How The Government Ruined U.S. Healthcare (And What We Can Actually Do About It)

Tyler Durden's picture

Authorerd by Alice Salles via,

Government’s meddling in the healthcare business has been disastrous from the get-go.

Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s lobbying efforts, most administrations have passed new healthcare regulations. With each new law or set of new regulations, restrictions on the healthcare market went further, until at some point in the 1980s, people began to notice the cost of healthcare had skyrocketed.

This is not an accident. It’s by design.

As regulators allowed special interests to help design policy, everything from medical education to drugs became dominated by virtual monopolies that wouldn’t have otherwise existed if not for government’s notion that intervening in people’s lives is part of their job.

But how did costs go up, and why didn’t this happen overnight?

It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon restricted the supply of hospitals by requiring institutions to provide a certificate-of-need.

Just a couple years later, in 1974, the president also strengthened unions for hospital workers by boosting pension protections, which raise the cost for both those who run hospitals and taxpayers in cases of institutions that rely on government subsidies. This move also helped force doctors who once owned and ran their own hospitals to merge into provider monopolies. These, in turn, are often only able to keep their doors open with the help of government subsidies.

This artificial restriction on healthcare access had yet another harsh consequence: overworked doctors.

But they weren’t the first to feel the consequences hit home. As the number of hospitals and clinics became further restricted and the healthcare industry became obsessed with simple compliance, patients were the first to feel abandoned.

According to Business Insider, the average doctor has thousands of patients, and each visit lasts less than 30 minutes. Prior to the government’s slow but absolute control of health care, the doctor listened to the patient — many old timers will confirm — even if they couldn’t afford it. Few were turned down. Now, doctors can hardly recall the conversations they have with the people they are supposed to be looking after.

As President Barack Obama pushed further restrictions on the insurance industry by touting his Affordable Care Act as a piece of legislation that would make insurance more affordable — ignoring that insurance isn’t the same as care — the overall cost of coverage also increased over the years. And as a result, a new group of independent healthcare professionals went on to ignite one of the most liberating revolutions in recent U.S. history.

Direct Primary Care: Removing Artificial Restrictions from the Picture

Business Insider chronicles the story behind Dr. Bryan Hill’s practice. As a pediatrician, Hill spent most of his life dealing with insurance companies. But one day after answering an impromptu house call, he decided he had had enough. That’s when he learned about primary care clinics. These offices remain open by giving patients memberships in exchange for a monthly fee that covers most of what the average patient requires. As a result, the patient pays the doctor directly, and neither party is forced to navigate the complicated rules imposed by insurance companies. In September 2016, Hill opened his practice in South Carolina, and he’s not planning on going back. But he’s just one of many. As ACA became increasingly suffocating to patients and providers, many doctors ditched the system altogether while others went into the primary care business.

On average, members of these direct primary care clinics pay as little as $60 per month, with couples paying about $150. Without having to handle heavily regulated middlemen, patients have a clearer picture of how much they spend on their health by being members of such practices. They also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing their doctor.

Studies have already demonstrated that when there is good communication between doctors and patients, treatments are more efficient. This is not simply because doctors are giving patients attention, but also because they are able to tailor a certain treatment to that patient’s lifestyle, health, and activities.

By removing the government entirely from the picture and allowing patients and doctors to once again deal directly with one another, the practice of embracing primary care helps to illustrate the importance of an individual and personalized approach to health care.

For governments and government bureaucrats, everything is dealt with from a collective perspective - after all, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

When government gets involved in health care, everything looks like another number, another statistic. But what bureaucrats fail to understand is that they do not possess all the answers. Only a doctor who is paying attention will be better able to help the individual patient — not a few thousand new regulations.

In essence, what this growing movement seems to suggest is that, even if doctors and patients are unaware of the interventionist forces driving the cost of doing business and receiving medical attention, they’re still driven into the open arms of the free market at some point or another. In the end, needs speak louder than ideology.

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Let me be clear, everything that the government gets involved with or subsidizes for too long ends up becoming a broken and corrupt piece of shit.

Looney's picture

The .GOV’s meddling in a business always pushes the prices higher – education, student loans, drugs, agriculture, rents and mortgages, health insurance.

Anything they touch turns to shit, very expensive shit.  ;-)


cossack55's picture

So.....judging by the previous 2 comments, .gov IS shit

847328_3527's picture

But Soweeto Obama promised...."If you want to keep your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance."

