Or worse, think of the absolute meltdown after Hurricane Katrina. Then consider dealing with that level of chaos at the hospital during an emergency. Imagine being in a dire condition and having a doctor at your side unable to get through to the right person to authorize what you need done, or finding out that you can only be treated at another hospital on the other side of town.
Government cannot overcome the laws of economics. All resources are limited. Supply and demand set price, quantity, and quality. When you promise something for free, you run out of supply as people consume resources regardless of need.
Also, the smaller an organization is, the better administrators are able to handle unusual or emergency situations. The opposite is true for government because it is immense.
For all these reasons, a national government takeover of medicine, promising unlimited treatment for 300 million people cannot possibly work half as well as the system we have today. We need to improve the system, not make it an endless bureaucracy.
Instead of a big-government takeover, the candidates should support allowing competitive markets to fix health care. Patients need providers and researchers competing against each other to provide better services and medicine. This only occurs when patients have a choice among providers and are free to go elsewhere if dissatisfied.
They must understand the superiority of the free market when it comes to bringing down prices. Government wastes countless of billions of dollars because it does not have to compete, so prices soar and you pay for all of it through higher taxes.
Private sector personnel keep searching for ways to do it faster and cheaper, so that they can offer a lower price to attract business. They work long hours to innovate, improve, eliminate waste, fix problems, develop new products and services, and offer solutions.
When that happens, consumers win. In a medical context, that means more lives are saved and people are healthier.
Finally, all of the candidates must talk about prevention. We can prevent many emergencies that result in hospital stays. Problems like childhood obesity and overuse of alcohol and tobacco result in terrible injuries that are either deadly or force a person into decades of constant discomfort with the need for extremely expensive care.
There will always be those with special needs. Government is needed to help people, but government must be the last resort, not the first. It should be a safety net for those who suddenly fall out of the system, not become the system. If we empower people to take care of themselves, it will free up the government resources necessary to help them.
The Democrats enjoy an advantage in the polls in health policy because they promise everyone will get care for free from an all-knowing, all-powerful government, as if government can ever get it right.
Republicans believe in enhancing a system focused on individuals and families that will keep everyone healthier and save lives. They must make that case to the people.
As the debate over health care reform continues, Americans should remember Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido. He was the Spanish surgeon flown to Cuba to operate on Fidel Castro. It seemed that Cuban doctors botched the job on el presidente and needed outside help. I wonder if they made Dr. Garcia Sabrido available to other Cubans during his visit? I must have missed that part in “Sicko.”