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Healthcare costs

Last week’s New York Times had an article by Dr. Ezekiel J. Emauel, arguing that most of the proposed solutions for getting healthcare costs under control would make at best a one percent different. This week’s article argues that there is a place where real savings can be made.

The proposed solution is straightforward. Simplify the record keeping by requiring everyone to keep patient records electronically. We all know how much paper we have to fill in when going to the doctor’s office or worse going to hospital. The author estimates that we could cut 10 percent off of healthcare costs if we had our records sitting on a computer system accessible by something looking like a credit card.

This might well be true but this brings us back to a problem I alluded to in my last posting. The computer is taking away jobs. All the people who currently push that mountain of paper around would be let go. And then . . .? Those who believe in fairies will also believe that the tens of thousands of people who would be fired would immediately find gainful employment in some other productive enterprise. More likely they will add to the rolls of the unemployed and we would pay for them not by giving them a salary but by giving them a welfare check. In short, the total savings would be absolutely nil. We would simply push the costs from one area to another.

This might save healthcare costs but it does nothing to reduce the problem of unemployment. In fact, I offer the following hypothesis: The real reason why healthcare costs have climbed is because it is the only place Americans can find work!

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