Response to Emcon on Health Care

Here is a partial response to Phil Primeau's comments on health care.

Phil writes:Oh please, tens of thousands would still die from inadequate treatment even if we were as socialized as England or Canada. Both systems are bogged down with huge waiting lines; people who need surgery (sometimes of a critical nature) are constantly unable to get them in a timely and professional manner.

My Response:

Well Phil, if you have compelling data that shows the amount of death from the “inadequate coverage” in the UK etc… I would be happy to see them. Otherwise, it just conjecture. But it should be noted that on top of the 18,000 that die each year from no insurance, many more die from inadequate insurance, as the insurance companies so often reject operations, and impose unfordable deductibles on patients.

Moreover, because the cost is so high for heath care here (largely due to the profits desired by the industry, and mountains of administrative overhead that comes with it) , low-income people end up with bare bones coverage that does not protect them in the case of a serious illness. While we have 47 million with no insurance, we also have tens of millions more who are under-insured.

As to the waiting lines, if you have numbers and data I would like to see them, because studies show that the waiting lines in Canada, for instance, are about the average for most nations. And, as Catherine Arnst recently wrote in Business Week, “despite spending lots more per capita on health care, the U.S. is often as bad or worse than other industrialized nations in wait times.”

It is quite amazing how the bullshit that CATO and others spew forth into the public sphere stick. It somehow penetrates the minds of smart people, who do not even seem compelled to check the validity of the claims. It really is quite amazing.

Phil writes: Socialized medicine is absolutely atrocious, and it will do more to undermine this increasingly fragile republic than almost anything else. (Also, say goodbye to cosmetic niceties, even stuff like braces. We're going to have teeth as ugly as the Brits, shiver. I like that our "mature" ladies can get boob jobs and face lifts on the spot on the spot whenever.)

Mike writes: Not sure the above states anything worthy or retort. But I will correct you in your false claim that national health insurance – or at least a single-payer system such as they have in Canada -- is socialized medicine. It is not. It is socialized insurance – which is a big difference. Socialized Medicine is where doctors and hospitals work for the government and draw salaries from the government. This is not the case with a single-payer system which you say will destroy the country , along with the great breast implants so admiringly associated with it.

But in most European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan they have socialized health insurance, as opposed to socialized medicine and the government pays for care that is delivered in the private, but mostly non-profit sector. This is the way Medicare works in this country. Doctors are paid from government funds, but work in the private sector. The government does not own or manage the hospitals, thus your doomsday predictions about the perils of socialized medicine are entirely irrelevant.

Now before I address the rest of your point, I want to jump ahead to this comment, since it fits into to what were are talking about nicely.

Phil writes: Considering the elderly (one of the most important groups when considering public health policy), those who live in America exhibit a much greater amount of satisfaction than those in England and Canada.

Mike writes:

I can’t thank you enough for brining this up. While Americans by in large are way less satisfied with their health systems than those in Canada, Brattain, France etc… the elderly are an exception.

And of course, that makes sense. The elderly are in a – if you can believe it – single payer system called Medicare. This is exactly the type of system that HR676-Medicare for All would give to all Americans, and perhaps if implemented we would all be as pleased with our system as our elderly, and the Canadians and the France, all who are much more satisfied with their health system, and yet dedicate way less of a percentage of their total GDP to it.

And why wouldn't they be more satisfied. The data is telling.

For starters, the spend less, and live longer:

And there is our woeful infant mortality rates.

As Ezra Klein notes: "About 23% of Americans report that they didn't receive care, or get a test due to cost. In Canada, that number is 5.5%." So really even if Canadians have to wait longer (though the wait times are grossly exaggerated) for non-emergency care, what is worse: waiting for care, or foregoing care?

And the most amazing this is this: It would not cost us any more to have this type of system. In fact, when you factor in savings on administrative costs, and the elimination of the profit, a truly universal single-payer system costs about ten percent less than what we are paying now. Which, as I noted, is by far the most per capita in the world and still has us left with a public that is grossly unsatisfied with system -- so much so that 56 percent said that would prefer a single-payer system "like Medicare" to our current system. (which is quite amazing given the way politicians and the media ignore single-payer proposals)