If conservatives don’t counter them, government-run health care will be here to stay.
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To be fair, there’s no way of knowing whether Richardson would have survived even if she were airlifted, or if McCracken would have died if she weren’t. But the incidents are a telling illustration of the differing philosophies in America’s approach to health care and Canada’s single-payer system. America is more geared toward the individual, resulting in high costs in the pursuit of saving a single life, and greater inequality. The Canadian system has a collectivist mentality, in which greater equality and lower costs are achieved by making decisions based on the medical needs of the entire population, often at the expense of individuals.
The collectivist mindset in government-run systems also means longer wait times for treatment. A 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law in Quebec banning private health care. The case was brought by a Quebec resident after he was put on a one-year waiting list for hip-replacement surgery. “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care,” Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote in the decision.
It’s not just Canada. In March, an investigation by Britain’s Healthcare Commission found that between 400 and 1,200 people died as the result of “appalling care” at hospitals in Staffordshire. Japan is suffering its own emergency room crisis, because government isn’t paying doctors enough, resulting in a shortage. In January 2008, a man who was injured in a traffic accident in Osaka died after being rejected by five overcrowded emergency rooms, according to the Japan Times. A month before that, an 89-year-old Osaka woman died after being denied emergency care by 30 hospitals. Sweden suffers from severe waiting times. The situation became so bad that the country’s own prime minister had to wait more than eight months for hip surgery in a period spanning from 2003 into 2004, and he even had to cancel travel plans on which he was supposed to meet with foreign officials. In Germany in 2006, 20,000 doctors went on strike to protest low pay. In France in 2003, nearly 15,000 people died in a heat wave, a crisis exacerbated because many doctors were on summer vacation at the time.
Defenders of government-run systems often point out that the U.S. has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than other industrialized countries, but neither are reliable indicators. In both cases, statistics are skewed by genetics and ethnicity. And life expectancy is also affected by factors unrelated to the quality of the health care system, such as diet and homicide rates in a given area.
AS CONSERVATIVES PUSH BACK against the prospect of a government takeover of health care in the U.S., it’s imperative that they educate Americans on the true nature of the crisis. For instance, once a person understands how much government already tinkers with the current system, or what is actually behind the statistic of 46 million being uninsured, he will be more open to arguments in favor of a truly free market system. In such a system, the tax status of health insurance could be made fairer, so that individuals enjoy the same benefits for purchasing coverage on their own as others do when getting their health care through their employers. This would also allow them to take their insurance with them from job to job. In addition, they would also have more choices among plans if they could purchase insurance across state lines and not be held hostage by onerous regulations that force them to purchase more insurance than they need. And if they understood the actual costs and tradeoffs involved in moving toward a government-run system, they would be less likely to embrace one. Conservatives may still have a difficult time blunting the momentum in the current health care fight, but they won’t stand a chance unless they attack the underlying premises of the other side.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?