As recently as the 1920s, America had what was considered by the rest of the world to be its best healthcare system. The cost of American healthcare was also the lowest among nations considered to be "modern." This was the result of what was known as the Lodge System. Most Americans, regardless of ethnic or religious stripe were members of some fraternal order.
The "lodge" was a community within each community which supported its members in hard times, but more (perhaps most) importantly, it was also the source of healthcare. The lodge contracted with a local physician to provide medical care for members and their families with average terms ranging from $1 per month in rural areas to $2 per month in cities. When a member or family member became ill, the lodge's physician came to their home and provided medical services at little or no additional charge other than the cost of medicine.
THE MONOPOLY IS GRANTED CONTROL OF MEDICINE IN AMERICA
Until 1929, the free market determined the cost of healthcare, not insurance companies, government, or medical monopolies, and it worked. With a handful of donation dollars, however, this all changed with one act of Congress. A small lobbying group from Chicago known as the AMA (American Medical Association) lobbied the federal legislature to outlaw lodge practice, which Congress did, though this was outside of its constitutional authority or purview.
Medical costs doubled within the next half-decade. The AMA then lobbied to control licensing not only of those who could legally practice medicine, but also which universities and colleges were allowed to teach the subject. Medical costs again quickly doubled.
The first casualties of the monopoly control of medicine were the black medical schools, which were thriving in the 1930s. But it would be more than a generation before black doctors were again licensed to practice medicine by the privately operated AMA monopoly.
Licensing became ever more restrictive to reduce the competition and drive up the earnings of the monopoly's members. New licensees barely met the attrition rate of doctors retiring or quitting the practice of medicine, even as the baby-boom doubled the nation's population. The cost of medical care, as a result, again multiplied.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Government absorbed the public's medical care with Medicaid and Medicare. Costs again skyrocketed, never to be fair or affordable again, until the two market disruptions of monopoly and government were one day removed.
The outcome of monopoly is always the same--the commodity controlled becomes far more expensive. The outcome of government intervention is always the same--the service being provided becomes inefficient, fraught with fraud, and ultimately a bureaucratic nightmare, increasing the cost of that being controlled.
America now has the most expensive medical care in the world---by far---yet ranks behind all of its peer nations and 32nd in terms of quality of care.
As in most cases, all that is needed is for government to return to Rule of Law, and remove the disruptions it caused by exceeding its constitutional boundaries.
FREE THE MARKET
1. Any student granted a degree in medicine by a college or university has the right and privilege to practice that craft under the United States Constitution. Any further restrictions are the purview of the States, not Washington. What constitutes "medicine" should be up to the colleges, universities--and consumers--not a government-sanctioned private monopoly. The shortage of medical practitioners would come to an end quickly, while concurrently creating a myriad of alternative treatments that are banned or outlawed by the monopoly--though effective. RESULT- Medical costs would plummet through competition.
CHANGE OR ELIMINATE THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN MEDICINE
2. Government has no constitutional role in the practice of medicine, but in the interim (as the market rights itself from control of the monopoly and government) it could act as the "lodge," contracting with practitioners for a monthly fee, while allotting groups of patients unable to afford the high cost of monopoly care--but on a fixed basis--as in the practice of old, which worked. The doctor receives the monthly stipend for caring for his allotted citizens, but nothing additional is paid when care is required. Extraordinary costs and care would be the purview of the States, based on what the local populations and legislatures are willing to absorb.
By forcing government to return to constitutional bounds and ending the reign of America's medical monopoly--healthcare could quickly return to what it was less than a century ago--the very best in the world, at the very lowest of costs.
A RETURN TO RULE OF LAW and A RETURN TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION will truly make America great again, regardless of who is running it.
Howell W. Woltz
Howell is the Author of "The Way Back to America: 10 steps to return the United States to constitutional government."
*** Have you read Howell's new #1 international bestseller, "Justice Restored: 10 steps to end mass incarceration in America"? It is also available now on Amazon or in a bookstore near you.
Born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and Caledonian University in Scotland, Howell now lives in Warsaw, Poland with his wife, Dr. Magdalena Iwaniec-Woltz. Howell is the European Correspondent for The Richardson Post and Chairman of The International Centre for Justice.