Chinese free market healthcare - pt. 1, Intro./current American circus

Posted On: Monday - October 9th 2017 5:27PM MST
In Topics: 
  China  Economics  Liberty/Libertarianism  Healthcare Stupidity

Finally we come to write the long-promised eye-witness post on the Chinese health-care system. The experience was more than a month ago, and I won't get too specific, as readers of this blog must know by now. I really do wish I had taken some photos, but am not a big smart-device guy, and honestly did not take a one. The coupla' pictures here are the usual file photos (nowadays, that means just pictures searched for and swiped off the internet).

Chinese Hospital - Busy, but no more Chairman Mao Commie Busywork

This post is really more on economics than specifics of health care, as the system itself, not quite so much the doctors, nurses and equipment, are what makes the current American "system" the complete cluster-fuck that it is and the Chinese one very pleasant if not quite as advanced in some ways. This history of the downfall of American healthcare from a free-market system to a bureaucratic nightmare is too long and sad for this post. I think one would need to go back to 1970, but more like, 1960, to remember or find out about the free-market we had. China has come from a Communist centralized bureaucracy to something more free-market than a libertarians dream in those same 4 or 5 decades, but most likely all the changes have been during the last 3.

The important thing to do in reading this post and understanding the health care market changes is to separate out the technological and knowledge advances out from the economic system changes. Of course, one could not get open-heart surgery in 1960 to repair clogged arteries! You'd be dead, is all there'd been to it, anywhere in the world. Got a brain tumor in 1975? Well, they didn't know - there was no CAT scan. It was mostly guesswork and medical experience, but no color pictures. Yes, there have been tremendous scientific/engineering improvements to diagnosis and cures since 1960. That's not the point here. The free market that the US had economically in general enabled all this innovation that saves lives that would have been lost quickly in the past, in addition to improvement in quality of life for ill people. I GET THAT! (as Tucker Carlson is wont to say - hey, forgot about that guy - more coming on him for your cntrl-left-stupidity tastes!)

This, and probably another (the way it's going) post are about the access to health care economically and just the general "healthyness" of the industry. Back in 1960's America, a decently-paid doctor would come to your house to check on your sick kid. Yes, it's beyond most of our memories, besides the expression "doesn't make house calls". One could get a nice receptionist on the phone, and make a damn appointment without menu options. One could go down to an office and not do 6 pages of paperwork before waiting 2 times, first for the nurse, then for the doctor, wondering how much that piece of paper off the roll your butt's been on is gonna cost you on the co-pay. Prices were reasonable with no completely stupid stuff - more on this in a second.

Since this post is digressing toward discussing the long-lost free-market in healthcare in America, let me continue with the hospitals. Back then, patients or the insurance companies hired thereby, did not have to pay for the loads of illegal aliens and other uninsured people that must be treated now, by law. It was nice to just be able to pay for your own stuff, and everyone could come out OK that way - the hospital staff including doctors and nurses got very decent pay even back then. Additionally, besides having costs not spread around over the one patient and 3 non-paying ones and put on the paying one's bill, there's even more money blown now. That is, there are billing offices that are 20% of the office's employees (personal information here, it was 11 out of 50 people). They spend all hours of the workday, negotiating with the insurance companies, getting letters out to threaten the patient with Further Action, "coding" procedures", etc. That is completely non-productive work toward the goal of healing people.

Further additionally, there is another problem when government gets involved. There are laws made for privacy that and other "good" causes (see we'd never need these laws if the government weren't involved in the first place!) that cause unintended nightmares. I tried to get a simple lab blood test result. "Yeah, we get the results back in the morning. No, we can't mail them to you, ..." (forget email, I had already asked) ".. not even with your stamped self-addressed envelope. You can get them in person anytime." It took over a week, because I refused to drive back in because this is not the 1920's, dammit! It's all Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!HIPPA, HIPPA, HIPPA!

As far as costs at the hospital we have all heard the horror stories. A friend's Mom told him that the hospital expenses for his birth in the mid-1960's cost in the neighborhood of $300. You'd be in for 15X that much now, even if you negotiated ahead and everything went smooth as silk a birth canal. Has inflation been THAT much? Heck, maybe, but then healthcare is a big part of it.

OK, this post turned into only the criticism [not the half of it! Ed.] of the current American system, but that's fine, as it'll be something to keep in mind when reading tomorrow's post on the experience in China.

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