The U.S. Military Health Service System and socialized medicine: a contrast and comparison
Rubison, Laura L.
Henderson, David R.
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The Military Health Service System (MHSS) has experienced rising health care costs, raising the issue of whether the MHSS provides cost-effective peace time health care. One possible explanation for the rising health care costs is that the MHSS is a system of socialized medicine and that such systems do not incorporate incentives to control costs. This thesis addresses the question of cost-effectiveness of the MHSS by comparing and contrasting the MHSS with the socialized health care systems of Canada and the United Kingdom. The objective is to gain an understanding of the MHSS by identifying its similarities and differences with these other systems. Based upon the analysis, it is concluded that the problems experienced by all three systems are essentially the same. The rising costs experienced by the MHSS are rooted in the adverse economic incentives associated with socialized medicine. These incentives encourage patients, providers and administrators to act with little regard to costs. Without the benefit of a market system to convey price information, the cost of the service provided does not bear a direct relationship to the value received. The incentives inherent in the MHSS preclude beneficiaries from receiving a health care benefit that provides the most value for the costs incurred. Costs can be controlled only through a system structured to provide incentives which motivate all participants to seek cost-effective care.
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