Week in Review
In 1954 almost 35% of all workers belonged to a union. Since then that number has fallen to about 11.3%. As the high cost of union contracts chased manufacturing out of the country. Today the majority of workers belonging to a union work in the public sector. Where they enter contract negotiations with the taxpayers to secure better pay and benefits than most taxpayers have. Of course during these negotiations the taxpayers have no say. As politicians and unions hammer out these contracts. Unlike trade unions. Where the people paying the workers actually have a say.
This is another reason why national health care is the Holy Grail for the left. They want to unionize all those health care workers. Pay them more. And deduct union dues from their pay to fund their political activities. Leaving less money for patient health care. But they’re okay with that. But they’re not okay with a pharmaceutical company charging a lot of money for life-saving drugs. Which, also, leaves less money for patient health care (see Breast cancer drug turned down for NHS use due to high cost by Sarah Boseley posted 4/22/2014 on the guardian).
A Herceptin-style drug that can offer some women with advanced breast cancer nearly six months of extra life has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost.
In draft guidance now open to consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) blames the manufacturers, Roche, who are asking for more than £90,000 per patient, which is far more than any comparable treatment…
“We apply as much flexibility as we can in approving new treatments, but the reality is that given its price and what it offers to patients, it will displace more health benefit which the NHS could achieve in other ways, than it will offer to patients with breast cancer.”
Paying health care providers more will not improve the quality of health care. Unless health workers are doing a half-assed job now. Which I don’t believe they are. But Roche is helping people with death sentences live another six months or so. That’s a pretty remarkable thing. If the NHS can’t afford this wonder drug perhaps they should use their own. Of course they can’t. Why? Because they don’t have one. For they didn’t pour hundreds of millions of dollars in developing this drug and the all those drugs that failed.
Developing a miracle drug is costly. Money the pharmaceuticals pay up front. Because their employees don’t work for free. Which is why these drugs cost so much. That high price pays for all of the costs that went into this drug. For all of the drugs that failed. And provides a return for investors. Who give these pharmaceutical companies hundreds of millions of dollars up front just in the hope they may develop a miracle drug. Which is the only way we should invest in these miracle drugs. Because these investors will only take a chance on a good thing. Unlike government. Which has a history of backing the wrong investment time after time. And pouring good money after bad.
It’s a tough choice to make. Take health care benefits away from other patients to pay for a miracle drug for those dying from cancer. Or let people die 6 months or so sooner. One thing for sure, though, unionizing our health care workers won’t give either of these patients more health care benefits. It will only leave less money for everything else. Leading to rationing. And longer wait times. Because less money will pay for fewer things. Making those other things scarcer. Forcing people to wait longer and pay more for treatment.
Tags: cancer drug, health care benefits, health care providers, health care workers, life saving drugs, miracle drug, National health care, NHS, patient, patient health care, pharmaceutical, rationing, Roche, taxpayers, union, union dues, wait times, workers
Week in Review
The problem in America these days is the mass ignorance of the people. Thanks to a public school system that does not educate but programs our children to be good Democrat voters. Higher education taken over by the leftist radicals of the Sixties that forever changed the curriculum to teach our children to distrust capitalism and love government. When controlled by Democrats, of course. And people who are for some reason respected for their economic prowess who are absolutely clueless on things economic (see The Daily Show Nails Why Healthcare Will Never Work As A Free Market by Christina Sterbenz posted 1/18/2014 on Business Insider).
Steven Brill, author of Time’s in-depth healthcare analysis “Bitter Pill,” appeared on The Daily Show this week to discuss his opinion of Obamacare.
Brill’s work exploded his career into a love-hate relationship with Obamacare, now leading to a book. Speaking with Jon Stewart, Brill certainly made his criticisms known but we also feel like he pinpointed exactly why healthcare just can’t work as a free market.
Brill told the story of a cancer patient forced to pay $13,700 out-of-pocket, up-front for transfusion of a drug. And that cost only constituted part of a greater $83,000 payment. Brill claims, however, the drug only cost the pharmaceutical company $300.
Stewart came back at Brill with the typical, conservative argument — creating a free market for healthcare where patients pick-and-choose their coverage to create competition and therefore, better options.
“Everyone says, well it’s a marketplace. That guy [the cancer patient] has no choice in buying that drug. His doctor told him, ‘This will save your life. You don’t take it, you’re gonna die,'” Brill responded.
He further argued free markets must host two aspects — a balance between buyers and sellers and secondly, knowledge — neither of which the current U.S. system offers.
“That cancer drug has a patent. That is a monopoly that the government has given the drug company. There is no other drug. That’s the drug,” Brill said.
