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Ouch

Cold stuff makes that tooth hurt. Inhaling with it exposed to the air hurts. Oh yeah, hot stuff hurts too. It is time I patronize a government-protected group. The bill for 30 minutes of dental work cost per minute what I earn every hour as a store supervisor with 18 employees.

There is no doubt my dental team is good. I have little question they have made a significant investment in tools and experience. I understand all that as I have over 20 years of trying to pay off $120,000 in agricultural equipment required for the custom farming business I created.

Oh but he has insurance expense. I had insurance expense – highway trucks and 100-horse tractors can do a lot of damage in the blink of an eye.

He has 3 employees to pay and insure. I had up to five.

He has to operate his office. I had to operate my office, shop, barn, plus feed diesel fuel, 36 tires, oil changes, filter changes, grease, disc blades, mower blades, tiller tines, ripper teeth, tires and on and on.

In my business I constantly struggled to make my bill affordable and insure my services were cost effective. In 2006 dollars, that balancing act had me charging 85 dollars per hour.

My dentist was dancing between my room and another, each of which provided his 4-person shop with 300 dollars for 30 minutes, or $1,200 per hour.

Similarly, at the government-granted monopoly medical clinic, 5 minutes with a doctor or nurse practitioner costs $85, or $1,020 per hour.

How does a society afford that? How do people afford that? How did we come to a place where these charges are normal?

In a free market, they would have to balance price per customer with number of customers at that price point to meet expenses regularly, pay competitive wages and provide a return on investment. They would compete for customers with those offering similar services. If a guy with a pair of pliers can stop the pain for 20 bucks while another guy will do it for a month’s rent, I get to decide who gets the nod. If an herbalist can rid me of aches and fever for an hours-worth of my wages, my medical clinic should have to compete with that.

That is the market my business competed in. That is the market most businesses compete in. Our competitors merely hang out their shingle and go to work forcing us to remain competitively priced or find another line of work.

But for medical and dental practitioners, their unions (AMA and ADA) have our government preventing newcomers from entering their business. Their unions have our government preventing new schools from opening to train competitors. Their unions have lobbyists insuring favorable laws. Their unions have set it up so the majority of their customers only pay 5 bucks, 10 percent or some other small fraction of their fees. The rest is covered with indirect payments that nobody notices.

Heck, any of us could charge $1,000 an hour if we can get taxpayers or insurance companies footing the bill. Gee wiz, with Uncle Sugar on my team, I could probably come up with a way to open a bank, make a bunch of bad loans and get paid a million dollars an hour.