Over and over the term “value” comes up in Congress’ debate over health care.
No one can argue that anything is more valuable than one’s own right leg, until that is the use of it is weighed against the use of one’s mind.
Lose the brain, and the leg becomes less important.
Such is the nature of economics.
It is said that an item’s worth is measured by what someone else will pay for it.
This begs the question, “of what use is my own right leg to you?”.
If I am helping you carry a piece of furniture, it becomes very important (the two of us need all four legs to carry a sofa). The same can be said if you apply this concept of work to the economic system on the whole.
We each need what the other brings to the table.
I once had an acquaintance who was paralyzed from the neck down. She could still use a blow pipe (similar to Steven Hawking, if you’ve seen him) and she could use it to enter data in spreadsheets for companies. She made her living this way.
She also contributed to the tax system.
She did not need to move furniture, but could earn money to pay the fellow’s legs who did (need to move furniture, that is).
When it comes to health care, how does one measure value?
Would you trade a leg for the knowledge required to manipulate data in a computer with a blowpipe?
If my acquaintance could get her legs (and body) back, I feel more than certain she would trade the blow pipe for the use of her hands.
I do not feel so inclined to put body, heart and soul (literally) on a roullette wheel.
When I was a boy, I would sometimes travel to a resort in Georgia to play golf with my Grandfather. He had a friend down there who would play with us sometimes – a banker from Canada.
He told us never to allow our government to bring about socialized medicine. He said that he was on a quota system in Canada (this was 20 years ago) and that to get a procedure to fix a faulty heart that it was a crap shoot. You were constantly waiting for your number to come up – good, or bad.
You’d either get the procedure, or you would “check out” of this life.
He told us he went to Michigan for all his health care and paid for it out of his own pocket.
Somehow, I just don’t feel comfortable heading South to Mexico.
In spite of all this, there is some good talk about competition going on in Washington.
Competition would have a grand effect, I believe, on health care.
Doctors might be required to compete with one another for the service they provide.
Think of “pain-free” dentistry.
For once, they have us and our needs in mind.
That is not to say that my other physicians do not do a good job of treating me (they are excellent).
But there is room for improvement where the services are concerned. The health care system takes on an aire that is similar to what I’ve seen down on the farm.
Herd ’em up, send them through a shoot, keep them waiting in line (or waiting room), lock one in a head-gate (or exam room) and then come in lickety split, and treat them.
The farm animals are subject to a slap on the posterior, but at least they get to go back to the feed lot.
We have to again stand in line and pay for all this indignity.
Granted, it is a trite example, but one can begin to feel like a number.
Compare this to your experience at a five-star restaraunt or a fast food counter.
I think there should be a sliding scale of service in health care. You get what you are willing to pay for.
If you have a sore throat, go to a clinic. If you want your heart operated on, go to the Mayo clinic.
But then the question becomes “who pays?”.
The same thing can be said for eateries.
If you have two bucks in your pocket, you can go to the Burger King and get a breakfast sandwich and a cup of java.
If you have a hundred bucks, you can go to a five star and get Eggs Benedict.
Service should be based on economy, and what you most value.
Alternately, you can look at any line at any government “service” outfit and answer the cattle call.