Tag Archives: single payer

American Health Care: Higher Cost, Worse Outcomes

8 Oct

I usually don’t click on videos that people post to Facebook, but in this case I thought that it was an interesting topic – why is health care so expensive in the US and what can we do about it?  This isn’t a paean to Obamacare. On the contrary, one could argue that it sets out the argument in favor of a single payer system, rather than an expansion and maintenance of our horribly inefficient and redundant private insurance scheme. In any event, it’s worth a look. 

Health Care as a Civil Right

17 Apr

I left this as a comment on Facebook in an ongoing debate over whether Regal Cinemas is going to cut hours to avoid having to offer health insurance to its employees. I am of the mind that Regal and other companies should happily treat their employees like human beings and offer basic benefits such as health insurance. It’s not like ticket prices aren’t already quite high. But to the point, I’d happily pay another buck if I knew that the concession workers and people who cleaned up the theater were properly taken care of. 

Every single western pluralist capitalist democracy has long ago resolved the issue that we don’t allow anyone – rich, poor, or middle-class – to go without access to medical care. Some have mandatory insurance (Switzerland), other have single-payer plans (UK, France, Canada), but all have some system in place to make sure that there is universal health care coverage.  

Except, of course, the United States, which is not only inexplicably proud in some cases of 40+ million uninsured people whose only access to healthcare is an ER, where the federal, state, and local governments already pay billions to reimburse uncollected bills.

How or why in 2013 we can’t get it together to make sure middle class people aren’t stuck with medical bankruptcies, unpaid/unpayable bills, or other lack of access to needed medical care is beyond me. Yet when confronted with this very real fact, the people who purport to be on the side of “liberty” can do little more except glibly to compare, e.g., chemotherapy treatment to a Twinkie, or emergency surgery to owning a TV.

In what we bill as the best and richest country in the world, absolutely you should have a right to food, shelter, and medical care. But if you start telling the middle class that if they get cancer and are uninsured that they can go screw themselves if they can’t afford the treatment, or go into bankruptcy or massive debt, then what sort of system do we have?

Opponents of single-payer point to the Canadian system’s supposed waiting times. Setting aside that, among Canadians, their medical insurance scheme enjoys something close to 90% approval, which is worse, waiting a week or traveling 100 miles for an MRI, or being unable to afford or obtain one at all. 

Informed Discourse

10 Aug

Some guys from TAP went to a Scott Murphy town hall meeting on health insurance reform.  Murphy controlled the event well, starting out by informing the screamers,

“When we are done people can tell me what they hate.”

That sums it up perfectly.  The irony here is that Murphy isn’t completely on board with the public option; he is closer in his thinking to the status quoists than with Obama.  So, there were many lefties on hand to urge Murphy to sign on to a strong public option, and others asking him to support the pending single payer bill.

There were people there handing out leaflets that can best be described as vicious scaremongering lies, which at least partly explains the anger by reform opponents.  The report continues,

Sadly, Godwin died a terrible death yesterday. I actually watched a Republican WWII vet tell Representative Murphy that this is what Hitler did. He gave all Germans, including the Jews, government run health care.

I watched, stunned by the enormity of teh stoopid.

It is like talking to a meth addict. No, there are no monsters in the shadows. No, there are no spiders on you. No, you can not fly, and there are no underpants gnomes.

I wonder what the political version of delirium tremons is.

The fact is, the GOP hopes Obama fails, from top to bottom. They hate you and Government, they believe whatever they are told as long as it reaffirms what they already think. These are the people who voted for McCain/Palin.

If we are depending on these clowns to compromise with us, we might as well wait for the Rapture with them.

So the Hitler comparo is justified based on a lie.  Personally, I think the funniest part is watching seniors – recipients of single-payer healthcare – advocating against “socialized medicine”.

But then again, if you believe what this woman believes, the truth and being informed don’t matter.


Healthcare Exceptionalism

2 Feb

Universal health care coverage does not equal “socialized medicine”. It also does not equal single-payer.

If universal health care was such a suck and drain on the economy, if it so adversely affected liberty and freedom, then that does little to explain that the US is 8th freest country in the world pursuant to a 2006 Cato Institute / Fraser Institute ranking.

Ahead of the U.S. are:

1 Estonia
2 Ireland
3 Canada
4 Switzerland
5 Iceland
6 Bahamas
7 United Kingdom

All of them except Bahamas had universal access to health care. The Bahamas implemented universal access in 2006. In industrialized western democracies, the notion of receiving a bill to deliver a child is alien. In industrialized western democracies, the notion that a family has to hold a Chinese auction to help obtain treatment for a kid with cancer seems third worldish. In industrialized western democracies, people do not go bankrupt when they have to seek and receive life-saving medical treatment.

My favorite system of all is the Swiss system, which is market-based, has mandatory insurance coverage, as well as universal coverage.

But let’s face it – the US doesn’t have the best healthcare, the best delivery of healthcare, or the best system of insurance in the world. Germany has shorter wait times. We have among the lowest life expectancy in the industrialized world. We have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized world. Fewer Americans (with insurance) are happy with their health scheme than Canadians are happy with Medicaid. 45 million Americans are uninsured. It’s time to stop pretending that we’re the best.