Jon Stewart is a comedian. So one can almost forgive his ignorance. But you’d think a person writing for a publication with the word ‘business’ in its name would actually understand business. But the author hasn’t a clue. It’s not her fault. It’s because of the politicizing of our educational system. As her dual degrees in journalism and public affairs would have taught her squat about the classical, Austrian or the Chicago school of economics. Instead filling her head with Keynesian nonsense. The one economic school embraced by power-hungry governments everywhere that has a proven track record of failure. For it was Keynesian policies that gave us the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s, the dot-com bubble and recession of the late 1990s/early 2000s and the Great Recession. Where massive government spending did not pull the economy out of recession but only made things worse.
Why does this pharmaceutical company have a patent? Or perhaps a better question would be why do we have this one cancer drug? Why is it that this one pharmaceutical company developed a cancer drug that works that no other pharmaceutical company or government developed? Because of that patent. The only reason they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development and paid massive liability insurance premiums for taking a huge risk to put a drug onto the market that may harm or kill people. They do this on the CHANCE that they may develop at least one successful drug that will pay all of their past costs for this one drug, the costs for the countless drugs that failed AND a profit for their investors. Who took a huge risk investing, giving this pharmaceutical company the money to pay all of their employees over the years it took to come up with at least one drug that wasn’t a loser.
Does the author of this article work for free? No. Of course not. She has bills. As we all do. Even the people working at pharmaceutical companies. Who don’t work there for free. Even if the vast majority of their work produces nothing that their employer can sell their employer still pays them. Thanks to their investors who give them the money to do so until they can actually sell something. But their investors do this only because of the CHANCE that this pharmaceutical will develop that miracle drug that everyone wants. A miracle drug that would never come into being if it weren’t for investors who were willing to risk losing huge amounts of money. Something only rich investors can afford to do.
Health care worked as a free market before General Motors made it an employee benefit thanks to FDR’s ceiling on wages. Once people stopped paying for what they received all free market forces left the health care system. And costs began to rise. This whole “healthcare just can’t work as a free market” is a product of the dumbing down of our educational system. One that produces people who don’t know the difference between insurance and health care. Insurance protects our assets against a catastrophic and UNEXPECTED loss. Like when Lloyds of London started selling marine insurance at that coffee shop. Every shipper paid a small premium to protect against a POTENTIAL sinking and loss of cargo. A POTENTIAL financial loss. Not every ship sank, though. In fact, most ships did not. Which is why that little bit from everyone was able to pay the financial loss of the few that did. For the ships that didn’t sink the shippers paid every other cost they incurred to ship things across those perilous oceans.
This is how insurance works. Which isn’t how our current health insurance works. Where people don’t expect to pay for anything out-of-pocket. Not the unexpected catastrophic costs. Or the EXPECTED small costs that everyone can budget for in their personal lives. Childhood vaccinations, annual checkups, flu shots, childbirth, etc. Even the unexpected things that have a low cost. Like the stitches required when a child falls off of a bike. Things that would cost less than someone’s annual cellular costs. Or things that people can plan and save for (like a house, a car or a child). When we pay these things out-of-pocket there are market forces in play. For a doctor is not going to charge someone they’ve been seeing for years as much as a faceless insurance company. Even today some doctors will waive some fees to help some of their long-time patients during a time of financial hardship. Because there is a relationship between doctor and patient.
When we pay out-of-pocket doctors can’t charge as much. Because they need patients. If they charge too much their patients may find another good doctor that charges a little less. Perhaps a younger one trying to establish a practice. These are market forces. Just like there are everywhere else in the economy. Even a cancer patient requiring an expensive wonder drug would contribute to market forces if there was true insurance in our health care system. Cancer is an unexpected and catastrophic cost. But not everyone gets cancer. Everyone would pay a small fee to insure against a financial loss that can result from cancer. Where that little bit from everyone was able to pay the financial loss of the unfortunate few that receive a cancer diagnosis. Because only a few from a large pool would incur this financial loss insurers would compete against other insurers for this business. Just like they do to insure houses. And ships crossing perilous oceans.
Health care would work better in the free market. It doesn’t today because government changed that. Starting with FDR putting a ceiling on wages. Which forced employers to offer generous benefits to get the best workers to work for them when they couldn’t offer them more pay. This was the beginning. Now the health insurance industry is so bastardized that it doesn’t even resemble insurance anymore. It’s just a massive cost transfer from one group of people to another. Instead of a pooling of money to insure against financial risk. For the few unexpected and catastrophic costs we could not afford and budget for to pay out-of-pocket.
Tags: cancer drug, catastrophic, competition, Democrat, doctor, drug, educational system, FDR, financial loss, free market, Health Care, ignorance, insurance, investors, Jon Stewart, Keynesian, market forces, miracle drug, monopoly, Obamacare, out of pocket, patent, patient, pharmaceutical, pharmaceutical company, premiums, risk, unexpected