Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who Said “Government Managed Health Cares Works Best???”

Is it possible?

Can it be?

Is there a reason to believe that perhaps government managed health care or “socialized medicine” DOES work better, at least in some instances, than America’s current market-based one?

And if it indeed does, wouldn’t that prove that all of the arguments against the command economy are hollow – that socialism, or the State-run/“Command Economy” can work and actually be superior to the market-based one?

Well, if government-run health care COULD be shown to be more effective than America’s market-based system that would certainly seem to be a HUGE argument in favor of the Command Economy and against the market-based one.

So how would we best measure how one form of healthcare outperforms the other?

Well, how about bottom-line results? That would seem to be the easiest, most clear basis on which to compare the various healthcare delivery systems.

A “better system” should always offer better results for its consumers, in this case patients.

Let’s take survival rates for one of the persistent scourges of the modern age- cancer.

Well, it turns out that the overall five-year survival rate for all types of cancer for men in America is 66.3 percent, and 62.9 percent for women, the BEST outcome in the world.

Hmmm, well I’m still not convinced. What about survival rates for specific kinds of cancer?

Despite the fact, that due to better early screening than in the rest of the world, American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their counterparts in other countries, they are less likely to die from the disease. Fewer than 20 percent of American men with prostate cancer will die from it, against 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men. Even in Canada, prostate cancer kills a quarter of men diagnosed with the disease.

And the reason Canada’s death rate is so much less than that of Europeans can probably be found in this fact; seven out of 10 Canadian provinces report sending prostate-cancer patients to the United States for radiation treatment.

The results for other kinds of cancer aren’t much different. Only 30 percent of U.S. citizens diagnosed with colon cancer die from that disease, compared to fully 74 percent in Britain, 62 percent in New Zealand, 58 percent in France, 57 percent in Germany, 53 percent in Australia and 36 percent in Canada.

And less than 25 percent of U.S. women die from breast cancer. In Britain, it's 46 percent; France, 35 percent; Germany, 31 percent; Canada, 28 per- cent; Australia, 28 percent, and New Zealand, 46 percent.

The reason for this, at least according to Michael Tanner (Director of Health & Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute) is that “the one common characteristic of all national health-care systems is that they ration care.

“Sometimes they ration it explicitly, denying certain types of treatment altogether. More often, they ration more indirectly - imposing global budgets or other cost constraints that limit the availability of high-tech medical equipment or imposing long waits on patients seeking treatment.

“In the United States, there are no such government-set limits, meaning that the most advanced treatment options are far more available. This translates directly into saved lives.”

But Tanner sees the advantages of America’s market-based healthcare system going far beyond merely the absence of rationed care. As he notes, “With no price controls, (market-based) U.S. medicine provides the incentives that lead to innovative breakthroughs in new drugs and other medical technologies. U.S. companies have developed half of all the major new medicines introduced worldwide over the last 20 years.

“In fact, Americans played a key role in 80 percent of the most important medical advances of the last 30 years. Eighteen of the last 25 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine either are U.S. citizens or work here.”

OK, so “socialized medicine” or government-run healthcare doesn’t work’s still “free,” so you can’t beat the price!

Oh wait a minute! It’s NOT “free.” In fact Wisconsin’s proposed State-run healthcare system shows how incredibly expensive poorer healthcare really is!



gerry rosser said...

Like many whose opinions I've heard, you equate universal health care with "socialism" or a "command based economy." I do not agree that any public program which is helpful to all is an earmark of "socialism." It is likely that most systems of government are going to have some ways of doing things which overlap with other systems. So what.

I have no personal knowledge as to whether your statistics are correct. Have no time to do research.

JMK said...

Gerry, there's no question that "Universal Healthcare" or government-run healthcare is indeed "socialized medicine....same thing.

Those cancer stats are backed up by the American Cancer society (who, by the way, have pledged their entire year's advertising budget to campaigning FOR Universal Healthcare).

My argument is that OUR current system suffers from too much government involvement and insureres "masking" the real cost of healthcare."

The reailty is that healthcare is a commodity and like any commodity can ONLY be sold at market prices. Sure, intensive or catastrophic individual healthcare may well be out of reach, in terms of provider costs, for most individuals, BUT physicians would, under free market conditions, form co-ops to make their commodity more cost-effective...more affordable to regular folks.

No commodity is a "right."

No free person has a "right" to food, clothing or shelter, as ALL of those are commodities that must be bought and sold within the confines of a Capitalistic society.

That's why the "healthcare is a right" crowd are so misguided. Healthcvare can no more be a "right" than can food, clothing or shelter.

gerry rosser said...

I guess I'll just have to respectfully disagree about calling universal health care "socialism." It is a proposal which should rise or fall on its own merits without right-wing commie baiting, in my opinion.
Actually, I think the real problem with our over-expensive health care system which is not the best in the world is all the dollars competely wasted making money, and paying the overhead of, private insurance companies. I agree with John Edwards about this.

JMK said...

Freedom (by which I mean exclusively the system of economic liberty that America's Founder's established) is the best system in the world for those with the ambition and the tools (education, etc) to take advantage of it.

It may well be one of the worst for those who don't have those tools....but, then again, no system can benefit the reckless, irresponsible and self-destructive to any great extent.

