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The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care Hardcover – Sep 20 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Over the last 30 years, we've stood in awe as we've witnessed unregulated capitalism's transformative powers. Where once our edible ecology lacked such keystone species as E.coli and salmonella, our meat, fruit, vegetables, and water have become veritable Edens for those precious pathogens. Where once financial regulation checked glorious greed and encouraged the unbearable ennui that comes with stability, our new, deregulated, economic environment has brought excitement to investing and incredible profits to those few deserving oligarchs who were most prepared with the connections to exploit the system to their advantage.
Now, David Gratzer and the insurance industry wants to do the same for health care. He's heard the complaints. He's read studies like the 2004 Commonwealth Fund report which looked at satisfaction in five nations. He saw that they found that U.S. Americans were by far the most dissatisfied with their health care system (over twice as dissatisfied as Canadians)and less likely to receive care because of cost (17% of Canadians vs 40% of U.S. Americans).
Yes, he's studied it thoroughly and has decided that the problem with the U.S. system is that it is not capitalistic enough. It needs to be deregulated like the food and banking industries. The problem isn't lack of access, it's about deciding who deserves what level of care--it's about rationing health care by one's ability to pay.
Even more importantly, it's not a matter of whether someone can receive the care they need, but whether society will allow him or her to access a free market solution to pay for that service. Is our society advanced enough to provide a patient's loved ones an opportunity to sell their organs to pay for needed health care? Have we achieved that level of compassionate capitalism yet? Do the poor and working classes care enough about life to make sacrifices to preserve it? If not, do they really deserve all of the benefits of life?
These are the fundamental questions to which Gratzer alludes, but, unfortunately, fails to fully address in his book. That's a shame, because these are the questions that must be answered if we are ever to fully achieve the libertarian society he envisions.
That said, Gratzer does honor laissez-faire capitalism with the blind worship that it deserves as the answer to everything (along with lower taxes and drilling in the ANWR). That's why I'm giving his book four stars.
The strong point of this book is that the author is licensed in both the U.S. and Canadian health care systems, and very familiar with both. Proponents of alternatives to our current system often seem to overlook the fact that all existing alternative systems also have problems, which cannot be improved by mere ignorance.
Combining this book's real world experience with the Kling book's hard-headed focus on economics provides much to chew over in the debates surely about to begin again in the U.S.
Dr. Gratzer persuasively argues that the fundamental problem with U.S. health care is too much government regulation. To argue this, Dr. Gratzer first notes how the employer-based health coverage arose as an unintended side effect of a tax law, which allowed employers to write off health care expenditures for their employees. Moreover, Dr. Gratzer argues that both Democrats and Republicans have both essentially offered more government regulation as the solution to health care, which has not worked. The Democrats, such as the LBJ Administration, promoted enormously inefficient programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans, have promoted bureaucratic HMOs, which have led to similar large-scale inefficiencies.
Driving this point further, Dr. Gratzer greatly details the harmful economic consequences of government regulations in health care. For example, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) forbids hospitals from denying any patient for emergency care. The economic reality is that this leads to hospitals suffering economic losses by being forced to treat patients, regardless of if they can pay for the care, which ultimately leads to the closing of hospitals. Furthermore, insurance mandates, such as benefit mandates, rating mandates and bans on out-of-state insurance, restrict competition and lead to higher insurance premiums. Dr. Gratzer also thoroughly analyzes the harmful economic consequences of the FDA, Medicare, Medicaid and much more.
This book also dispels many common myths about the quality of U.S. health care. For example, statistics are often cited to argue that Canadians and/or Europeans have higher life expectancies than U.S. citizens. Dr. Gratzer argues that such studies mistakenly compare statistics on *health* when they should be on *health care*. There numerous lifestyle habits that differ between cultures, such as frequency of exercise and diet, which effect health. Dr. Gratzer proposes examining statistics on cardiac arrest patients, to see which country offers better treatment. In these respects, Dr. Gratzer argues that the U.S. system is clearly superior to its universal health care counterparts.
As one can infer, Dr. Gratzer proposes free market solutions to fix American health care. Specifically, he proposes drastically reducing the various regulatory excesses that he delineates throughout his book as well as embracing Health Savings Accounts. As always, Dr. Gratzer corroborates his arguments with real-world success stories, such as the success of Whole Foods' adoption of HSAs for its employees.
I highly recommend this book to all fans of free market capitalism with an interest in health care policy.
This book does a good job of advocating
for free market solutions compares to
failing Canadian system
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