The Hospital That Ate Chicago (1)
|George Ross Fisher M.D III|
One evening in 1979 my visiting son, puzzled by health financing, asked me to explain. A decade of asking myself the same question led to the prompt reply that there seemed to be two central problems, both of them man-made. It's axiomatic in our family that man-made problems can have man-made solutions.
I believed you adequately understood health care financing if you understood the price reduction which hospitals give to subscribers of Blue Cross but not to subscribers of their competitors, and if you also understood the income tax dodge which the Federal government gives to salaried, but not to self-employed people who buy health insurance.
He asked how in the world these two subsidies were defended, and I told him. He then asked how these monopoly-inducing subsidies related to other weird quirks of health finance, and I told him that, too. He listened quietly for thirty minutes, and then exclaimed, "Wow. That's really the Hospital that Ate Chicago!"
So he went to bed, while I stayed up and wrote a short fancy for the New England Journal of Medicine, called, "The Hospital That Ate Chicago". Next morning I polished it a little, and sent it off to the editor. Within a few days it was accepted. Six weeks later it was in print.