Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Summing up the health care dilemma in a few words

It took an elderly caller to 2GB's Jason Morrison this week to bring commonsense into the health debate. Jack, a retired surgeon, cited an adage about socialised medicine. "There are three things you want in a medical system: cost control; universal access; and provision of a full range of medical services."

But only two of these things can be achieved simultaneously. Currently, we have the first two.

The essential problem with giving away something so valuable as healthcare for nothing is it creates infinite demand which is impossible to satisfy.

This is something the worm doesn't want to hear but which responsible political leaders need to say.


People keep carrying on as if waiting lists and so on are a "mistake" of our health system; an indication that it isn't working properly, when the exact opposite is the truth.

Government health care is designed to be rationed. There is after all only so much money to go round and always more demand than this money could ever satisfy.

So services have to be rationed, and hence you wait.

That's how it is designed to work and it wouldn't work otherwise, unless of course you wanted to be like France where even a former health minister admitted that the system was effectively insolvent and only kept afloat by the government pouring vast amounts of additional money into it.

Fine you say, that's just what we want. Except that every additional euro or dollar spent there of necessity means one less spent elsewhere.

So either way, choices have to be made. You can never get away from the central conundrum of economics - unlimited wants versus scarce means.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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