...he repeatedly promised.....


tmosley's picture

For once, the author is quite insightful. We need to strike at the hundred year old root of the issue by privatizing medical licensing requirements. Require all medical practices to carry malpractice insurance, and let the underwriters decide who is qualified to do what. Same could be done with drugs and medical devices. With drugs and medical devices, I would even say that they should be allowed to be sold without insurance, so long as they have a big fat "USE AT YOUR OWN RISK" label on them. This would really foster the proliferation of new technologies, allowing the most desperate customers access to bleeding edge treatments.

Back to licensing, you could get government completely out of that game entirely with the same strategy. Why on Earth do we need to show license AND registration when we get pulled over? Government should outsource the testing for that to the insurance companies, who I am sure would love to have the ability to test drivers' abilities and knowledge of safety before giving them coverage.

Clinteastwood's picture


Eliminate malpractice abuse by adopting loser pays in malpractice litigation (like every other country in the civilized world). Malpractice insurance should not be required--this would be just another government intervention adding cost to the delivery of health care.

The electronic medical record mandated by the feds, is worse than useless. It gets between doctor and patient, doctor always has to be typing it all in.....the alternative to listening carefully to the patient. It's only usefulness (I use the term loosely) is to employ bean counting pencil pushers, who insist on monitoring the doctor and patient. Tell me one efficiency this produces. Shure has brought down the cost of health care hasn't it?

Arrow4Truth's picture

"Why on Earth do we need to show license AND registration when we get pulled over?" A license is permission to operate within their parameters. It also provides an estate for them to place claims against. The registration gives them a valid claim to your car, truck, vehicle. If they want, they can take it at any time. It's registered to you, but the State owns it. Argue if like. Believe what you choose. It's all by contract. 

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) tmosley Mar 22, 2017 1:10 PM

You are thick aren't you. You already imposed regulations in your 3rd sentence. You just couldn't resist.

T-Bear's picture

Welcome to ZH, the place where the .gov is your enemy, everyone arguing against you is a russian hacker and all muslims are rapists.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The worst thing the government ever did in healthcare was to give the AMA a monopoly on medical care.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


The AMA has no such monopoly.  It is just a professional organization and a piss-poor lobbying group.  Many doctors are not members.

The ACA did eliminate competition for insurance carriers, and guarantee them profits, just as the Federal Reserve Act did for banks in 1913.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) hedgeless_horseman Mar 22, 2017 1:13 PM

So in other words, it's a professional monopoly. Well done.

Tom of the Missouri's picture

As they used to ssy, ".... good enough for government work..."

tmosley's picture

Nah, just the soldier aged men the west is importing.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Medical is a mixed market.  Mixed markets have both elastic and inelastic mechanisms.  Inelastic markets are to be government owned, or government regulated.

Without regulation, inelastic markets tend toward monopoly pricing, driving up cost.

In an age of univeral deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.

I will say it again, medical is a mixed market.

Any sort of proper medical system, MUST address this fundamental reality.  

Those that ignore the duty of government in inelastic markets are effectively denying reality.  They are creating a reality distortion field.... and some are doing it on purpose in order to take rents.

I find any argument against reality, in order to take rents ... despicable. 

A good medical debate would compare and contrast various medical systems from around the world.  One could quantify price and value easy enough.  That we don't even do that is also despicable.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Medical is a mixed market.  Mixed markets have both elastic and inelastic mechanisms.  Inelastic markets are to be government owned, or government regulated.

Without regulation, inelastic markets tend toward monopoly pricing, driving up cost.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.

I will say it again, medical is a mixed market.

Any sort of proper medical system, MUST address this fundamental reality.  

Those that ignore the duty of government in inelastic markets are effectively denying reality.  They are creating a reality distortion field.... and some are doing it on purpose in order to take rents.

I find any argument against reality, in order to take rents ... despicable. 

A good medical debate would compare and contrast various medical systems from around the world.  One could quantify price and value easy enough.  That we don't even do that is also despicable.

stocker84's picture

The first comment is stating the obvious. 

The second commenter just likes to know you're reading his posts.

Even signs his nombre de plume in every post.

Nombre de plume or diagnosis from a mental health professional? Jury still out.

jcaz's picture

Eh, still better than douchebags who upvote their own posts.....

HopefulCynical's picture

Meanwhile, you're just an attention whore.

