Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Health Care Self-Rationing? Shhhh, That’s the GOP Reform Model.

Its opposite day every day of the year for Republicans. They bad mouthed death panels, but support letting people die who can’t afford lifesaving medical care. Republicans whine the Affordable Care Act will increase government costs, but are fine with shifting that cost to the American public who are seeing smaller paychecks, huge increases in insurance premiums and job insecurity.

But this dramatic costly shift to individuals will result in self-rationing.
Bloomberg News: More people in the U.S. ignored their doctor’s advice and skipped prescription drugs or medical procedures to save money in 2011 than a year earlier, a Consumer Reports survey showed.

Almost half of the surveyed consumers taking at least one medication said they didn’t fill prescriptions, took less medicine than a prescribed dose or failed to undergo a medical test advised by their physician … one in six American households and one in four with incomes less than $50,000 told Consumer Reports that they felt stress over how much they must spend on medical care. The pressure is prompting consumers to pursue potentially dangerous strategies for coping.

That’s self-rationing. It saves consumers money, yes, but not their lives. A not so small point Republicans like Paul Ryan refuse to acknowledge when they talk about personal responsibility, free markets and giving people a “choice” to pay for care or…ration it.   

UPDATE: To begin with, Ryan’s plan and thought process is wrong; in a free market, people supposedly “shop for” and “consume” health care treatments based on price. People don’t do either when they get sick or hurt:
WSJ: Ryan (said) that "the health-care sector lacks most of the basic building blocks of a functioning market." The irony is that "the system that shields us from the cost of services has actually left us paying more." The "premium support" Medicare reform he proposed would bring down the entitlement's high and rising costs through choice and competition.

Assuming we “shop” for treatment, “consumers” will reject costly providers and create competition.

"Giving patients and consumers control over health care resources would make all Americans less dependent on big business and big government for our health security; give us more control over the care we get; and force health care providers to compete for our business," Ryan said.

But in reality, we need medical care when something goes wrong. We don’t shop for it, or use it when we’re healthy. But I thought the following bizarre comment to this story summed up Ryan’s wrongheaded mindset:
The most critical missing piece in the health care industry is the person who says "no" accurately. I will always trust my ability to say "no" to a product based upon price/value instead of my company or my government. Until individuals buy and consume their own healthcare, the system will see massive price increases or government-imposed price controls and the associated rotten service. 
Saying no to treating a broken leg or sudden debilitating pain make sense?

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