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I favor universal care, but only if we don't increase per capita govt spending on health care.
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20.93%
I favor universal health care, and I favor raising taxes to pay for it.
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I oppose universal health care.
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41.86%
Voters: 43. You may not vote on this poll

"A Conservative Case for Universal Health Coverage"

Old 01-09-08, 10:30 AM
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"A Conservative Case for Universal Health Coverage"

The U.S. spends more tax dollars per person on health care than other countries that many supporters of universal health care cite as role models, such as France, Germany, and Japan.

If the U.S. adopted a system like those countries, it would mean that the government would spend less tax dollars per person on health care, not more. So the government would get smaller, not bigger. So there would be no need to raise taxes.

Also, we should avoid the kinds of systems that exist in Canada and the U.K. Instead, France, Germany, and Japan would be better systems to copy.

However, some of the people who cite those other countries as role models for universal health care, have wrongly claimed that the U.S. would need to raise taxes to pay for universal health care. This does not make any sense, because those countries spend less tax dollars per person on health care than the U.S.

I agree with what this writer is saying. I favor universal health care, but only if it means we reduce the amount of money that the government spends per person on health care, and we don't raise taxes to pay for it.



http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/...or_univer.html

December 12, 2007

A Conservative Case for Universal Health Coverage

By Randall Hoven

I am a small-government conservative/libertarian and have hated the concept of socialized medicine almost all my life. But now, I could live with universal health coverage in the U.S.. Here's why.

We now have the worst of both worlds: we are paying for universal health coverage, but not getting it. In fact, we pay more for health care in taxes than countries that provide universal coverage. Then we pay more than that amount again in private coverage. Additionally, what we have now in the U.S. is nowhere near a free market in health care. Defending the status quo is not defending a free market. And if socialized medicine is your fear, we already have it.

I've heard no one, on either side of the political spectrum, play up the fact that the government in the U.S. already spends more on health care than almost every other country on earth. I'm talking government spending, not private spending. According to the U.S. Statistical Abstract, government spending on health care in the U.S was $2,168 per person in 2001 (the last year for which comparison data are available). Here were the top 10 government spenders on health care in 2001.

* Norway: $2,550
* U.S.: $2,168
* Denmark: $2,098
* Iceland: $2,025
* Sweden: $1,832
* Germany: $1,803
* France: $1,599
* Canada: $1,531
* UK: $1,518
* Belgium: $1,417.


If we add in private spending as well, it's not even close.

* U.S.: $4,887
* Switzerland: $3,690
* Norway: $2,982
* Denmark: $2,545
* Iceland: $2,441
* Germany: $2,407
* Canada: $2,161
* Sweden: $2,149
* Netherlands: $2,134
* France: $2,104.

Note that the countries frequently cited as models of universal health care, Canada and the U.K., spent less on public health than the U.S. did. Sweden, the notorious welfare state, spent 15% less than the U.S.. The only country to spend more, Norway, has about the size and population of Colorado, with oil exports over 3 million barrels per day.

Even as a fraction of GDP, government in the U.S. spent a comparable amount to other nations (6.6% in 2002). Canada spent just slightly more (6.7%), and Japan and the U.K. spent less (6.4%). Only seven countries of the 28 countries listed spent a greater fraction of GDP on public health funding than the U.S..


What about the private side, the "free market" side? There, government regulates the health industry and mandates what health insurance must cover.

While the U.S. does not have universal health coverage, it has had universal health care since 1986. Any person who goes to an emergency room in virtually any hospital in the country must be examined and then either treated or transferred to another hospital for treatment if the condition requires immediate care.


According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), "By the late 1960s, state legislatures had passed only a handful of mandated benefits; today, CAHI has identified more than 1,900 mandated benefits and providers. And more are on their way." According to CAHI, such mandates include:

* Providers such as chiropractors and podiatrists, but also social workers and massage therapists;
* Benefits such as mammograms, well-child care and even drug and alcohol abuse treatment, but also acupuncture and hair prostheses (wigs); and,
* Populations such as adopted and non-custodial children.

