According to Dr. John R. Graham, MD, who has spent his career at Sydney Hospital, in Australias largest city, things started going down the tubes in 1984, when the federal government crowded out financing of hospitals by private payers. According to Dr. Graham, the record of the last 25 years demonstrates, governments have been pouring increasing sums of taxpayer money into public hospitals for poor returns, as measured by ever lengthening waiting lists and quite unbelievable levels of waste on useless bureaucracy (p. 6).
Dr. Grahams observation corresponds with a research paper written by the economist Martin Zelder, which addressed the true cost of government-run hospitals in Canada. I subsequently wrote a short article about government versus private financing of Canadian hospitals.
But wasted capital is not the only cost of government-run hospitals: Theres also the lack of transparency. Once hospitals become focused on governments needs, instead of patients, they clam up. The private, non-profit Fraser Institute has had great difficulty compiling report cards for Canadian hospitals, because disclosing the relevent information would harm the governments interest.
Of coures, the U.S. is not about to adopt a government-monopoly, single-payer, health system in the short term. But the shenanigans around stuffing earmarks for parochial interests, especially hospitals, into the current legislation are a clear warning sign.
This blog post originally appeared on State House Call.