Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ideological Blinders

Here's Eduardo Porter in the NYT giving an overview of why universal coverage is worth it from the societal perspective. It shouldn't take wonkery to establish that, but apparently it does.

If you will look up at my banner, you will see that I have already known for some time that health care in the U.S. of A. is too expensive. You don't actually need to tell me that. Funny thing though -- it's a lot less expensive in all those communist totalitarian dungeons in Europe and the Great White North that provide universal coverage to everybody. In fact, the U.S. government spends as much on health care as the British government, but the British government covers everybody and they live longer! Same with Canada! Same with Norway! And the people don't feel oppressed. In fact Norway is the happiest country on earth. Yet it has -- wait for it -- socialized medicine. That's right, you pay your taxes, and the government pays for your health care. Done.

The hospitals don't post their prices, as far as I know, because there is a single payer and the single payer negotiates a single price. Which is lower than the price here. As a consumer of health care, you can't comparison shop they way you might for, say, thermal underwear because:

a) You don't know what you actually need, you need an expert, a doctor, to tell you.

b) You have no way of comparing quality.

c) You might have an urgent need that doesn't give you the luxury of comparing prices at 3 different hospitals. In fact, if you live in a rural area, there might only be 1 hospital. And you might be unconscious!

I must also point out that whether or not you can afford the health care you need is not only a function of whether you had the entrepreneurial spirit, talent and drive to become as rich as Ayn Rand; it is also a function of the pure luck of whether you are hit by a cosmic ray that causes a gene mutation that gives you cancer, or hit by a bus, or born with a genetic predisposition for diabetes, or any of an infinite number of possible misfortunes. The Free Market does not allocate these misfortunes by an invisible hand, rather shit happens.

So we need to at least start by acknowledging some simple, indisputable truths. That does not seem to be within the philosophy of some people.


Anonymous said...

"That's right, you pay your taxes, and the government pays for your health care."

Sounds GREAT! However, you're a little short on details.

If there is only one payer, that payer holds all of the power to decide what "healthcare" means.

When the budget gets tight, what services will be denied older Americans as this single payer decides that, for the good of the whole, heart transplants won't be covered for those over a certain age? Oh, you're one year over the limit? Sucks to be you!

And if this single payer decides that gun ownership or homelessness is really just a health issue? Haven't we already seen this kind of scope creep happen in other juggernaut government bureaucracies?

These are important concerns that will have to be addressed before many will cede what little control they have now to the all-knowing benevolent federal government.

Anonymous said...

Even if you raise the money yourself and want to go overseas to seek treatment, Great Britain's National Healthcare' death panel won't allow it.

People are watching...

Smith said...

I'm so tired of dweebish skeptics. It works in other countries, but it can't work here because...freedom blah blah blah

Anonymous said...

I really hate to pick on Smith, but he is the poster boy for the uninformed liberal stooge of the Democrats that doesn't understand much about this subject.

Holland, Germany and Switzerland all have mandatory insurance systems from private sector insurance companies. Finland, Sweden and Denmark have single payer government systems, but it's the local governments that collect the taxes and pay the bills giving them a lot of local control. This is probably why those social democracies seem to work the best. The Danish national income tax rate is only 3.7%.

Great Britain's national system which is, indeed, the model most liberals are clamoring for America, has an atrocious mortality amenable to health care rate.

Being a professional egghead in this field, I'm sure Mr. Cervantes knows all of this.

Smith said...

What an insulting asshole "Anonymous" is! Full of himself, pompous, bluster and hot air. Dick. Thinks he understands everything and everyone, and understands NOTHING. But wants to haunt this site to make trouble.


Smith said...

PS I can see why "Anonymous" remains anonymous!

Justin Cohen said...

PPS Gee, do you think "Anonymous" is a caucasian male who likes confrontation, and uses this site to play out his unresolved childhood feelings of victimhood? Why, yes!

Daniel said...

I believe that you are correct in your assertion that a single payer system would be more cost effective and allow for more universal coverage. I also believe that health care is an entitlement and I'm constantly surprised that there is any disagreement about this, but so it goes. The train has left the station Cervantes and single payer health care in any near future isn't going to happen.

What are the best thoughts on how to shore up the existing system? I think that is what we should focus on.

Smith said...

Thank you, Daniel, for your intelligent contribution to this discussion. Glad you're on this site.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous-1
So you are saying that single payer health insurance in the US will be identical with that in Great Britain?
I would bet you any amount that a situation like Charlie Gard's wouldn't happen under single payer in the US.
But lots of people here with serious conditions are being kicked out of their health plans because they didn't report a 30 year old medical procedure on their application, or lose their Medicaid because they aren't close enough to the poverty level in their state.
We have hundreds of death panels here right now.

Smith said...

Truth! Wish George were still with us.