Then there are federal mandates such as minimum hospital stays for baby deliveries, equal coverage caps for both mental and physical health benefits and reconstructive surgery after mastectomies.

According to the CATO Institute, the net cost of health regulation in the U.S. is over $169 billion, or an average of $1,500 per household.

So let's review. The government provides Medicare for the old, Medicaid for the poor, veterans' hospitals for veterans, medical research funding and whatever else adds up to 6.6% of GDP. The federal government forces hospitals to provide emergency treatment to all comers. State governments mandate over 1,900 types of coverage on health insurance. Health care regulations cost the average household over $1,500.

We already have socialized medicine and we are already paying for it -- twice: once in taxes and once privately. What we are not getting is universal coverage.

But if universal care (via emergency rooms) is already mandated, what's the problem? First, it is not the best way to get treatment. For one thing, the condition has to be regarded as a medical emergency. Also, the law does not relieve you of having to pay for that treatment. In fact, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in the U.S., accounting for half of them.

So while you might not die, the U.S. health care system does give you the age-old offer of "your money or your life".

As small-government conservatives or libertarians, we could say, "That is the individual's choice: get the insurance or suffer the consequences." But if that is our policy, then why is our government paying over $2,100 per person per year and regulating health care at a cost of $1,500 per household? What are we getting for that money?

If we are to be consistent libertarians, then the government should stop meddling in health care and health insurance altogether. End Medicare. End Medicaid. Close down veterans' hospitals. Stop funding medical research. Stop funding pharmaceutical research. Stop mandating vaccines. Stop mandating emergency room treatment. Stop mandating health insurance policies. Stop doing those things that cost us 6.6% of our GDP when we have to kick in another 7% or more of our own.

If our government stopped all those things, then I would a happy libertarian. But the government will not stop them. If politics is the art of the possible, it is not possible to end all the programs and policies cited above. So ... if we are going to be forced to pay for something, then we ought to get it. Either provide us the coverage, or give us our money back.

Full disclosure: My daughter needed a heart transplant at age 15. We had full coverage from my employer, so cost was never a personal issue to us. I'm not sure what these things cost (neither did her cardiologist), but I believe the surgery and resulting hospital stay would be a few hundred thousand dollars. Testing and diagnostics beforehand could exceed $100,000. Anti-rejection drugs and follow-up testing could run to six figures yet again. I believe a total cost of $500,000 is not out of the question, with annual post-surgery costs in the five figures.

This was not a matter of elective treatment. There was nothing that could have prevented it. In my daughter's case it was a rare condition, with cause unknown, unforeseen and unforeseeable. The choice was do or die. And there was no decision on our part that could have reduced the cost in any significant way. There are no low-cost heart transplants. There or no alternative treatments. A bake-sale here or poker-run there would not come near the required amount.

If you are struck with such a catastrophic health crisis, you simply must have a very good health insurance policy or a net worth into the millions to avoid both death and bankruptcy.

And health insurance is not a trivial cost. Family coverage goes for about $13,000 per year or more. The median family income in 2001 was $51,407. The choice for some families is to pay over a fourth of their after-tax income on health insurance, or risk relying on emergency room care only and then going bankrupt should a catastrophic health issue come up. Many chose no or inadequate coverage, and many went bankrupt.

The cost problem is not one just for poorer families. At $13,000 and up per year per family, and growing faster than inflation, health insurance affects everyone. We now spend 15% of our GDP on health. Any Chief Executive Officer would love to have health insurance taken off his worry list. Any state governor would love to have Medicare removed from his federal mandates. It is impacting our productivity and competitiveness.

Let me make something else clear: universal health care coverage is not the same as single-payer health care. Canada and the U.K. have nothing to brag about regarding either the quality of health care or the cost of it. But those are not the only models of universal coverage. Germany, Japan and others have universal, or near-universal, health coverage without a single-payer system.

It would be naÔve of me to propose a specific plan. But a true conservative ought to be able to work within the following guidelines.

* Public health spending in the U.S. not to exceed current costs as a fraction of GDP (currently 6.6% of GDP).

