Part of a series on the Five Biggest Problems Facing America:
3. Corporate tax loopholes (Tuesday)
2. Medicare (Wednesday)
1. Money in politics (Thursday)
Our healthcare system is broken. Super broken. IMHO, the only thing more broken is our politics, and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Healthcare is broken for a number of reasons, but if we’ve got to pick one, it’s got to be Medicare. Yesterday, an Op Ed in the StarTribune reported that an orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. charges twice as much for that procedure as doctors in other Western countries. That doctor charges what he does based on what Medicare will reimburse him for that procedure. The calculation is usually this: take what Medicare will reimburse, upcharge 65%, and send that bill to the insurance company or, in the worse case scenario, to the uninsured patient.
So we’ve got an odd public-private thing going on in medicine in America. The health care system is run by private, often for-profit, corporations, but it is regulated by the federal government. Whether you think that regulation is light or heavy depends on your perspective. But, I think that both-and solution doesn’t work.
The free market does some things well. Computers, for instance. But health care it does not do well. That’s because when people are buying a computer, they’re usually in a good state to make a major purchase. But when they need to make medical decisions, they are most often ailing, and not in good stead to shop around.
But, even worse, is that Medicare is going bankrupt — a lot faster than Social Security. We cannot pay as a society for what we have promised. The costs of Medicare are vastly overtaking its revenue, and this reality is crippling our economy.
I realize that I disagree with some commenters here, like Patrick, whom I respect greatly. I do think that the government does some things better than the market. Health care is one. Thus, I’m for, dare I say it, a socialized health care system in the U.S.