Nationalized Health Care… A Canadian’s View

guest-commentaryFriday night comes once again, which means that we are at the part of the week that gives the readers of Stand Up For America the chance to have their voices heard on issues that are passionate to them. This has been a pretty tough week of learning and discussing! All the philosophy discussions not only forced us to use that ten pound lump of matter in our heads, but may have actually caused some of us to begin the process of reevaluating the positions that we have held sacred for so long. While difficult, I do believe that this is one of the best things we can possibly accomplish. You have heard me say several times that while debating BF is maddening, he will force you to solidify your position or abandon it. Now you are all beginning to learn the tools that will make others say that about you!

Tonight’s guest commentary comes to us from Bee in My Bonnet. Only after a week of philosophy could we feel like a subject such as Nationalized Health Care is a lighter one to end the week on, LOL. For those who don’t know, Bee in My Bonnet comes to us from Canada. Lately we have had more Canadian readers and commenters, which I find extremely valuable and insightful. Canada is one of America’s largest trading partners, and furthermore, the impact of programs, legislation, and trends in America directly impact our neighbors up north more than many of you may believe. Additionally, some of the steps being undertaken by our government have been taken already in Canada. And that means our Canadian folks have seen first hand the results, both good and bad, of those programs.

Hillary Health Choice PlanOne of those areas is Universal Health Care. In the US, we first heard the grumblings of such a program in the modern era from Hillary while she was the first lady. It was abandoned as a topic that lacked funding or support. But the last year or so has brought the topic back into the foreground of American politics. President Obama has vowed to reform the health care industry and institute Universal Health Care. It would appear that with no opposition power in Congress, this will be another piece of the puzzle he won’t have trouble getting passed. With that being the case, there is a two part series coming from me in the next couple of weeks dedicated to Universal Health Care in the US.

But it would sure seem a waste to me to fail to learn from those north of the border who have been dealing with Universal Health Care for over 50 years. You read that correctly, over 50 years! Canada enacted its publicly funded health care in 1966. I was not aware it had been in place for that long. Since we are going to be discussing universal health care over the next couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to understand how things work in Canada. And who better to provide us with that education than a Canadian! So without further delay, I give you this week’s Guest Commentary from Bee in My Bonnet:

Universal Health Care – A Canadian`s Perspective

First, I would like to preface this article by saying that this is my personal perspective and I am not suggesting that I speak for all Canadians.  This is also not an article to denigrate other health care systems nor is it an attempt to compare the Canadian health care system to the US health care system.  This is a Canadian point of view.

Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas

Medicare, the unofficial name for Canada’s universal publicly funded health insurance system,  was federally implemented in 1966.  Tommy Douglas, the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan,  is commonly known as the father of Medicare, and was instrumental in its first implementation. (An interesting piece of trivia – Tommy Douglas is the grandfather of Kiefer Sutherland.  In researching this article, I must admit to some dismay in learning that Tommy Douglas lead the first socialist government in North America.  As a conservative thinking person, I am a bit bothered by this as I do not think that socialism works and I am a huge proponent of the free market system, but I cannot imagine life without our Medicare system.  I am conflicted.)

Canada has a publicly-funded and privately-delivered health care system.  It is a single payer system, where basic services are provided by private doctors (since 2002 they have been allowed to incorporate), with the entire fee paid for by the government at the same rate.  These fees  are negotiated between the provincial governments and the province’s medical associations.  Our system covers about 70% of expenditures, the other 30% (dentistry and optometry) are paid for by private insurance or out of pocket.  Funding is jointly shared by the federal and provincial governments.   For the nation as a whole, health care costs 10.6% of GDP in 2007.

I am amazed that Canadian universal health care has been around for such a relatively short time, but it has become so ingrained in the fabric of the DNA of Canadian culture. Many Canadians, in fact, suggest that our Medicare system is a reflection of our Canadian values. I have heard it said on conservative talk shows that health care is not a basic human right. My eyes popped out of my head when I heard that. I have passed that comment on to other Canadians to get their thoughts and they all had the same response. We absolutely believe that it is a basic human right. Our Charter of Rights (US equivalent to the Constitution) guarantees us to the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. I am under the assumption that life and liberty means life free of the complications of preventable illness. Is this the government’s job? That is the never ending debate.

Canada_Flag_SunsetI am in my late 40’s and have never known life without Medicare. My family has benefited greatly from Canada’s health care system. My daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and an urinary tract defect. She has been under the care of a Cardiologist since she was born and a Nephrologist since she was three years old. We get notification of appointments two months in advance and our wait time is negligible. When it was decided that she was in need of surgery, she was in the hospital within the week. Not once did the issue of payment come up in conversation. It hadn’t even crossed our minds. We hear that health care costs is the main cause of personal bankruptcy in the US. The thought terrifies me. Our daughter’s health issues may very well have bankrupted us if not for our health care system. I know that most Americans have health insurance but we also hear that some insurance companies cancel policies of those who are chronically ill. Another terrifying thought. When we visit the US, we are so afraid of getting ill or hurt while we are there, that we buy enough travel insurance to sink a ship. Now, many of my fears may be based on urban legends that swirl around the Canadian consciousness and my own ignorance and, if so, I apologize.

Are there problems with the Canadian health care system?   Yes.  I have had great experiences  but there are stories of those who have to wait an unacceptable amount of time for treatment.  Michael Moore`s `documentary` Sicko is not accurate when it depicts wait times in Canadian emergency rooms.  His example of waiting for 20 minutes was laughable.  ER wait times can be up to 8-12 hours depending on the hospital.   Wait times for surgeries vary from province to province. In my province of Manitoba, wait times for hip and knee replacements is 14 weeks,  emergency cardiac by-pass is two days, elective cardiac by-pass surgery is 34 days.  This is a great improvement and our provincial government is working to reduce those wait times.  Also, this health care system does not come without a cost.  Our taxes are high.  Between federal and provincial taxes, we pay approximately 30-40% in taxes (depending on the province we live in).  My wages are higher than my American counterpart, however, probably not enough to compensate for our higher tax rate.  I consider it a fair trade for our universal health care system.  We are still able to live within our means, have some luxury items without going into debt,  save for our children to go to university, and hopefully retire at a reasonable age.

Some Canadian residents do travel to the US for medical care because of their frustration over waiting times. We have had a case where a Member of Parliament , who was against a two-tiered health system, went to the US for treatment when she developed breast cancer. Political hypocrisy at its finest! However, we also have cases of US citizens coming to Canada by the busload (or the internet) to purchase our prescription drugs because the costs are significantly lower than the US. Cross border drug purchasing is estimated at $ 1 billion annually. 

Maple Leaf CoolThere is a huge moral dilemma with our system. If I, as a taxpayer, live a healthy lifestyle to avoid getting ill, is it fair that my taxes go to those who choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle? Should it be the government`s job to provide health care for someone who chooses an unhealthy lifestyle? If the government is going to pay for health care, does it then have a right to dictate how we are going to live our lives? This all flies in the face of Libertarian principles – maximum individual liberty and minimum government. But for all the downsides, I can`t imagine not having Medicare. Can you sense my conflict?

With the aging Canadian population, I don`t think that our health care system can sustain itself, but I don`t know what the answer is.  Perhaps a two-tiered system where private clinics could be available to those who can afford to pay.  Perhaps this would shorten waiting times for those who cannot afford their own health care.  Woe to the politician who suggests this, though.  Canadians are a complacent bunch, unless their health care is threatened.  There would be a massive uprising.

From what I read, Americans, in general, are happy with their system.  Of course, this is from those who have health care.  Obviously, the approximately 40 million people who don’t have health care will have a different opinion. ( I had a hard time trying to pin down an accurate number.  The Congressional Budget Office thinks that the number is overstated, probably 21-31 million.)  I heard that Obama has abandoned the single payer system and is now making it the employers` responsibility to make sure all their employees have health insurance.  This is nothing like the Canadian health care system.  The big winner in this would be the insurance companies.  The big losers would be small businesses.  So much for creating or saving jobs.  It makes me wonder if Obama is in bed with the insurance companies.  Could this be another ACORN in the making?

