On a visit to North Carolina last week, I took my wife’s car to our favorite local shop for some work. It is owned and operated by two brothers from Amman, Jordan. They emigrated to the US in the turbulent 1980s when the Jordanian government confiscated their successful business under martial law. At the shop I always enjoy animated conversation with the brothers about families, world politics, current events, and automotive stuff.
While Jordan is still not exactly paradise, life there has improved dramatically in recent years under King Abdullah. But that’s not the subject of my post this morning.
I asked Sam, the older brother, why he was out of the country the last time I had visited his shop – did he have a medical problem? No, he said, he just needed some dental work. That piqued my curiosity.
Sam said he went to two local dentists, and each one quoted him about $8000 for the job. They prescribed somewhat different procedures, including removing some teeth that were actually healthy. Uncomfortable with their approaches, and the cost, Sam had the x-rays sent to his family’s dentist in Jordan for a “third” opinion. “They’re crazy,” was the opinion of the Jordanian dentist.
So Sam flew to Jordan (the trip cost $1500) and had four crowns, two fillings, two root canals, and deep cleaning done there. For $500. And they left his good teeth alone. When he returned, he had the work checked out by one of his local dentists. “Nice job,” the dentist reported. Sam had saved six grand.
This points out what is wrong with our American medical system – fee for service. The more services that are provided, the more money the doctor makes. And since most of us don’t pay for medical procedures out of our pockets, we don’t check – or care – how much our medical care costs. The other side of the dilemma – cost shifting. Doctors provide free or under-compensated services via government programs or charity, financed by overcharging those who do pay.
Is ObamaCare the answer? Oh, hell no! Government takeover of the medical industry will result in gross inefficiency, incompetence, and rationing – the normal standard of performance for any government work.
But those who say our current health care system is the best in the world are naive. Our nation has the wealth to do some things medically that other nations can’t. But the cost is out of control and the quality is not what it should be.
Our next president will have to address the health care issue – it can’t be kicked down the road any longer, or soon many of us will be “medical tourists”.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Put the lime in the coconut,
And call me in the morning!