Given all the recent debate, I felt that we required something more on health care systems. Paul Krugman gives an account of “why markets can’t cure healthcare” in the New York Times, where he slams those Americans who believe that the only answer is free markets:
There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don’t know when or whether you’ll need care — but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor’s office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.
This tells you right away that health care can’t be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can’t just trust insurance companies either — they’re not in business for their health, or yours.
The second thing about health care is that it’s complicated, and you can’t rely on experience or comparison shopping. (”I hear they’ve got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary’s!”) That’s why doctors are supposed to follow an ethical code, why we expect more from them than from bakers or grocery store owners.
So what are some alternatives? Krugman points out that a single payer system is not the only alternative. There are many existing systems (all better that ours) that are quite dissimilar; while not free market healthcare systems, the ones often considered are alternative markets or alternative capitalist systems. But some people have even imagine noncapitalist healthcare insurance systems. One example is the communal system organized by the Simple Way and Christian Health Ministries.
Imagine a group of folks committing to pool their money together every month in order to cover each other’s medical needs? Sounds pretty sweet eh? Well, it’s happening.
…And while we are grateful for the tireless labor of folks working toward health care for all, we are not willing to wait for the government to do what the Church is meant to BE. Christian Healthcare Ministries is one of a growing number of innovative communities bearing each other’s burdens when it comes to medical expenses. Each month folks contribute money to a common fund of which over 90% goes directly to meet needs. Members receive newsletters that tell who is in the hospital and how to be praying for one another. CHM now has over 20,000 members who have collectively paid over 400 million dollars in medical bills over the past 20 years. Check them out: www.chministries.org