Canadian American FlagsI want to thank Bee in My Bonnet for putting together this look into the Canadian Universal Health Care System. As I stated above, it will be important to take the results from Canada into account as we pass judgement on the idea of Universal Health Care right here in the good old US of A. It seems to me that what I hear from Canadians is very mixed, just as Bee has presented for us above. On one hand people like the idea of and cannot imagine what life would be like without it. On the other the portrayals of long waits in an emergency room or for any elective procedure, regardless of how serious, seem to be somewhat accurate. But it seems as though Canadians have learned to live within the system. 

A couple of questions that I have in regard to Canada’s system come to mind and I will put them here so that people can answer them if they know. What is the impact on the average citizen expenditure-wise? I mean did taxes go up significantly as a result of National Health Care? Or did taxes go up anyway, and at least you are getting this as a benefit? How does the plan actually work? Are there any co-pays? Deductibles? Anything out of pocket? Is there a list of procedures that the government will not pay for and which, thus, are entirely the burden of the citizen? If you had to take a stab at the poll information if it existed, what would the polls say to this question: If you could give up national health care for a 20% reduction in your tax liability, would you be willing to do so? I know you cannot speak for all Canadians, but do you think most would say yes or no to that question? I know there are several other Canadians who engage in the discussions regularly. I hope you will join in and add to our enlightenment as well!

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Comments

  1. Critical Thinker says:

    I have been “lurking” for awhile on this blog and am ecstatic to find intellectual discussion. I am so tired of people who think discussion is just tearing the other side down with ugly words.

    I appreciate the personal peak into the Canadian health system. I have some other questions to add. Is anyone ever denied a procedure or treatment due to the fact that they are too old and it is better used on the “more productive” members of society? How innovative is the healthcare industry (drug research and development, new procedures and cures,quality equipment and technology, etc.)? Are there shortages of doctors overall or in any particular fields? Does the government pay for the education of healthcare workers and is that controlled in anyway by the government? Can those who can afford it pay to have less wait time for critical and noncritical care?

    So many questions come to mind that I think need to be genuinely debated before our government makes such a major change to our health care system. Unfortunately, it seems it may be on the fast track (aka rammed through) without much consideration for all the rammifications.

    I look forward to the comments on this debate. At least it will happen here!

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Critical Thinker,
      I have only heard of an older person being denied a procedure because they are too weak to endure the procedure, not because they are not considered worthy of care. All are considered worthy of care, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, etc.

      ” How innovative is the healthcare industry (drug research and development, new procedures and cures, quality equipment and technology, etc.)?”
      The Federal Lab in the city I live in is on 1 of 2 Level 4 labs in North America. This lab isolated the DNA of the H1N1 virus that may contribute to developing the vaccine to the Swine flu. As well, we developed a vaccine to the Ebola virus that was rushed to an outbreak in Africa recently. As for other innovations, we are as cutting edge as any other health care system and our hospitals have the latest equipment that can be found in US hospitals.

      “Are there shortages of doctors overall or in any particular fields?”
      There has been a ‘brain drain’ to the US due to higher income of physicians in the US, however, that seems to have been reversed since 2004. Our province has initiated a 60% rebate of student tuitions if they stay in our province after thay graduate, and we are recruiting health care workers from other countries.

      ‘Does the government pay for the education of healthcare workers and is that controlled in anyway by the government? ”
      No, we pay for our own education (I am in health care) and there is no oversight by the government, other than meeting national standards of care.

      ‘Can those who can afford it pay to have less wait time for critical and noncritical care?’
      No, a serious downside. If there is a serious wait time, we all wait, regardless of ability to pay. (Although, some of us who are more cynical seriously doubt that politicians and professional sports figures would actually wait.)

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Also, Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids is a world renown hospital and people come from all over the world to receive care there.

  2. This is an important subject. Good work Bee, your input is always welcome and important. As I work in healthcare, I have alot to offer about the inner workings. Operating a 400 bed hospital with a Level 1 Trauma Unit is not cheap at all. I buy for the Maintenace Dept., and spend tens of thousands each week just to keep things running. That’s why an aspirin costs $50. Daily ops cost about 1 million per day, everyday of the year.

    I also am a union rep that negotiates our contracts, which also helps to understand what finacial problems face the hospital. The #1 problem comes from the Government controlled Medicade/Medicare/Workers comp. That’s right, what is already controlled by Big Brother, IS the problem. Even after giving away free healthcare to the poor (13 Million last year), Big Brother is still the Big Problem.

    I will be traveling to the PA wilds here shortly, but will chime in later today as time permits.

    Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

    G!

  3. JayDickB says:

    Just a quick correction. Obama has not given up on a single payer plan; he is just taking a different route to get there.

    He wants a “government” plan to be available along with other private plans. Many observers say the government plan, like American Medicare, will have price controls and hidden subsidies, making the premiums much cheaper. Private plans will be forced out of existence and we will end up with a single payer.

    Our medical resources are already getting stretched thin, partly because of the Medicare price controls. With the price controls applying to more people, what bright young person in his/her right mind would seek a career in medicine?

  4. Bee, thank you for your article and shedding some light on the Canadian system. I understand your support of it, especially with your daughter’s situation and the treatment she has received.

    You mention the healthy lifestyle subsidizing the unhealthy and this is a concern that I would have. When we buy our homeowner’s insurance we pick and choose those areas that you need coverage for – flood areas, value of property, risk features like pools, fireplaces, and reductions for things like alarm systems. My family has recently went to a Health Savings Account so we can buy our health insurance in this same way in that we set our deductible and then buy based on our lifestyle. I like to have this kind of control and choice over my insurance.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Kathy,
      This makes sense to me. There must be some way to combine the two systems to make each more efficient, but all having access to health care. Anyone that could come up with a system like this would be hailed as a hero!

  5. Clicked submit too quickly…..

    On this Memorial Day weekend I would like to say thank you to all of you that have served and continue to serve this great country. You are appreciated and have my utmost respect!

  6. Bee in my Bonnet says:

    USW,
    “I mean did taxes go up significantly as a result of National Health Care? Or did taxes go up anyway, and at least you are getting this as a benefit?”

    Good question as I was a very young when this was implemented and do not have personal experience. I have been asking many in my parents’ generation that question and there was no increase in taxes. There was, however, a small premium paid by each family. That premium ended in 1968 but taxes did not go up in a significant way. Taxes have been going up steadly since but there was never a huge jump as a result of health care. Currently, there are no there are no deductibles, co-payments or dollar limits on coverage for covered services.

    The health care system was originally set up so that the federal govt pays 50% and the provinces pay 50%, but that was abandoned in 1977 by the Liberal government and block funding was set up. In 1978, doctors began “extra-billing” to raise their incomes and that soon got out of hand and threatened to jeopardize the universal health care philosphy. In 1984, the Canada health Care Act was passed that banned extra billing. Tha Canada Health Care Act set out five guiding principles of the system, which all provinces and the federal government must adhere to. These five principles are comprehensiveness, accessibility, universality, public administration and portability. If these principles are not adhered to, then transfer payments from the federal govt to the provinces for health care are threatened to be withheld. This has never happened.

    As I said in the article, govt pays for 70% and the other 30% is paid for by private health insurance or out of pocket. Those services that are covered are all medically necessary hospital stays. this includes stays required for an illness, surgical procedures and maternity services including childbirth, pre and post natal care and treatment of complications surrounding pregnancy. Govt doesn’t pay for chiropractor, physiotherapy, dental, vision or prescription drugs, however, certain groups of the population such as seniors and children may be able to obtain additional health care through a pharmacare program.

    Although most procedures are available to Canadian citizens, there is some controvery as to our waiting times. How available is a procedure if time is of the essence and the wait times are too long for a person to take advantage of the system? In many cases, patients are sent to the US, at the expense of the govt to get timely care. Many people will go to the US on their own.

