Mike Rowse A voice from New Mexico


U.S. regulations increase costs exponentially

I was watching a segment of 60 Minutes Sunday night, yes I do watch left wing news programs, unlike our counterparts on the other side of the aisle who rarely watch anything with which they disagree or might disagree. But that’s a topic that we’ve covered before and not what I want to talk about today. This was a really nice feel-good story about two doctors helping blind people in poor areas of Asia. It’s also a story about how overregulation makes healthcare unattainable for some in America.

These two doctors, one from Asia and one from Utah, are eye surgeons. Apparently a huge problem in southern Asia is blindness caused by cataracts. For a few years now these two surgeons have been donating their time to give people back their eyesight. They have also trained other doctors in these countries to perform the same surgery and it is estimated that a total of 4 million surgical procedures have been performed either by these doctors or the people they have trained. That is amazing, 4 million people now have their site back and it’s not just older people but very young people as well.

It’s a fantastic story but the underlying theme, we could almost call it the elephant in the room, was the cost of providing these surgeries in Asia as compared to America. First we need to understand that these two doctors perform on average 500 operations in a 10 hour day. There are rarely any complications and it is even more rare that the surgery does not work. In fact they couldn’t remember the last time there was a negative result.

The two doctors have perfected a technique of making one incision to remove the cataract and install a lens. This allows them to perform that many surgeries and do so with very few complications. It also makes it much easier to train other doctors to perform this procedure. The total cost of the surgery is $20. That’s all. Think about that and compare it to what this doctor charges in America. The hospital where he performs the surgeries charges $2000. Sorry left wing nuts, it is not purely greed that sets the price in America.

But before we get to some of the discussion about why there is such a difference, you also need to know that the doctors built a small factory in Burma that manufactures the lenses. You would not know the difference between that factory and one in America. It’s the same equipment the same standard of production. That factory sells the lens for four dollars apiece. In America that same lens costs $200. Can you imagine how many more people in America would be able to afford this surgery if it cost only 20 or $25?

The doctor from Utah made a comment about why such a difference in costs. The simple answer is the regulations placed upon the manufacturer, the doctor, and the hospital with regards to safety and other requirements. All of the documentation that has to be done, all of the casting in the time to get the procedure and or the product approved by the FDA or other regulatory bodies. And let’s not get started about the malpractice insurance.

No no one is saying that we want to give up safety but at some point the regulatory process becomes so onerous that the costs increased to a point that the average person not only can’t afford the procedure but can’t afford insurance that could pay for it. America has been beyond that point for a long time. Pres. Trump has promised to cut some of those regulations all across government. If you truly want to help out the average American you will support that effort because we can still have the level of safety we expect and bring the cost down.

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