What Car Repair Shops and VA Health Care Have in Common

What Car Repair Shops and VA Health Care Have in Common

The recent VA health care scandal is nothing new if you’re in tune with its history. The administration has changed, but the policy has remained the same. Obama bragged about his phenomenal achievements in healthcare for everybody while the situation for veterans continued to deteriorate.

We’re ignoring a basic lesson about all of this that can be learned from reading car repair signs. What could VA health care possibly have in common with car repair? A lot, says J.D. Tuccille of Reason.com.

It’s like that sign you see in car repair shops owned by wiseasses: “Fast. Good. Cheap. Pick Any Two.”

Advanced medical care costs a lot of money. Delivering it quickly costs more. To the increasingly limited extent that it’s allowed, American private medicine recognizes the compromises that have to be made and offers a variety of coverage at different price points—that is, you have some choice in which two you get. …

The VHA has tried to pretend that compromises don’t have to be made; that it can, somehow, deliver care to everybody without worrying about cost. But it faces the same lack of infinite resources as everybody else. If the VHA won’t charge more for quick access to better care, fast will have to give. So we end up with secret waiting lists.

The VHA refused to accept the idea that compromises must be made if you want to provide advanced health care to lots of people. In a bureaucracy, if you don’t report the problems, there are no problems. Right? Wrong. As history shows, time and time again, government is the worst administrator possible. When government picks the winners and the losers, the end result is epic failure.

Instead of opting for at least a parallel private health care system that could absorb the long delays inherent to a single payer system (like the VHA), the administration chose to close their eyes and pretend that everything is nice and dandy. As a result, our veterans went on years long and even secret waiting lists. Some of them died waiting.

As one veteran stated back in 2010: “You fight for your country, then come home and have to fight against your own country for the benefits you were promised.” (LA Times)

The lesson from the VA health care scandal is that you can’t have cheap, good and fast health care without compromising in one way or another. Unfortunately, it was our veterans who paid the real cost.

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