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June 30, 2014

Free Medical Care Creates Shortages of Medical Care

During the debate over ObamaCare, a frequently cited benefit of providing federally subsidized health care was the suggestion that doing so would reduce ER visits that end up being paid for out of public funds (that's "tax dollars").

Both the military health care system and the VA system were touted as examples of what a successful single payer system might look like. Sadly, the media are belatedly discovering that both the VA and military health care systems are plagued by the very shortages of care, long waiting lines, and bureaucratic incompetence they was supposed to have cured. And now this outrage!

...in England plenty of people want to go to a doctor because it is free. They just can't get an appointment so they go to an emergency room which costs far more, which makes the burden on taxpayers even greater.

A new paper estimated that in 2012-2013 there were 5.77 million emergency room visits in England that were preceded by an inability to get a timely GP appointment - an increase of 11 percent (2.2 million attendances) between financial years 2008-2009 and 2012-2013.

...for every 100 attempts that resulted in a GP consultation there were 1.67 attempts that resulted in visiting emergency rooms. Although this ratio is small, the absolute effect when multiplied by the 345.6 million GP consultations that occurred in 2012-2013 provides a figure of 5.77 million emergency room visits that were preceded by an inability to get a suitable appointment. This is 26.5 per cent of the unplanned emergency room visits (i.e. those that are not follow up appointments at A&E such as for removal of stitches).

No matter how many times the real world comes knocking, these folks continue to be surprised when it shows up. Who could possibly have predicted that reducing the cost of a good or service while capping the price providers can charge for it would produce an increase in demand coupled with a decrease in supply (commonly known as a "shortage")?

It's almost as though some invisible force were at work here.

Posted by Cassandra at June 30, 2014 07:29 AM

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"No matter how many times the real world comes knocking,". Or in the scintillating statement by Tevya, "There is no on the other hand." Smith's "hand" gets rejected a priori.

Posted by: Roy at June 30, 2014 10:24 AM

Well, *duh*.

It is, after all, a Hand of Unearned Race, Class, Gender and Economic Privilege. A frighteningly white, non-inclusive male hand. Think of all the Evil that hand represents: inequality, competition, specialization, the oppression of Indigenous peoples and the triumph of First World-ism.


Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2014 11:25 AM

We told them, they didn't listen. Why don't I want to laugh?

Posted by: htom at June 30, 2014 05:14 PM


Posted by: CAPT Mike at July 6, 2014 04:00 AM