Skip to comments.Thomas Sowell: Universal health care
Posted on 05/06/2003 4:33:18 AM PDT by SJackson
If there was one defining moment in the debates among an already crowded field of Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination in 2004, it may well have been when Congressman Dennis Kucinich, pushing for government-provided health care, spoke with obvious disgust of the "profits" of the insurance companies and provoked a burst of spontaneous applause from like-minded members of the audience.
Insurance companies, like every other kind of institution, have to earn money in order to keep functioning. So does every individual who was not born rich. But some people react to the word "profit" with automatic responses, like Pavlov's dog.
Such prejudice against a word was far more common half a century ago than it is today. Congressman Kucinich may think of himself as a "progressive," but he is in fact a throwback to a bygone era.
Profit was defined as "overcharge" by George Bernard Shaw, one of the founders of Fabian socialism. "Never speak to me of profit," India's Prime Minister Nehru once said to his country's leading industrialist. "It is a dirty word."
Why are such conceptions of profit no longer as common as they were 50 years ago? Because of half a century of experience with economies that tried to operate without profit. Back in the 1950s, socialism was the wave of the future and countries around the world tried out one variety or another.
With profits eliminated, in theory there should have been lower prices for the consumers, who would now be able to afford a higher standard of living. In reality, countries that went the socialist route found themselves falling farther behind countries that allowed the hated profit system to continue to exist.
Naturally, political leaders with the vision of a government-controlled economy did not want to admit that they were wrong, much less have the voters realize that they were wrong. Only when decade after decade of blatant evidence from around the world became undeniable did governments begin to withdraw their suffocating controls and sell government-owned industries to private entrepreneurs.
But, just as there are still pockets of resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there are still holdouts like Congressman Kucinich and like-minded Democrats. Socialism has been discredited as an explicitly avowed belief but it still lives on in a thousand disguises, of which "universal health care" is just one.
Like so many pretty words used in politics, "universal health care" is seldom examined in terms of what its actual track record has been in the countries where it has been tried.
Probably the first country to have universal health care provided by the government was the Soviet Union. After decades of socialized medicine, what was the end result? In its last years, the Soviet Union was one of the few countries in the world with a declining life span and a rising rate of infant mortality.
But that terrible word "profit" had been banished and apparently that is what matters to the true believers.
(Excerpt) Read more at jewishworldreview.com ...
Not all countries that tried socialized medicine went as far as the Soviet Union. But there has been a whole pattern of problems common to government-controlled medical care systems, whether in China, Britain, Canada or elsewhere. And none of the anti-profit zealots want to talk about any of those problems.
None of those who wants us to move in the direction of Canada on health care ever faces the question: Why do so many Canadians come to the United States for medical treatment and so few Americans go to Canada?
Could it be that we should look at what actually works, rather than what sounds good? Nor should we be overly impressed by words that sound bad, like "uninsured Americans." The bottom line is medical care, not insurance. People without insurance are treated at hospitals all across America every day.
Before we even consider throwing away what works in favor of something that has failed repeatedly, we need to stop reacting to words and start looking at facts. Socialism by any other name is still socialism -- whether it is advocated by shrill zealots like Kucinich or by other Democrats whose words are smoother.
That's an understatement of Kucinich's expression.....I'd say he spoke of profits, it was with anger and hatred. Great article. Thanks for posting.
Medical Services OTOH, are not manufactured goods to be exported. They Are SERVICES provided on a local (relatively) basis.
Can you see the Apples in the Basket of Oranges now?
She lives in Florida and for three months a year she goes to different hospitals around the U.S. verifying claims by Canadian citizens who come here on "vacation", are then stricken with some affliction and use our system for treatment. A claim is them filed with the Canadian flubberment and they reimburse the health care facility here.
She told my s-i-l that people up there use someone else's name to go to a doctor and get diagnosed. Since the wait is so long for non-emergent procedures they take this info with them on vacation. When they get here they get taken care of.
Want to here the best part. The ex-Canadian nurse still gets her full salary from before the down sizing.
Great system, eh?
I can offer you anecdotal proff since I am Canadian and lived in the Windsor area. People were dying on waiting lists for heart surgery (waiting times being 18 to 24 months) back in the early '90's. So people that needed surgery went to Detroit and had it paid for by the provincial health care system. Since so many people were electing this option, the provincial government, under Bob Rae and the NDP (extreme socialist party, far left of the Liberals) changed the system so that coverage would be for the max allowed under OHIP. THat maxiumum was about 25-30% of what the cost was outside Canada. So now only people with money could go to the U.S. and the average Canadian got stuck in the long waiting lists. There is a two-tier system in Canada: the government run system and the U.S. system for the wealthy.
This isn't a valid comparison, so you can't include the people from the U.S. who buy prescriptions in Canada. These people are going to Canada to buy something that is identical to what they would buy in the U.S., but at a price that has been artificially reduced in Canada through government regulation.
When it comes to things that are truly different in health care, Canada doesn't come close to the U.S. If you go through any medical specialty that you can thing of (neurology, cardiology, orthopedics, etc.) and rank all of the hospitals in the world for each of them, I'll bet 95 of the top 100 hospitals for these specialties are in the U.S.
I can accept that arrangement. They get cheap drugs at our expense, and we get their best hockey players.
Don't know about Canada...but my German and French friends have repeatedly told me that high-end medicine for the wealthy is much better in the U.S., but the situation is reversed for the average person.
Surprisingly, average people in small rural communities seem to have better care than poor big-city dwellers.
Well, since they don't play pro hockey in Canada anymore, all those players have to work somewhere!
Not prõf, but an indicatio, nevertheless. My town has historically bên a beach resort with a tremendous summer tourist season and economic depression for the rest of the year. When Canada cut off the last of private health care we suðenly got a winter season consisting mostly of Canadians coming to the coast. The ones I talked to and that my friends dealt with came here to get their major health needs taken care of along with a nice warm weather vacation. These visitors were notable for aðing nothing to the local economy outside of rõm and fõd and the local hospital entered a period of prosperity it had not before known. After a few years Canada disallowed insurance payments to foreign entities and the Canadian tourists declined radically in number but did not stop.
The visitation has been increasing steadily since and at least one couple says their visit is because they simply could not get things taken care of in Canada without waits that would preclude successful treatment of the problem. Getting that bypass now costs more than ever because they have to paythe government "insurance" and still have to travel and pay the uninsured rates for the treatment. Some have purchased American insurance using their winter aðresses and are paying two large insurance rates.
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