Friday, December 11, 2009

A New Strategy for Health Care Reform: Make Things as Bad as Possible, as Soon as Possible

Harry Reid's compromise that allows Medicare buy-in at age 55 is so atrocious that I almost like it. Indeed, it opens up whole new strategic vistas for those of us who'd like to see the current plans scrapped as quickly as possible in favor of something that would actually lead to reduced costs. Let's game this out:
  1. We get Medicare buy-in at age 55.
  2. Millions of 55-65 year-olds opt in, because it will be less expensive than their current insurance.
  3. Those doctors and hospitals that currently accept Medicare go further underwater because the fiat reimbursements from Medicare make up a larger portion of their patient base.
  4. They increase prices they demand from insurers, who pass the costs along.
  5. Insured patients scream.
  6. Many doctors opt out of Medicare.
  7. Patients over 55 scream because they can't find doctors that will give them an appointment any time in the next 3 months.
  8. Many congressmen lose their jobs.
  9. Now we can try again, maybe somewhat more seriously.
Of course, we may be dealing with the boiling frog syndrome here. You may not realize how bad things are until it's too late.


David said...

I think you have the right idea here.

My concern is that after step 7 and before step 8, Congress passes laws changing the rules. The new laws promise reform by putting more of the health care apparatus under state control, saving their jobs, and returning us to a new step 1.

TheRadicalModerate said...

Hard to do, unless they're gonna make it illegal for doctors to retire or hospitals to go out of business. There are limits on what you can get away with in a mostly free market, which is why I'm not incredibly worried about the US becoming a genuinely socialist economy--it's just too hard to get from here to there.

Meanwhile, breathe, assume the full lotus, choose your focal point, and begin the mantra: "Price controls cause shortages, price controls cause shortages, price controls cause sortages..."