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Monday, September 14, 2009

Will Obama Mention This Anecdote In His Next Speech?

One of the hallmarks of an Obama health care speech is to pick one or two or three anecdotes of people who have had trouble with their insurance company as proof that we need to overhaul the entire insurance industry and health care system. These anecdotes may be true [sometimes they are not], and the underlying problems may need to be addressed, but Obama never has explained why getting government involved in a restructuring of the health care industry is the solution.

In fact, the overwhelming evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, is that government involvement in micromanaging industry has disastrous negative unintended consequences.

Here is an anecdote from the Wall Street Journal about how congressional legislation regarding lead paint in children's toys has had enormous unintended consequences. Read the whole thing.

The bottom line is that the law ends up devastating small businesses and resellers who were not involved in creating the problem, whose products may not even contain lead, while creating lobbyist-induced breaks for big toy companies like Mattel which did create the problem (emphasis mine):

This law has saddled businesses with billions of dollars in losses on T-shirts, bath toys and other items that were lawful to sell one day and unlawful the next. It has induced thrift and secondhand stores to trash mountains of outgrown blue jeans, bicycles and board games for fear there might be trivial, harmless—but suddenly illegal—quantities of lead in their zippers and valves or phthalates in their plastic spinners....

Why did Congress rush to pass this bill, and why is it so reluctant to amend a law whose burdens fall mostly on products that have never been linked to poisoning? One reason is the skill of antibusiness groups claiming to speak for consumers. Groups such as Public Citizen and the Public Interest Research Group seized on and promoted the Chinese toy panic for their own legislative ends and have taken credit for some of the law's most extreme provisions. (The tracking-labels provision was added by then-Sen. Barack Obama.)

So I hope President Obama will mention this anecdote in his next speech or interview when he is telling us how he and Congress are so wise as to be trusted with restructuring our health care system. I would like this anecdote mentioned when we are told that lobbyists are not allowed to influence the legislation.

Most of all, I would like to hear this anecdote mentioned when we are promised that thousands of pages of legislation, to be followed up by multiple thousands of pages of regulations, will not have the unintended consequence of trashing our best doctors, health systems and medical technologies.

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8 comments:

  1. Please explain how this is related to health care debate? All laws have unintended consequences. But Mr. Jacobsen, the insurance companies have for years gamed the system, rationed care and immorally and illegally denied coverage. So it is not anecdotes. Mr. Jacobsen, I am surprised you are not angry with the insurance companies. The health care debate is a moral debate. We have a class system when it comes to health care. If America is a great country, then why can't we have the health care Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc. have?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, Sweden has such great healthcare. It is an example of what not to do:

    http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA555_Sweden_Health_Care.html

    A Look at Sweden's Way

    Sweden's Health Care System

    What can other countries learn from the Swedish health care system?

    1. Choices for the middle class in the towns have diminished since the 1950s. One cannot get into a private clinic except in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and it is only the very well-to-do patients who can afford private hospital care. Patients have little consumer choice.

    2. Productivity in hospitals has fallen sharply since the 1970s, when doctors began receiving fixed salaries and not a fee per patient.

    3. Productivity in hospitals has increased recently only as a result of diminishing financial resources. The productivity of district doctors can be extremely low -- it is not unusual for a doctor to treat an average of only six to 12 patients a day.

    4. Long-term care reform has increased the number of available beds, but the quality of care for elderly patients is not satisfactory.

    5. A worker with a wage of US$20,000 pays about US$3,000 a year in taxes for health care. A scientist at Astra with a salary of US$50,000 has to pay more than US$7,000 in taxes for health care, plus a fee of at least US$22 for prescription medicine or consultation with a doctor.

    6. When Sweden was a rich country in the 1970s, there were few restrictions on the introduction of new medical methods, new pharmaceuticals, etc. Now the environment is different, and there is a tendency to block or restrict the availability of specialized care in order to save money. Some new medical procedures are introduced as standard later than they are in other countries. For example, while bypass operations were standard (with overcapacity) in Switzerland in 1983, patients in Sweden had to wait more than a year for bypass operations.

