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Friday, August 17, 2007

I don't feel so good.

The idea of socialized medicine evokes the image of sickly soulless drones shuffling along a sooty, drab hallway, from office to office, getting the correct forms stamped by pasty soulless bureaucrats in the correct order at the correct place just in order to get a place in line to see the medical facility's pre-screening agent. Trudge, trudge, trudge. Stamp, stamp. "Citizen, Where is your authorization to receive authorization stamp on form 177/84.B ?" The horror!

Never mind that we have socialized medicine for anyone over 65. Socialized insurance for farmers. Socialized insurance for anyone along the Gulf and Florida coasts. Few complain about the freedom threatened by cost plus socialized risk for military contractors. Have a tornado hit your town? Socialism to the rescue! Earthquake? Commie do-gooders are on your doorstep in no time, taking away your freedom to die in the ruins or starve with your family. Surly the televangelists will rescue you after their share of hookers, mansions and Rolls-Royces are paid for.

If we were to just make everyone eligible for Medicare, and add a Value Added Tax to pay for the service, we would solve the medical crisis in the auto industry. I know VATs are regressive if not coupled with a rebate, but that can be handled by the IRS.

When the English established the National Health system, the prime minister at the time, when warned against the opposition of the Doctors, said "We shall stuff their mouths with gold". We don't have that option. The medical/pharm axis is too rich to buy, so we must offer them something the insurance companies can't. Protection from liability and greatly reduced paperwork. Medicare has nothing on Insurance companies when it comes to paperwork or bureaucracy. Make Medicare available, but optional at first. Businesses would move their employees to Medicare in a flash. Governmental employees and the military should be folded in almost immediately. Within five years only the super rich would have their own medical service, and that would be taxed out of existence in the first decade.

What we have now is the financial equivalent of selling fire insurance to people who's homes are on fire. If an uninsured person needs service they use our emergency rooms. Emergency rooms have become black holes of expense for hospitals and local government.

Call it single payer, call it socialized. Call it flood insurance. I don't care. What we have doesn't work, and Americans don't like things that don't work. I don't want to hear about tax breaks, savings schemes, or anything but government run health care for all. This is not the same thing as free ponies for all. There is little demand elasticity in medicine. When I'm needing health care, and the option is slow death, I get the health care. So do you.

1 comment:

Interrobang said...


Came over from Pharyngula.

I love my OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). I have had many millions of dollars' worth of expensive interventions, most of which I probably wouldn't have had under a pay-as-you-go system, not having the go to pay with myself. Not only that, but I probably would have bankrupted my parents on the way.

You might get comparatively better care if you have very very good insurance in the US, but in my experience, you'd also better be prepared to spend the time equivalent of a hefty part-time job making yourself a squeaky enough wheel to get it, and you'd better be prepared to pay out the nose for it, too.

I used to be engaged to a guy from Long Island who had very good insurance, and I watched the kind of rigamarole he had to go through to get his excellent care, for which he paid $750/month. At the time, that was almost half again what I was paying in rent...

I think we finance medicare out of general federal and provincial tax revenues, rather than out of a VAT of sorts.