Health Care Conflation and Market Solutions
Wikipedia: Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, become confused until there seems to be only a single identity — the differences appear to become lost.
In all of the ongoing debates on health care, medical costs, the uninsured, etc., it seems that we have conflated two very separate issues: a) routine health care that is generally low cost and affordable, and b) serious, catastrophic health problems, which could be potentially very costly.
Routine health care is conveniently provided by retail health clinics at affordable prices at more than 1,000 locations around the country in stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Publix, Meijers, Walgreens, etc. that are open 7 days a week. As I have written about before on CD, these competitively-priced clinics provide sports, camp and school physicals for only $29. Further, Wal-Mart and its many competitors provide generic prescriptions for $4 per month. For these types of prescription costs, and routine "health care," I don't think anybody would argue that the costs are unaffordable, and it would be hard to argue that increased government intervention could possible make these routine services more affordable.
But what about very expensive, catastrophic, and/or life-threatening illnesses that might require expensive medication? We certainly can't rely on Target and Wal-Mart for serious medical problems like spinal cord injury rehabilitation, burn care, cleft lip and palate care, medical and rehabilitative services for congenital deformities, problems resulting from orthopaedic injuries, and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. And what if children have these medical problems, they certainly don't have the financial resources to pay for these expensive medical procedures. Does that not then justify government intervention and government insurance for these extremely expensive, catastrophic medical treatments, some of which are for life-threatening illnesses?
Well, wait a minute. There currently is a private solution - the 25 Shriners Hospitals for Children around the country that provide free health care for these catastrophic illnesses and conditions. From The Shriners Hospital for Children website:
Every year, the Shriners Hospitals for Children provides care for thousands of kids with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, in a family-centered environment at no charge. It's how Shriners Hospitals has been helping kids defy the odds since 1922.
Bottom Line: There are private, market-based solutions to both routine health care and for even catastrophic, life-threatening conditions.
Exhibit A: Target and Wal-Mart retail health clinics
Exhibit B: The Shriners Hospitals for Children
Originally posted at Carpe Diem.