Monday, July 10, 2017

Advertisement The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR Don’t Leave Health Care to a Free Market

When it comes to health care coverage, House Speaker Paul Ryan says, “We’re going to have a free market, and you buy what you want to buy,” and if people don’t want it, “then they won’t buy it.” In this model of health care, the patient is consumer, and he must decide whether the goods and services he wants to protect his life are worth the cost. But this is often impossible. And what Republicans, and many Democrats, forget to stress, is that in a totally free market health care system, you must be willing to let some patients die. As an emergency medicine physician in a busy urban hospital, I have patients brought to me unconscious several times a day. Often, they are found down in the street by a good Samaritan who called 911 on their behalf. We are required to care for them, and most of these patients are grateful at my attempts to help them. More than once, however, such patients have regained consciousness furious. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to live — they were all simply upset at the costs their hospitalization incurred.

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