Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Bernie Sanders on Socialized Medicine

Bernie Sanders claims that socialized medicine will result in medical care being available to Americans at a substantially reduced cost per capita. He ignores such facts as the 70% higher taxes in the Nordic countries than in the US. (See https://nyti.ms/2PWoxF6)

Keep in mind that the amount of money spent on anything is determined by a combination of its price per unit and the number of units one buys. Thus, the only way to reduce per capita medical costs is either to reduce the price of medical care or the quantity of it provided.

Bernie’s method of reducing the price would almost certainly be price controls, which would result in shortages and waiting lists, à la the VA. (He’s spoken out in favor of nationwide rent control, as his method of reducing rents.)

A likely way that the quantity of medical care would be reduced is by denying it to the elderly, who, from the perspective of the state, are merely large consumers of medical care and generally provide little or nothing in tax revenues, because they no longer work.

Indeed, the elderly are paid social security. Thus, to the extent they died sooner, the state would save not only on medical expenses but also on social security payments.

Apparently, what makes per capita medical-care outlays high in the US, at least in large part, is a combination of high drug prices and high incomes of doctors.

Drug prices could be brought down, consistent with free-market principles, by allowing the unfettered importation of drugs from abroad. Sellers of patented drugs could then no longer set the price of drugs in the US appreciably above the price they set abroad.

Another measure that would help bring down drug prices would be requiring the FDA to speed up its approval process for new drugs. This could be accomplished by allowing the purchase and sale of new drugs without FDA approval, when patients were willing to take the risk.

Artificially high incomes of doctors would be reduced by allowing the establishment of new medical schools and by allowing already licensed physicians to employ apprentice physicians, who would eventually become licensed. PAs and NPs would be good candidates.

For more on the subject free-market medicine vs. socialized medicine, see my Kindle essay “The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine,” available for 99¢ at https://amzn.to/2OjmKxy