Friday, November 6, 2009

Won't Miss #71 - socialized medicine (the abuse)

The piece of clip art pictured in this post comes from the front of the national health insurance guide. It nicely depicts exactly the sort of people who benefit the most from the system, the elderly and people with kids. They benefit because they are the ones who fret the most about health issues and run off to the doctor the most often. The system in Japan has built a culture where people seem to have absolutely no common sense about where to draw the line on needing a doctor's assistance. People run to a doctor every time they stub a toe, get a heat rash, or have a headache. This means that waiting rooms are filled daily with bored elderly people who think they need to see a doctor every week and parents who fret when their kid has a loose bowel movement. Due to government cost controls, doctors provide fast food, repeat care instead of higher quality, single visit care. Many doctors spend only 3 minutes with each patient both because of the volume and because they can make more money this way. The system is so skewed that it costs more to buy an aspirin over the counter at a drug store than it does to get one from the doctor.

Though I would take the Japanese system over the American one any day of the week, I won't miss the way in which socialized medicine's low cost encourages people to abuse it and make those of us who rarely use it even more reluctant to take advantage of its benefits.

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