    As to you question about the poll, I have not seen such a poll as most consider out health care system as ‘untouchable’, however, of those that I asked, no one would be willing to give up our health care system for a reduction of taxes. An acute health crisis could be around the corner and a 20% reduction in taxes would not even begin to cover the health care costs. We see it as insurance. We are willing to pay for it now, hoping to never use it in the future.

    • amazed1 says:

      Bee, I am in my late 50’s and my husband in his early 60 we have an excellant insurance policy for on 240 a month….a 20% saving on my tax would mean that my husband and I would save 600 per month in less tax compared to what we are paying now. I realize that at anytime we could be looking at increased insurance costs. I have heard of people here paying upward of 600 per month for insurance. I don’t know exactly how I feel about this issue until the plan gets handed down and we see what happens to our health care and what the cost is. Habitually the US government fails at everything they stick their hands into. The costs usually way exceed the benefit beause of all the red tape.

  7. Hello there . . . Just got back and I see that I have a lot of reading to do. However, as I read this article I could not help but think that the Canadian Government has effectively locked all of its citizens into believing that they cannot ever do for themselves health care wise. I cannot imagine living under those conditions. Please do not get me wrong here, I am not putting Canadians down, it is just that I am reading an underlying concern – or fear – that a Canadian citizen cannot provide healthcare for themselves without the government doing it for them.

    I am an individualist, I guess, so I do not like the idea that only the government can provide for my well being. Perhaps Bee can elaborate a little on why she and her family is so dependent on government providing for them.

    My greatest concern for America is what Obama has said in the recent past about the “elderly” having to realize that aging comes with some things that just have to be put up with instead of taking a pill for. Like what? Our politicians are lawyers, not a doctors, and I would not want lawyers dictating my medical care limitations.

    I have many questions and concerns about socialized health care in the U.S. which I will wait until USW starts his series to address.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Hi GA,
      Actually, we don’t have socialized health care as our physicians are not employed by the government. They own and operate their own private practices and bill the government for their services. The physicians decide what kind of health care to provide, not the government. The government just makes sure that the physicians adhere to the Canada Health Care Act and provides the funding.

      I, too, am an indivualist, which contributes to my internal conflict regarding this issue. It is not that we think that we are incapable of providing health care for ourselves. Many of us are more than capable. But there are many who absolutely cannot provide for themselves or their families and even one person being denied care because of costs is unacceptable in our society.

      Don’t forget, this was not a system forced on the people by the government. This system was a result of the will of the people. Universal health care was only provided to one province in the early 60’s and when the rest of Canada saw the benefits, there was a huge cry for a similar system across the country. The Prime Minister at the time really had no choice but to implement it federally. Before this time, we had a similar system to the US.

      I, too, am looking forward to USW series on health care.

      • Bee:

        Your insurance is owned and operated by the govt. Aka. socialism.

        Your doctors are controlled by the govt. Aka. fascism.

        Thus you have fasciolism, just like we do. Only you have had it longer, at least out in the open. We are just getting there, in the open that is.

        G.A.’s point is dead on with regard to what happens if Liberty is given up. Jefferson or one of our founders said that once it was given for security or to ease our lives it would never be regained. Perhaps that was Sam Adams. You gave up yours for health care many years ago. Now, as you say, nobody can see living without your govt subsidized health care. The same goes for the USA with its Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other Welfare programs. We reform, we trim, but we never get rid of it. We can’t imagine living without it.

        Once the people get used to the govt supporting them they do not give it up. Unless, the govt finally collapses. Then we give it up because we can’t maintain it in any form. That hasn’t happened…yet!

        My purpose here is not to critcize, just to point out reality and truth.
        Right now it appears we are all headed in the same direction. My only question is whether there will be any place left on this earth for those of us who cherish and wish to live with freedom and liberty.

        Happy Memorial Day to All
        JAC

        • Bee in my Bonnet says:

          Actually, our doctors are not controlled by the government. It is the doctors that decide the course of health care.

          My question is this, is it Liberty to watch a loved one die from a preventable disease because adequate health care is being withheld due to a shortage of money? This type of Liberty is bought and paid for, but it doesn’t sound like freedom. A sick person, is then a slave to his income. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in a limited role for government, but I do think that providing health for its citizens is one of its roles.

          • You confuse freedom and liberty. One is freedom from coersion by others and the other is freedom from coersion by the govt. That is the concept of liberty that both our countries were founded.

            And by the way, the Right to Life was the right to ones own life, free from govt claim, not the right to live at all costs to others.

            Your doctors are controlled by the govt because they set the price of care. Through their funding mechanisms they also dictate the quantity of service, thus the wait times.

            And I did loose a family member because we couldn’t afford the top medical care available at the time. Would it have made a difference in the long run. She might have had another year or two but not much more. And yes I consider that freedom and I would not sell my nor my children’s freedom and liberty for govt provided medical care.

            Your hypothesis is also flawed as you assume that care would not be available without govt provided insurance. The claims that Americans don’t receive good care due to their economic needs are quite overblown. If they walk into an emergency room of any general hospital they can not be turned away and they will be treated.

            As I said, once the govt provides it and once you give up a little you never get it back. And pretty soon they will offer you something else. And you will think, well health care worked out so why not.

            You need to rethink your logic and check your underlying metaphysics and ethics if you really think you want less govt.

            Best Wishes
            JAC

      • Alan F. says:

        “provided to”??? Now that’s selling Tommy Douglas and the people of Saskatchewan short. Have a peek at the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights and the reactions of the other provinces in that time period while you’re at it. This place is something else and always has been.

  8. Alan F. says:

    Know first off that my early years have made me violently allergic to sugar coatings.

    A couple of questions that I have in regard to Canada’s system come to mind and I will put them here so that people can answer them if they know. What is the impact on the average citizen expenditure-wise? – On the provincial level it was the Education & Health Tax set by the provinces individually while on the federal level it was an increase in income tax which is doled out through “transfer payments” to each province unable to meet their annual budget. Who saw this increase was/is those in the higher incomes. I’d suppose asking a well-to-do accountant of that time period, the wife’s uncle Freddie, would be the man with the correct answer there. I’ll check with him.

    I mean did taxes go up significantly as a result of National Health Care? – On the federal level its tough to say as some of the strangest crap you can imagine has ended up costing us heavily “ever since” but on the provincial level its been averaging 7% for quite some time and is now at 5% as other revenue streams are paying off big-time. The E&H (Education and Health) tax started off in 1937. Even our massive gas tax has seen its revenues which are supposedly for highway and road maintenance (snicker) shifted elsewhere.

    Does the plan actually work? – Yes in that you don’t go bankrupt by having been desperately ill once in your life. No in that you can easily be waiting long enough to sustain some measure of avoidable yet permanent damage through negligence. Remember, suing someone here is difficult and doing such to the government of which health care is a part is neigh impossible. ie. The resurgence of sanitizing for prevention of spreading bacterium was sparked in Regina Saskatchewan nearly 9 years ago when a native boy was brought onto the ward at the General Hospital in an unidentified infectious state. His clothing stripped and bagged(brown paper) left to sit in the hallway(facing the doorway from the hall it was on the left), the nursing staff came from dealing with him to the rest of the ward for their rounds without thought of sanitizing making transference a certainty. As far as we were able to find out, which was from the loved ones of the infected in isolation’s death watch area and not the tight lipped doctors, those who were seniors (my wife’s mother Opal among them) and those who were toddlers died from the MRSA they were handed on a blue plastic platter. Certainly there is greatness in our system as my own time as a 12 year old with bone cancer in the 70’s can attest to but I also have been since paying for incompetence in later surgeries and treatments for my permanently depressed immune system. I see both sides of this one clearly. Can our system be better? Abso-flogging-lutely! Would I wish for completely different? Not on your life or my own for that matter. My perspective is from having spent 14 month of my life thus far in a hospital, my mother being the dietitian of our local hospital for 15 years, and my mother in law’s horrible ordeal. As a side note, the nurses union (in a panic) tried to get dealing with MRSA patients a voluntary matter and not part of their job description and took it to the extreme of asking that the family look after their infected loved ones!!! The adoption of phoning in for an emergency services Q&A before showing up after hours with your sick child is another example of the unions and government working together for the benefit of our health care system.

