When it comes to healthcare, you don’t know a damn thing about transportation costs, storage costs, opportunity costs, legal liability issues, human anatomy, medical innovation, doctors costs, medical practitioners costs for utilities, rent, people, medical refrigeration, the cost of existing regulations, ligaments, medical business models, or prescription drug manufacturing, the reality of drug approval to name just a few of the many facets of an industry you supposedly know how to steer.
You are not an expert. Even the experts know they are not experts. They will spend their entire lives just grappling with one sub-facet of one of these facets, and their work still won’t be done.
To claim to empirically know how to ensure the best outcome for everyone in any issue is folly.
How can the democons who passed a healthcare law even being to understand how to service 330 million people, ensure better, cheaper healthcare when they are clueless?? How can the republicons pass a healthcare law when they are clueless?
Now the left wants to go with medicare for all which is nearly bankrupt, ripe with fraud, and the same lack of knowledge.
The only way industries like medicine actually work? Millions of people – most of whom will never speak to each other – do what they’re best at. All of those individuals face the same incentives we all face, and their individual work somehow comes together to generate the industry we know as medicine.
This critique of central planning is not unique. It’s an old one. But this critique applies to any other kind of society-wide (or even city or township-wide) policy-making as well. Policy has a methodological problem.
Policymaking as we know it leans on the idea that we should make decisions on “all the available data.” It says we should use all the available data as our guide for what is best for the greatest number of people. It’s…. well… bullshit.
And the Federal Governments policymaking surrounding healthcare past and present is a failure.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended the Country Classic Auction, an incredible charitable event held annually to raise money for the London Health Sciences Foundation. This year, there were over 1,200 attendees who collectively donated millions of dollars to support the foundation’s campaign goal of $200 million by 2018.
These types of hospital foundation fundraiser campaigns are commonplace in philanthropic circles across Canada. They include, among others, the popular Princess Margaret Home Lottery and the SickKids VS Initiative, which bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually from private citizens. Most of the funds raised are earmarked for desperately-needed medical infrastructure and research development.
That raises an important question: why is it that our publicly funded health care system is so dependent on private fundraisers? Put another way, how deficient would our system truly be without individuals and corporations stepping in to fill the void left by the government?
Reduced health transfers
The simple answer to the first question is this: while individuals keep opening their pocketbooks, various levels of government have chosen to limit their spending on health care. Federally, the government has reduced the increase of Canada Health Transfers by three per cent annually, a curious decision by a government with a voracious appetite for deficit spending.
Canada will spend close to $242 billion nationally on health care in 2017, representing 11.5 per cent of our gross domestic product. While this seems, and indeed is an astronomical number, it is undercut by systemic inefficiencies that leave public health care still chronically underfunded. These most recent clawbacks will only serve to exacerbate the problem.
These shortfalls in funding are not isolated to the federal government. The Ontario Liberal government, for example, has long been self-congratulatory about medical care in this province, despite administering devastating cuts to the health care system. These cuts also include decreasing the number of residency spots for future physicians, which might be the most myopic health policy in recent memory, given our aging population and growing crises of doctor shortages and specialist wait times.
$50M Children’s Hospital donation largest in Sask. history
Hospital parking rates a ‘tax’ on sick Canadians
What is truly unforgivable is a government taking credit for health care service and innovation that is significantly funded by private citizens. When Kathleen Wynne hosted Bernie Sanders in Toronto recently, it was reported that he was particularly impressed by Sinai Health System’s neonatal intensive care unit. This very same NICU was actually made possible through a $5 million donation from the Newton Glassman Charitable Foundation.
In fact, back in 2013, Newton Glassman excoriated the government’s shambolic management of the health care system, saying, “the province should be ashamed of itself. [SickKids’ NICU] looks like a 1970s Russian gulag.” No wonder SickKids is in the midst of the most aggressive capital campaigns in Canadian hospital history, with a goal of raising $1.3 billion, in order to rebuild its hospital because its “facilities and infrastructures do not match the expertise of our people.” If this is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, I don’t know what is.
A tiered system
With a system riddled by inefficiencies, we have seen the proliferation of a tiered system in Canada, including the operation of private clinics in B.C. and Ontario.
The underfunding of the medical system has also been felt by patients who are forced to pay exorbitant prices for parking, which is used to offset operating costs and to fund necessary research. According to the Ontario Hospital Association, these costs have been passed onto patients because the government froze hospital budgets for years and encouraged hospitals to “find new sources of revenue.”
Importantly, a large proportion of the medical infrastructure and innovation in this country has been made possible by significant contributions of the donor communities. In a country that prides itself on a publicly funded health care model, this should not even be necessary. Truly efficient government ministries would be able to invest intelligently in medical infrastructure, innovation and delivery without a reliance on private capital.
And the left wants single payer like Canada,