Thomas Sowell

Britain has had a government-run medical system for more than half a century and it has to import doctors, including some from Third World countries where the medical training may not be the best. In short, reducing doctors' income is not reducing the cost of medical care, it is refusing to pay those costs. Like other ways of refusing to pay costs, it has consequences.

Any one of us can reduce medical costs by refusing to pay them. In our own lives, we recognize the consequences. But when someone with a gift for rhetoric tells us that the government can reduce the costs without consequences, we are ready to believe in such political miracles.

There are some ways in which the real costs of medical care can be reduced but the people who are leading the charge for a government takeover of medical care are not the least bit interested in actually reducing those costs, as distinguished from shifting the costs around or just refusing to pay them.

The high costs of "defensive medicine"-- expensive tests, medications and procedures required to protect doctors and hospitals from ruinous lawsuits, rather than to help the patients-- could be reduced by not letting lawyers get away with filing frivolous lawsuits.

If a court of law determines that the claims made in such lawsuits are bogus, then those who filed those claims could be forced to reimburse those who have been sued for all their expenses, including their attorneys' fees and the lost time of people who have other things to do. But politicians who get huge campaign contributions from lawyers are not about to pass laws to do this.

Why should they, when it is so much easier just to start a political stampede with fiery rhetoric and glittering promises?


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate