6.19.09 @ 6:01AM
Looking for a free lunch. A few health care stats. Hope & Change — Clinton ‘92. Plus more.
Re: Rep. Mike Pence’s Freedom Can’t Be Rationed:
Interesting column. But so far, what the kind of “freedom” you want to continue has me living without health insurance. Why? Am I some kind of deadbeat? Am I diabetic, or recovering from cancer? No. I’m a 63-year-old female, employed full time at a small firm (under 25 people), and I have essential hypertension, well controlled on a generic medication that costs me $12 every three months. And for that terrible threat to Blue Cross’s bottom line, I can’t even get a QUOTE on a health care policy. That’s right. You could send me a subsidy, give me a tax credit, whatever, and I still wouldn’t have health insurance because of my age and the fact that I’m not perfectly healthy.
So if this is the kind of wonderful system you want to continue,
I will continue to vote for any candidate of the Democratic Party
out of sheer preservation.
— Suzanne Shobe
A seldom discussed element of the health care debate is the likely corrosive effect on health from the complete alienation of the person from the process. People need to be health producers, not health care consumers. What kind of person comes from being a mere consumer, not a producer, of the most important thing in life?
The health care debate, in fact, is about ill health or disease, not really health. If “health care’ were caring about the state of health, the idea of third party payment, let alone monolithic government funding, should go out the window. Nothing could be worse for health than becoming a passive consumer, dependent of expert agents and therapies geared neither for understanding nor competitive alternatives.
Attitude and personal engagement matter. If they did not, there would be no placebo effect. Though it is hard to design interventionary (drug) trials to produce data proving my point, but there are vast amounts of observational data supporting more than casual dismissal of subjective phenomena, specifically personal responsibility, in health outcomes. But some want us, for political and economic reasons, to be forever dependent health care consumers.
Reasonable people may differ on how much of our own health we
influence, and certainly it’s not all of it. But when government
monopolizes the treatment of disease, it will tolerate no
competition, no right to chose, no right to personal or family
initiative, no meaningful innovation in diet and behavior, no
speech or assembly for unsanctioned health purposes. Obama has
given lip service to prevention, but that is a good or value far
beyond the capacity of government budgeting and resource
allocation. And the alienation from our own bodies achieved in
national health care of any sort is a great stride for secularism
and materialism. Obamacare is as bankrupting spiritually as his
social and economic agendas are financially. Though we can
recover more easily from the later.
— Christopher Roberts
It is blood-curdling to read the lies and distortions in your article. Misleading people and flat-out lying about facts is ruinous for our country’s future. We will end up like GM, except we will not be able to bail ourselves out. The American century is ending because of our leaders’ stupidity and greed.
How about the below data:
First, let’s look at per capita health care spending in three countries, and in the United States:
United States: $5,274
United Kingdom: $2,160
New Zealand: $1,857
Let’s look at the figures from a slightly different standpoint, total health care spending as a percent of GDP:
United States: 15.4%
New Zealand: 8.4%
United Kingdom: 8.1%
On the theory that you get what you pay for, our health care system certainly should be the best in the world, as the Republicans keep telling us that it is. So the next question is: what is the objective evidence of the results obtained by the health care systems in those three countries, compared to the United States.
I hope that even you think that babies dying before their first birthday is a bad thing, so surely our massive health care spending gives us a lower infant mortality rate than those countries, right? Wrong. Here are the number of children, per thousand live births, who die in their first year of life in these same four countries:
United States: 6.3
New Zealand: 4.99
United Kingdom: 4.93
Well, maybe you’re more likely to stay alive as a baby if you’re born in one of these countries with such terrible health systems, but surely we have a longer total life expectancy, right? WRONG! Here are the years of life expectancy at birth for the total population (in all cases, the average woman lives a little longer than this, and the average man a little less than this):
Canada: 80.18 years
New Zealand: 79.62 years
United Kingdom: 78.95 years
United States: 77.71 years
Personally, I care a lot less about how many years I live than how many years I live in reasonably good health. Here are the years of heathy life expectancy in these three countries and the United States:
New Zealand: 70.3 years
Canada: 69.9 years
United Kingdom: 69.6 years
United States: 67.6 years
Here are the figures on the average man’s probability of making it to age 65 in those three countries and the United States:
United Kingdom: 81.5%
New Zealnad: 80.9%
United States: 77.4%
I don’t know about anybody else, but as a 60 year old man, those countries’ health care systems don’t look so terrible to me. As a matter of fact, they look pretty good. I don’t really know any New Zealanders, but I’ve known a number of Brits and Canadians, and I have yet to meet the first one who would trade their health care system for ours.
But you are right on at least one thing. Government health care spending, as a percent of total health care spending, IS higher in those three countries than it is here. Here is the public health care spending as a percent of the total in those three countries and the United States:
United Kingdom: 83.4%
New Zealand: 77.9%
United States: 44.9%
This suggests to me that perhaps government is more effective at limiting costs and improving results in the health care field than is the vaunted private sector, and that increased government involvement in health care would be a good, rather than a bad, thing.
I would be willing to have an open discussion based on facts, not lies. If anyone can suggest a better system than I am open to it. What journalistic standards are you living up to? Inform the public so we/they can make an educated decision. Printing lies and distortions only helps to satisfy the “base” and postpones the inevitable — we will not be able to afford health care in the future, which will lead to a great drop in living standards and our crumbling leadership in the world will disappear, just because our leaders told us lies and you printed it!
