Health Care: The Real Problem
For all the talk that has surrounded health care in the recent elections, both parties have been largely unwilling to propose specific policies to address the cost of healthcare in the U.S. The reason for this inaction is simple -- neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to address the real reasons why healthcare is so expensive in the United States.
Health care can be broadly broken into two sectors - services and medications. Services include everything from routine doctor visits to surgeries and emergency care. It includes the costs of the buildings, the staff, and the products used to diagnose and treat patients. Medication includes the costs to both develop and manufacture pharmaceuticals.
Addressing the cost of healthcare services
The cost of services is directly related to supply and demand. A high demand with a low supply will always drive up costs. However, in the United States, neither the “demand” side nor the “supply” side of the equation is legitimate. There are tens of millions of people who are residing in the country illegally or as the result of illegal entry. Many of them come for the purposes of having children or seeking medical care.
In 2006, 70% of babies born in a Dallas, Texas hospital were born to illegal aliens at a cost of $70 million to taxpayers. Additionally, 70%-80% of babies in Houston are born to illegal aliens as are more than 80% of babies in Dallas.
Forbes has reported that the cost to U.S. citizens for providing healthcare to illegal aliens was $18.5 billion. Given that the DHS document that the article drew from gave an incredibly low estimate of 11.4 million illegal aliens, there is no reason to believe that this number isn’t many times higher.
The simple fact is that the cost of healthcare service for Americans is high because Americans are paying for the health care of tens of millions of citizens of other nations.
From an economic perspective, it is not possible to find a “solution” to lowering the costs healthcare services for Americans until we are willing to acknowledge that Americans are not obligated to pay for the world’s health care. From a moral and ethical standpoint, it is indefensible that foreign citizens can freely access a health care system that drives its own citizens to the brink of financial ruin.
No government can be considered legitimate if it allows hospitals and service providers standing in court against citizens for the purposes of pursuing reimbursement for care while allowing illegal aliens to walk away from any responsibility at the cost of those same taxpayers.
We cannot fix health care services for Americans until that system serves only Americans. Any offering prior to that milestone can only be seen as a means of obfuscating the wealth transfer from Americans to other peoples though the healthcare system.
On the supply side of that equation, we must accept that it is not America’s responsibility to educate the doctors of the world nor to import people from other nations to be doctors here -- especially at the cost of lowering the standards for those doctors.
Addressing the cost of pharmaceuticals
While the medication half of health care suffers from a similar situation, both the problem and the solutions are easier to visualize. Once again, the cost of medicine is so high for Americans because Americans are essentially paying for the entire world’s medications.
There are two reasons why Americans are forced into subsidizing the pharmaceutical needs of the globe. The first is that you simply can’t get blood from a stone. The cost of bringing a new drug to market is substantial and companies have to recoup that cost somewhere. If they attempted to charge Mexicans and Guatemalans the same as Americans, they simply wouldn’t have the funds to purchase those medications.
The second reason that pharmaceutical companies make so much money from Americans is simply because they can. The American government is not acting to protect its citizens and therefore they are driven to bankruptcy paying for medication. That same medication is then given to people from other nations at little or no cost.
To substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs in America, the American government need only do two simple things. The first is to prevent Americans from paying higher rates for drugs than other nations. This can be done by making it legal to purchase drugs from overseas, by passing legislation prohibiting the practice of overcharging Americans, or by simply using the purchasing power and bureaucracy of the government to enforce that policy.
The second action is to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to purchase medications for citizens of other nations. A government that pays for the medicines of foreign peoples while its own citizens are driven to financial ruin is not legitimate and is acting as a captured state.
Addressing the future - proactive steps
It is currently impossible to know what problems exist in the U.S. healthcare system as the cost and availability of both services and medications are drastically skewed by the foreign population within our nation. It is entirely possible that once that issue is addressed it will be obvious that this was the only major problem. However, active measures should still be taken to address future costs and access.
The first of these steps is to increase the number of doctors. This could easily be accomplished through the recruitment of qualified individuals, the removal of affirmative action policies, an expansion of the schools that certify doctors, and government assistance for the cost of a medical degree where applicable. The primary component of this would be a moratorium on the training of foreign citizens -- both to be doctors in the U.S. and to be doctors elsewhere.
The second step would be an end to health care costs that destroy families for generations. One car crash or one person with cancer can have drastic, multigenerational effects. As a nation, we can and should ensure that this does not happen. However, this is a contract between American citizens and is a promise that we are making to each other. It cannot be applied to people of other nations.