    Are there any co-pays? – The few private clinics are a pay to play with partial coverage if the procedure is deemed necessary.

    Deductibles? – Are for insurance. Our system with all its many flaws is Health Assurance.

    Anything out of pocket? – Through our taxation, purchases and as a business man through generating tens of thousands in E&H tax revenue each year we already shoulder the load.

    Is there a list of procedures that the government will not pay for and which, thus, are entirely the burden of the citizen? – Anything on the elective board can be nixed. No a scar tissue removal and such at the one end and no expensive procedures or drug regimes if the return is questionable or unproven in Canada on the other. It’s all up to your doctor and in some rare cases the board. It’s these circumstances that send Canadians abroad. When the Canadian health care system gave up on my wife’s cousin, my wife’s father ponied up 125K in the mid 80’s to get her to the Mayo Clinic which managed to squeeze her a few more years of life.

    If you had to take a stab at the poll information if it existed, what would the polls say to this question: If you could give up national health care for a 20% reduction in your tax liability, would you be willing to do so? – I can’t see anyone who was born or raised here EVER buying into that. Canadians are a pretty giving bunch. The notion that our elders WILL be looked after and health care being a big part of that makes it unassailable. We aspire to be old folks ourselves some day, eh. The politician who adopts a stance against health care here can thank his lucky stars that his sudden dementia won’t send his family to the poor house.

    I know you cannot speak for all Canadians, but do you think most would say yes or no to that question? – No without hesitation.

    ***The best situation for us and likely yourselves is a 2 tier system. Those who can afford bumping up should be able to do such every time without being penalized for being able to pay it out of pocket or willingness to do without other things to pay for such. As I listen to Obama, the picture of him wanting those who can afford to pay to do the exact same for others who can’t is what I clearly see. In that sense he’ll never succeed. A basic coverage to which all can make use of regardless of income and then an advantaged one for those who will pay for such, even if its paid for with income which is by no means disposable, is what CAN work. In such a system there WILL BE a disparity and his rejecting that notion is his “tell”. He’s in love with the idea and obviously blinded by such to its flaws.

  9. Formerly ARS? says:

    I apoligize to all for responding in todays concerning yesterdays post. As I said in my original post from yesterday: can’t see the page after about 60 responses.

    Black Flag.I agree with your answer but, “how does the gov’t tax program control people?” The critical thinking part of the question. This is the last time I’ll “test”. I swear 🙂 but have to check the site to make sure it’s not just another pro-life or pro-choice site using “intelligent debate” as a lure. Cluttering up the internet.

    USW: you really gotta stop “ranting” and trying to belittle the left. If you really believe there is a left/right or better still a 2 party system in US gov’t then you’re on the “Kool-aid” I know poor choice of words.

    • USWeapon says:

      I don’t belittle the left any more than I will belittle the right when they are in power and doing dumb crap. I can assure you that this is not a pro-life or pro-choice site masking as intelligent debate. There are over 200 articles that I have written so far over there in the archives. A read of them will show that to be true. But by all means test away if you like.

      I have written extensively on the fact that both political parties in this country suck equally. I tend to side more often with Republican than Democrat ideals because they are closer to my own. I don’t try to hide that. But I consistently write that the two parties have the same aim and publically despise each other while sharing a drink in the back room and planning their next move. Again, you should take the time to read enough of my stuff, it will bear out my position. But please don’t use kool-aid and USWeapon in the same sentence again, lol.

      However, the reality is that every reader on this site sees what they want to see when they read it. You will be no different. I hope you find your voice here and engage in the discussions. If not I appreciate you stopping by to check us out.

  10. What concerns me even more than The fact of Universal Health Care being implemented in the U.S. is the fact that Nazi Pelosi and Harry Reid are writing it up. What kind of Monkey Circus are these idiots going to come up with?

    The Republicans say that they have a Budget Neutral Plan ready to show. Maybe, maybe not. But it doesn’t matter because it’s being totally ignored and scorned. But maybe this time we won’t get to hear Robert Gibbs say that The Republicans haven’t presented one.

    No, the DemoLibs are in power now and have got the bit in their teeth and are running with it. It’s enough to make a grown man cry to watch these Liberal idiots tear down the greatest Nation in the world in just a few short months.

    • A few thoughts from an old man…….
      I would hope that in some point in time in the near future, people that have supported (by voting for) Representatives and Senators like Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Murtha, B. Frank, Boxer, Jefferson, et al, will realize that the promises made for the vote are lies.

      We all would like to see term limits enforced, but this will never happen since these same politicians are the ones that have to vote term limits into effect. They are career politicians and nothing else. To think that we will ever see term limits is a pipe dream. A flat tax or fair tax????? Forget it!!!! That would require these blood sucking leeches to operate within a budget and would cut out most of the pork. (And their ability to benefit personally like Pelosi’s family and friends)

      To trust these people (Obama and his “Advisors included) with the responsibilty of crafting a Unversal health care bill is akin to allowing a thief to program a burglar alarm system in your home. We might as well make them co-signers on our checking accounts. There will certainly be a select group of health care providers (large hospital groups) that will evolve to control and “administer” the program. Drug companies and medical equipment companies like General electric, will lobby and receive lucrative contracts with the gov’t. and we will pay the cost. If anyone believes that there can be a good workable universal health care system, then they should study the Medicare and Medicaid programs in detail. A good point of comparision is the Part C and D of our Medicare System. I am on Medicare. I am not retired, can’t afford to. For those that may not realize it, it’s manditory when you reach 65 yrs of age. (you do have a choice, but you will pay a penalty later if you do not sign up.) I was able to find an excellent supplemental plan with drug coverage for a fraction of the best drug plans Medicare was offering. The end result will be a decrease in options, and a monopolistic group of major players that will increase the cost that we will pay in taxes which will increase annually.

      Under a private or employer plan, you and your Dr. decide your treatment. Under Medicare/Medicaid, the Gov’t. regulations dictate, with little or no appeal. This is what we will all “enjoy” under a Universal system. Presently only those 65 or older and the poor have to endure this. And to think, a bunch of career politicians and a egotistical president are going to design the perfect system.

      Does anyone remember the old Charity Hospital systems that most states used to have?

  11. amazed1 says:

    Isn’t our medicare system in fact a nationalized health care? Wouldn’t it be easier to just change the system we have instead of building another monster?

    • Medicare is a nightmare . . . I am a retired Military man and since I have turned 65 have been on Medicare part B with Tricare for Life as the secondary insurer.

      Without giving too much booring detail, I recently had a procedure done and the hospital charged $1,200.00 for the procedure. Medicare approved and paid $120.00 and Tricare for Life finished off with another $48.72. Do the math. $168.72 paid out for a $1,200.00 medical procedure. Now ask your self if a Doctor or Hospital will accept that kind of disrespect and for how long? If you want to know why medical insurance in the U.S. is so bloody expensive just look at what our congress has legislated for medicare payoffs. I am of the WW2 baby boomers who are now the majority of the “elderly” (60+ years of age) and will be drawing the majority of medicare benefits in the near future. So if EVERYONE is on the cheapo medicare rolls, you can guess what will happen – Can you say “Mass exodus of the medical field”?

  12. Hi all,

    does anyone know why US health care system is so expensive and what can be done against it?

    Some thoughts:

    1. Why is medication so expensive? In Mexico or India you have to pay much less for the SAME medication (no generic!) from the same company? Why can’t I import medication from the country of my choice without having to pay high import taxes and having problems with the customs?

    2. Why do I need to get a prescription for everything? I mean it’s maybe OK for painkillers with a certain degree of possible addiction but I see absolutely no justification for HAVING to go to a doctor and paying him 200$ just in order to get my prescription for antibacterial, antiviral or anticancer treatment. This has nothing to do with freedom, if I’m not insured I want to able to buy the medication for myself without being forced to pay doctor fees! You can do the blood tests on your own why can’t I do the treatment on my own?

