Today’s Healthcare Post

TODAY’S HEALTHCARE POST….DELAYED BY ACTUAL HEALTHCARE!….Sorry for the light posting today. I was feeling a little under the weather this morning, and after after typing desultorily at a healthcare post for a while I suddenly decided to call my dentist about a tooth I’ve been having trouble with. To my surprise, they told me to come right over. So I did. Turns out there was nothing wrong with the tooth, but they weren’t busy so they suggested I just hang around and get my regular checkup and cleaning. Since it usually takes two or three months to get an appointment with these guys, I took them up on their offer.

This was all routine work and it cost me nothing thanks to the fact that I have dental insurance. The woman sitting next to me was not so lucky. She apparently needed to get a couple of crowns, and the office administrator was pushing hard to get her to buy some fabulous Captek crowns at $1200 each. Without insurance, though, that was pretty steep. There was still some resistance even after describing the inferior qualities of the alternatives and providing dire warnings of possible future root canals, so the admin person says, maybe we can do something on the price. Maybe $750. Let me ask the office manager.

I felt like I was in a used car dealership. I half expected some closer with a bad suit and blow-dried hair to sail in and start doing a hard sell on the Capteks. But no. The administrator came back in a few minutes and said they could do it for $750. Another successful sale.

So instead of the meandering healthcare post I was working on this morning, this is today’s replacement healthcare post. The earlier post was a response to Arnold Kling, who thinks the healthcare biz need less insurance and more free market capitalism in order to drive down costs and force people to buy only the care they need. I doubt it. More likely it would result in what I saw today: medical offices becoming more like Turkish bazaars (or used car dealerships), filled with distraught patients trying to decide whether they can afford a crown today or if they should wait and run the risk of needing a root canal later. No thanks.

For more cogent and comprehensive responses to Kling, check out Matthew Holt and Jonathan Cohn. They both hit most of the high points.

And my earlier post? Basically it boiled down to this: libertarians would sure be a lot more interesting if they’d deal with the real world a little more than they do. Proposing a healthcare system that increases the risk of not being able to afford the care you need has as much chance of gaining public support as a proposal to give away fleets of Cadillacs to welfare recipients, so why bother? The rest was just fluff.