Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It smacks of creeping socialism

Not that I haven't dealt with this here before, but there are those among us who believe that if we have universal health care, we will a fortiori be slaves to socialism. We will have to gather every Sunday in the nearest football stadium, to participate in pageants extolling the Godlike virtues of our beloved leader, there will be only one brand of toilet paper in the supermarket, and we'll all be forced to wear cheap watches.

It seems odd to me that people believe that, because we don't actually have to speculate. We can refer to reality -- you know, the world that is out there, susceptible to our senses, understandable by our reason -- rather than reading the daily lesson from The Gospel According to Milton Friedman. What do you know? Among the countries that have universal, publicly funded , health care, are Communist dungeons Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and France. Okay, okay, the French are all homosexual, brie guzzling, cabernet sipping, effete surrender monkeys, but what do you have against Denmark?

Those countries use various systems to achieve this. In most, only health insurance is public, and most health care delivery is by private entities. The UK operates a national health service, which employs physicians, on the other hand hospitals are mostly private non-profit entities. In Canada, it's the opposite. Physicians are private entrepreneurs, but hospitals are public. The countries also differ in the complementary services for which they provide universal coverage, such as eyeglasses and dental care. So there's plenty of room for tailoring systems to national conditions, whether economic, demographic, cultural or political.

How about efficiency? Administrative costs for Canada's system are, get this, .8%; in France, .2%. (Yes, you read that correctly, that is two tenths of one percent, also known as 2 one thousandths.) In the U.S., administrative costs for the publicly supported part of our system -- Medicare and Medicaid -- are 3.1%. For the private part? 8.3%.

Per capita spending? In 2000, in the U.S., about $4,000. Next highest? Germany, of course, which does not have universal coverage and has the least "socialized" system, after the U.S., with total spending of $2,747. Lowest of all? The most socialized, communistic, totalitarian nation on earth, the United Kingdom, which spent just $1,391 per person in 2000. Of course, one reason is our physicians made $199,000/year, while UK physicians made an average of $52,547. That's not so great, but on the other hand they don't have to pay back a quarter of a million dollars in student loans, because they also have a communistic, totalitarian, soul-destroying system of higher education, including medical school.

Well, at least spending all that money and being free, as opposed to communist slaves like the Danes, makes us healthier, right? Sadly, no. Life expectancy at birth in the U.S.? 77.5 years, actually among the lowest of the wealthy countries. (Average for OECD countries, which include Turkey and Mexico: 78.3 years.)

Anyhow, thank God I live in a free country, unlike those communistic totalitarian brits, where Her Royal Highness Elizabeth the Second, Dei gratia Regina, has the legal power to listen to people's telephone calls without a warrant, and to make people disappear forever into secret prisons, where they may be tortured to death, with no recourse to the courts . . . oh wait, that isn't true. I must be thinking of some other country.

If you want to check out my facts and figures, and learn a whole lot more (for those of you who are interested in stupid things like facts), you don't have to go to the communistic, islamofascist, America hating World Health Organization (although you could). Check out the health data page of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a reliably capitalist international body dominated by the Beacon of Freedom, Light Unto the Nations, sole remaining superpower, last bastion against the evildoers, USA, where we preserve our remaining freedoms and access to expensive watches by making sure that 45 million people don't have any health insurance.

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