The USA and Universal Healthcare
Universal Healthcare is primarily an ideology championed by the Democrats. However, contrary to popular belief, a nationalized health care system for all Americans, has never been on the agenda for President Obama. Read more about President Obama's healthcare policy here.
His agenda, instead, has always been to assist those who are rendered uninsurable and or are in need of assistance in obtaining health care coverage due to low income. Part of his plan is to expand the role of SCHIP and State Insurance Risk Pools so that those who are rendered "uninsurable" on the individual major medical market have "guaranteed insurability" through their respective State Insurance Risk Pools.
Although many states already have a State Insurance Risk Pools, some states, like Arizona do not. These states desperately need such Insurance Risk Pools and until recently, have not been able to adequately provide coverage to the "uninsurable" due to the lack of funding.
In fact, President Obama's plan is to provide more Federal funding to existing State Insurance Risk Pools to drive the premiums down. Thereby, making this option more affordable for those who cannot obtain "individual" health insurance coverage on the open market. To see if your state has an Insurance Risk Pool, click here:
In terms of Universal Healthcare for everyone in the United States, however, we must research how well "socialized medicine" has actually worked for other countries. Although proponents of a single payer system often bring up the point that it has worked flawlessly for other countries like France and Canada, the fact remains that many people living in these countries have a different perspective on how effectively their health care system is working.
For example, to see the faces and stories of Canadians who are at the mercy of Canada's Universal Healthcare system, please watch these short, but very informative video documentaries by Stewart Browning:
In fact, many Canadians hire high priced "health care brokers" to arrange medical procedures in the United States because of the terrible bureaucracy that controls health care in Canada. Quite often, we also hear the main stream media reporting on the number of uninsured in the United States.
Something that is rarely discussed, however, is who the uninsured really are. For the real facts on who make up the 47 million uninsured, please watch:
"Before turning to government as the solution, some unheralded facts about America's health care system should be considered," says Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Stanford University Medical Center.
Americans have a better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers:
- Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.
- Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway.
- The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.
Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients do in other developed countries: For example, 56 percent of Americans benefit by taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.
Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians: Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report "excellent" health compared to Canadian seniors (11.7 percent versus 5.8 percent). Conversely, white Canadian young adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower income Americans to describe their health as "fair or poor."
Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom: Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long -- sometimes more than a year -- to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer. Currently, approximately 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada and nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment in England.
Source: Scott W. Atlas, 10 Surprising Facts About American Health Care, National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 649, 3/24/09
Because of how the Single Payer System is designed, Canadian citizens have no where near the level of healthcare choices that American citizens do. As a matter of fact, until very recently (2005) it was not even possible for a Canadian citizen to pay for their own healthcare or to purchase a private health insurance policy that would "bump them up the long waiting list" to expedite their medical treatments.
Fortunately, because of a recent court ruling, some Canadian citizens have now been given the right to purchase their own private health insurance. However, access to care in Canada is still limited, and there are many hard battles yet to be fought.
Let's take a look at one brave doctor, Dr. Chaoulli, who took his client's case all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court and won. Dr. Chaoulli launched his legal challenge in the Canadian court system when his client, George Zeliotis, waited more than a year for hip-replacement surgery.
In this case, Canada's high court, who found for the Plaintiff, issued the following statement: "The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public healthcare system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public healthcare. The evidence also demonstrates that the prohibition against private health insurance and its consequence of denying people vital healthcare result in physical and psychological suffering that meets a threshold test of seriousness."
Furthermore, Justice Marie Deschamps said, "Many patients on non-urgent waiting lists are in pain and cannot fully enjoy any real quality of life. The right to life and to personal inviolability is therefore affected by the waiting times."
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Fraser Institute which keeps track of Canadian waiting times for various medical procedures states in their 14th annual edition of "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (2006)," that, "the total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, rose from 17.7 weeks in 2003 to 17.9 weeks in 2006."
Depending on which Canadian province you live in, to have an MRI you may be required a wait between 7 and 33 weeks! To have orthopedic surgery you may be required to wait 14 weeks before you can see a general practitioner to obtain a referral to the see the orthopedic surgeon and then another 24 weeks from the time you see the orthopedic surgeon to the time you actually have surgery.
So, before you jump on the Universal Healthcare bandwagon, please watch the aforementioned videos (all of them) and then spend some time reading through the real life horror stories of Canadian citizens who were left in the lurch by the Canadian healthcare system, which has been documented in a very well-researched article published in the Wall Street Journal titled "Too Old For Hip Surgery."
These videos and the WSJ article will at least give you some greater insight into what could happen when government is in total charge of controlling our healthcare and medical decisions.
If fact, if we think about it, What has our government done correctly to convince the American people that they should hand over our healthcare freedoms for them to control?
- National Debt? Two Billion dollars of interest accruing every 2 hours.
- Gas prices? 50% of every dollar at the pump goes to Washington, but, who does Washington point its fingers at when it discusses this problem?
- Katrina? American citizens held hostage in an overcrowded stadium. Buses never utilized to drive people to safety. Promises of water and food which never arrived. Parts of New Orleans still a disaster zone.
- Fannie Mae? Pseudo government entity that allows employees to still receive bonuses after its failure.
- Social security? Robbed for other expenditures. Underfunded and likely to run out of money.
- Medicaid? Robbed to pay for other expenditures. Underfunded and likely to run out of money.
- $2 trillion "Porkulus Maximus" Bill? The Bill that Congress admits they didn't read, but signed anyway.
- TARP? Billions of dollars unaccounted for because money was distributed with no oversight committee in place. Money that has a high probability of fraud. Portions still unaccounted for, even with an oversight committee.
"How will the government, once it tells 300 million people "go see the doctor pay everyone's medical bills?"
If you want to know what such a government endeavor will really cost the U.S. Tax Payer, please read the April 12, 2009 Wall Street Journal article entitled "The End of Private Health Insurance."
Real healthcare reform can be accomplished when the fraud and abuse is weeded out of our existing Federal and State entitlement programs via a legitimate needs assessment and when the quality and safety of healthcare is systematically improved.
Citizens must also do their part by becoming informed health insurance consumer and they must also learn how to become an advocate for themselves when important medical decisions are made. Additionally, American should carefully citizens the decision to trade health care choice for the temporary financial security that our government may promise.
In my opinion, we must continue to work diligently to improve our existing system and to keep the bulk of our nation's risk in the private health care sector where it belongs.