About three years ago I photographed these items below because I was amazed at what I paid for all of them. 12 bucks from a dollar store, how about that! All the items have served me well, and many are still functioning as a part of my life. Hopefully the toilet brush and the sponges are long gone, cant say for sure, but wow! Look at how amazing a free market can be! How amazing? Well…
Take for example that space-age looking pizza cutter up there that I paid only one dollar for – could I make a pizza cutter like that? Yeah maybe. I wouldn’t do it for a dollar though, or even 12 for that matter. That would be crazy. So if for some reason I couldn’t find an affordable pizza cutter would I make my own just so that I could have one? The answer is probably no. My life does not depend on having one… but what if it did? What if this was a table full of medical supplies that I needed for survival? Where would I go to get such things? Where are the medical supply dollar stores? Can you imagine what a hospital charges for a similar amount of items?
Where the lower middle class use to be there is now a murky grey zone that pays for the so called healthcare system but at the same time cannot afford to pay for it. Personally, at this time I’m in an even worse part of the spectrum, just below the grey zone with no way of getting any insurance, but not qualifying for assistance either. I don’t know how wide the crack I fell through is, only that I did fall through it. Not a fun place to be if something goes… wrong.
Now… unfortunately when it comes to needing medical supplies I have to say that my dollar store pizza cutter example is not just a metaphor. So bad is the situation I find myself in; having had a medical emergency while having no insurance, and now having a desperate need for certain medical supplies and encountering a world in which insurance companies have nearly captured every aspect of every part of all of it… I cannot find the “pizza cutter” I need, nor the medical dollar store that would carry it. I actually WILL have to make my own. Luckily, I think I can.
Any system will collapse if it does not produce solutions that support itself. To sustain it’s own existence, no matter what is it’s intended function, a healthcare system will feel no impact from the needs of patients UNLESS – the system is a free market.
With an ACTUAL free market, the pyramid would flip and the prices would fall. When government or insurance companies (or both) are at the top, because of the way that those entities are structured their motivations can ONLY be for prices to rise… forever. They will not and cannot* let prices fall. Only free markets do that… and they DO do that naturally – every time. A free market is the most humanitarian system. Unfortunately we do not have that with healthcare. Not even close.
*To understand why insurance companies are not motivated to want prices to fall, listen to Dr. David Janda interviewed by John B Wells. Interview starts at 1 hr 12 minutes in the video below.
I know from my recent experience that I am a living example of many of the things that are getting turned upside down in healthcare. It is an observable phenomenon that the structure building itself before our eyes is serving everything BUT the patient. This of course is not to say that the needs of the patient and the system never happen to coincide, they do, but the treatments and procedures developing cannot naturally develop FOR health. The system as it is cannot financially allow for it. The results are devastating people… injuring people… killing people. A monster is being created, and it needs to be stopped. But how?
It cannot be a coincidence that the parts of our economy that are the most interfered with are also the ones that have pricing so high it is as if from some other universe. Having low prices though is not the most important part of having a free market healthcare system – it’s really secondary to the much more important natural benefit which is the turning around of what the service of healthcare is, and whose needs it serves first.
One of the most shocking and directly threatening situations I faced was an actual inability to purchase a simple and relatively inexpensive medical product that I needed, this time not the “pizza cutter”, let’s go with the spatula instead… for a terrifying month I could NOT buy that item, because I DID NOT HAVE INSURANCE! This is what I was told by suppliers! At the same time the law prevented me from buying insurance (outside of a certain allotted window of time during the year). On and on it went. This is the result of letting the needs of insurance companies be what the market responds to.
Conclusion: Flip the pyramid. Put the people (the customers) back in charge so that the market will naturally respond to their needs. As things are now, the patient has been completely cut out of the equation.