Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The truth(s) about 'socialized medicine' and why Wal-Mart backs Obama's plan

(That would be the socialized medicine that saved my dad's eyesight)

As the health care 'reform' bill winds its way through Congress, things are heating up. President Obama and his allies seem hell bent on imposing the failed Massachusetts' health care model on the entire nation. The MA plan requires all citizens to have private health care and, if I understand correctly, fines them if they don't. But affordable health insurance in the state has been found to be sorely lacking. If I'm a private insurance company CEO, I'd love for this racket to go national.

Additionally, the Obama plan would also impose an 8 percent payroll tax on businesses that don't provide health insurance to their workers, but it does nothing to address health care costs that make the insurance unaffordable to such businesses in the first place. As such, the president's plan would decimate small businesses. Perhaps, this is why Wal-Mart has backed the Obama plan.

Single payer health care is the only sensible plan. Everyone would have access to it so everyone would pay for it via their income taxes, just like everyone pays for having access to police/sheriff and fire departments.

This is not a question of 'the perfect being the enemy of the good.' The Obama plan would harm small businesses while doing nothing to achieve universal health care access that's actually affordable. Issuing people fines for not being able to afford health care? How is that 'progressive reform'? Sounds like more change we can't believe in.

There was a good piece in Common Dreams from an American professor who spent several years living in Finland. In it, the woman gives a first-hand (not third-hand) experience with the Scandinavian country's universal health care system.

First, she takes a slap at the deceptive propaganda inherent in the 'debate' in this country. These horror stories are never accompanied by data, just hearsay and anecdotes from “a friend of a friend” in Canada or the United Kingdom. Rarely have I heard from people who have themselves experienced a universal public health care system. As one of those people, I thought I should speak up.

She points out that while living in Finland, her taxes were higher, but her take home pay was about the same as it was in the US, once health insurance premiums and expenses are deducted.

She recounted her exemplary experience in giving birth to her son in Finland, praising the care she received along the way.

Though interestingly, she doesn't mention endless paperwork or hours of arguing with insurance bureaucrats over wrongly denied claims.

She writes: [In Finland], I never had to wait to see a medical professional, nor was any necessary procedure delayed or denied. Every nurse and doctor I saw was caring and knowledgeable, and spent whatever time was necessary to make sure that I received the care I needed.

I have now been living and working back in the US for 6 months, and already I have had problems with my health insurance plan through my employer. I found out the hard way (that is, at the doctor’s office after my son’s vaccination visit) that my son had been arbitrarily dropped from my plan months before, even though I had been paying the premiums for the family plan all along. It took almost a week of phone calls to get him reinstated. All the while, I privately wondered if the two ear infections he had in the spring had prompted some computer at the health insurance company to calculate that he was “overusing” the system, and automatically drop his coverage.

She concludes: For every anecdote they have about a Canadian waiting six months for necessary open heart surgery, I can find twenty Americans for whom that equally necessary surgery is completely out of reach.

This presence of third world-style health care camps in rural America attests to this.

North Country Public Radio has a story on how a health care report is being buried by New York's Democratic Gov. David Paterson. The report finds eliminating the traditional role of the insurance companies from the health system [single payer] would save [the state] $20 billion dollars a year. New York's budget gap last year was around $18 billion.

That single payer costs less despite covering everyone is not news to readers of this blog.

As social justice activist Mark Dunlea pointed out in the NCPR report, one would think that a floundering governor with poll ratings stuck for months in the low 20s would be eager to try something bold, especially something he once was supported when he was a state senator.

Then again, Barack Obama also supported single payer before he became chief executive.


Luke said...

Finland is a sparsly populated, energy-rich, ethnically homogeneous, wealthy country. If the US were those things then maybe socialized healthcare could work here too. But the US isn't Finland.

Brian said...

Single payer works well in sparsely populated countries like Finland and Canada and it also works in densely populated (and ethnically heterogeneous, whatever relevance that has) countries like France and Germany. As for wealthy, we're already spending for more per capita on 'health care' than any other country so the money's there, just not being spent wisely.