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RE : U.S. Health care debate

 

After spending some time watching some news clips, reading some articles, and listening to people debate health care... there's one thing i just don't understand. If there are any socially conservative people here, (I know MTLskyline is fiscally conservative but not sure about social issues) I'd love to hear and try to understand your rationalization. I sincerely mean that. I'm not here to provoke debate, i just want to understand an opposing view point.

 

I don't understand how sidewalks, electricity and roads are deemed acceptable publicly funded services, yet human health care is not.

 

If life is so sacred, and the sanctity of life is so important that a woman cannot have the right to choose, then why is it wrong to acknowledge life as a basic right and grant health care to everyone?

 

People that can't afford health insurance are permitted to suffer and die, by no fault of their own... their lives are meaningless. Yet a newly fertilized egg is sacred?

 

To me, this seems outrageously hypocritical and appallingly unethical.

Edited by Cataclaw

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Capitalism and Christianity are strange bedfellows, there is no doubt about it. Only in America could two radically different worldviews combine into one common entity: the conservative. Having said that, not every conservative is completely alike, and not every conservative has the same views on every subject. I am conservative on almost all fiscal issues, and I am conservative on a good portion of social issues. By Canadian standards, I'm not Canadian at all.

 

In America, it is clear that they do many things well. The system is the best in the world... if you can afford it. As a matter of fact, a growing number of wealthier Canadians seek treatment south of the border. I probably would too if I was told a wait time for a particular problem was going to take close to a year as it does for some people.

 

On this side of the border, Greenfield Park native Steven Crowder has a documentary on Youtube about Canadian health care (for an American audience) and visits Charles-LeMoyne Hospital in the process:

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John Stossel, formerly of 20/20, has an interesting clip comparing Canadian to American healthcare:

 

However, I am not my pure capitalist self on health care access. The Bible proclaims we are all equal. If conservatives believe in the equality of opportunity, what about health care? I originally took a typical hardline position on the issue of healthcare: a national US health care system will cost trillions of dollars, will be inefficient, and will result in an overall poorer quality of health.

 

However, I changed my mind upon watching an excellent documentary on PBS a few months ago. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/

 

The documentary concludes that the solution could be Taiwanese-style health care (and you'll know that Taiwan is a very conservative country if you've studied its history!). It definitely seems intriguing, as they have the lowest-cost health care system in the world, without the wait times Canada has. And, yes, it is both government run and efficient. Quite the surprise! Canada has a thing or two to learn as well!

Edited by MTLskyline

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Thanks for the interesting links!

 

The John Stossel one is exactly as i expected from the moment i pushed play... he presents a highly critical (and i think exaggerated) picture of our health care system. As a libertarian/conservative, it isn't surprising that he'd rail against any kind of government role in health care.

 

Although his points are valid, i think he's examining one small facet of the bigger picture.

 

As for the PBS vids... very interesting! Taiwan's system is indeed quite alluring.

 

I do think a bit of free market wouldn't hurt our system. Since the critical drawback in our system is the long waiting times for elective care, i'd be (and i've always been) in favor of authorizing private clinics and hospitals. They will charge you, but if you absolutely want that elective care now and don't want to wait 6 months, you can get it. By not using the public system, the government can partially subsidize your private care, but it'll still cost you a lot. This is the adjustment i'd make to our own system.

 

 

 

But anyway... back to the original point, i still don't understand how so many view a newly fertilized egg as sacred, yet a person can be left to die without health care and that's just fine. I was raised a Catholic from two deeply religious parents and Christian teachings are just opposite of this... so i just don't get it.

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Thanks for the interesting links!

 

The John Stossel one is exactly as i expected from the moment i pushed play... he presents a highly critical (and i think exaggerated) picture of our health care system. As a libertarian/conservative, it isn't surprising that he'd rail against any kind of government role in health care.

 

Although his points are valid, i think he's examining one small facet of the bigger picture.

John Stossel is an excellent investigative journalist. He presents the faults of the Canadian system fairly well, IMO. The main fault with our system? Wait times and not enough family doctors! Neither are problems in the US. Then again, a public option is necessary in the United States. There will always be people who can't pay for a basic right such as health care. Health care is not a luxury (the speed of service is though), and everyone has a right to treatment no matter what.

 

As for the PBS vids... very interesting! Taiwan's system is indeed quite alluring.

I do like their system, but a public-only system would never fly in the US. If Canada rejected any private foray into our system, I think we should study the Taiwanese system and perhaps copy it, seeing as they have about 2/3 our population and were able to implement government run insurance fairly well.

 

I do think a bit of free market wouldn't hurt our system. Since the critical drawback in our system is the long waiting times for elective care, i'd be (and i've always been) in favor of authorizing private clinics and hospitals. They will charge you, but if you absolutely want that elective care now and don't want to wait 6 months, you can get it. By not using the public system, the government can partially subsidize your private care, but it'll still cost you a lot. This is the adjustment i'd make to our own system.

I agree 100%. It is clear that neither all public or all private works that well. Democrats in the US and Conservatives in Canada essentially want a middle ground of two-tier health care. Quebec is leading the way in this domain. For certain routine operations, it is much better to go private if you can pony up the cash. Various people I know have paid a few thousand dollars and go private to skip the lineups (and avoid the risks) in a public hospital and have been very satisfied with the results. Another plus is that it removes many people out of our overcrowded hospitals.

 

 

But anyway... back to the original point, i still don't understand how so many view a newly fertilized egg as sacred, yet a person can be left to die without health care and that's just fine. I was raised a Catholic from two deeply religious parents and Christian teachings are just opposite of this... so i just don't get it.

Well that is a myth about the American system. They never leave anyone to die. If you need treatment, you'll be treated. You just get stuck with a very large amount of debt afterwards. Of course, it's unfortunate that people who can't afford it become tens of thousands of dollars in debt on account of their health. Yet, it's important to note that poor people can get some degree of treatment in most situations. That said, there are people who don't seek health care because of the cost as well.

 

The fear of any national health care largely stems from horror stories about Canadian healthcare. Our system is not perfect either, and it has a few faults that the American system does not have. It is a scary thing to think that you'll have to wait 6 months to get a hip replaced for instance, particularly for people who can afford health insurance! It is largely viewed as a decrease in quality of service, and an increase in taxes to bloated social welfare state levels. But government-subsidized health insurance is the only way the poor will be able to get treatment without getting poorer. I'm all for a private option in Canada, but I also think America needs a public safety net for the less fortunate (U.S. citizens only unless it's an emergency!).

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Interesting... your position is surprisingly close to mine!

 

I'm impressed by your moderate standpoint on health care. I stray from the left myself on this issue. We sort of meet at the center on this issue.

 

Anyway, about the last point: i do know that the emergency room will always care for you, even if you have no health insurance... but... if you have a chronic disease, for example, it's a different story. Nobody will force you to take medication for your chronic illness, and if you can't afford that medication, you might die -- whether you get E.R. access or not.

 

In the end, i think Canada and the U.S. could learn something from each other. A public option in the states would be very helpful, and a little dose of privatization in Canada might alleviate some of our problems as well.

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Cataclaw, your initial question is a valid one. However, I would ask the opposite question: what's so wrong about a free-market approach? The current health care system in the US is not really a free-market approach (highly regulated) and is expensive for a least three reasons:

1. Ludicrous lawsuits raising doctor's fees and making them take more expensive preventative measures to protect themselves.

2. A big portion of the rest of the world has government healthcare, US citizens are therefore subsidizing medical research for the rest of the world.

3. Millions (maybe 50 or so) of people that live off the system, going to the hospital and never paying their bills, are making the cost for others all that much higher.

 

What's nice about a free-market approach is that, just like moving up from a Toyota to a Lexus, you can choose to have a better service just like you can choose the opposite to save money. It makes no sense to me that people like, say, Céline Dion, has to go stand in line at a hospital when she is willing and able to spend millions throughout her life to get the most luxurious health-care. She obviously does not get her health care in Canada because of that reason. This lost money could have been going into the pockets of locals, charities, research, etc. Instead, it is going into pockets of americans.

 

Another point is that, having worked as a unionized white collar government bureaucrat, I know how the system works. Numbers are fudged, hours are put onto different project codes when we run out, work is constantly done to make it appear like government work is cheaper than hiring a private company. It is so bad that one day, maybe I'll write a book about all the techniques used, it's insane. There's also an extreme case of lack of accountability for whatever screw-ups. When you don't have anyone to fire for screwing up, when there's never any accountability, employees get careless whether it's with people's lives of simply with customer service.

 

Having health care for everyone sounds good and sounds right. However, there's more to it than just that. I believe in personal responsibility and that applies in successes and failures. If an american doesn't get insurance, he's playing with fire. If something happens he risks getting a huge bill and never seeing the end of it. Even though there is low-cost catastrophic health insurance in the US, plenty of people decide to not get even that, even when they can afford it. Just like with GM, AIG, and others, you have to be allowed to fail or else you don't learn and you keep making the same mistakes over and over. It's called moral hazard. When I was in school, some people got As and some got Fs. If it's normal for people to pay for those who don't work, why don't we apply the same with school marks. Of course that makes no sense. If I worked my ass off to get an A in a certain class, it would be unfair for the school to give me a C instead of an A and have the F-student get a C as well. Why doesn't that apply to other aspects of life as well?

 

Finally, if the current US system (the one before this morning vote) were a real free-market approach and wasn't so regulated by the states, it would be cheaper and people could afford even more coverage. The fact is that when you buy something, certainly something expensive, you shop around to find the best balance of price and quality for you. For example, if I needed to get an x-ray done in Canada, I go to the closest place and never see the cost. We'll say that, for this example, the cost is 100$. If I were to live in an area with a free-market health care system, since it was my money, I would shop around and would probably find the x-ray for 40$. There would be many competing companies offering x-rays and I would be much better served. If the 40$ place didn't offer good service (they hurt me while doing the x-ray, or they make me wait 2 weeks instead of instant results elsewhere), then I would choose to pay more. For this reason (partly), government health care is always more expensive. Right now in Canada, we all have the same crappy service and our freedom to shop around and find a better service is impossible. If I were rich enough, I could go to the US at least, but who knows for how long?

 

The following are suggestions for what I think would make an ideal health care system:

- A private system would be put in place with or without a public system

- Individuals pay nothing for the government health care system but instead have health insurance that covers the costs of incidents, just like with car insurance. Once you pass your deductible amount for the year, the insurance kicks in the rest.

- A medical savings account is created in your name and the money you spend is your money therefore you have an incentive to not waste it (when you don't pay, like our canadian system, there's no incentive to save money or to not go to the emergency room when you have an unimportant problem)

- Medical cost become deductible on your income tax

 

In the end, it is fairly clear that government health care (and other services), although it covers everyone and is 'equal', is of lower quality and costs way more (all combined). Because of unions, employee costs are high, bureaucracy is heavy, efficiency is low, quality is low and choice is inexistent. Why would anyone want this kind of system?

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Wait times and not enough family doctors! Neither are problems in the US.

 

Don't know about family doctors but for wait times, it is not true. If you don't have insurance and you have to go through medicare/medicaid, you'll wait in the U.S.

 

2. A big portion of the rest of the world has government healthcare, US citizens are therefore subsidizing medical research for the rest of the world.

 

Libertarians like to say this but I found little evidence of this. Medical research and delivery are two different things and while it is true that the U.S. does a lot of research and that the whole world benefits, I haven't seen any evidence stating that if you change the delivery system, that research would stop. Drug companies and universities will still do the same amount of research whether there's a public/private/whatever system.

One large part of the costs is also admin fees; in the one payer system, there are no "arguing" between insurer and providers, there is one set of "form" and procedures to get payment. There is a lot of savings to be had there (15% according to some studies).

 

As people getting treatment or not; yes, in the U.S., if you are critically ill or wounded, you will get treated anywhere. However, if you have any kind of chronic condition, tough luck, until it gets worse. That's the precise benefit of universal coverage; chronic diseases are dealt with earlier because the risk (and premium) are distributed amongst a larger number of people. However, I suspect this is where the conservatives/libertarians have a problem; they don't want to pay for medical care for anyone else but themselves.

In theory, a medical savings account is a good idea. In practice, it is not enough precisely because of the chronic conditions (i.e. no one can ever save enough to cover the bills if they end up in that situation).

 

Bottom line though is that the U.S. is the only first world country without universal coverage (hell, even Hong Kong, which is a lot freer economically, has universal health care). And it is the most expensive health delivery system in the world.

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I am fully aware that our Health care system has it's faults, however from my personal experience, I am glad we have it. Back in 2000, i needed some minor surgery, and from the moment the doctor told me i'd need the surgery, I was at Charles Lemoyne hospital 3 1/2 weeks later and my surgery was done. I had no complaints about the treatment and the speed at which I was taken care of!

 

These videos are just made by conservatives to scare americans into thinking that there would be "death panels" deciding who would live or die...it's soo silly, it's laughable!

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These videos are just made by conservatives to scare americans into thinking that there would be "death panels" deciding who would live or die...it's soo silly, it's laughable!

 

Well then, if there aren't any 'death panels', how is it that my uncle isn't getting treated for his cancer because he's not 'worth it'. To me, that's a death panel. There's no way that would've happened in the US because when you pay, you get served.

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Well then, if there aren't any 'death panels', how is it that my uncle isn't getting treated for his cancer because he's not 'worth it'. To me, that's a death panel. There's no way that would've happened in the US because when you pay, you get served.

 

So, I'm assuming that his family is sending him to the U.S. for treatments?

How much will it be and how much does it expand his lifespan by?

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