    3. Someone told me that doctors earn so much money because they need to be able to survive law suits that cost them lots of money. Is that true?

    4. Why is it so crazy expensive to develope new medications? All the studies that need to be done make it nearly impossible for smaller companies to release new products without great financial aid from bigger companies or strong investors.

    5. I don’t see much effort from the pharma companies to cure diseases. All they do is improve available medication in order to get a new patent and earn lots of money with a product that is only slightly better than the predecessor.
    Sometimes it looks for me that big pharma companies are big drug dealers. They hook you on some medication and you have to take it till you die. If you have seen the last years of a chronically ill patient you could come to the conclusion that we don’t extend life than much more the death of those people.

    6. One more word about doctors. I don’t say anything against surgeons, doctors who lead operations, doctors for emergency cases etc. but I have great problems with family physicians because their work is insolent expensive and you are forced to consult them if you want the medication you need.
    Let’s say you have a chronic illness. The doctor asks for your symptoms and runs some tests. He comes up with a diagnosis and prescribes you one tablet of XY once a day for the rest of your life. This is fine for someone with health insurance or someone who is not able to look after it himself. But I want my RIGHT to run the tests on MY OWN and GET medication on my own without prescription. There are many patient societies for every illness and these societies most of the time are more up to date and know more about the specific illnesses and the best treatment than 80% of the doctors who are supposed to treat them.
    If I get cancer I don’t want no stupid government to prevent me from buying experimental medications from all over the world. If they invent new anti-cancer medications in China, Europe, Australia or Singapore the government has absolutely no right to prevent me from buying it until it’s released on the US market 3 years later maybe with a price surplus of 100%. If I’m not insured and decide to treat my illness on my own no person in the wolrd has the right to tell me “Well, you are not insured and actually we don’t want public health insurance BUT before you can buy any medication we force you to visit a doctor and pay him lots of money on a regular basis just to make sure that you don’t do or buy anything which we don’t like!”

  13. Vinnster says:

    Bee said: “I am in my late 40’s and have never known life without Medicare. My family has benefited greatly from Canada’s health care system.”

    Though is seams wonderful now, a point not mentioned is it Canada functions on borrowed money that helps pay for Heath Care and will someday have to be paid back…and as current trends are going it will go broke. Forgive me if Canada says it only makes up a portion of their GNP, what matters is Canada is a debtor nation, just like the US. Canada’s combines debts (including Heath Care) exceeds its income.

    A fictitious but applicable analogy to the common family goes like this. My family makes 50K a year, and I have this nifty food replicator. Any food we want we just walk up to it and it gives us what we want. Caviar, Champagne, you name it…all for a small fee based on what we ask it to do…Well not really a small fee, but we borrow what we need for our other needs because our total needs are 55K a year. And yes we go deeper in debt each year because of all our other spending, but we get great food. When the family can no longer borrow the extra 5K it needs, the family is going to have to decide, do we not use the replicator so much for the really expensive foods?

    Canadian Health Care is just functioning on borrowed time. Sooner or later Canadians will have to give up something to pay all the bills. And history has shown they will give up nothing…Canada will hit a financial crisis that will affect the quality of its heath care. It is the same for Social Security or Medicare in America. It is factually impossible for them to pay for future expenses. They will have to be cut.

    Most people today believe a country can not go broke, but they are greatly mistaken. Counties can and will go broke. It is and will be reflected in the value of their currency. America is on the cusp of the major decline in the US Dollar. Fiat money is good only as long as people have faith in it. And no, I am not one of those crazy anti-fiat money wackos. Fiat money works fine as long as it is managed properly, but very few countries manage it properly.

    All politics aside the .com bubble of the 90s and the recent housing bubble could not of happened without the mismanagement of the money supply. If copious amounts of easy credit (cheap money) would not have been available, neither could have occurred.

    One plus for Canada is their vast natural resources. As currencies adjust value, the commodities (real worth) of a country become the collateral for its fiat money. It will help Canada stay afloat for longer than many countries without any resources.

    • Alan F. says:

      Hate to burst your bubble but where do you think the money for your own “insured” system comes from? Premiums? Really? Dig into your own and you’ll find yourself paying far less above board than we do per capita for a system nearly twice as expensive. Think on that. You’ve just had one massive marker called in and tagged it with the moniker “mortgage crisis” and the odds are you’ve another to be tagged “health care crisis” waiting in the wings. We’re hitting the wall long after yourselves in America do.

      Currently our biggest problems are that perpetual free loader know for having “all the attitude and none of the sights” Quebec and an absolute glut of unions in the “essential services” sector, those seemingly permanent attachments to the tax teat who always require more-more-more even when the rest of us have to make do with less-less-less.

      Do you have any idea what being forced to purchase from warehouses in 1 ultra exclusive province with its very own import laws set apart from Canada’s does to the price of goods here in Western Canada? Imagine if every state had to buy only goods sold by California warehouses and to purchase outside of such would tariff you into oblivion. I received my importer’s license back in 1989 to attempt a bypass of those extra fingers in my pie and found out the hard way just how things really are. Grim would be too optimistic an appraisal. I wonder if that carries over to the medical supply field too?

      As for our health care system, 28 years ago the cost of labor was its biggest problem and guess what it is today? Here’s a clue, its not bandages. My mother was also in charge of accreditation for her hospital which in Canada qualifies your budget and any increases you seek. This was of course after she gave up being a union head for CUPE. While she did hire her friends to work dietary(bad girl), she truly hated having to take and keep on 5 of them to do what she saw as the work of 3 because the union said so. She also despised offering patients a limited menu as the hospital administrator had seen her offering “too many” choices as unnecessary. Mum ended her days there, shocking them all when she took a position and huge pay cut, in laundry services as the politics of things “topside” became too much blarney for one little Irish woman to tolerate.

      The best thing about the worst situation is the opportunity it provides for things to be made right. The worst thing about the worst situation is the opportunity it provides for things to be driven off a cliff.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Vinnster,

      We are much farther ahead in that your government already spends more on health care than we do in Canada. Total government spending per capita in the U.S. on health care was 23% higher than Canadian government spending in 2006. The US also spends a higher percentage of GDP percentage. The U.S. spent 15.3% of GDP on health care in 2006; Canada spent 10.0%, but it is true that health care costs, in both countries, are rising faster than inflation. Once again, I’ll emphasize that this system came about because of the will of the people. This was not forced on us.

      • It was forced on those who didn’t want it and they were forced to pay for it.

        You may love it but don’t make it something it isn’t.

        • Bee in my Bonnet says:

          As I said before, it’s not perfect but I’ll take it over anything else I’ve seen.

          You’re right that there were probably people who didn’t want it, but democracy rules here in Canada as well.

      • Vinnster says:

        Once again, I’ll emphasize that this system came about because of the will of the people. This was not forced on us.

        I do not doubt for a moment it is not the will of the majority of the people. If you rob Peter to pay Paul , you will always get Paul’s vote. When there are 51% Pauls in a voting society it is doomed. When the majority realize they can vote for any privilege they desire to be paid for by someone else it is basic human nature and common sense the majority will vote for someone else to pay the bills.

        It is an anonymous quote, but it is something along the lines, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury.

        This is fine and proper within a country to run itself any way it desires (determined by the majority or a Republic representing the majority). But, history has shown, they always become debtors (depending on other countries to finance their overspending). They always put themselves in a position that they outspend the countries income. The result is economic collapse and the resulting disturbance to their stable society.

        If you are getting more than you paid for as you have implied, some one else is paying for it. Another quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher, “The problem with Socialism is, sooner or later you run out of others peoples money”:

        • Alan F. says:

          Of all those I know who can afford to live in other countries permanently escaping the bigtime taxation here, my family included, none of us chooses to do so. Your problem is thinking of us as Americans or British when we’re actually neither.

          Said Steve Forbes of Canada’s current financial stability “even the liberals are fiscally conservative”.

