Have you noticed that when the government becomes interested in something for you and works to be sure that you get it, whatever that is tends to become unaffordable? When only the brightest students went on to college, a lot of them had to work their way through–and did. Then, it was decided that folks had a right of some sort to higher education and government poured money and laws into that so it would happen. Now, a disproportionate few can afford college and working is no longer an accepted answer. The government’s solution, student loans, have turned a generation of grads (and non-grads) into indentured servants of sorts. That in turn, has cut into their ability to finance their retirement. And dumbed-down the colleges to achieve a more acceptable grad rate. Big help from government, right? Now that our living standard is dropping, fewer are marrying and having kids; those who do, are wondering how those kids will ever get to college. The condition after the government’s solution, is worse than it was in the first place. Reminds of an old Scriptural story about folks who cast out demons by calling on Beelzebub, a ‘cure’ that worsened the disease.
It’s looking as though health care may be another such as Obamacare rides in. Not only are administrative clogs holding up the work, with the employer mandate now held up for a year, but doctor shortages are predicted and the costs have jumped alarmingly, with insurance premiums ballooning. It’s getting hard to see how anyone with coverage to begin with, is going to be as well off as before, let alone the better off promised. And we all know that before the government regulated health insurance, a doctor would come to your house to see your sick kid and in rural areas, might have accepted a couple dozen eggs in payment. No, not kidding!
This ‘government effect’ is a universal in history we should have anticipated but somehow, another universal has been everybody forgetting it every time another government solution is on offer. There’s still another universal though when government doesn’t scotch it: it’s called, ‘the market.’ Whenever there is capitalism, opportunity calls up entrepeneurs to service it. Overpriced services are such an opportunity and one response is coming from pharmacists.
Pharmacy clinics explains the situation. Those walk-in clinics at Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacies–about a thousand of them so far–have been testing the idea. Per the report, they charge about a third what you might pay at the ER and half what your doctor’s office charges for comparable services, while the care is fully competitive. The testing has been so successful that they’re being expanded in number and in the care they provide. And as the story linked above points out, the health care industry (read: the government, now) needs to be scared pea-green of them.
See, they’re going to soak up all the easy, high profit, low risk volume business from the ER’s and doctor’s offices via price, access and service quality. Which of course, they should, with their better mousetrap model. But that’s going to leave the government’s servants and agents hanging in the cold wind of high-risk, difficult, already overpriced procedures without any easy money to cover them. Oops… How will the “Affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act be able to exist?
Historically, government isn’t fond of competition. It prefers overpriced monopoly, so long as it’s the monopolist. We note that private health care has been proliferating in Canada. Maybe the Canadians will legislate it out of existence or maybe they have by now, I don’t know. In the U.S. I expect regulation to increase the difficulty of opening clinics, but perhaps that’s too pessimistic.
Maybe instead, government will get the picture and deregulate the industry, returning it to private hands providing truly affordable care. Any bets?