It’s an important question to ask and answer because the military health-care system is a completely socialized system. If we can politically manage health care in the real world then the military system should be a shining example of medical care in America. Yet care for both for service personnel and their dependents sucks.
My son-in-law is in the Army. His knee was injured in a minor training accident in basic. The Army hospital botched his treatment and almost cost him his career. Almost everyone in the military can tell a similar first- or second-hand story of poor treatment.
My daughter cannot take my granddaughter to see the pediatrician without scheduling an appointment three days in advance. If she develops a fever my daughter has to decide whether to tough it out or take her to the emergency room. So, not only does the dependent system make care hard to get, it also increases cost because emergency-room visits cost more than visits to the doctor’s office.
The military system has all the advantages that proponents claim for politically managed health care. The military system is huge and can buy medicines and technology in giant bulk discounts. Military health-care personnel work for far less than the market rate. (In addition, they are under military discipline, something no civil system can ever match.) The military has an integrated and uniform computerized records system. The military studies treatments for effectiveness and standardizes treatments based on those studies
All of these nominal advantages fail because the military health-care system is a giant, politically managed system. The shear size of it makes it difficult for those at the top to know what is going on in the system. Small scale, bottom-up innovation is difficult. The system pays for the training of its personnel (just as Obamacare plans to), so managers have a disincentive to remove the careless or the incompetent. Patients have no other choices in health care, so the system faces no market pressures. The politicians who oversee the system are more interested in cost control than in quality of care.
Leftists always seem befuddled when you ask them to demonstrate that their ideas work on a small scale before imposing them on everyone in the country. Since they believe that articulation and deductive logic constitute proof, they see no need to experiment. For the rest of us, however, ideas need testing.
The military health-care system is the perfect test bed for politically managed health care. If leftists can create a military health-care system that provides all of the advantages they claim for their fantasy system then they will be on much firmer ground.
Besides, they deserve it.