  14. Maybe I missed the post, but overlooked is the 70% of costs covered. Sounds good, I guess, but what is 30% of the cost of a heart bypass? That would bankrupt a majority of Americans who have less than $20-30K in assets. (I could be off in that figure but point made)

    In my case – just one hosp bill was over $181K – That’s $50k + and add on misc physicians – the original hosp etc etc ..

    I’ve read this point somewhere else, that there are too many young or younger people who CAN afford health insurance, but don’t pay it because they enjoy the ‘good’ life, travel etc. Besides the invincibility of youth, they know that if they REALLY need it, that they will not be refused care. Someone probably has figured out what this undercover insurance coverage actually costs the country.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      70% of covered services. Heart bypass is considered a covered service and is therefore covered 100%. This includes the surgery, hospital stay, all medicines received while in the hospital and any follow up appointments regarding the bypass surgery. The 30% not covered are for things such as dental, vision care, chiropractor, drugs. Most employers have some kind of insurance that covers this sort of thing. I pay $40/ month for insurance and all the other stuff is covered (up to a certain dollar amt).

    • Alan F. says:

      The 30% is dental, optical and cosmetic. Actual save your ass surgery is yours to have even if you do only make $10 and hour.

  15. And who here would volunteer to go to a V.A. hospital if they had any alternative?

  16. And coincidentally a friend on facebook pasted these links: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/05222009/watch2.html and http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/05222009/watch.html

    I just can’t listen to him – at least today – so would someone watch and report back !! ;=} LOL

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      OK, I watched both of them. The first one is of 2 physicians (advocates of the single payer system) who were 10x more eloquent than I could ever be. They laid out the reasons why the single payer plan is the only option that can work, why its smart and more efficient than what is in place already.
      The 2nd link is a nurse who represents health care workers (doctors, nurses, etc) who are advocating for a single payer plan. She had uterine cancer several years while her husband had heart disease. They had Aflac disability insurance as well as a health care savings account. Once they got sick, the deductibles and out of pocket maximum exposure added up so quickly that they went bankrupt. Of course, this just substantiates the fear that Canadians have regarding the US system.

      Another interesting tidbit: The biggest criticism I keep hearing is that no one wants their government to decide their health care. According to this, in the US, it is the insurance companies that determines health care and most health care workers spend much of their time fighting the health care companies to get adequate care to their patients.

      The hypothesis from these two links is that Obama, Congress and the Senate are in bed with the health insurance companies and Obama’s plan is not the single payer system but mandated private health insurance, as per the health insurance wishes. Politics as usual!!

      • Since Obama etal were the loudest about Bush being in bed with corporations, we should have known (I did) that Obama would make them look like beginners.

        He’s bought by the unions – auto & teachers – Wall st – just incredible..

        I’m aware of an issue of conflict currently in the medical field, where there’s two associations that set the standards for care for certain areas, so of course the ins companies follow and allow the least expensive procedure, when its fairly clear that the other procedure should be followed or at minimum addressed. I can’t help but believe that this scenario will occur more rather than less in a single payer plan.

      • JayDickB says:

        1. A single payer system removes all choices for insurance. If you don’t like the single payer, too bad. This system effectively socializes medical care because he who has the gold makes all the rules.

        2. The example of the people with Aflac and a medical savings account is flawed. The people should have also had a major medical policy (a high-deductible insurance that covers medical calamities like these folks had. That’s the way medical savings accounts are designed to work.

        3. Some people in the U.S. don’t like their insurance companies, but most do. The system could easily be made more like a free market where, if you didn’t like your insurance policy/company, you could easily get a different one. With a single payer, this would not be possible.

        4. Any plan that includes a “government” option will be a single payer system in short order, even if it’s not initially (see my post 3, above.

        • Bee in my Bonnet says:

          2. The example of the people with Aflac and a medical savings account is flawed. The people should have also had a major medical policy (a high-deductible insurance that covers medical calamities like these folks had. That’s the way medical savings accounts are designed to work.

          Let me get this straight. They should have had THREE insurance policies??! Isn’t that an admission that the current health insurance system is flawed when you need an insurance policy to back up an insurance policy? Wouldn’t that be fraud if you are paying for a product that is ultimately of no use to you?

          What I am seeing is that the insurance companies dictate which health services are handed out and face it, it is not in their economic best interest to offer the best care as this would cost too much. The only choice for insurance would be the company that screws you the least and what kind of choice is that?

          There needs to be a way to find the best of both systems, but I’m beginning to realize that the huge difference between the US and Canadian cultures may prevent such a compromise. Very interesting.

          • JayDickB says:

            Aflac is not health insurance. It is income loss insurance. It partially replaces income lost when you can’t work. Medical savings accounts are specifically designed to be accompanied by major medical insurance.

            How would the financial incentives for good care be any different with a single payer. As costs rise, the payer will ration care to keep the system solvent. The only real difference is that the insured people have nowhere else to go for insurance.

            Having a choice to find the plan that screws you the least is better than being unable to leave the plan that screws you the most.

            American culture does value choices. That’s the beauty of capitalism. It provides choices. Only through consume choice is it possible to punish suppliers who aren’t doing the job and reward those who are.

            American culture also tends to distrust centralized power, especially government power. In a single payer plan, government has all the power.

            • Bee in my Bonnet says:

              “American culture also tends to distrust centralized power, especially government power. In a single payer plan, government has all the power.”

              Actually, when it comes to health care, the only thing the federal govt supplies in money. All health care service decisions happens at a Provincial level, which is why there are slight differences in health care delivery from province to province.

              You make some good points and I appreciate the debate.

  17. Another problem of Universal Healthcare in the United States right now is the fact that the Federal Governement cannot in truth AFFORD to pay for it. Sure, they can borrow the cash from someone else or just print it, but that’s just going to put us in even more catastrophic debt than we are already in.

    The Administration and Congress have to be the most arrogant collection of idiots I have ever seen to actually believe that this is what the majority of Americans want.

    Of course, that’s not to say that the majority won’t jump on the Universal bandwagon once it is passed. And if it is passed as Obama wants, as Mandatory Health Care, then we won’t have a choice but to have it.

    It should be interesting to see what kind of plan our Polytick morons in Washington come up with. Not desirable; just interesting. Our only hope, guys and gals, is for it to be put off long enough to vote their asses out of office.

  18. I was standing in line in a grocery store a few years ago, when a lady in front of me, a Canadian, was talking with the cashier. She was wondering in amazement over the rumors she had heard that some Americans actually did not have health insurance. I, at the time had no health insurance. I was about 8 months pregnant. I didn’t say anything to her. But I thought about it a lot. Did I feel sorry for myself? Absolutely not. I was paying the total cost for my own maternity care and the delivery of my baby. (Ultimately about $3000)

    I knew something could go wrong along the way and we could end up with huge bills. To tell the truth we had our other kids on Medicaid and I felt more than a little ashamed about that.

    I went to a midwife (an unregulated industry in Idaho at the time) for my care and it was awesome. We didn’t get an ultrasound because I couldn’t afford it, but never once did I feel sorry for myself or wish someone would just come along and pick up the tab for me. If I had had complications, we would have worked out payment plans with the hospitals and doctors, my family would probably have helped out some and perhaps a private charity or fundraiser could have helped, but I never would have depended on any source other than my husband and myself.

    Governments role is to simply provide an environment in which individuals take care of themselves. I actually think we have too much regulation in America now and that it is this in large part which makes health care so costly that we begin to clamor for the government to pay for us too.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      I think this debate has shown how adaptable we are and how we all have learned to live within our own health care sytems. It’s been a fascinating debate.

  19. Black Flag says:

    The consequences of Socialized medicine extends far beyond the visible consequences.

    One cannot address the medical industry without first addressing the monopoly of the AMA. By allowing a mere association the power of law to exclude competition, medical costs have exploded through the roof.

    There is a difference between being certified by a trade association, and having that association prohibit competition by that certification.

    Imagine if it was against the law to work on your own car or your neighbor’s car.

