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Medical Queue-Jumping Auctions

Let people pay to swap queue positions for government-funded medical care.
 
(+1, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

This is an idea that might help solve one of the problems with government funded medical care, which in Canada is known as Medicare.

Usually, people don't have any complaints with medical treatment itself (once they get it). The big problem that causes so much complaining is the waiting lists for treatment. You hear stories of people waiting weeks or months for important procedures like heart or cancer surgery.

It seems that the wealthiest people in particular are irked by the concept of waiting lists. They're appalled that they can't just wave some bills under a doctor's nose and automatically get bumped to the front of the queue. In many cases, these rich patients go to the US for medical care, which I'm sure costs them in the tens of thousands of dollars.

My idea is a queue-jumping auction. Basically, if someone is at the long end of a waiting list, they could make monetary offers to people who are farther up the list. If one of the people accepts the offer, then the offeror and the offeree will swap locations in the queue.

This system would have several benefits:

* Patients can jump up the queue if they're willing to pay.

* No patient is bumped from the queue without assent. It is completely voluntary if a patient accepts an offer.

* The recipient of payment receives a monetary value that they consider to be equivalent to the added delay.

* On a social level, there is no inter-class conflict between the 'haves' and 'have-nots'. Whenever a 'have' uses his/her wealth, a 'have-not' immediately receives some cash.

* Overall, it will probably be a cheaper way of getting quick care than going to a foreign country.

There would be many technical and implementation details to work out, but I think in general it would be a good idea.

AntiQuark, Jun 08 2004

Tradeable hospital appointments http://www.halfbake...ital_20appointments
"buy or sell your hospital appointment to the highest bidder" [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       //Patients can jump up the queue if they're willing to pay//   

       only if they are willing and have the money. two separate things.   

       //On a social level, there is no inter-class conflict between the 'haves' and 'have-nots'/   

       sure there is. the 'haves' have the option of trading money for immediate care. the 'have-nots' can only trade immediate care for money. your money or your life etc.   

       //No patient is bumped from the queue without assent. It is completely voluntary if a patient accepts an offer.//   

       what would the incentive be for 'haves' to accept an offer? being at the top of the queue is cheaper than both going to a foreign country for care and paying for a high spot in the queue.   

       //The money that would be spent for foreign care instead stays in Canada.//   

       if it's government funded, doesn't it save the government money if someone goes to a foreign country and pays for their own care?   

       //The recipient of payment receives a monetary value that they consider to be equivalent to the added delay.//   

       again your money or your life. only a person with the comorbidities of poverty and illness would choose the cash.   

       this is an unfair system.
xclamp, Jun 08 2004
  

       [xclamp], good point about money staying in Canada. I deleted that item. Otherwise, I disagree with everything you say!
AntiQuark, Jun 08 2004
  

       Seems like a profitable business selling queue positions would develop.
waugsqueke, Jun 08 2004
  

       [xclamp] and to refute a few of your points:   

       //only if they are willing and have the money. two separate things.//   

       I don't know how much it will cost to jump the queue. Nobody knows. It might be within reach of most people. Also, partial jumps are possible. Maybe to jump one week would only cost a few hundred dollars.   

       //sure there is. the 'haves' have the option of trading money for immediate care. the 'have-nots' can only trade immediate care for money. your money or your life etc.//   

       In the long term, it's a zero sum game, for the 'have-not' could use the money made to move up the queue at a later date.   

       //what would the incentive be for 'haves' to accept an offer? being at the top of the queue is cheaper than both going to a foreign country for care and paying for a high spot in the queue.//   

       That statement doesn't seem to be related to the original statement.   

       //again your money or your life. only a person with the comorbidities of poverty and illness would choose the cash.//   

       What, are poor people incapable of making rational decisions?
AntiQuark, Jun 08 2004
  

       i'll stand by my original arguments against the system, but thanks for considering them.
xclamp, Jun 08 2004
  

       This is nothing BUT class conflict. You'll end up with a big ugly mess of (1) rich people getting medical treatment quickly (and pissing everyone else off because of it), (2) poor people being forced to make a choice between necessary treatment, or food and diapers for their kids, or new tires for the car, or any other of the myriad urgent necessities they've been forced to put off for years (which is really torture, decisions like that are, let me tell you. It sucks. I hope you never have to make any like that), and (3) scammers clogging the system just to try to make a buck, and pissing everybody off.   

