The Practical Philosopher's Blog

Using the practical application of timeless wisdom to address modern issues

Two illustrations why Socialized Health Care will Fail

If I ever had the chance to discuss only 2 points with the President about Universal Health care, I could sink this broken idea right then and there.

My first point would be:

Mr. President: Have you ever (especially recently) lived as an adult in a foreign country under socialized health care?

I have. I recently spent two and half years in Canada for a work transfer. The experience for me and my family was hands-down much worse than the quality of health care we received in the US. The issues? Lack of medical specialists, lack of enough qualified doctors and nurses, lack of choice, and lack of access due to increasingly long waiting lists for various procedures.

The other observed realities?
-A perceptible worsening of the above rationing/waiting lines in just the short time I was there due to spiraling cost over runs.
-An influx of foreign doctors from non-first world countries to fill job gaps with language and cultural issues besides questionable medical training credentials.
-No coverage what so ever for adults with teeth- i.e. no dental coverage! Why the heck not?! Are teeth not part of the human body or health?
-And finally, if a politician or wealthy person really needed health care right now or cutting edge services, they flew to the US and paid out of pocket. That says it all.

The second point is even better:

Mr. President: You have stated that you do not want the US Government owning or operating all or even part of the ailing automobile industry or banking industry. If you are willing to acknowledge here that the Government would not know how or be efficient at running auto or banking companies, how is it that they would possibly be effective in running the entire health care industry?

I mean, how is it you wouldn’t see the issue here? While you socialize the healthcare market from the payment-side, the providers (doctors, nurses) and manufacturers (MRI & X-Ray machine makers, Pharma companies, etc.) will still be private parties or entities that have to pay for their own education/training or risk private capital to bring a medical good or service to market.

Will the government be completely baffled when, as they arbitrarily and politically set artificial prices for medical treatments and goods, that private parties and companies will quit the medical market/industry and take their private talents and money else where? Is the government too stupid to understand that the number and quality of health care workers will diminish sharply and health care companies will reduce or stop trying to develop goods and services because they will have no control over, or the ability, to make a profit?

Note to government: Talented Americans will not incur 11+ years of medical training debt and entrepreneurs will not risk billions on new drugs or medical machines out of a sense of guilt or ‘social justice’ or whatever other flawed methods politicians use to see the world.

Socialized health care, like socialized-anything will always fail. Period.

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4 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    If our health care system is so great, why does the World Health Organization rank us 37th in terms of health system performance?
    What about our infant mortality, life expectancy, and preventable death statistics?

    Just some thoughts…

    • Philosopher says:

      Hi Bob,
      First, I would say you have to look at what criteria the WHO uses to rank a health system. I look at that ranking and ask why do all the cutting edge medical devices and pharmaceutical advancements come from the US? Why do the Canadians to the north fly down to here on a regular basis when their government run health care fails them? Why do the elites and well-to-do’s from all over the world fly to places like the Mayo clinic in MN for their treatment?
      You ask some good questions about things like infant mortality. One question would be compared to who? For one, the US is virtually the only first world country that is not shrinking with less than replacement birth rates. We literally have more babies. But because of the cutting edge medical care and access we have to it, we have more typically uncounted events than in other countries like preemie infants and multiple early births through fertility drugs that are attempted to be brought to term.
      The bottom line is that socializing any part of our society will eventually destroy it. Socialize it all and in as little as 70 years you can destroy your entire country like the former Soviet Union.
      If the philosophical failings of collectivism don’t convince you, read up on the major countries that have tried this approach and all have diminishing quality of care. Here’s Canada’s latest report card: CANADIAN HEALTH CARE EARNS DISMAL FINISH IN INTERNATIONAL RANKING
      Or read up on the abject failures of it at the state level like in Tennessee where they ended up pulling the plug because of the simple fact that when a good/service becomes ‘free’, the demand will overwhelmingly out strip supply.

      Or… you can take from someone who’s lived in both systems and can tell you we have the best of the two right now. I will say our current system is totally distorted by subsidies and government programs that drive the pricing that we eventually see out of sight. I advocate that we go back to a market-based, consumer-driven system with published prices and that everyone uses tax-free health savings accounts to save for their costs. Like in all the other areas of our society, free markets will drive down costs and raise quality. Most importantly, you and I will be in charge of our own health and lives, not some faceless bureaucrat.

  2. Bob says:

    Mr. Philosopher,

    The WHO assessment system, published in The World Health Report 2000, was based on five indicators:
    1. Overall level of population health
    2. Health inequalities within the population
    3. Overall level of health system responsiveness
    4. Distribution of responsiveness within the population
    5. Distribution of the health system’s financial burden within the population

    In a true socialized health care system, the government OWNS the means for providing health care. The Veterans Health Administration is a good example socialized health care. The single-payer system is NOT socialized health care. It’s a system in which one institution manages the cost of health care. Medicare is a good example.

    I’m certainly not advocating a socialized health care system or the Canadian health care system. Our current private health insurance system is costly, wasteful, and bureaucratic. Its function is to maximize profits rather than provide quality health care. Certainly we can take the best of the Canadian, Japanese, and European systems and create an American system that will work for every American!

    Another philosopher once said: You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!

    We NEED health care reform now!

  3. Philosopher says:

    Bob,
    Good points.
    I wonder how the WHO weights those criteria and who ranks higher than the US according to those criteria? My guess is that cost is a major factor in their style of ranking.
    But without further analysis of their view of the world, I still think the objective, common sense analysis trumps an unaccountable ‘world’ organization’s ranking when it comes to access to care, innovation, and patient-choice over your own body and care for it.

    While I don’t disagree with the technicality of the socialism definition you cite, the government running and dictating health care prices, type of care, etc., is, for all intents and purposes, socialized or collective healthcare. As the private provider market would wither away due to this artificial meddling, the government would eventually step in when it gets bad enough. They would start taking over hospitals, paying for a lower class of doctors to get trained, bail out pharma companies, etc. It will be the whole ‘too big to fail’ canard all over again for this entire sector to be horrendously and expensively government owned and ‘managed’.

    Where we do agree is the need for health reform now. Absolutely. Only it’s not a false choice between the current system and collectivised Obama care.

    The Solution? Reset our healthcare system back to a free-market, patient-driven system. Every other successful part of our society runs this way. We need:

    1. Market-based pricing of healthcare. We need medical Care/Service/Procedures priced up front like everything else in our society- not the price/cost black-boxes of today’s employer and government-subsidized healthcare.
    2. Minute-clinics and like no-appointment clinics are going in the right direction of delivering this concept:

    http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2006/01/23_zdechlikm_coninfo/

    3. Just like with the fair, portability of pre-tax 401k’s, we need fair, portable pre-tax health savings accounts for everyone to save their own money over time, make their own decisions on health care, and pay it with their own money.
    4. Make health care ‘insurance’ back into actual insurance. Couple health savings accounts with high-deductible catastrophic health insurance policies.

    The above gives everyone the access, proper control, and choice over their health- not the opposite helplessness with some far away, faceless bureaucrat.

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