    As far a social medicine – Canada is following UK step-by-step.

    Money and Cost is the way we can value dissimilar goods and services. When this is perverted, the real cost of a good/service is lost – hence, it is little wonder things go out of whack.

    There is nothing about health care that makes it any different from any other good or service in the marketplace.

    If a good or service value is artificially lowered below its true value, it will be consumed to exhaustion.

    If Ferrari’s were subsidized so that anyone could be one for $1,000 – there would be no Ferrari’s available for anyone to buy….OR…to keep up with demand, Ferrari would have to give up the quality of a hand made car, and pump out cheaper (in all ways) product.

    This same effect occurs in social medicine.

    Because price is no longer a measure of medical service in the UK (like in Canada), a perverted measure of quality is substituted – wait time – as if how long one waits for crappy service is a measure of some sort of quality.

    But wait times – due to exhaustion of the service – it abysmal. Being the mindset of government bureaucracy, their answer is….

    ….to chase people out of hospitals that have been waiting too longer, so to have them re-enter – thus, ‘restarting’ the wait time clock.

    Canada is well on her way to duplicating the UK system.

    For example, Alberta in its oil boom, eliminating any cost to health care….except, because of the cost overrun (no surprise, that of high value given away for free will be completely consumed) – are now starting to drop ‘covered’ medical services.

    This is probably the original tactic anyway as Alberta has often tried to privatize health care – by making it free, but dropping covered services, seems to me to be an excellent strategy.

    There is nothing about health care that makes it any different to any other service of the free market.

    By government interference, everything about health care in the UK, Canada and the USA, is a mess.

    • GoodDay Flagster,

      I agree with most of your post. I think there is a great deal of cause and effect left out. All attempts at tort reform have been quashed before even getting started. I asked my Rep., the Honerable Marrion Berry his view on this, he replied “we are going to have to agree to dis-agree on this. I know that if something happened to my daughter, $250,000 would never be adequate.” And so, medical lawsuits are a huge expense, with no discussion of controlling them. And the class action suits seem insane. If you have two years to live, take a drug and then live five years, then sue the drug company for the side effects of the drug that saved your life.

      The FDA is typical government. Someone dying, cannot try an experimental drug. Going to die, nothing to loose, why not take a chance to live? Because it hasn’t been tested, no telling what it might do to you.

      ER cannot refuse to treat a person in the US. Quite a few hospitals have closed because of the expense this created. I think the number of “anchor babies” has dramatically increased as well.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Hello BF,

      “One cannot address the medical industry without first addressing the monopoly of the AMA.”

      I’m interested in your thoughts of the health insurance industry. Do you think the insurance companies have a monopoly? What about the fact that Senator Max Baucus being the third highest recipient of donations from the health insurance and health care industry in general. Since he is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and is holding hearings on health care reform, do you feel that this is a form of monopolizing the system and a huge conflict of interest?

      “There is nothing about health care that makes it any different from any other good or service in the marketplace.”

      Do you consider the police service, firefighters and educators to be offering a service? If so, should the state stop funding it and have it come out of private citizens’ pockets? (I have a feeling I know how you’re going to answer that one!)

      “Because price is no longer a measure of medical service in the UK (like in Canada)…”

      Price should NEVER be a measure of medical service but this starts the age old debate of health care being a basic human right vs a privilege. If it is indeed a privilege, then good health, longevity,and productivity is only available to those who can afford it and to heck with the poor folks.

  20. Black Flag says:

    I have lived in many countries all over the world, even other countries that have had some sort of socialized medicine.

    Being a ex-pat, when I needed health services, I went to a doctor.

    The doctor, knowing I’m an ex-pat, instead of charging thousands he would to some government plan, charged me a few hundred bucks.

    No wait time. Cash. Service provided – competently.

    Too bad the rest of you can’t avail yourself of such.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      BF,

      I’m interested in your thoughts on the health care you received in those countries with socialized health care.

      • Black Flag says:

        I was always ‘head of the line’ to any doctor I required because I had cash-in-hand.

        The care was competent and to the point – no excessive ‘tests’ or x-rays or whatever.

        Diagnosis, treatment, good bye.

        For the locals, it was quite different.

        Access to specialists was only available after a series of roadblocks.

        To prevent overwhelming the specialists with mundane and irrelevant issues, the system forced the locals through a series of interim general practitioners before, finally, it was deemed worthy of the specialist. Thus, if they were really in need, they had to battle through this maze and be resilient enough to put up with it.

        • Black Flag says:

          And you know the total irony of this ….

          …I wasn’t a citizen, so I could get competent, immediate treatment for cash.

          …It was against the law for the locals to receive the same. No matter how much many, or what urgency, they had to follow their bizarre rules.

          So because I didn’t live there, I got better service because the law didn’t apply to me.

          Weird huh?

          “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you”….. 😉

        • Bee in my Bonnet says:

          Sounds like a two-tiered system would work. ‘Cash in hand’ for those who can afford it, universal health care for htose who can’t.

          • Black Flag says:

            Cash is King.

            There exists only one market that can stand alone – the free market.

            All other manipulations by the force of government can only distort from that point of freedom.

            The market will always find away around that distortion, and will eventually overwhelm it. It is like a river around a rock – the rock, though disturbing the flow, eventually, always loses.

            There is always a two-tier system within any government economic model.

            Some call it the “Black Market” when it occurs more systemically.

            You call it ‘two-tier’ when applied specifically.

          • The only fear of a 2-teir system is that the Drs will want to side with the cash payers, leaving only less well paid with Drs who are willing to deal with them… which may turn out to be few. As has been stated many times Drs work for themselves. The Do influence the spending by government through their various associations… that’s why non-doctor stuff got crossed off in Ontario.(like vision and physio etc)
            The full on rich can (and do) go where ever their dollars will get them what they want.
            Oh and in the UK, the Drs work for the state, our don’t, and wouldn’t.

  21. Great article Bee, thanks for sharing.

    “ER wait times can be up to 8-12 hours depending on the hospital.” Well, we have similar times in the US, a fair portion of that caused by un-insured who will go to the ER for “free” treatment for a cold or minor cut, rather than pay $75 to go to a doctor’s office.
    “wait times for hip and knee replacements is 14 weeks,” A young man I know was in a car wreck, had hip replacement done on second day, was walking on fourth day.

    I think much of the problems with the US health care is government involvement.
    They meddle just enough to really screw it up, then give their speeches about how they will “fix It”.

    Found this interesting, France was #1 ranked by WHO in 2000, Canada #30, USA #37. I copied a few parts below and the link.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/051709dnbusfrance.40cc221.html
    Is French health system a model for U.S.?

    08:09 AM CDT on Monday, May 18, 2009

    By JIM LANDERS / The Dallas Morning News
    jlanders@dallasnews.com

    “Many liberal Americans are convinced that the French system is the be-all and end-all solution to health care costs in the United States,” she said. “But the system is costly to both the workers and the state. In fact, it is going bankrupt.”

    Bankruptcy looms for America as well. Health care absorbs more than 17 percent of the U.S. economy, or $2.4 trillion. The French fork over 11 percent.

    In 2006, U.S. spending averaged $6,714 per person. The average resident of France spent $3,450. This year, U.S. spending is expected to near $8,000 per person, while French officials estimate spending there will come in below $5,000.

    France and the United States pay for their health care in different ways. Most U.S. health care spending is private. The government’s share – what you pay for in taxes for Medicare, Medicaid, military and other government employees – is 46 percent. The rest is paid through insurance split between employers and workers, and in out-of-pocket expenses borne by consumers.

    In France, national health insurance pushes the government’s share of health care spending to 80 percent. Consumers and their employers pay for the rest through supplemental, private insurance and out-of-pocket expenses.

    In both countries, patients with the money to pay for more or better care not covered by insurance are able to buy it through private clinics and doctors. Health expenditures have grown faster than prices for nearly everything else in both countries for many years, despite decades of reforms aimed at capping prices, supply and demand.

    Everyone who’s lived in France for at least three months is covered by national health insurance. (LOI, That would include illegal aliens?)

