Sunday, August 21, 2011

Asimov in the Blogs: The Shape Of Schemes To Come

From Wizbang: The Shape Of Schemes To Come

The legendary Isaac Asimov once wrote a spoof scientific article that described the new compound “thiotimoline,” a substance so sensitive to water that it would begin dissolving before the water was added. Research showed that thiotimoline was so dense, it couldn’t be contained by three dimensions but extended into four — and would start dissolving exactly 1.14 seconds before contact with water.The scientific applications of this discovery were nothing short of world-shaking.

I find myself thinking of the great master’s joke when I think about ObamaCare. It’s still some ways away from being implemented, but its tentacles are reaching back in time to wreak havoc today.

I don’t know if this story has any direct connection to ObamaCare, but I can see how it could.

In brief: New Hampshire has put the brakes on out-of-control Medicaid spending, and those businesses depend on Medicaid are fighting over who’s going to have to take the hits. The insurance companies say they won’t do it, so it’s up to the hospitals and the doctors to suck it up.

This reflects some of the thorniest problems with ObamaCare, and health care in general. Unlike any other business model, there is a huge separation between the ultimate consumer of the good or service and the costs of said good or service. For another, it’s quite often literally a case of life or death for the consumers.

Health care providers, and all the support industries — are providing goods and services. They are entitled to be compensated for their work. Further, they have the right to determine what they want to charge — they are under no legal obligation to provide; they can simply close up shop if they wish. (A splendid example of this is the Catholic Church’s position vis-a-vis ObamaCare and abortion. They are on record as saying that if the government requires them to perform operations, they’ll simply shut down all their hospitals and tear down the buildings.) Oh, they can be coerced and regulated to a certain extent, but if they simply decide to “go Galt” and get out of the health care business entirely, there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.

And yes, we can regulate what they can charge. But again, that’s conditional on them not calling the bluff — the stick being wielded here is “this is what you will charge if you want to continue in this business.” They can always walk away.

But then again, we’re talking about literal life and death here. The United States was founded on certain principles, such as inalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Well, ill health and death — preventable ill health and death — tend to put a bit of a crimp on that.

I don’t know what the solution to the health care problem is. I don’t even know if there is one. I just know that ObamaCare is guaranteed to make things even worse.

And this mess we’re facing in New Hampshire is just the tip of the iceberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment