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Should government guarantee health insurance for all?

March 23, 2007

Yes: 64%

No: 27%

How could this be clearer? Why is this not a major campaign theme among all Democratic presidential hopefuls?

H/T to LeisureGuy (shaving guru and all around good guy).

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  1. So because a majority of people favor it, that makes it good policy?


  2. No, it’s a good policy quite independent of that fact. But the poll numbers mean it’s going to happen. Soon. Thank goodness.


  3. The more involved the government becomes, the more “universal health care”, the more we become like canada where it takes 6 months to get an appointment. If we guarantee it for everyone, we will ultimately sacrifice quality.


  4. Lisa, there are plenty of countries with universal health care besides Canada–most of them, if I’m not mistaken–and many of them do a better job than Canada does.

    And why don’t you believe in us? We’re the United States. If we can’t do something bigger, better, more efficiently than Canada, well, we should be forced to turn in our stripes.


  5. Oh, heavens! I believe in us! I just don’t think we need the government to do it. Read “Redefining Health Care” by Michael Porter. I swear to you, it is very possible for everyone to have a health plan without the government becoming move involved.


  6. Read a book? LOOK AROUND! Look at every other country on earth and how they’re solving this problem!


  7. Why is this not a major campaign theme among all Democratic presidential hopefuls?

    But, but, but…. With the exception of Iraq, universal health care is the campaign theme of every Democratic presidential hopeful.

    John Edwards was the first to propose a very good and quite detailed plan, that emphasizes community rating and individual mandates, and that doesn’t shy away from pointing out the taxes needed to fund it.

    Barack Obama launched his campaign by promising universal health care by the end of his first term.

    And Hillary Clinton’s signature domestic issue is universal health care. She’s talking about building a consensus for change, and has the weakest argument of the three.

    I’d bet even money that, with a Democratic House, a Democratic president, and a Democratic Senate (not filibuster-proof, but much better than 51-49), we’ll have universal health care within three years.

    (I tried posting this with the appropriate links, but I think it triggered a spam threshhold.)


  8. And today Senator Clinton came out in favor of community rating at the Nevada Health Care Forum, where incidentally, every Democratic candidate was speaking.


  9. I stand corrected!


  10. I love how everyone is quick to point out Canada’s flaws, but what about the UK? Other EU countries?

    -A


  11. Well, I lived in England for 3 years, from 1988 to 1991. While their healthcare system is far from perfect, I would pick it over ours without hesitation. Our lack of universal healthcare is crippling our country. It’s not just a function of the people who don’t get health insurance, or are underinsured. The necessity of having insurance is constraining the initiative of so many creative and energetic people. We’d have so many more small businesses and so many more jobs if we didn’t have to worry about the heavy burden of sky-rocketing health insurance premiums. I think this is a bi-partisan issue, one every candidate should embrace!


  12. I couldn’t agree more.


  13. Since most of you seem so bent of Government health care, Please, pay my share of the tax increase it’ll take. I figure, between the taxes taken out of my paycheck, as well as sales, gas, etc, I pay in the neighborhood of 40-45% in taxes. How much is enough for you? Don’t give me any tripe about how the Feds can do it better. Look at how they treat vets, you think they’ll treat you better? Look at what welfare, medicare and medicade cost!


  14. Well, Billiam, what I’m wondering is what you’ll do with all the extra cash. I mean every country with nationalized health care pays less than what we pay. Every. Single. One. How much less? HALF. They pay on average half of what we pay. And the second runner up isn’t even all that close.

    So what’s the difference if you pay for your health insurance out of your paycheck directly to the government, or if you pay it in premiums to private insurers plus the lost wages of your employers share? The only differnece I see is that our way costs double.

    So what’s your plan for the extra cash?


  15. What does for all mean?

    Do we have to provide Government Health Insurance for the wealthy?

    Do we have to provide it for the self employed businessman who can more than pay for it himself? For young teenagers going to High School that normally get health insurance as a dependant in the current HMO system?

    Are we going to skyrocket taxes and balloon the size of government for this effort?

    Are we just merely handing power to the Government away from the individual American Citizen?

    And is anyone considering that this POLL is broken?
    The Poll just leaves you with a question… It doesn’t bother to address all of the known issues which are a result of Government Universal Health care. It’s not as simple as the question leads people to believe. It’s not “Wake up one morning and you can now get rid of Health Alliance Plan for Federal Mandated Health Insurance, keep all of the same benefits as you had before, see the same doctors, and life goes on.”


  16. Yes, I suppose everyone means everyone. I fail to see the problem in this. In fact, it’s the whole point.

    Yes, you’ll see an increase in taxes. But I figure that it will be less than what we’re currently paying in insurance premiums, don’t you figure? I mean if you factor in employee and employer contributions to private insurance premiums, I’m betting a nationalized health care tax would be less. Maybe a lot less.

    Am I wrong? I keep looking at every other country and seeing how they pay so much less than we do. When I see that I find it hard to get alarmed about the tax increase. Whether it goes to the government or goes to the insurance company, i’ll take the one that costs less and does more. Which will you choose?


  17. “Well, Billiam, what I’m wondering is what you’ll do with all the extra cash. I mean every country with nationalized health care pays less than what we pay.”

    We also consume the most healthcare of any country, and the first runner-up isn’t even close. Not. Even. Close. I see no reason why we would stop consuming healthcare if you changed who the payor was. But whatever, you may be right, you may be wrong. I think some form of universal healthcare is inevitable in this country. We’ll see then how well it works. As far as the difference between what we would pay in taxes versus insurance premiums, as one of the most productive members of society who is also very healthy, I’d guess government would tax me more than my insurance company would charge me for a premium. Afterall, insurance companies quote premiums based on health, government charges taxes based on income. Do you have any data to suggest I’m wrong on that?


  18. Everyone thinks they can build a better mouse trap. That’s what Socialized Med is. A mouse trap. You say we’ll pay less. Color me doubtful. Where Government is involved, you always get less than what you pay for. Price controlsare a bad thing in this case. And we ALL will pay for it in the end. This will not be a good thing. Remember I said that. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. Will you? Of course, by then, it’ll be too late. Once the Government gets that kind of power over our lives, they’ll never relinquish it. Do I sound like I don’t trust these Bozo’s. You got it. I also don’t trust anyone WILLING to give them that power.


  19. Jesus, let’s say for the moment that you’re right. Let’s say that it costs less to insure you (being healthy and young) under the private system than it would under the government system. (A point I by no means concede.) If that were true doesn’t that mean that you’re paying those low, low premiums on the backs of the millions going without and the many millions more who struggle to pay their premiums? There’s a social justice issue at play here that your supposition brings to light. Specifically, it is wrong to have a system wherein the best health care in the world is provided to some, while others get substandard care.

    Health care is not a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. As a society we cannot be satisfied with a small number driving Ferraris, the middle driving Yugos, and the tail end hitchhiking. That’s fine for automobiles, but not for health. It’s wrong.

    But since we pay literally double what everyone else pays, I think there’s plenty of wiggle room in there for us to cover everyone comprehensively and to have everyone – even the young and the healthy – than they currently pay now.


  20. Billiam, I can’t promise that the coming national health care system will be perfect, or that you’ll like it personally. But I have every reason to believe that it will be more affordable and more just than the one we have now. And I further predict that it will help our economy grow like crazy.

    I hear you when you say you don’t trust. Hear this: I don’t trust anyone who can look at the entire civilized world and conclude that our system is better than theirs. It’s not your motives that concern me; I believe your heart is in the right place. But your reasoning is highly suspect, and seems to consist of 10 parts anti-government ideology and 0 parts reality.


  21. I wasn’t trying to refute your whole argument Scott. Just that little bit of bullshit about how one person in particular (Billiam in this case) should think about what he will do with all of the extra money he’d have in this situation when you have no way of knowing whether or not that would be true in his case. Your answer, that I (or Billiam or whoever) should pay more because a system wherein I’m morally responsible for paying for other people’s healthcareis better, is different than it being better because it would cost me less money.

    I just think it would be nice if you stuck to what you know about single-payer health care systems instead of spouting all this speculative crap. Like, when you suggest that other countries pay half what we pay, you should give the full story. You can say “other coutnries pay less than we do” but you should add something like “granted, we consume far more healthcare and the cost to some individuals would be lower in the current system. But in my (Scott’s)opinion the cost would still be somewhat less for the whole population even if we continue to consume the most healthcare, and it is the responsibility of the most productive members of society to shoulder some of the burden for the least productive members of society because heathcare is a right blah blah blah…”


  22. I’m in favor of universal health care to increase the risk pool and drastically reduce the rates. Likewise, federal law would also have to override each states insurance laws so the plan could be applied consistently.

    I also agree with Billiam that the government will totally screw it up. Based on past history and behavior, I firmly believe that our government is NOT a good example of efficiency, cost control and effective organization over the private sector and will (for example) divert any surplus for shortfalls elsewhere. Just because Europe may have it right with health care (debatable), does not mean that politics will override the model over time. Just look at the social security debacle from it’s original inception and intent till now. I also site Medicare as one of the most wasteful and messed up programs having dealt with this program for my mother and mother-in-law over the last ten years.

    Socialized health care is not the solution. We should not model ourselves after Europe, which is economic decline based on their socialized laws. Unemployment is high in many European countries. They are struggling to compete in the world economy and are beginning to rethink many of their social programs and labor laws which hamstring their productivity and economic growth. Let’s not go down that same road. I know it’s hard for the left not to think as the government as the savior of all social ills, but having our government oversee an important part of my life is scary, regardless of the perceived cost benefit.


  23. when you suggest that other countries pay half what we pay, you should give the full story. You can say “other coutnries pay less than we do” but you should add something like “granted, we consume far more healthcare and the cost to some individuals would be lower in the current system. But in my (Scott’s)opinion the cost would still be somewhat less for the whole population even if we continue to consume the most healthcare, and it is the responsibility of the most productive members of society to shoulder some of the burden for the least productive members of society because heathcare is a right blah blah blah…”

    I’m not familiar with your assertion that we consume far more care than other countries do. So that’s why I don’t make that assertion myself. And I do not believe that the cost of care would be higher for some of us under a nationalized system. That’s why I don’t say that. (I merely supposed it would for the sake of argument above.) You got this part right, though: I do believe it is our responsibility to share the cost of health care. That’s kind of what insurance is.

    And Bill, if our government totally “screws it up” I bet it’ll be because of the anti-government conservatives some of us keep electing who will actively sabotage the entire effort from day one, not because the principle is unsound. The principle is quite proven. And your warnings about the economies of Europe really don’t frighten me all that much. Some of them have high unemployment, some of them don’t. Some of these countries have a higher standard of living than we do, some don’t. But one thing we can say for sure: we have a health care system that fails to provide insurance to all citizens and at the same time cripples our economy – none of them do.

    Besides which, having nationalized health insurance is hardly going to make us France or Norway. We differ from them in a whole range of social and economic policies, only one of which is health care.


  24. It does look as though universal health insurance will indeed be a part of the next Democratic platform. Take a look.

    And here are a couple of book recommendations to help people understand why this is coming.


  25. And, just to add to the discussion, look where the US ranks with respect to infant mortality and life expectancy—and which countries are better than the US in these measures.


  26. Leisureguy – I can’t speak for infant mortality, but health care is only one factor in life expectancy. Heart disease and cancer are the biggest killers related to health care in this country. Compare diet, average weight, stress and exercise factors with those countries. The best health care in the world won’t help if you continue an unhealthy life style. Many in this country are overweight, out of shape, smoke and continually consume diets that contribute to the above killers. Do you think our unhealthy 20 to 40 somethings and our growing portion of aging boomers is contributing to the highest health care spending and lower life expectancy? Could the stress factors associated with having the highest productivity in world be related to US life expectancy?

    Since Scott believes the government should intervene as the great social protector and equalizer, maybe more laws or taxes against smoking, being overweight, fast food and mandatory exercise programs should be enacted. How much would this positively affect the cost of health care in this country as well as life expectancy? I know it sounds ridiculous, but wouldn’t you sacrifice a little individual freedom to unburden the health care system to provide better and less expensive health care through a government mandated, healthier population? It’s about as ridiculous as having the government run the health care system and expect top notch services, choices and medical freedom.


  27. Tax being overweight? No, I don’t think so. You seem to think just because I want the government to provide health insurance that it means I want the government to mandate healthy lifestyles. That logic just doesn’t follow, Bill.

    And expecting top-knotch medical services when the bill is being paid through your taxes isn’t really that ridiculous.


  28. My two cents here. I work at a hospital and look at medical paperwork all day. What I’ve discovered (which is relatively common knowledge) is that if we actually spent money on preventative care (something that should happen with some sort of universal health care) we would be spending a lot less on medical care total.

    SOOOOO many people come into the ER for things that could be treated in urgent care or thing that could have been prevented. SOOOO many people are treated in the ER for mental health problems (that should have ongoing care, most of these people aren’t doing financially well for some reason, oh yeah, they mentally ill), and SOOO many people come in because of drug/alchohal issues that SHOULD be being dealt with before they get to the ER. The goverment is already paying all these outrageously high bills through the GAMP program, so lets set up the system better, can we? Pretty please?

    We are not doing things well here, and we need to change. I think Europe has plenty of good models on how to do this, and do it effectively. At the same time we as a nation should be focusing on preventive medicine, and our lifestyles which cause us to be unhealthy; high stress, bad diets, and lack of excersise. OH, and bad driving!


  29. Liesureguy,
    What’s interesting is that the infant mortality rate in the countries you mention is better than that of the richest 2% of Americans. The average lifespan of the that same group is lower too. And you’d be hard pressed to argue that the richest 2% or Amricans don’t have the best healthcare in the world. There are obviously other factors at work. One is that American women use more fertility procedure which can lead to older mothers, premature babies, more twins and triplets (lower birthweights) etc. Another is that we’re fat-asses.


  30. Be that as it may, at the very least we can assume that our outrageously expensive and (supposedly) best health care in the world isn’t counteracting our penchant for McDonalds.


  31. Just how many times do nations have to put the “toe in the waters” of socialism and fail. Hell- look at Canada, England, and European nation! Look where others come for good health care.


  32. Bill S, Sara has already said what I would have said: the problem with our current system is that people put off going to the doctor as long as they can, and doctors don’t have time or incentive to work with patients on an on-going basis to help them with preventive care: making sure their weight remains good, that they are encouraged to exercise, etc.

    And, before the GOP decided to wreck it (as they have wrecked so many Federal agencies—FEMA, anyone?), the VA system was giving the best care in the country. But the GOP put in charge of it the former head of the Republican National Committee—who basically knows nothing of the job.


  33. Oh, and read this post and also the linked article in the LA Times. It will show how the current “system” is rapidly falling apart.


  34. Leisureguy – I agree with much of LA Times article. I was a covered under a professional pan until 2006 when that professional organization severely cut back existing member benefits, raised the rates 250% and refused new memberships. The expenses for the CIGNA underwriter were greater than the premiums. One issue I have concerns the rules from to state defining “group”. In Wisconsin, for example, small companies (50 or less employees) that try to ban together to form a bigger insurance group and attempt to reduce rates will not be unwritten by the two or three remaining underwriters in the state. It is know within the insurance business in this state that the lack of under writer competition is contributing to the high insurance rates. I am not convinced that the federal government (Republican or Democrat) can or should run health care, but they should at least pass legislation to level the playing field across the country as well as to allow larger group pools. Having the entire nation as one health group does require the government to run it, just to pass and enforce laws that limit how much insurance under writers can manipulate the system to maximize profits at the expense health care coverage. By the way, the Medicare system sucked just as much under Clinton as now. It’s not the political party that administers the plan, but the life long bureaucrats that are out to protect their civil service jobs and pensions by not making waves or suggesting improvements. Under the government, there is no free market competition to drive improvement, cost, efficiency and especially customer service. As long as major carriers play by an even set of rules based on service and beneficial interest to the consumer, I believe private companies can more effectively manage health care similar to the utilities. Do you think the government could run our utilities better than most the current companies? They are under tight regulation and oversight with boards, CEOs and officers directly answerable to watchdog groups, shareholders and federal / state government agencies. Administrative politicians and bureaucrats have no one to answer too except their party (that gave them the job) and sometimes the voters if they screw up big time and make front page news.



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