Archive | January, 2017

Why Our Medical System is Going to Destroy Our Economy and Way of Life (Please Help)

23 Jan

This is a short letter I would like everyone to send to President Trump once a day (https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact).  I’ll explain why below.


 

Dear President Trump,

Please follow through with your promises on healthcare so our medical system does not bankrupt our nation (this is about far, far more than Obamacare).  All of this can be done by enforcing existing anti-laws.  From your campaign website:

“5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.

  1. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.”

 

Why is this important?  Right now, a 37% of the federal budget is going to just to Medicare and Medicaid (https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231561, for full spreadsheet see https://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/fsreports/rpt/mthTreasStmt/mts0916.pdf and look on page 31 for everything under “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services”).  Beyond that, health care in total for the country is nearing 20% of GDP.

That is a huge portion of the economy and it is continuing to grow at an alarming rate (against both the federal budget and total GDP) every year.  At the federal level, last year we saw the good news being “hospital benefit payments” up only 8.4% (https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231763).  Medicare Part D was up 26%.   Needless to say, that 37% of the budget will look small in no time at all.

While prices are rising like this, the medical industry has been allowed to act as basically exempt from anti-trust laws.  It is very hard to compare prices.  Meanwhile, the industry charges in ways to maximize what they get from each customer (different prices depending on which insurance company is used, whether you are paying yourself, etc).   Try charging vastly different rates for people based on payment method in other industries and you’d go to jail.

Beyond just meaning we have more and more money going just to a single industry, these facts also mean it is literally impossible to deal with the federal budget deficit or total debt in general in this country (which continues to rise every single year for a long time now).

The federal government has the advantage of having the world’s reserve currency to use, but don’t confuse the fact they can run large deficits now with an argument they can forever.  With big enough debt, all it takes is a small scare to force up the interest rates on government debt.  If they cannot stop that can kind of scare immediately, then the government is forced to borrow more (to pay the added interest on the debt), which likely only intensifies the scare and moves interest up further.  Very shortly afterward, you are in a chain reaction that utterly and completely destroys the government’s ability to borrow (this is not a new type of event; we see it throughout history).

Unfortunately, right now, neither Republican nor Democrat plans do anything to address this as their plans do very little to encourage lower prices throughout the medical industry (they do far more cost shifting).  Fixing this problem means accepting that doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, etc all end up with less money and means accepting a big contraction in GDP for a year or two (as the medical industry would shrink considerably).

President Trump actually did have the right idea in some of his campaign literature, but as president he seems to have dropped those and taken up more standard Republican positions.  Sadly, we need real change here and we can no longer afford to wait long.  Enforcing anti-trust laws in medicine is the only remaining feasible way we are going to address this issue in time for it to do any good.  That is why I am asking you to send the above letter.  My hope it is that if we can get enough people to do it, it will get Trump’s attention, and we at least stand a chance. Every other alternative is extremely bleak.

Thank you for your time.

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