How Technology Is SUPPOSED To Work

Expensive Medicine

This is what you see in every other area of technological advancement, save one — medicine.

What do you do when you cannot afford a $30,000 prosthetic hand that your son needs?

Two years ago, Paul McCarthy began searching for an inexpensive yet functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, who was born without fingers on one of his hands.

McCarthy came across a video online with detailed instruction on how to use a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand for his son. McCarthy made a prosthetic hand for his son for a cost of $5 and free time on a 3D printer.

This sort of advancement happens in every other area of technology.  What we now enjoy as a “smartphone” was unimaginable 10 or 20 years ago.  They simply didn’t exist at any price.  In the 1980s when I first started using a cell phone it was the size (and mass!) of a couple of bricks, cost $1,000, did nothing more than make phone calls and cost over a buck a minute to actually use.  It’s “on” time was only a few hours away from substantial power as well; “mobile” power was two 6V sealed lead-acid batteries in series.  It looked like this:

and cost about $1,000.

This was my first “personal computer”:

It cost $2,500, had two single-sided floppy disks, 64K (not MB or GB, KILObytes) of RAM, a 4Mhz (yes, MEGAhertz not GIGAhertz) Z-80 processor and a black-and-white CRT display that displayed 64 columns of text (not even 80!)

In health care we have had very material improvements in technology — whether it be pacemakers, diagnostics such as MRI and Ultrasound machines, tests of various sorts and similar.

But in Health Care costs have risen at an outrageous rate for so-called “similar” capabilities rather than both price coming down and capability going up.


Simple — monopoly controls by the various providers.

Steve Liesman is once again saying that “the reason we have rising costs is that we’re living longer.”


The reason we have rising costs is that the companies involved in providing these technologies have constructed a business model predicated on extracting the maximum amount of money from the economy and they are prohibiting the usual economic forces that result in price collapses as technology improves from occurring by imposing force on you via government.

We should be getting dramatically more while spending dramatically less.  This is the lesson of technology and it applies everywhere throughout history where the market is allowed to work.

Indeed, it takes the threat of literal imprisonment, fine and forfeiture or even murder to prevent that from happening.  To find such an example in the medical industry you need only cross a border, fill your car trunk with medicine that sells for 1/100th of what it does in the US while there (E.g. scorpion antivenom) and come back across the border, where you will at best have your property stolen and at worst get to spend years in a federal prison for violating a government-enforced monopoly.

Nobody — and I do mean nobody — is talking about this.  CNBS is of course out running the usual crap about “defensive medicine” and doctors “scared to death” about lawsuits, but the fact of the matter is that tort judgments are something like $20 billion a year (out of $2,700 billion spent on medicine annually!) and the so-called defensive medicine that is allegedly “forced” is highly profitable for said doctors and thus most if not all of it would probably happen anyway.  But even if it didn’t and all defensive medicine went away $200 billion (the best estimate for that) is a single-digit percentage of the whole.

We will not solve the medical cost problem until we stop protecting and outright enabling monopolies in medicine.  In virtually every other line of work anti-trust law says that such acts are felonies, but in medicine they’re why you spend ten times what you should on health care.

Every advocate for this existing model is promoting an outright fraud and what should be a serious felony offense, and should be treated exactly as one would treat an accessory to the largest example of grand theft in American history.

The Market Ticker

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