What Is the Health Industry, Anyway?
In a sense, it’s right on the tin: an Industry of Health. The health industry is an industry that runs hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare services for a profit. Much like housing, entertainment, and commercial industries, the health industry runs on the same motives and objectives — profit. Furthermore, they all exist within a market economy, answering the principles of supply and demand and so forth. Except here, instead of providing movies and music, houses and apartments, it’s providing healthcare.
What is the one thing all industry seeks more than anything? Profit. It is the one thing it lives for — the perpetual growth of itself. Now, did you catch that? There’s one little word there that’s going to be very, very important for this topic.
No, not profit, but instead perpetual.
Perpetual, as in ever-lasting, ad infinitum. What does that have to do with any of this? Almost everything.
More Milk from the Same Cow
In June 2020, you could buy Januvia, a medication that treats Type 2 Diabetes, for $1,355 in the United States. How much was it in Canada, a country that has implemented Universal Healthcare? $371.
Pretty clear cut, right? But let’s discuss why this is the case and why medication and pharmaceuticals are so much more expensive in the U.S. than in places with universal healthcare.
See, a proponent of market economies might be confused by how this turned out. After all, the answer to this situation seems glaringly obvious. A pharmaceutical company should come in with drastically lowered prices. The natural course of competition among drug companies should naturally force the price of drugs lower. Why hasn’t that happened?
Lobbies and lobbyists.
The Health Industry is making a lot of money, and that’s the point. It’s an industry, they want more money, and if they can get more milk from the same cows, they will. And they won’t give up that income without a fight. So any time companies, the government, or anyone tries to undercut that competition, the lobbies get involved with a fury unlike any other. Because if the prices go down, they make less money.
They don’t just want to make money — they want to make more money. Not just more money, but more money than last year, and the year before that, and so on. Drug prices will only keep rising, as will hospital bills, and so will the cost of not dying — forever.
One for All
That is, of course, unless we take the healthcare system away from the hands of a profit-motivated industry and put it into the hands of the government.
This raises some red flags for many people in America, and it’s why this has been such a hot-button issue in this country for so long. Why should we entrust our lives and our health to the government? Unfortunately, trust in the government has been on the decline in recent years, but trust in the health industry has been on the decline, too.
Now that we know how we got here, let’s answer the fundamental question on the table now: What happens to the health industry if the United States implements universal healthcare?
What it means is a radical shift in the paradigm. For one, the health industry would no longer be the sole provider of medical coverage for any of the country’s legal citizens. However, if how things work in Canada is any indication, that does not mean that they’ll disappear entirely.
In Canada, private health insurance still exists. However, it can only cover things that the government care plan does not cover: dental, prescription, eyeglasses, and elective surgeries like weight loss or cosmetic procedures. However, because hospitals still need things like medications, the buying power of the Canadian government allows hospitals to force prices to be more reasonable.
In basic terms, the American Health Industry would be cut from a vast majority of its income, and its purpose would have to shift along with this change. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee the reduced cost of medication provided by the pharmaceutical companies, but it does guarantee that basic needs and medications are met.
What universal healthcare means for the health industry is rescoping. It means a rebranding and a massive change in how the business is done. While it would be a painful adjustment, it could also benefit the lives of millions of Americans if there was a collective will to make these changes.