We have three examples of government provided and managed healthcare in the United States – and none of them are good. In fact, there is a very telling consistency in their weaknesses. They include Medicare, Obamacare, and Veterans care. They are all extremely expensive — whether you pay or Uncle Sam pays (and then tucks the costs in your tax bill).
Democrat presidential candidates are offering a number of supposed solutions to medical healthcare in America. There are a lot of terms being thrown around – Medicare for All, single-payer, Medicare Option or an “improved” Obamacare – but they all avoid providing a lot of detail.
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There are two issues that need to be honestly explored when dealing with personal healthcare – the quality of coverage and the cost, which is divided by who pays what. For the most part, the plans being suggested by the candidates are political snake oil. They are full of impossible promises and have little or no connection to reality and, more importantly, past experiences – in America and in other countries.
Looking around the world, we see examples of the promise of healthcare for all. In such authoritarian states as China, Russia and North Korea, healthcare for all has resulted in extremely poor healthcare, crowded waiting rooms, long delays for serious surgery (if available at all) and the general quality of the technology is something you might have seen in America in the 1930s. There is a modicum of higher quality healthcare, but only for the small sliver of upper classes.
American left-wingers even point to Cuba as an example of working universal healthcare. It is unlikely that even the most complimentary of the Cuban system would actually want to be serviced by it. Again, Cuba operates a healthcare system about as old as the cars you see driving around Havana.
Even in nations described as democratic socialist (an oxymoron, to say the least), the level of service is inferior to the United States and people in those nations face long delays for even serious medical services. It is the reason why so many Canadians pay professional consultants to get them into the United States for treatment. Conversely, the number of Americans who intentionally travel to Canada to receive better medical care is essentially zero.
Medicare for All
Against that backdrop, let us consider the most encompassing proposal being advocated in the presidential campaigns – Medicare for All. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris and other Democrat candidates have said that they would hope to replace – as in eliminate, vanquish — all private insurance coverage with one national program that covers 100 percent of American citizens, non-American residents and even illegal aliens.
They have not explained whether the tens of thousands of people who come to America for medical treatment each year would be covered. It is not a stretch to argue that Medicare for All could essentially be worldwide coverage – as long as you come to get treatment in America. In view of the numbers who come here from all around the world for treatment – even heads-of-state — this is not a frivolous concern with a Sanders’ style nationalized health program.
Of course, the essential questions regarding such a grandiose proposal are … how much will it cost and is that cost even feasible? The common answer is “soak the rich” and stick it to the corporations. That is utter nonsense. Even if you impose some sort of confiscatory taxes on wealth – and suffer all the unintended and untoward consequences of killing off innovation, job creation and economic growth – the rich – even the super-rich – do not have enough money to cover the trillions of dollars in cost.
Skimming it off from corporate profits has two problems. The vast majority of businesses in America are not mega multinational corporations, but millions of small businesses run by the middle class – and where 80 percent of the jobs are produced. The second problem is that corporations do not pay taxes – as I keep trying to remind people. They pass that cost onto the consumer. So, any tax on corporations is a cost paid by consumers — essentially a regressive tax that hits the middle class and the poor the hardest.
Then there is the issue of the quality in healthcare that a person can anticipate if we have Medicare for All.
If the issue is expanding the current Medicare coverage to everyone – tied to the elimination of all private insurance, as some Democrat candidates propose – then America will create a dysfunctional healthcare system befitting third-world nations. Yes, it will be the same for everyone – universally terrible. I can make that assurance because I am on Medicare. It is lousy coverage. The co-pay is 20 percent – and many doctors and dentists will not accept Medicare patients because of price controls and slow pay.
What does this look like in real life? If I had to rely solely on Medicare, my personal burden would have been in excess of $100,000 at a time when I had a life-threatening health issue –albeit a totally fixable problem, thank God. Instead, I was responsible for a little over $5000 because I have private insurance coverage over the top of Medicare. And how much do I pay each month for this super coverage? Zero … as in no premium. Eliminate private healthcare and me and millions of Americans get screwed big time.
Some Democrats oppose Medicare for All that would end private insurance but would create a Medicate OPTION for All – meaning you could drop your private insurance for the government-run option. That may be the easiest scheme to dispense with. Only a fool would choose such a public option if they had a choice. Those unable to secure insurance would have to sign up for lower premiums but with higher – much higher – deductibles.
That is not theory, that is what essentially happened with the oversold Obamacare. When the mandate was still imposed, a young member of my family was forced to sign up for Obamacare. To get a plan he could afford at the time, he had to accept a $6000 deductible each year. That meant that he had to pay out-of-pocket for such things as a broken finger or a bout of flu.
That is why the crafters of Obamacare had to force the young folks into a plan they did not want and could not – for the most part – use. The idea was to confiscate the money needed to run the program from those least likely to benefit from it. They were all income and very little cost for Obamacare. In more rational times, we would call that a subsidy.
Affordable Care Act/Obamacare
Obamacare was doomed to fail and is doing so. It was unsustainable … period. It was enacted on a pile of lies and legislative chicanery. If you read the “Medicare Option” section above, you already know the problems. The only difference is with Obamacare, we have seen the failure. With the so-called Medicare Option, Democrats are peddling the same snake oil in a new bottle.
While many veterans get satisfactory care based on their limited needs, many receive very poor care. There have been endless news stories about the long waits and shoddy diagnoses. This is just another example that seems to prove that government is not capable of efficiently producing high-quality healthcare.
Private sector healthcare
In terms of healthcare, Democrats are inviting us to be suckers in the old everything-for-nothing political game. They want us to yet again try their latest brand of snake oil – socialism in a bottle. They claim that nations with so-called universal healthcare provide better medical services than the United States. If we should ever succumb to their enticement and enact one of these universal healthcare schemes, they will be correct. All those other countries WILL have better health services than we the people of America.
So, there ‘tis.