My grandmother was a frugal lady. She was a warm, friendly, and loving person, but she could squeeze a dollar until George Washington’s eyes crossed. When she frosted a cake she used only half of each ingredient in the recipe, so the frosting was paper-thin and tended to disappear after a day or two, but she always had a slice for us kids when we wanted it.
Grandmother’s legendary parsimony extended to all areas of her life. For example, no one in the family can remember her going to see a doctor during her first 85 years. I’m sure she had her share of colds and flu, but she would never have been willing to pay for a doctor’s advice or treatment unless it was absolutely necessary. Most people of her generation felt the same way about doctors, which is one of the primary reasons why medical care was far less expensive in Grandmother’s day.
Being a practical person, Grandmother decided around age 86 to sell her house and rent an apartment in a “senior citizens’ home,” where she would have the security of other people around her and a professional staff to call on if needed. The high rent seemed to be justified by the amenities offered. One of these amenities was free medical care.
Of course, the medical care was not free at all. It was paid for by Medicare and by the tenants themselves as part of their rent, but since none of the seniors ever had to write a check to pay for a doctor’s visit, the medical care appeared to be free. This was when the great change in my grandmother’s attitude toward doctors occurred.
One day when I was visiting Grandmother she told me she had just gotten back from the doctor. I was surprised to hear this because I knew of her long noninvolvement with the medical profession and because she appeared to be in excellent health. When I asked her what was the matter, she smiled and said, “Well, nothing. I just had my toenails clipped.”
Her toenails clipped! I was stunned! Could this be my grandmother, the one who saved her used Christmas wrapping paper to reuse the following year, going to a doctor to have her toenails cut? Seeing my disbelief, she said, “It doesn’t cost me a thing! All my doctor visits here are free.”
Then I understood why my grandmother would reverse her lifelong attitude toward doctors, and why, as I later learned, she was a frequent visitor at the doctor’s office although she had no real health problems other than the normal ones of aging. As long as there was a direct connection between her pocketbook and the doctor’s office. Grandmother avoided doctors whenever possible. As soon as her medical care appeared to be free (or prepaid through her rent), going to the doctor became part of her regular routine. Of course, the same thing occurred to all the other residents of Grandmother’s senior complex and the demand for medical care hit the stratosphere. The next year, and every year after that, the rent went up dramatically to pay for all this “free” health care. It is now so exorbitant that my grandmother would never have considered moving into the complex had she been asked to pay at today’s rate. The senior complex is reputed to have serious financial difficulties.
My grandmother died of natural causes several years ago at age 94. Now along comes Hillary Clinton, who wants to establish the same kind of health care for the entire country through a system of nationally socialized medicine. Thanks to Mrs. Clinton, we’ll all be able to get our toenails clipped for “free.” However, since the law of supply and demand works relentlessly on both small and large economic systems, the results of Mrs. Clinton’s plan will be the same as those at Grandmother’s apartment complex; an explosion of demand for medical attention followed by an enormous increase in medical costs.
Ah, but Mrs. Clinton also has a plan to solve the higher medical costs caused by her first plan: she will institute price controls on doctor’s fees, hospital fees, prescription drugs, and anything else connected with the health of the American people. In other words, it will become a crime for doctors or nurses or hospital administrators to raise their prices to cover their increased costs. This kind of government “solution” to social problems was tried in the Soviet Union, and it eventually destroyed the economy and the whole fabric of society there; people like Mrs. Clinton are now so discredited that they can’t even get a job clipping toenails in a Moscow beauty parlor. My grandmother lived long enough to see all this: it’s too bad for all of us that Mrs. Clinton doesn’t see it, too.