    7. Waiting lists have become a big problem. "Care guarantees" have reduced the waiting list problem temporarily in the past, but these problems began reappearing during the last few months of 1995.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, Sweden has such great healthcare. It is an example of what not to do:

    http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA555_Sweden_Health_Care.html

    A Look at Sweden's Way

    Sweden's Health Care System

    What can other countries learn from the Swedish health care system?

    1. Choices for the middle class in the towns have diminished since the 1950s. One cannot get into a private clinic except in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and it is only the very well-to-do patients who can afford private hospital care. Patients have little consumer choice.

    2. Productivity in hospitals has fallen sharply since the 1970s, when doctors began receiving fixed salaries and not a fee per patient.

    3. Productivity in hospitals has increased recently only as a result of diminishing financial resources. The productivity of district doctors can be extremely low -- it is not unusual for a doctor to treat an average of only six to 12 patients a day.

    4. Long-term care reform has increased the number of available beds, but the quality of care for elderly patients is not satisfactory.

    5. A worker with a wage of US$20,000 pays about US$3,000 a year in taxes for health care. A scientist at Astra with a salary of US$50,000 has to pay more than US$7,000 in taxes for health care, plus a fee of at least US$22 for prescription medicine or consultation with a doctor.

    6. When Sweden was a rich country in the 1970s, there were few restrictions on the introduction of new medical methods, new pharmaceuticals, etc. Now the environment is different, and there is a tendency to block or restrict the availability of specialized care in order to save money. Some new medical procedures are introduced as standard later than they are in other countries. For example, while bypass operations were standard (with overcapacity) in Switzerland in 1983, patients in Sweden had to wait more than a year for bypass operations.

    7. Waiting lists have become a big problem. "Care guarantees" have reduced the waiting list problem temporarily in the past, but these problems began reappearing during the last few months of 1995.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Michaelinmi - Thanks for all the good links and info.

    ReplyDelete
  5. BuckJohnson - The WSJ has a pretty good takedown of many of your talking points in an opinion piece today:
    Fact-Checking the President on Healthcare
    (AFAIK, it doesn't require a subscription)

    It is worth reading.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Of course he wont mention this anecdote.., it wouldn't fit in with his persuasive rhetoric

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Buck Johnson,

    the comments you made are misleading and dishonest. The fact is that 0.1% of policies are rescinded, not at the whim of the insurers, but as a result of the dishonesty of the policy holder.

    The two cases highlighted dishonestly by Obama are a case in point. In the instance of the man who was dropped, it turns out that he failed to give information which was available to him. He had a CT scan that showed up the gallstones prior to taking out the policy. The false part of the claim that was made is that he died as a result of being dropped. The truth is that the policy was reinstated and he had STEM CELL treatment, not chemotherapy, which prolonged his life for another 3 years. He did not die as a result of the policy being dropped. In the other case the woman deliberately withheld information relating to a heart murmer, and it was more than acne, for the skin specialist had noted that she had a pre-cancerous skin condition.

    In both cases it can be argued that the reasons for rescinding their polices had nothing to do with the condition for which they were treated. In that case the states where they are resident need to change their regulations so that people cannot be dropped if the matter is not related to the condition upon which they are being treated. For example pre-cancerous skin condition is not related to breast cancer.

    So, by lying about these cases, the POTUS has once again shown that he is not credible.

    ReplyDelete
  8. El Presidente can mention all the stories he chooses. The issue is not health care..that is the vehicle...the issue is citizens willingly giving up their freedom and liberty. This is Chicago politics 101. First, grab liberty from the citizens. Second, using government, control needed services such as utilities, health care, fuel, housing, etc. Now, if you do not vote democrat, you will have all kinds of trouble obtaining these services. It's really very simple, the guy is not that bright. If I'm off base, then why does El Presidente continue to fight for this legislation in the face of overwhelming opposition? BTW, it is all Bush's fault, and I'm racist for trying to save what little liberty we have left.

    ReplyDelete