by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Yesterday, I inadvertently squandered $4000 plus worth of medical resources during a lunch break. That I could do this, gain no benefit, and not even see the bills, is what’s right and wrong with American medical care.
I’ll tell the story in moment but first consider that none of the politically active reform proposals being debated deal with the absence of market pricing for medical care, that system-wide problem that there is a disconnect between the supplier and the consumer, and this problem is absolutely pervasive. You rarely know the prices of what you are getting, and even when you do, the prices are an abstraction: something to know but not act on, since they don’t really affect your premiums as with other forms of insurance.
The result is hardly surprising. End-user costs soar higher and higher and resource use lacks that essential component of economizing by priority. The American system just assumes that there is no such thing as too much technology, too many drugs, too much service, too much care. The consumer, in the end, isn’t really a consumer but a passive conduit of an unchecked contractual relationship between producer and third-party payers who are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.