A room with a view and a surgical bed

Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 01:04 PM

Speaking of health care cons, try this out for size:  more and more Americans are traveling abroad to have expensive surgical procedures done, because the cost is far lower even with the travel costs added in.

The phenomenon is being labeled medical "tourism," which forces me to imagine patients checking into hospitals in Hawaiian shirts, weighted down with cameras, then transferring to hotels with surgical beds overlooking a wide stretch of beaches.

But unfortunately it isn't nearly as funny as it sounds.  Some Americans travel abroad to India and the like for their surgery because they want to save a little money on their elective surgery, but for the most part, we're talking about Americans with no health insurance or woefully inadequate health insurance who can't afford to have a necessary operation at home.

If you are not covered for a surgery that will cost $22,000 in the U.S., your only chance of getting the operation may be to travel abroad, where the surgery might cost $5,000 with another thousand or two tacked on for travel.

We're starting to outsource surgery. That is ridiculous.  Absolutely ridiculous.  

What's next, outsourcing birth?  How much can we save on sending mom-to-be off to India for a cut-rate birthing experience?

Why not education?  Send little Jimmy and Sarah off to a high-end Asian school for just a few cents on the dollar!

Until we get over this idea that the "free market" is the best and most efficient way to do everything in the world, and that any attempt to accomplish a social purpose through deliberate regulation is despicable Socialism, we have no hope of actually returning the country to a functioning nation that can take care of it own citizens.

How's this:  a new law mandating that all members of congress and the executive branch must have all surgery abroad until there is a comprehensive program to provide affordable health care to all Americans.

And while I'm dreaming, all military-age children of those same people must serve a full tour in Iraq and in Afghanistan before any other current members of the military are forced to serve a second tour in those places.