“The latest evidence that government can’t run a health care system can be found in our Northwest corner. There, the administrator of the Washington State Health Care Authority will decide this week how to throw 36,000 Washingtonians out of the government’s health insurance program…Anyone who believes a government-run system open to all won’t have rationing is naive, ignorant or dishonest. Rationing by bureaucracy is a trait of socialist health care systems everywhere.”
Medicine: It’s now or never, President Obama warned last week, for nationalizing health care. For the sake of all Americans, let’s hope it’s never.
Returning to Washington on Air Force One from a West Coast fundraising trip, Obama was overheard asking supporters to push Congress to pass legislation that will turn the U.S. health care system into one that looks much like those that are ruining lives in Canada or Great Britain.
“If we don’t get it done this year, we’re not going to get it done,” he said. “We’re going to need to mobilize all of you.”
America had better hope that Washington can’t get this done. When elected officials and bureaucrats give themselves the power to take over private activities, the results tend to be disastrous.
The latest evidence that government can’t run a health care system can be found in our Northwest corner. There, the administrator of the Washington State Health Care Authority will decide this week how to throw 36,000 Washingtonians out of the government’s health insurance program that subsidizes the working poor.
The agency is looking at five options that will slash program participants from 100,000 to 64,000 due to the state’s knotty budget problems. One possibility is a lottery. Other options include purging the rolls of those who’ve been in the system the longest and lowering the income level at which participants become eligible. Making the situation even more dire is the fact that there are 25,000 applicants waiting to be enrolled.
Anyone who believes a government-run system open to all won’t have rationing is naive, ignorant or dishonest. Rationing by bureaucracy is a trait of socialist health care systems everywhere.
It can’t be helped. The demand for health care when it is “free” and open to all places a strain on the system it cannot bear. When people don’t have to pay for health care directly from their pockets, they will overuse the system. With no financial disincentives to hold them back, they will visit emergency rooms and doctor’s offices with conditions so mild they wouldn’t seek treatment for them if they had to pay or were billed at the time of service.
The high demand requires the custodians of the system to ration care. There aren’t enough medical care professionals and money to take care of the hordes who are asking for treatment.
Some socialist systems survive, and even appear to be sound — at least for a while. But they are ultimately unsustainable. Dangerous and sometimes deadly wait times in Great Britain, Canada and Sweden are typical of government-run health care.
While Swedish medicine is among the finest in the world, obtaining it has become a problem. Health Consumer Powerhouse’s Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2008 said that Sweden’s system is “really bad (and worsening!) at accessibility and service.”
With Swedes already paying more than half their incomes in taxes to support the welfare state (the care is hardly free), that country’s health care system is headed for collapse just as the U.S. Social Security and Medicare programs are on track for their own train wrecks.
As public awareness of the failures of socialist medicine grows, we expect those who have been demanding a national or single-payer system will move on to France as the model we should follow.
But France’s system, which is funded by a mix of public (80%) and private (20%) financing, is more like America’s than Britain’s. It’s akin to Medicare for everybody with co-payments ranging from 10% to 40%. And it’s expensive. The government has had to hike taxes in recent years to try to keep up with the public financing part of the system, which has been running deficits since 1985.
No country is going to solve its health care issues until government gets out of the business. People should be left free to sort out their medical problems for themselves without the state forcing them into a system they’d rather not be in or taxing them to pay for treatment used on others. When the options are now or never for national health care, never is the way to go.