America Wastes Enough to Fund Healthcare for All

After reading Wyatt’s Torch‘s take on health care, I felt I had to respond to a few of his points.

The statistics show that people in countries with national health care have to wait for months or years for procedures or tests that we can have done here tomorrow without waiting. As a result, people die in these counties waiting for life saving procedures. My wife’s brother had stomach surgery in Bermuda which has a system modeled on England. The sutures did not hold, allowing his disgestive waste to leak into his body. He ran a temperature for days while his stomach bloated and the doctors took a “don’t worry, be happy” approach. Fortunately his manager chartered a medivac jet from the U.S. and had my brother-in-law flown to Rhodel Island Hospital. Doctors there said he was within 24 hours of dying had he stayed in Bermuda.

This is a common misconception spread to the American people by the mainstream media. It is true that Canada has problems with wait lists for nonemergency surgery. But that is a problem particular to Canada, not to every country with national health care. In fact, a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund researched wait times in six highly industrial countries, including the US and five other countries with national health systems: Britain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The wait for care was longer in the US than in any of the other countries except Canada.

Want a more “objective” source? How about the chief medical officer for Aetna, Inc.? At the Aetna Investor Conference in 2007, Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of Aetna, pointed to “recent statistics from the Institution of Healthcare Improvement… that people are waiting an average of about 70 days to try to see a provider.”

He went on to say, “In many circumstances people initially diagnosed with cancer are waiting over a month, which is intolerable.”

You can find more information in this article from Medical News Today.

I don’t agree that health care is a right for reasons that take too long to spell out in an e-mail. Here it is in a very short nutshell: when you claim a “right” to something you’re basically saying you have a right to the time and abilities of other people, which means basically to enslave them.

I agree: a caring society SHOULD take care of those who can’t take care of themselves … voluntarily, not by government. It’s too easy for all of us to foist the job of taking care of people onto the government (which means onto others via taxation) instead of doing something ourselves.

That’s ridiculous. In a democratic society nothing is foisted on us by the government; we, the people, are the government. A government of the people, by the people, for the people, as a great Republican once said. Are we foisting the job of public protection onto others by hiring police officers? Are we foisting the job of public safety onto others by hiring fire fighters? Of course not.

The government has created a lot of the problems with its attempt to “fix” things. The solution is not to keep adding more “fixes.” (We have nothing like a free market in health care now; it is heavily regulated and getting more so by the day. Medicare causes further problems because the government dictates what it will pay for procedures. Since the government mandated “price” doesn’t cover the hospital’s cost they just shift these costs to us, thus increasing our health care costs. This is a free market?

That is such a gross misunderstanding of the American medical system that I barely know where to start. Medicare pays more for the same services than most insurance companies, which use their virtual monopolies in most markets to negotiate vastly discounted prices. Services in some markets that would’ve costs tens of thousands of dollars to someone without insurance are billed to insurance companies for thousands less.

If you’re dissatisfied with something you have the option to switch HMO’s or move to something else like Blue Cross. Having the government run health care means it becomes a monolithic, faceless monopoly. If we don’t like how it’s run where else are we going to go? (In fact, in England and in Canada, people who run into the bureaucratic brick walls of government have resorted to a fledgling and growing alternate market to get what they need, at extra expense.)

Wonderful. Unless you’re poor. And I love the irony in the idea of HMOs or Blue Cross being the “alternative” to a bureaucratic brick wall.

The reactionary cries of “government bureaucracy” just do not hold weight. The percentage of money spent on bureaucracy by Medicare is far less than that of the insurance companies. In fact, enough money is wasted on bureaucracy costs in America to cover the cost of care for every uninsured person in the country. This article on Medical News Today has more.

Michael

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