Today in !!Free Markets!!

In light of all the new Congresspeople devoted to keeping government from getting between patients and their doctors/wallets/freedom!!!!!, I thought today was as good a time as any to issue a friendly reminder.

1) In the absence of government intervention, the free market is rapidly changing the healthcare many folks in the US experience. Or don't. Whichever. (The freedom! Why won't somebody think of the freedom?!?)

2) Despite what you may have heard, free markets are, at best amoral. I'd go farther than that, but my therapist says I really need to work on making friends.

The big Catholic hospital here in Syracuse just bought the area's largest private practice. [I wish I had enough money to buy doctors :sigh:] Earlier this year one of the other 3 hospitals in town (which also has a working arrangement with the area's state-owned hospital) bought up another large medical group.

Economies of scale, efficiency, all that crap.

Permit me to lay out two scenarios:

1) The US becomes a double un-secret Muslim socialist dystopia, in which an all-knowing government controls every aspect of healthcare.

2) Some guys (Catholic Health LLC, perhaps?) control every aspect of healthcare.

Furthermore, permit me to make an argument in favor of scenario 1 (the dystopian one). In theory, the people run the government. No, really, I learned about this in school (but see this). Interestingly enough, this seems to be a point that the Tea Partiers really like making. Well, they usually phrase it in terms of 'black/lady people are running the country, and we should put Americans in charge', but you get the idea.

The people, especially the black/lady people do not generally run HealthCo Ltd. That's up to boards of directors, shareholders, all-knowing Messiahs, whichever. Okay, that last one's a bit of a joke, but it's less funny when you think about the possibility reality of healthcare providers refusing to provide healthcare due to self-imposed religious mandates.

There are those of us who choose our doctors and emergency rooms very carefully, on account of how badly we were treated (or :ahem: not) those times we really needed medical care, what with the gender non-conformance/ladybusiness/virulent non-Christianness/fatness/queeritude/lack of privilege.

There are also those of you who don't get to chose your doctors at all, because:

1) You live in a place where the market will support only one (or less!) healthcare provider.
2) Economies of scale, efficiency, all that crap*.

In both of the scenarios I laid out above, there's a lack of choice. In only one of the scenarios above, do people theoretically have any control over the quality (and quantity) of medical care.

In scenario 1, an unsatisfied (non)-patient has the option to write a letter to a Congressperson, and theoretically, to vote to elect leaders who will improve the healthcare system. In scenario 2, you're either likely to get Ernestine or a confused 'have you even read The Bible?'

I choose dystopia.

*Which includes the fact that it's just not profitable to give you healthcare.

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