Arrow4Truth's picture

Mental health professional? LOL. Licensed? Absolutely, it says nothing about one's ability, but demands that one operate within their paramaters. That aside, psychiatry/psychology is theory, or to use a populist meme, fake science.

Antifaschistische's picture

95% of all the problems we have today in "healthcare" could be eliminated if we would only eliminate the laws that constrain competition at the practitioner level and at the institutional level (hospitals, corporations (who can't hire their own doctors), and insurance companies)

The other, what do we do with the guy who dreams of being a professional skateboarder and breaks a new bone every 4 months....well, let Maxine Waters figure that one out.

BetweenThe Coasts's picture

Sound familiar?

“The minimum – funding – threshold component of the plan created a convenient back door for the takeover, ensuring that donor and special interest dollars could be used to steer the direction of education at all “certified” medical schools. It was a brilliant scheme, disguised behind the stated goal of making medical education more professional.”


It all sounds so nice -I mean, who wouldn’t want to get rid of all those pesky quacks who were abusing medical education for personal gain? This was the narrative being spread around at the time. Flexner’s assessment of the medical school landscape helped flesh out the “problem” that those who tasked him with describing it would use to introduce their “solution”: the total dissolution of all healing protocols that competed with their own.

Dr. Bell summed it up perfectly during our interview: “Not surprisingly, the basis of the report was it was far too easy to start a medical school, and that most schools were not teaching sound medicine. Let me translate this for you---these natural health colleges were not pushing enough chemical drugs manufactured by who? Carnegie and Rockefeller.”

Ironically, the purveyors of the new system claimed that the old system served the private, rather than public, interest.”

The Truth about Cancer -WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CANCER”S HISTORY, TREATMENT, AND PREVENTION, Ty M. Bollinger, Hay House, Inc., 2016, page 28-30.


Hal n back's picture

I tend to agree with govt screws everything up. I just cannout fing much to the contrarty.
There are thing the federal government should do. Like national defense. If the federal govt would stick to its knitting , it would do abeteer job on thise things.

LawsofPhysics's picture

There are two things that our government has done well IMO.  First, we are damn good at eliminating targets anywhere on the planet. Second, we were pretty damn good at advancing basic research questions and innovation.  I fear we may be losing our edge at both.

LawsofPhysics's picture

getting cut to the bone...



Take comfort knowing that Elon Musk is on top of things...

hedgeless_horseman's picture


What is so sad about trimming the pork?

Feel free to donate to the science and technology university of your choice, but stop forcing me to do so by threat of prison.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Show me that the pork is actually getting trimed.


I see them cutting the money for actual research while leaving the cost of administration COMPLETELY INTACT!!!

How in the fuck is that "cutting the pork" exactly?!?!?!


Or as my fathers says; "too many damn chiefs and not enough indians" 

I collaborate and donate with my local State University all the time, do you? Lots of people talk the talk.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


What research is NASA doing that isn't being done at universities or private military contractors?

50 years of Manned Low-Earth Orbit isn't long enough?

Velcro works just fine as is.  New flavors of Tang?

LawsofPhysics's picture

Nice dodge. Again, if you are really cutting pork, great, but I don't see is yet.  This includes ALL federal agencies.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Yes, I understand the federal tit suckers tried and true approach of, "you cannot cut our agency's budget unless you cut everyone's budget.  It wouldn't be fair!!!"


OldTrooper's picture

Government funded 'science' is not nearly the super-duper, un-mitigated public good that you'd have us believe.  There are plenty of arguments for the superiority of private research - and the inherent flaws of government research.  Check out this to start:

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) OldTrooper Mar 22, 2017 1:16 PM

Why should I trust a neocon/ziocon Oligarch owned outfit like the Cato Institute?

OldTrooper's picture

Because they are much smarter than you, at least on this topic.

But really, you don't need to trust them.  Start there and then explore the other literature - if you dare.  It's just ideas, they won't kill you.  Prove they're lying, if you can.

tmosley's picture

They really aren't good at basic research/innovation. They have simply hoovered up all the money that would normally be used for that and created a perverse system of graft where universities do all the research (those with the best connections get the grants, or get them reapportioned after the fact), absorb the costs of all failures, and then sell the technology to the companies that should have been doing the research in the first place for bottom dollar, all funded by taxpayer dollars.

Get them out of research. Companies like IBM and Standard Oil were always much better at it. Never mind the little guy doing research in his garage, something that has dwindled to the point you might get arrested just for having glassware or "chemicals" in your possession.