In socialist or command economies, physicians can be forced to work for/through the state at salary, thereby greatly reducing the cost of that commodity (medical skills) arbitrarily.

In a free society (like ours) we COULD offer free medical school for a ten year commitment to government service, to reduce those costs, but that hasn't been done.

Insurers spread the cost of medical care around, so that ALL their customers pay premiums in a very narrow range, a net benefit for those who are more sickly and use more medical care and a net loss to those who are more healthy.

As badly as health insurers "mask" the true costs of healthcare, ALL government programs in existence do far worse.

ALL government run healthcare programs ration care, restrict doctor visits and delay treatments, which is almost certainly why so many Candians and British citizens come here for healthcare - seven out of 10 Canadian provinces report sending prostate-cancer patients to the United States for radiation treatment, when they can.

Bottomline, "Universal Healthcare" has become a "big idea" in America now that American businesses see it as a way to rid themselves of the healthcare costs they've born for so long - at this point American employers pay for the healthcare of over 85% of all Americans and many of the rest simply don't pay into those programs to take home more money.

I don't blame American business for looking to foist that cost back onto the America people, as individuals (where it belongs), they probably never should've been saddled with that extra expense.

While I'm wary of the costs of such a program, I believe we COULD easily institutue some kind of "bare-bones" Universal (government-run) healthcare in America, so long as the existing health insurers were still able to offer better and non-rationed care at a price.

I think that should be the deal - you can get a British styled system, complete with extensive heathcare rationing and restrictions on procedures for "free" (for a major tax increase), which would greatly benefit both U.S. businesses AND healthier workers.

Those with more health problems, and older Americans may find it necessary to "buck up," in order to get non-rationed care and access to necessary procedures that the government's "free" care would make them wait for.

In my view, cost-effectiveness MUST be the over-riding concern of such a system....even more so in America, than elsewhere.

Beyond The Political Spectrum said...

The only reason conservatives can get away with calling the idea of Universal Health Care "Socialism" is because there were no Americans enlightened enough to engrain the ideas of free health care into our heads during the founding of the nation. If they had, this wouldn't even be an issue because the idea would be just as much a part of the way we did things. The notion of universal health care/national health care is no more "socialism" than our system of free public (and compulsory) education.


JMK said...

Actually BTPS, that's not exactly true.

Today most Americans naively define "freedom" as "Doing whatever one wants, so long as you don't harm others."

That's NOT "freedom," it's LICENSE.

America's Founders rarely used the word "freedom," they used the proper term for what they believed in - LIBERTY.

LIBERTY is NOT LICENSE. Liberty is best defined as "The grinding burden of complete self-ownership and the complete and utter personal responsibility that comes with that ownership."

For that reason, the Founders wouldn't allow federal funds to be used to help rebuild a small New England town hit by a severe and freak hurricane that destroyed it completely.

I'm passionate about LIBERTY, not so much on LICENSE.

Don't get me wrong, within reason, individuals probably should be able to do the kind of work they want, open whatever businesses they want and do pretty much whatever esle they want SO LONG AS THEY can afford the personal costs.

NONE of us has a right to burden our neighbors with our needs.

Moreover, in ANY free society, commodities are for SALE.

Housing costs money BECAUSE people make their livings building housing.

Clothing costs money BECAUSE other people earn their livings from the clothing industry.

AND Healthcare costs money BECAUSE ,many other people earn their livings from healthcare.

Does anyone doubt that a skilled surgeon is worth $4 MILLION/year, when a janitor, in many cities, doesn't earn even $40,000/year?

Not anyone who thinks that through!

Of course a skilled surgeon is worth that....possibly even more.

While anyone can learn janitorial skills or the skills needed to teach social studies or math, a surgeon's skills are so rare, and hard to master they require constant intensive re-education and they come with HUGE burdens (pesky things like people dying on the operating table despite your best efforts).

There's no way to make commodities "FREE" and maintain any semblance of freedom.

If healthcare is a "right," why not housing? Why not clothing? Why not food?

In FACT< I don't know if you've noticed, but BOTH Hillary and Obama ran on the same "universal healthcare program" as the one Mitt Romney provided in MA.

He didn't institute ANY government-run healthcare, he merely MANDATED that ALL those ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare purchase their own health insurance, the way drivers are mandated by law to provide auto insurance. A boom to insurers, but a burden on the people AND one more piece of ID a police officer may demand from you. Once it's mandated by law, you HAVE to give the authorities the ability to check that the people are complying.

When government provides all we need for free, then no one is FREE.

When the people believe that their rights spring from government, then they no longer have any inalienable rights.

LIBERTY is a very arduous, often dreary path and universal slavery to a state can often seem easier...but that's why I can't give more than tepid support for LICENSE, even though some degree of license may well be very good, as it should be obvious that a free people cannot decide to become slaves to the state by mere majority vote.

If even one person out of 500 MILLION eschews such universal slavery, even in exchange for what appears to be a better, easier life, then MORALLY those other 499,999,999 people must be bound to respect that lone lover of Liberty's innate, God-given rights.

The fact that that's not how things generally work, is of no moral consequence.

P.S. State-run and mandated education is also INDEED "socialistic" and worse yet, it's proven a failure.

Our public schools today are all "worker-centric" or "teacher-focused." The students are a mere afterthought....and that's why those who can, send their kids to private schools, where they stand at least a decent chance of getting something like an education.

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