Saturday, March 10, 2007

A BAD Idea Whose Time Has Come???


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Universal Health Care, the new name for Socialized Medicine has become THE campaign theme for 2008.

Big business has long been behind it because it takes one of the major expenses FROM business and foists it ONTO the backs of ordinary taxpayers.

Currently slightly over 85% of Americans have health care insurance through their jobs, while about 15% do not.

So the natural question is, why shouldn't those in that 85% pay a little more in order to make sure everyone is covered?

But do we want the same people who run Motor Vehicles, the Post Office, the IRS and the VA hospital system (think Walter Reed) running our health care?

First, ANYTHING that will reduce the costs of doing business will help American industry and that is certainly a prime concern. Still, since about the middle of the last century, Canada and most of Western Europe have moved toward "socialized medicine," and they've been struggling, without much success, to live up to the promise of providing "free health insurance and quality health care for all."

Canada's and England's systems are wracked with rationing and restrictions on visits. In Canada, the average wait between a referral and a doctor's visit across the 12 specialtes, in the ten Provinces is almost 18 weeks!

20% of kidney dialysis centers in Europe and an astounding 50% in England don't accept people 65 years and older. In Ontario, a pateint can wait as long as sixteen months for an MRI scan.

What's more, many of the early adherants of socialized medicine have since backed away from it. Starting in 1989 England began introducing "market-based reforms into its health care system. Sweden introduced "managed competition" into its health care system in the early 1990s and New Zealand began offering its citizens tax incentives to purchase private insurance as an attempt to end its forty year stint with socialized medicine and Chile likewise has turned to giving its citizens financial incentives to move from its government run health care system to private insurers.

The problem today is that the die may already be cast. Big business wants out. In fact, all of American business wants out of funding health care, so whether it works well or not (and judging form the reults around the world the answer is not), we're probably going to see some form of government managed, or "Universal Health Care," with provisions for those willing and able to pay premiums for private insurance.

Ultimately we'll see some form of two-tiered system, with those able to pay for private insurance able to avoid the rationing and long waits that those fully dependent upon the government run program will have to deal with.

6 comments:

Dan O. said...

I'm part of the 85% who's covered through work. IF you call paying $165/mo. (for my wife & I), with a $1000 deductible before anything on regular doctor visits is paid for as covered.

Think about that. If my wife and I have our average year with no emergency or special procedures, we'll pay out almost $3000 before the insurance company pays a dime.

I know, what would we do if we didn't have the insurance. Used to be though, that I didn't have to pay anything from my salary and just a small co-pay on regular visits. Obviously companies had to start passing on the rising costs to the employees. But, passing on costs to me for someone who's not covered at work? Isn't that what Medicaid (Medicare? I always get those two mixed up) is for? Aren't we already paying for that?

I'd like to see some sort of reform in insurance coverage. Short of socialized medicine. HMO's have screwed things up enough. Let's not see how much worse the gov't could make it.

bnj said...

Well, we should recall that health care was also been "THE" campaign issue of the early 90's (remember Harris Wofford?) We can credit Hillary's overreaching with for dodging the socialized medicine bullet back then.

But I think you're right. It's a bad idea whose time is come. I almost wish Republicans had pre-empted it by crafting a universal health care plan when they still had a monopoly on power. Sure, it would've sucked, but it could also perhaps have limited the damage.

Rachel said...

the problem lies that people think they will be paying less out of pocket when they will most likely be paying more through taxes. Heck, doesn't Sweden have a 25% luxury tax (i could be wrong).

I support a graduated Medicare/Medicaid program based on income. That way we can see what works, what doesn't, and adjust. Otherwise, i think jmk is right and the very people who are supporting universal health care will (still) be complaing about two americas, this time healthwise

JMK said...

The inflation in health care costs has been tremendous and the unspoken issue is all that "free health care" we provide illegal aliens.

It's amazing that so many people laud the government for its "compassion."

That's "compassion" on OUR dime!

So what do they care?!

There's no such thing as a "free" anything. Somebody's paying for it and those costs must be passed on in one form or another.

I've always liked the idea of market-based health care, putting the onus on the medical field to make the services they offer affordable...I know it's not going to happen, but I've never understood why a physician's services were any different than a plumbers or carpenter's.

If they had to market medical services the same way, they couldn't charge more than the market would bear.

Perhaps doctors would have to band together to form health care co-ops and offer services through aa cooperative styled system, where you pay a yearly premium in, to get a discounted rate on services.

The way things are now...it's driving comapnies into bankruptcy and if the government takes over, we're liable to get "Walter Reed-quality care" for all.

JMK said...

I'm afraid you're right, the GOP missed its opportunity to do with health care what they did with prescription drugs.

And you're definitely right about it having been an issue for a very long time.

But now big business is behind it and I don't think much will stop it. They see the opportunity to foist this burden onto the backs of the taxpayers....hell, either way, we pay for it, because the way it is now, it's factored into the cost of the things we buy.

I just fear a diminution of service at a much higher price (in taxes).

JMK said...

Rachel, Walter E Williams has written some great articles on this topic over the years, and you've certainly got the gist of this issue down - when government provides a "free" service, we pay, not only for the service, but for the administration, the investigators who check for abuses within the system, and layers of government bureaucracy on top of all that.

In the end, we might pay triple or even four or five times what that service SHOULD cost if it were provided by a market-based private sector entity, but it's "FREE!"

And for those so rich, or so poor that they don't pay much in income taxes, indeed it is.

One of the problems with this debate is that we're not comparing Socialized Medicine/Universal Health Care to any private sector health care, because we don't have anything close to a market-based health care system.

But big business (the airlines, GM, Ford, etc) all want it bad and so I think we're all going to get it.

Yeah we're all going to get it in the proverbial end.

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