Arrow4Truth's picture

Yep, quite adept at both. It seems that where everything gets contorted, distorted, misconfigured, and so on (tried to avoid f'ed up) is when politics comes into play. Once that card is played, the entire game is suspect. Refer to intent.

Tom of the Missouri's picture

You must mean the following:   1)  the failed 40+ year war cancer,  2) the failed 40+ year on heart disease, the 30+ year out of control obesity epidemic,  4) the 30+ year out of control diabetes epidemic, 5) the out of control Alzheimer's epidemic, all of which have failed to find definitive causes or cures.   

Remember when we used to be able to solve nuclear fission problems, going to the moon problems and win world wars all from scratch to finish in 4 or 5 years?

The answers to the causes and cures all these problems is readily known to anyone that wants to spend a little time finding out.  The reason that most still don't know is the same reason the health care and health insurance industries are a wreck, which is because of massive government meddling in the deeply corrupt media, medical, pharmeceutical, agricultural and  nutritional complex of corporations and academic instutions who have too much investment in the wrong solutions to change course and admit they have been wrong.   They thus all rent seek from the clueless politicians to proteect their current misdirected courses. 

To anyone curious about the truth and the answers I recommend a couple of books by either Gary Taubes or Nina  Teicholz.  This scandle is much worse than just the health insurance health care access one in  that the current course not just wastes of trillions of dollars, but because it also involves a literal holocust of early painful deaths of millions of our fellow citizens. 


BetweenThe Coasts's picture

massive government meddling [on behalf of] deeply corrupt media, medical, pharmeceutical, agricultural and nutritional complex of corporations

corporations use government. pay some bribes/lobby --make a law: make a business. same as it ever was.

we live in a system of ossified graft, innovation being thought of as new forms of graft.


NaturalOnly's picture

Yes! There are more hospitals and medical doctors than we need. The medical doctors now just exist to prescribe unnecessary drugs, like statins. They have all this overhead, now they need to do operations like gallbladder removal to pay the rent.

As a healthcare provider, an acupuncturist. I can diagnose you in 10 minutes, sometimes 5. I can insert the needles in 5 minutes. The rest of it is jibber jabber to convince you that I can help you. Since most people have been so brainwashed by the drug companies and medical establishment that they need surgery and drugs, they are absolutely incredulous that I might have an answer for them. I can cure most diseases. Some take a month, others like migraines, might take 2-3. No more drugs, no more medical office visits. It is an easy cure. But, people don't believe you.

So much money is wasted on medical procedures that are done just for money. Chemotherapy that is done for money. Radiation that is done for money. Heart bypass that is done for money. Back surgery that is done for money.

All of these things maim people for money.

silvercity's picture

There are thing(s) the federal government should do. Like national defense

define national--------=federal government(as in, if the federal government ceases to exist, then there is no nation) I think the federal government defends the federal government exceptionally well

flaminratzazz's picture

Reagan said "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Did anyone EVER listen?


O fvk no.

LawsofPhysics's picture

At least Regan sent bankers and financiers to prison the first time they violated years of contract law. (remember the S&L "crisis")


Remind me, how many motherfuckers have gone to prison for the MBS bullshit?

anyone see the fucking problem yet?

847328_3527's picture

Incredibly, I heard an economics professor give a lecture on the current problem. he said both Bush and Obama were ailures---in 1988 over 750 bankers and wall street fraudsters were indicted and jailed by the DOJ and state AGs.


Under Bush and the Kenyan, zero were jailed.

silvercity's picture

Back in the 80's there was a general belief that the banksters were evil and criminal. Now the general belief is that the banks are evil! Can't put a bank in prison.

flaminratzazz's picture

Pretty hard to ignore a squid of this fvkin magnitude.

Bay Area Guy's picture

I think it was GHWB that sent the assholes to prison.  It was one of the few things he did that I applauded.

doctor10's picture

we're all gonna be looking at 15-25% annual premium increases for a loooong time-regardles of which of the UniParty "controls" congress or who sits in the WhiteHouse.

Its how the bankers, colluding with and the insurance companies all agreed that was how the derivative positions the insurance companies got themselves into were to be backstopped as the bankers refused to loan any more money to to bail out the insurers postions.

BTW its also why you get no bennies for those huge premiums

Team Trump is just beginning to get the "big picture"