       This idea really stinks.
oxen crossing, Jun 09 2004
  

       I'm pretty certain that this idea has been posted before. It was rotten then and it still is now. The whole concept of trying to lure people in need of medical treatment out of their place in the queue for the benefit of some impatient rich person stinks in a particularly stinky way.
DrBob, Jun 09 2004
  

       there is a cleaner (well morally) and less divisive way is to bring in private health care,
engineer1, Jun 09 2004
  

       baked. private health care exists. pay money, jump queues. as DrBob would say, nothing new here.
etherman, Jun 09 2004
  

       I voted (-), but consider this scenario...I book in for a knee reconstruction, and am told the waiting list is about a year. fine. I wait for six months and some rich guy pays me so he can take my spot. I go back to a one year wait. six months later the same thing happens. And six months after that, and six after that. (i'm just using an arbritary figure of six months). Ok so here's the punchline - there is absolutly nothing wrong with my knee, I'm just in the queue to make money. Pretty soon the system would be clogged with similar scammers.
simonj, Jun 09 2004
  

       (link) No matter how ridiculous the idea, it pays to search before posting.
phoenix, Jun 09 2004
  

       [simonj]: Not trying to start a fight, but why would the waiting list for something like knee reconstruction be a year?
yabba do yabba dabba, Jun 09 2004
  

       [yabba do yabba yabba] Canada has long health care waits across the spectrum of treatments. (although not childbirth. that gets immediate attention)
cameron, Jun 09 2004
  

       I thought about all the complaints here, but what this idea boils down to is that it is giving people a *choice*. If the choice were something like private health care that would destroy the canadian public health care system, then it's bad, but if it's a choice that enriches it, then it's good.   

       I don't think arguments about "but poor people can't pay" are legitimate in this case, since they do not have to acquiesce and the rich are not guaranteed to be able to buy a spot. Somebody made a point that the poor would be forced to choose between their spot and feeding their children, and ironicly it was that faulty argument that changed my mind, since without the choice in that example, their children would just starve. As a parent, i know what i would choose. If the children weren't going to starve anyway, then it's not a real argumentative example.   

       Anyway, a problem with this is the case of "hey there old man, Louie and i see that you're on the list for heart surgery. we've got a client that would like your spot, and he'll pay you lots of money and you can take your grandkids to disneyland. if he don't get yer spot, though, it would be a shame if something happened to those sweet grandkids of yours. then you could never take them to disneyland...you get our drift?"
cameron, Jun 09 2004
  

       Yep, I've always said "there aint no vitriol like halfbakery vitriol."   

       By the way, I DID search for the idea, but it looks like the previous post didn't use any of the words I searched for. I apologise for not being omniscient, like you all are.   

       As for scamming the system, it would be really trivial to put in safeguards to prevent it. Example: a person could sell their spot only once. It would also be illegal to defraud the system, so people lying for financial gain would face the consequences.   

       As for the idea that this is equivalent to private health care... it isn't.   

       As for the problem of threatening people, that could be taken care of if auctions are anonymous.
AntiQuark, Jun 09 2004
  

       //what this idea boils down to is that it is giving people a *choice*. //
Choice was a watchword of the Tory Party and one of the main justifications for the reforms undertaken in the NHS in the 1980s. Considering the overwhelming success of that particular project, you may forgive some of us of being a little wary of commerical exploitation of social need in the name of "choice."
calum, Jun 09 2004
  

       If the system was only available for non emergency and non critical illnesses then it is more sensible
engineer1, Jun 09 2004
  

       Croissant. Long Live the Free Market.
Guncrazy, Jun 09 2004
  
      
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