    People with chronic illnesses get continuing medical attention without facing a bill for it. Treatments and survival rates for cancers and other diseases are better in the United States, although French cancer patients routinely get access to experimental drugs.

    Far more Americans get heart surgeries to clear clogged arteries, but the French death rate from heart attacks is about one third of the American rate.

    The French live longer. They have more hospital beds and more doctors.

    For health economist Didier Tabuteau, though, there is one overriding difference between the U.S. and French systems.

    “The difference is the price, not the number of doctors or the number of hospitals,” he said. “You pay a very high price for drugs and doctors.”

    The French government negotiates price ceilings with pharmaceutical companies. French doctors earn about 60 percent of what their American counterparts make, although they get free medical school tuition and don’t face high malpractice insurance premiums. (LOI, Malpractice cost are out of control and need revisions. So when will our elected (mostly lawyers?)officials address this?)

    the French visit their doctors about twice as often as Americans. The French lead the world in drug consumption.

    Tabuteau says a third of French consumers complain they can’t get the dental care, eyeglasses or other treatments they want because of cost.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:

      Thanks LOI,

      When you say, “I think much of the problems with the US health care is government involvement.”, do you mean government or insurance companies? During much of my research, I have found that the insurance companies have a huge monopoly on health care in the US and they have much to lose with health reform. When Obama says that to convert to a single payer system would be too disruptive, I interpret that as being too disruptive to the insurance companies. I’m interested in your thoughts.

      • Bee,

        What is a “Bonnet”, and why do you keep a bee in yours? LOL

        I did mean government policy has caused many problems in our health care system. That is not to say insurance companies, drug companies and the AMA and others who spend so much lobbying are not also a major player in the game. “Follow the money” would likely answer many of our questions.

        I think when you look at private companies behavior, a lot goes to the lawsuits in the US. How much do hospitals pay in legal insurance? Add doctors and all medical staff. Personal experience with insurance companies, even when you are “right”, and can prove it, they will “settle” rather than fight a lawsuit.
        The insurance companies then raise their rates to cover their loss.
        EVERY TIME an insurance company “looses money”, it is passed on to the consumers, the company never really looses money.

        Drug companies, if they had any sense, would move out of the US, and do all their testing in countries without all the restrictions.

        So it is not a simple subject.

        Sorry, more thoughts than time.

  22. Black Flag says:

    Bee

    I’m interested in your thoughts of the health insurance industry.

    Health Insurance is a good thing.

    However, many people haven’t a clue about what ‘insurance’ is.

    Insurance is supposed to be a financial mechanism that mitigates some of the consequences of an unlikely economic disaster.

    It is not there to pay for regular stupidity or regular incompetence or an eventuality.

    I pay for my own health insurance. My deductible is $10,000. My cost is under $125 a month. It covers everything.

    I have life insurance, but only until age 60. This is to cover the costs of raising my daughter until she goes out on her own. My wife is covered financially on our own ability for the rest of her life. I wish to have a cheap funeral. An expensive one will not impress me much, for obvious reasons.

    Do you think the insurance companies have a monopoly?

    In a semi-government or government run medical industry, it is very bizarre.

    Costs in such a system are so high that even the minimalist of treatment costs a fortune – and anything serious is beyond the economic ability of a family.

    So to compensate the bizarreness of such a system, insurance is required – but they are faced with the same bizarre industry, and so to not lose their shirts either, they make up an equally bizarre solution.

    Once the foundation is warped, it really doesn’t matter what you build on it, its going to be warped – and the constant compensation for one warp only creates another equally weird warp…. with the whole structure wobbling.

    What about the fact that Senator Max Baucus being the third highest recipient of donations from the health insurance and health care industry in general. Since he is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and is holding hearings on health care reform, do you feel that this is a form of monopolizing the system and a huge conflict of interest?

    Government = infinite conflict of interest.

    When government is making the rules, what does one expect? Someone paying off those that make the rules.

    “There is nothing about health care that makes it any different from any other good or service in the marketplace.”

    Do you consider the police service, firefighters and educators to be offering a service?

    Yes.

    If so, should the state stop funding it and have it come out of private citizens’ pockets?

    It is already, isn’t it? And worse, it comes with a massive surcharge over and above the real cost.

    If I build a wall to protect me and my family, and you come to visit, how much more is the incremental cost of protection you?

    So, why does the government cost us more every year for the same protection?

    “Because price is no longer a measure of medical service in the UK (like in Canada)…”

    Price should NEVER be a measure of medical service

    Price is the ONLY measure that is capable of determining the value of a service

    Without a pricing mechanism, the service cannot be provisioned appropriately.

    When I say that it is no different than any other good/service, I mean it.

    It means, just like all things, there is a finite supply (economically, we say there is ‘scarcity of a resource’).

    Since everyone cannot get everything, price mechanisms exist to establish the priority of such a good or service. Further, it establishes need – a higher priced good will attract more competition.

    By destroying price mechanisms, very bad economic decisions are made instead.

    Thus, it will create distortions of supply and demand that cannot be met optimally.

    but this starts the age old debate of health care being a basic human right vs a privilege. If it is indeed a privilege, then good health, longevity,and productivity is only available to those who can afford it and to heck with the poor folks.

    Food is far more important than medicine – yet we do quite well with food in a free market – so much so, it is so ridiculously cheap, we can ship the stuff from the corners of the world to your table for pennies in cost.

    Why do you think medicine is somehow immune to the same power?

    And no, medicine is not a right, nor a privilege. It is a goods and services. The poor could avail themselves of the same services, such as food, based on their ability to pay.

    By pretending it is a right – where none exists – will disastrously distort that good/service to a degree that it will fail into exhaustion for everyone.

    “If sand was managed by government, it’d be driven into scarcity as well.”

    • Black Flag says:

      More on Price Mechanisms…..

      Bee, if we cannot ‘price’ a service (as you suggest for health) and there is a finite supply, how do you believe you can provision the service over a group of people who demand more of the service than is available??

      You see, Bee, there always exists some measure to appropriate a good or service.

      Your way – you don’t want price, so you have to replace it with something.

      You replacement is a concept of need. Those that need it, get it.

      But who determines who is more needy? Somebody has to.

      So you assign this to a nameless bureaucrat – but what is his basis of need? Who determines who is suffering more? And do you really believe that some bureaucrat would put his mother, daughter or wife behind your need?

      And do you not see that favoritism now comes to play. Ever wonder why government officials and their family never wait in line and always seem to get immediate health care in government run medicine?

      So, what you’ve simply traded is a subjective measure of a service, held in the hands of government bureaucrats – from a objective measure of service, held in the hands of the consumer.

      I believe that is a terrible trade.

      • JayDickB says:

        Econ 101. I love it.

        Incidentally, allocating based on need would be OK with me as long as I get to decide who needs what. Otherwise, it won’t work.

      • Bee in my Bonnet says:

        As with all systems, this was started with the best of intentions. The premise being that everyone with need had access to equal care.

        “Ever wonder why government officials and their family never wait in line and always seem to get immediate health care in government run medicine?”
        Government officials and professional sports figures. Politics messed up a good thing, as per usual.

  23. My thoughts from the other side of the pond and my experiences with the British National Health Service. I have grown up with it and I honestly cannot fault it. I had numerous stays in hospital due to asthma growing up and also required dental surgery when I was 8. I have always got a same day appointment when I need to see the doctor and I was also able to see a specialist asthma nurse as I have been having problems recently. My grandfather is 80 and he recently had a knee replacement with 6 months of physiotherapy afterwards all done on the NHS.
    My daughter was born in a nice big hospital room with two midwifes present and due to some complications a doctor was present as well, the care was excellent.

    I know that the NHS is far from perfect and there are some who have issues with it but if any politician ever talked about scrapping it, it would be their political suicide. We have a high tax rate here and altough I dont agree with how some of it is spent but in my eyes every single penny to the NHS is worth it. We also have the option to go with private care which I assume is similar to the American system.

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