Friday, July 6, 2007

In SiCKOness and in Health, pt. 2 - It occurs to me in retrospect that in two hours of what was equal parts a woeful sob-fest, a melodramatic passion play and a full-on propaganda piece (complete with commentary from Che Guevara's daughter), there was no mention of the role of trial lawyers and their impact on the practice - and thereby the cost - of providing health care. On his way to a more perfect worker's paradise, Michael Moore conveniently skates past physicians and hospitals feeling the need to practice so-called defensive medicine. (Indeed, it is interesting that Moore finds it unnecessary to talk with any American doctors, even those who might be sympathetic to his cause.)

Perhaps this oversight is due to the fact that the trial bar might well be the greatest obstacle on the way to a more perfect health care system. It would seem that socializing medicine would take away several revenue streams from entrepreneurial lawyers (although as a percentage of health care expenditures, the cost of defending malpractice claims is fairly small); if people cannot sue the government or providers in its employ, lawyers would be left to sue pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, all of whom would certainly pack up their assets and expertise like so many marbles and take them where they are appreciated.

Similarly, it is curious that Moore seems to either condescend to or abuse everyone in his vicinity, no matter who they are or what side of the issue they may take. Predictably, insurance companies (along with drug companies, the AMA and politicians of every stripe) are set up as perfectly malignant. But even the family members he profiles who have lost loved ones due to insurance company malfeasance are treated as props to make his subject matter more riveting. While their stories add pathos to the movie, they shed no light on the situation of the majority for whom our health care system works just fine.

In like fashion, the medical practitioners from Europe, Canada and elsewhere are subjected to a mindless stream of inquiry from Moore, who already seems to know his answers to the questions before he asks them. "No Monsieur Moore, no one is 'ze France has to pay for 'le medication, 'ze doctor or 'le hospital." Even the 9/11 World Trade Center rescue workers that Moore leads around Cuba like show ponies come across as more pathetic as opposed to heroic. But Moore saves his worst insults for his audience. By not examining the issue of health care from all sides, Moore evidences his abiding contempt for those whom he hopes to persuade. To be sure, Moore appears to be fearful of actually encouraging his followers to think about how health care resources should be allocated, lest they come to a conclusion other than the one that he has preordained as the correct one.

Of course, this does not surprise, as it is of a piece with the behavior of liberals across the board. The enemies of the Left are to be anathematized, while the sycophantic patrons of liberalism are forced to swallow whole nonsensical notions of progressivism. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch in any other arena, there is no such thing as free health care - nor should there be. For when any necessary good or service is stripped of its cost, it is also robbed of its value, and consumption will invariably exceed supply. This is reflected in the rationing of health care that has been seen in Canada (where in 2003, 1.2 million Canadians were unable to find a primary care provider and where a doctor sued the government of Quebec, alleging that the province's health care regulations were illegally restrictive), and elsewhere.

A sure-fire solution to this problem has yet evaded this lowly scribbler, but my sense is that the path to an answer points in the direction of individuals paying for health care services in the same way that we finance other purchases; we rightly do not countenance universal "house care", or "car care". Were people able to negotiate and pay for for packages of primary health care for themselves and their families - supplemented by catastrophic insurance provided by private insurers - a massive administrative burden would be lifted off the backs of physician practices and hospitals, and the subsequent cost savings could be passed on the health care consumers.

By way of empowering consumers and removing government dollars and regulations, individuals will be responsible for "rationing" their own health care in the same way that I ration myself one home to live in and one care to drive. But I suspect that such a solution would be unacceptable to the Left, entirely because (as stated elsewhere) it is insufficiently equal, as the Left has enslaved itself to equality of misery as opposed to either quality of life or freedom of choice.

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