Monday, July 28, 2008

I Got My Ears Cleaned

It was my first encounter with Canada's socialized healthcare system.

The wait wasn't too bad and the care wasn't too sloppy. I had maybe ten minutes in the waiting room, a few minutes waiting for the doctor, then some more for the nurse, and then more for the doctor again because my clogged ear is inflamed. We decided it wasn't worth worrying about and then he left.

When I got home I had to finish cleaning my non-plugged ear because the nurse didn't and I was lopsided again. (That wax plug was enormous. Sadly she wouldn't let me inspect it. "I need to look in your ear now." "Sorry.")

Unfortunately, I have found that I feel uncomfortable receiving services without paying for them. When the doctor left I instinctively attempted to find a person to pay.

Still, I've mostly cleared my right leaning/an-cap bias and now I can see the point of socializing things: it turns an economic transaction into a more social transaction. I feel goodwill for the doctor and nurse as if we were friends now. He has provided for me, and I am willing to provide for him in turn.

Except, of course, I can't. It goes deeper of course, and there are more solid justifications for socializing things, but that's all I'm going to write down for now.

On the downside my hearing is way too good and everything has an edge of pain on it now, even typing. On the upside I had become deaf to certain frequencies and now I get pleasantly startled when I hear them again. My hearing has become very sensitive and the information bandwidth has increased by a subjective factor of two. For instance I am basically echolocating S sounds at the moment. In short, my experience has suddenly become much richer.


H.C said...

I think it is in the economical interest of a country to have a healthy work force. Disease costs more than prevention. Unproductive citizens pay less taxes.

However, if you run your heath system like a for-profit business, with health insurance and hospitals that are private businesses, then a company has an incentive to select only healthy people as subscribers or to penalize already sick ones. And believe me, when you learn you are sick, you probably don't want to worry about how you will be able to pay - or - God forbid - be forced to give up a better treatment because you can't afford it.

Even if they accept you as a customer, they will tend to do as little as possible for you because treatment is expensive.

Now, let's assume you have socialized health care. Then you could run into other problems: not enough resources, government approved lists of drugs and diagnose/treatment procedures (I would prefer doctors to decide what drugs and treatments work best instead of bureaucrats). Even more, drug and medical technology producers are still private businesses and they tend to form an unholy alliance with the government ppl. who manage the heath care system.

In a socialized medicine system there people would be tempted to start paying bribes to doctors for preferential treatment (faster access, more expensive treatments, etc)

If the government starts to give ratings to hospitals&doctors based on their treatment success rates, then they will tend to avoid difficult cases so as not to blemish their record. Thus you cannot base your government money allocation solely on success rate.

Even if a country like USA would want to socialize medicine, it wold be very very difficult given that hospitals are privately owned and doctors, after investing a lot of years (and money) in their specialization, expect to get paid back handsomely - which is not the case in a socialized medicine country where a doctor gets a decent wage, like a teacher or other govt. employee.

Even if we try to demonetize health, it still will still be dependent upon money as hospitals, equipment and hiring doctors and nurses costs money.

My solution - I don't have one. But I don't want to be discriminated based on my health risks. It's a terrible gamble. If everyone is not paying the same and we start asking people to pay depending on their condition, we might have a class of medical destitutes. And that is a tragedy.

Alrenous said...

I would personally use the private system and add charity for the hard cases. The instability of a socialized system seems to me to be more dangerous than the risk of the charity failing to find funds.

But, as I'm fond of noting, it's the nature of democracies that their citizens begin to think that they know how to run a country. This isn't based on actual aptitude.