Culture > Q&A

Healthcare hubris

"Healthcare hubris" Continued...

Issue: "Inside Election 2012," Oct. 20, 2012

In such a complicated system, is anyone smart enough to grasp what’s really going on? No—and the healthcare system is the most complex of all social systems, with more than 300 million people and 800,000 doctors and thousands more nurses and hospital administrators, all interacting in complex ways. We don’t understand it at all. A lot of Democrats in Congress voted for Obamacare thinking they were going to help a lot of people. They’ll be surprised to find that access to care will go down rather than up for our most vulnerable populations.

Why? We’ll have a huge increase in the demand for medical care, but no increase of supply, no provision to increase the number of doctors. We’ll have a rationing problem: Not everyone will see the doctor when they want to see him. Doctors, being rational human beings, will tend to see those patients first who pay the most: If you’re on a plan that pays below the market, you’ll be pushed toward the end of the waiting line. Those patients will include the elderly, the disabled on Medicare, poor people on Medicaid: less access to care.

For those who do obtain greater access to care, will we see an increase in health? If you had two cities, and one city had twice as many doctors per capita, or twice as many hospital beds as the other, you wouldn’t necessarily find an increase in life expectancy. More spending doesn’t add much to life expectancy. Our lifestyles, our environment, and our genes are much more important. 

Does more health insurance mean better healthcare? A lot of people think getting health insurance is the same as getting healthcare. That doesn’t create any more doctors, nurses, or healthcare clinics. Canadians don’t pay anything when they go to the doctor, but Canadians are not getting as much primary care as we get. Even uninsured people in the United States get as many or more mammograms, pap-smear tests, prostate cancer tests, and colonoscopies.

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Watch Marvin Olasky's complete interview with John Goodman:

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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