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Last night (August 12, 2013) on The Daily Show, the guest was Senator Ron Paul, R-KY, who had a lot to say about Obamacare" And almost all of it was wrong. Unfortunately, John Oliver, the summer host, let his chance slip by.

Senator Paul is an eye doctor; I too am a medical doctor, in family practice, and I call him out for poor understanding of economics and the realities of the business of his own profession. Reflex hammers at 20 paces.

More below.

Senator Paul's initial point was that he "felt" that Obamacare would cause the cost of medical care to rise. His evidence was that the government doesn't control the price of Lasik eye surgery or of contact lenses, and in the case of Lasik prices have come down because of competition, and in the case of contacts he had to keep prices low to compete with Walmart. Therefore, encouraging market competition for medical care will lower costs.

However, it is obvious to me that he is confusing voluntary elective medical products and procedures with necessity care. Contact lenses and Lasik have competing products; namely, corrective lenses worn in frames on the face, known as eyeglasses. A person can pick and choose where and when to have Lasik, where and when to purchase contacts. No one will lose vision if they don't get contacts within 6 hours. However, if someone is unfortunate enough to get shot in the eye with a BB gun by some neighborhood tween hooligan, there isn't time or opportunity to do consumer research on every eye doctor, anesthesiologist, or hospital in the city; The patient and family won't be comparing OR time costs, bed fees, the price of eye pads and bandages, how much lab tests cost, how much a head x-ray costs and how many are needed and how many would be done, how much for a pain pill in different postop wars, etc.

My sister-in-law recently needed her gallbladder out urgently, as she had a stone stuck in her common bile duct. Believe me, all she was interested in was analgesia, antibiotics, and early surgery at the nearest hospital.

Healthcare is no place for free market forces.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We had this exact same discussion in our house. (8+ / 0-)

    and we couldn't agree more.  Lasik and contacts have nothing to do with an established delivery model like a physician's office or a healthcare system.

    However, hospital systems have been a mature industry for the last couple of hundred years.  The specific technology may change, but the industry is an old model trying to modernize.  

    Rand also said that healthcare deductibles which corporations buy for their employer-sponsored health plans were trending down, and in our experience,the reverse is true: corporations are assuming more risk, and buying programs with higher deductibles.

    I think Rand Paul is just a sober, more refined form of Sarah Palin: facts-light, ambition heavy.

  •  Right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I noted that immediately and posted that point on the Daily Show diary here.

    [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

    by MoDem on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:01:58 PM PDT

  •  can i add that rand paul rambled incoherently? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hayden, merrywidow

    what a ding-dong!  was he home-schooled for med school?

    I am tired of laughing at the irony of your stupidity.

    by stagemom on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:48:17 PM PDT

  •  Disingenuous With the Utmost Sincerity (4+ / 0-)

    First off, it was Rand, not Ron on the show last night.

    After watching that interview, I too was disappointed with the lack of rebuttal against so many easily refutable statements.  I eagerly awaited an article that would take each of Rand's points on ObamaCare and demonstrate - with actual facts and data - that he was dead wrong on each of them.

    The word that came to mind after watching Rand in action was disingenuous. But, boy, with such sincerity. One can obviously go quite far with that dangerous combination.

    But Rand knows that the international medical codes have nothing to do with ObamaCare (a separate argument of his not mentioned last night). He knows that Lasik is an elective procedure and thus has nothing to do with the points he makes. (And he also knows his followers will accept what he says without bothering to critically think two seconds about his arguments, or look for data to back them up.)

    These are simply arguments that "feel" right to his people and give them a peg to hang their hat on. As a bonus they are red herrings for us to get worked up about. So perhaps it was the right thing for John Oliver to let them slide. According to ye olde Razor, Rand simply doesn't like ObamaCare because it is a Dem accomplishment. But like his entire party, they (typically) just can't come out and say that.

    Oliver likely realized that nothing is accomplished by refuting them, though it would have been nice if Oliver had pressed Rand to honestly divulge the actual reasons he is against ObamaCare...

    •  The word we used was liar. (3+ / 0-)

      The lasik example was disingenuous, but the rest of his screed was just lies.

      He said that a young person with a $30,000 income would have to pay $15,000 for insurance when all that person needed was a catastrophic plan. First of all, no healthy young person would have to pay $15,000 for insurance and secondly, there will be a variety of plans with different deductibles under Obamacare, including a catastrophic policy, and thirdly, this person would get a subsidy to help pay for insurance.

      The Kaiser Foundation has a calculator. I ran the number on a single 21 year old adult  with an income of $30,000. For a silver plan, the unsubsidized premium would be $3018 with a $507 subsidy for a payment by the individual of $2512. A bronze plan would be cheaper and a catastropic plan even less. The maximum out of pocket for the silver and catastrophic plan is $6350.

      I feel sure this calculator is just an average since the premiums are different in different states, but it certainly shows that Rand Paul is a liar.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:18:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rand came off as a lightweight (0+ / 0-)

      and a lying lightweight at that.

      No doubt he'll go far.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Oh, I used to be disgusted
      Now I try to be amused
      ~~ Elvis Costello

      by smileycreek on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:35:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my favorite quote from interview (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sewaneepat, wintergreen8694

    And I am paraphrasing, but he essentially said that health insurance will cost more because it is being required to cover health care.

  •  Also- Obamacare does allow the free market to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, trumpeter

    work. While doctor's consultations are typically covered by a copay, any kind of operation or drug would involve a percentage cost sharing. This would encourage the enduser to be aware of the cost of the procedures and the cost of medicines. Also- part of Obamacare required hospital to publish their prices, to facilitate price-shopping by the end-user. So it's definitely not true that market pricing plays no role or that the enduser is insulated from the cost of medicines.

    Now what is true is that LASIK is typically covered by employer plans which have vision plans. And typically you would pay something like a $750 flat co-pay for this procedure. So in this current system, the enduser is indeed insulated fro the true cost of the procedure, and the enduser has no reason to be cost-conscious when making his decisions. In other words- the example Rand Paul uses is precisely the wrong example.

  •  I said to my husband- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, Damnit Janet

    If I needed new glasses and my only choice was Rand Paul or Walmart, I'd make do with my old ones.

    "Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?"

    by buffie on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:01:11 AM PDT

  •  No, it is not what he is paid for. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your confusing your liking the show because the show can and does take on your political foes sometimes, with the fact that it does not do it all of the time.

  •  He came off as enough of a Bozo - Oliver coasted (0+ / 0-)

    on it ... but the bit on Bloomberg was so sublime that it is hard to get mad at him.

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