Laboratories of Failure

Another fine column pointing out the absurdity not only of our current health care system but the flaws in one of the most common arguments in favor of keeping it.

This is a consistent theme among opponents of universal care. They act like universal care is some crazy utopian fantasy like communism that has no realistic prospect of working and has failed miserably whenever tried. They never acknowledge the fact we are the outliers, that every other first world country has long since moved to a system of universal care and that there are now a multitude of different, fully-functioning systems out there for us to choose from. In other words, we’re well past the experimental stage. It’s like mocking someone’s idea for a “flying machine” in, say, 1954 (“when that contraption crashes it will prove to the world that man was never meant to fly!”).

I thought this comment also explained quite nicely one of the reasons we haven’t made any serious progress on this issue, despite the majority of Americans haing the current system:

Under a socialist health care system, the government hires all the doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The government owns and runs all the clinics, hospitals, ambulance services — the whole enchilada.

Anyone who thinks that system is absolutely no good better be prepared to explain why presidents, Cabinet members, 535 members of Congress and the whole sprawling U.S. military find it overall satisfactory or better. Because that’s exactly the health care system those Americans have.

In other words, the politicians already have the best system in the world. So they have no pressing need to fix ours.

Because, after all, they got theirs. Screw everyone else.

Although that’s not even the system folks are really clamoring for.

What folks on the left want is a single-payer, universal health insurance system, with the federal government doing the honors. So, consumers get the coverage they need at a price they can afford for care from whomever they choose to get care from.

Businesses get relieved of the burden of co-funding expensive insurance plans. They also will be relieved of the temptation to push 59-year-old Marge, who’s already had a lumpectomy, into an early and meager retirement because she (and other less than completely healthy older workers) will run up the premiums for the whole company if they’re kept on the payroll.

Well. That does sound radical.

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About the other scott peterson

Writer of comics and books and stuff.
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4 Responses to Laboratories of Failure

  1. Hilary says:

    Written by someone who doesn’t live in a country with a socialized healthcare system ;-). Believe me, with people dying on waiting lists for operations, six-month waits for specialist referrals and drugs whose availability is determined by a patient’s ZIP CODE, we in the UK are praying for a system like the American one.

  2. scott says:

    I’m sorry, Hilary, but I’m going to be very blunt: I do not believe you. I do not believe you’re from the UK. Hell, I don’t even believe HIlary’s your real name. I believe you’re simply a paid shill for the current health care system.
    To be fair, however, I don’t actually know that. It could be you’re shilling for this immoral system for free.
    ‘Cuz here’s the thing: we have six-month waits for specialists here too. I can tell you that from first-hand experience, since two of my kids have had to wait that long more than once. As in about a dozen times. As in, we’re still waiting for appointments for my son right now. Going on four months. And counting.
    For that matter, sometimes you don’t have a six-month wait. Sometimes the insurance company–to which you pay incredible amounts of money–simply tells you you can’t see a specialist. A six-month wait starts to look pretty damn good compared to Never.
    A six-month wait to see a specialist. For pete’s sake, call a doctor here for a simple non-emergency check-up and you’re likely to have to wait three months. That’s just standard.
    Here’s a lovely, lovely story about a little boy here in our great nation:

    Three months ago a homeless seventh grader in Prince George’s County, Maryland, died because his mother could not find a dentist who would do an $80 tooth extraction. Deamonte Driver, 12, eventually was given medicine at a hospital emergency room for headaches, sinusitis and a dental abscess.
    The child was sent home, but his distress only grew. It turned out that bacteria from the abscessed tooth had spread to his brain. A pair of operations and eight subsequent weeks of treatment, which cost more than a quarter of a million dollars, could not save him. He died on Feb. 25.

    There is no system in the western world worse than ours. Our care is generally top-notch (although judging from our infant mortality rate, not The Best), but our system is immoral and financially wasteful. There is no excuse for it, except to make the rich richer.

  3. Hilary says:

    Ouch! I’m actually just a regular person who reads (and enjoys!) both yours and your wife’s (several) blogs (I came here from one of hers) and I do happen to be from the UK! I spent several years in the States and honestly, your system was PARADISICAL compared to what we have here. While the story you post is undoubtedly tragic – and OBVIOUSLY – should never have happened, we read the same type of thing in our papers every single week. In fact, where I live, there IS no NHS dental treatment. They simply can’t get the staff. (please see link for more articles http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1254)
    I realise through reading both of your blogs that your family is more than familiar with your healthcare system, and is obviously much better qualified than I am to talk about it. I have to say, though, that I never experienced anything but top-level service while I was there, whether it was seeing specialists (I was referred within a week for a serious concern), ER visits or regular checkups. Heck – we don’t even have regular (or non-emergency) checkups here – no male in my family has ever had a prostate exam or seen a urologist. There just isn’t the money in the system. If you have an email address, I’d be happy to contact you to try to smooth over any problems my comment may have caused – and to prove to you that I’m a real person who simply felt moved to comment on something I feel strongly about! (Believe me, I’d love to be paid to post things on people’s blogs ;-)).

  4. scott says:

    Hilary–
    I apologize whole-heartedly and without reservation.
    As I said, our care in this country does tend to be top-notch, so I’ll certainly agree with you there. However, we spend roughly twice as much per person on our care as you do over thar. One of the problems we have with fixing our system, however, is that whenever the topic is brought up, paid representatives of the reprehensible insurance industry immediately begin shouting “waiting times! Waiting times!”
    Which isn’t to say that other countries don’t have such things, as you yourself can clearly attest. It’s that we have waiting times too. Yet somehow they never mention that part.
    Neither I nor, as far as I know, anyone thinks the UK’s or Canada’s or France’s or Germany’s system is perfect. But they’re certainly better than ours, at least in many respects, whilst being significantly cheaper—in some cases, half as much. And they cover everyone, whereas we have 40,000,000 folks without health insurance, many of them children. So right now we’d be much better off looking at other systems and seeing what works and what doesn’t, as opposed to simply saying that ours is fine. ‘Cuz it ain’t.
    It’s like the major bridge collapse we had over here recently—did you hear about that? If we were to approach that problem the way we approach health care, we’d point out that bridges collapse elsewhere too, so…oh well. What are you gonna go? And then make sure the richest of the rich had their own bridges.
    Thanks for writing, and for being so understanding with my crankitude. 🙂

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