to selling health insurance across state lines. Does that have a tendency to raise prices? Yes, it does.
Physicians, BTW, must also follow guvmint rules. I was taking some right expensive shots last year, and the physician told me that it was not legal for him to give leftover medicine to the indigent!
Drugs? Don’t get me started!
You’re right, Caitlyn, something must be done. I suggest that our first step should be to stop doing something. We need to stop this costly guvmint regulation.
You are helping by calling attention to the prohibitively expensive status quo. Many successful and wonderful public changes started with the efforts of a person like you.
Please keep up the good work.