Since no society can afford to pay for everything, health care among others is rationed along with lots of other things we can not afford. Health care is rationed now under the current system. However, as the data shows we are wasting tremendous sums. These funds enrich the for-profit insurance executives but do not produce results. For that matter we should not advertise prescription medications. The billions spent on marketing to the public is one reason drugs are so expensive. Only in the US and New-Zealand can the drug makers advertise prescription medications. Why are then cigarettes and alcohol prohibited from TV and radio? Why is that limitation acceptable? If you have total freedom then all the laws are unnecessary. Not even the fiercest conservative says that?
Open and honest debate is needed, not lies!
Shame on you!
— Paul Tarai
THIS I BELIEVE
Re: David Catron’s How Obamacare Will Change Your Life:
For whatever perverse reason, I keep informal track of horror stories out of the British N.H.S. (National Health Service) — a fair advance look at what Obamacare will be like.
Here’s one of the latest, from a recent story in The Guardian. The Conservatives — not fans of the N.H.S. by any means — have made it clear that they intend to return to patient outcomes and get far away from Labour’s “focus on numbers and systems” and to “deep-clean the target regime.” Labour has used a variety of “targets” to force “efficiency” and then compiles the “data” to prove that the system is “efficient.”
Even the Conservatives, however, will preserve two targets.
Believe this. Target time from a general practitioner’s referral to the hospital until the patient’s hospital treatment? 18 weeks.
Believe this. Target time for a patient to be seen in accident and emergency departments? Four hours.
Believe this, also. In order to make certain that hospitals meet that target, arriving ambulances have circled hospital grounds until their patient can get treated within four hours of arriving at the emergency room.
Or, to use Obamaspiel, “efficiencies implemented.”
The past is prologue.
— A. C. Santore
AN OLD BAD IDEA
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Obama’s Senior Moment:
As every socialist country in the world has learned, there is not enough money on the printing presses to provide quality healthcare for everyone. So, who will suffer? Of course, the elderly. These are the people who worked and paid for all the boondoggles for politicians, the food stamps for the children of the lazy; the county hospitals that now deliver first class health care to the lazy and their offspring; the taxes that funded the experimental education projects that ruined our public schools; paid the huge payments on the debt the idiots in Washington have run up; and yes, they took our money and gave to the nation’s most corrupt organizations to ensure their own reelection.
Our reward? Our retirement funds that we saved will be confiscated through taxes. We will be encouraged to die sooner by the government withholding necessary medical care. That will enable politicians to get their hands on our savings so they can waste that too.
I will tell you something. I once offered my life to this country
because while it was imperfect, it was the best nation in
the world for its citizens. America is just another place now. It
is a European socialist democracy, but without the majority of
its citizens contributing, and on the road to Cuban-style
dictatorship. It is not worth fighting for any longer. Let it die
and maybe something decent will rise from the ashes.
— Jay Molyneaux
Arguments in favor of socialized medicine fail on so many levels, in so many ways, as to suggest that their proponents do not live in the real world. Let us count the ways:
(1) Medicare and Medicaid are financial failures; it has been written, in TAS and elsewhere, that their unfunded liabilities run to about 100 trillion USD. If the government can’t run those two programs successfully, how can it run a program several times larger? This would be like suggesting radical expansion as a “cure” for Amtrak or the post office. It makes no sense.
(2) It is a lie to suggest that there won’t be rationing; there already is rationing within Medicare and Medicaid. Within Medicaid there is the worst rationing of all: Few doctors will even see those patients.
(3) The figure of 47 million uninsured is a lie; even RET’s 22 million is overstated; recently (I think it was in TAS) there was a well-reasoned article that placed the figure at 8 million, which is to say, 8 million folks who have no means of coverage, who are uncovered year-round, and are US citizens.
(4) Despite President Obama’s assurance that socialized medicine has worked out in other countries, it hasn’t, as far as I know, worked out anywhere, not even Scandinavia. With real-world failures everywhere, why is this a road we should be eager to go down?
(5) There is no health care crisis. As pointed out in TAS, the rise in health care costs has been slowing down, and, as stated above, the number of uncovered patients is not unmanageable.
(6) The United States is a very wealthy nation (yes, even now), and, as many have pointed out, wealthy nations and societies expect, and can afford, cutting-edge health care. Where in the world do the Feds get off telling us we can’t have an MRI if we can afford one? Or a titanium hip replacement? Or the latest in stent technology? This is America, not Albania. Do we really want to live in a country where we have to go blind in one eye before the other can be treated?
And undoubtedly this list can be expanded. But with reason so
strongly on the side of private medicine (although not
necessarily in its current form, with so many third-party
payers), what is going on? Why this mighty push for (irrational)
nationalized health care? I can only think of one answer: That
those on the left are so hungry for power that they will do
anything (and say anything) to be able to sit on their Olympian
thrones and dictate every last health care jot and tittle for 300
— David Reich, MD
Auburn, New York
Re: The Prowler’s Walloping Walpin:
As the longtime Bill Clinton nemesis Paul Greenberg in the
Arkansas press points out, it appears that the “change” a lot of
unsuspecting people voted for last fall turns out to be not much
different from the time-honored graft, electoral
shenanigans, and corruption that continue to plague Chicago,
Illinois, Louisiana, and if one may say so (Obama apparently
will not) Iran.
— Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan
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