I’m Just Asking For A Little Relief From the Injustice.
I just read the cover article for Time Magazine about medical costs. It confirmed for me what I have thought for sometime and that what we have been experiencing is a new wave of Robber Barons who have created a false market. In the name of capitalism the medical industry seems to have killed free enterprise. Some seem to think the solution lies in socialized medicine, in government control of insurance and medical practice. If the present climate continues that may well be the destination of our present direction. I would prefer government intervention in a more traditional American way, and that is by defining and declaring monopolies, breaking them up, preventing them, and allowing transparency in the medical industry. Without doing this I am afraid government will only temporize some costs and create the illusion that they are actually solving the problem. Who are the villains? If we could only find them we might be able to see where the trouble comes from, but that is hard to define in the medical industry. In my opinion there is no doubt that some of the rich are robbing some of the poor in our present American world of medicine. We especially take the working class, wait for them to have some catastrophic medical problem, bill them unimaginable amounts of money, turn them over to bill collectors fairly quickly, force them into bankruptcy, and pay the hospital managers huge bonuses.
The irony is that the people who are in the robbing business can seem to be altruistic people (at least a good many of them). They don’t see themselves as thieves and practitioners of injustice. They moan and groan with the rest of us about seemingly unstoppable rates of climb for medical care and coverage. Part of the difficulty of identifying things as a monopoly is failing to see where the collusion takes place, where the intentional choking off of competition takes place. Most people use the concept of “market forces” to justify policies that are ruinous to helpless consumers. My point is that this is not an open market, not a fair one, and the only competition is between huge corporations, insurance companies, and individual managers who think they are worth more money. My rant here is not against profit, it is not against people deserving reward for accomplishment. What we have created is a justification of hiring rapacious managers who are the new Robber Barons of the industry. As they acquire stock options they become the owners.
If the consumer was not helpless we could chalk it up to bad choices and decision making, but in the field of medicine most consumers are helpless. They are ignorant of what they will be charged, they are not given the chance to negotiate, and they are merged into a system of insurance and inflated charges that gives them little or no voice in their purchase. There are at least a few things we can do until we acquire national political leadership that will be intelligent and purposeful enough to expose the monopolistic practices of this industry which is literally impoverishing some Americans and draining off resources from the rest of us. Any medical manager or hospital manger of a non-profit hospital or system should never be rewarded for losing money (which seems to be a fairly consistent American practice based on what seems to be idiotic manager contracts) , but neither should they be rewarded when the institution that has been given non-profit status provides very little indigent care, or bullies up on inadequately insured individuals and families. Their continued non-profit status should be tied to a percentage of help to the poor or working poor, and their salaries (where the profit is really being made) should rather be taxed if they fail to reach a certain percentage of that kind of mercy. Hospitals will moan about how much they have to write off, but how many consumers and patients have been financially ruined on the way to that, how many have failed to be given any deliverance from the legal or collection agency harassment? Would it not have been better to make that kind of easement at the beginning and earn the right to say the institution is really charitable, rather than to earn the title by default? All costs should be published to show mark ups in supplies, equipment, and services. National averages and basic cost to the institution should be published as well as the proposed billing so consumers can see what they are actually being charged. All of us should react against a national practice that makes us victims rather than patients.