How can profit be the driving force in the health care industry? The contrast between human health and making money is as stark as human safety and making money. Imagine if police departments or fire departments were privatized and unregulated by government. Suppose further they were paid by how many crimes they prevented or criminals they caught. Such private entities would have an enormous incentive to directly or indirectly encourage crime. Similarly, private hospitals make their living from the number of beds they fill. There’s not much incentive to increase wellness just to treat illness. As illness decreases these hospitals lose profits. The analogy is far from complete, but the point nevertheless is this. Absent socialized medicine profit will exist in medicine, but profits for doctors and other health care providers and profit for health care corporations are vastly different entities. It is Wall Street that keeps costs rising and prevents universal care. The public option is a minimal attempt to counteract the devastating effects of shareholders, who must be fed with the health and wealth of the nation, on the health care system. Yet Americans have been so brain-washed against this option that it is unlikely to succeed unless President Obama realizes this is a battle he can’t afford to lose.
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