* Coverage of all U.S. citizens. The definition of "coverage" could be debated, but should include catastrophic type coverage as a minimum.
* Consolidation and integration of all aspects of public health programs should be on the table, including Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' hospitals, research and all federal health programs and policies. That is, Medicare reform should be part of the deal.
* Preservation of private choices in health care.
* Medical tort reform.
* Reduced mandates on individuals, insurers, health providers and states regarding health care policies and practices.

I don't see why a small-government conservative or libertarian would think the above is worse than what we have now. I also don't see why the above should be impossible, even politically.

Someday, some sort of universal coverage is going to happen in the U.S. What plan would you prefer -- one consistent with the above, or one dictated by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards? When Iraq becomes yesterday's news, Republicans need to be ready with this issue.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:32 AM
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Whoever hijacked grundle's account and is posting under his name. Be warned, the mods are watching you.

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Old 01-09-08, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Whoever hijacked grundle's account and is posting under his name. Be warned, the mods are watching you.

It is a new year.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:37 AM
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What is the <b>total cost</B> per treated individual in those countries vs. the U.S.?
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Old 01-09-08, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Whoever hijacked grundle's account and is posting under his name. Be warned, the mods are watching you.


You made your post before I put up my poll.

If you look at my poll, it proves that this is me, and no one hijacked my account.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Thor Simpson
What is the <b>total cost</B> per treated individual in those countries vs. the U.S.?


Although I didn't bold it, there is a thing in there that shows the private spending per person also. So you can add it to the government spending to get the overall total.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:40 AM
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...we pay more for health care in taxes than countries that provide universal coverage. Then we pay more than that amount again in private coverage.
So the total cost of healthcare is more than twice as much as these other countries per person. Agreed?
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Old 01-09-08, 10:40 AM
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Universal Healthcare in the US won't mean less spending, it'll mean more. It shouldn't mean more but I have faith that our govt will find effective ways to waste money and make it cost more
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Old 01-09-08, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Thor Simpson
So the total cost of healthcare is more than twice as much as these other countries per person. Agreed?

In some cases, yes. In other cases, no.

The article shows the government spending per country, and the private spending per country. In some cases the total U.S. spending is more than twice that of other countries, and in other cases it's less.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
Universal Healthcare in the US won't mean less spending, it'll mean more. It shouldn't mean more but I have faith that our govt will find effective ways to waste money and make it cost more
You got that right. If this ever happened in this country, you show me how anyone could possibly ever propose a cut on spending on health care. Talk about political suicide. They will have the standard inflation amount each period that they decide upon, and they will ask for more money to provide sufficient coverage for more things, and it will be a thumping point about how great it would be to provide coverage for such and such because really, you can't put a price on people's lives. Just a little more per person in this country. You think it's hard to propose a cut in spending on education? Wait until people's health and lives are on the line. And if there's ever a problem with the system, what will that mean... reform? No, more money.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
Universal Healthcare in the US won't mean less spending, it'll mean more. It shouldn't mean more but I have faith that our govt will find effective ways to waste money and make it cost more

I agree with you.

That's why I said I favor it only if we don't increase spending.

My poll is brilliant!
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Old 01-09-08, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
Universal Healthcare in the US won't mean less spending, it'll mean more. It shouldn't mean more but I have faith that our govt will find effective ways to waste money and make it cost more

There is little doubt of this, and I'm surprised that a self-professed small-government type as the writer is would fail to account for this.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Thor Simpson
You got that right. If this ever happened in this country, you show me how anyone could possibly ever propose a cut on spending on health care. Talk about political suicide. They will have the standard inflation amount each preiod that they decide upon, and they will ask for more money to provide sufficient coverage for more things, and it will be a thumping point about how great it would be to provide coverage for such and such because really, you can't put a price on people's lives. Just a little more per person in this country. You think it's hard to propose a cut in spending on education? Wait until people's health and lives are on the line.
That's why I did that poll.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:50 AM
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The reasons stated in the article are the only compelling reasons why I would support universal health care.


Not that I do.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:50 AM
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Forget whether the government is involved - if everyone had private health insurance the cost of healthcare would rise in this country.

Any third-payment raises the cost of healthcare.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Forget whether the government is involved - if everyone had private health insurance the cost of healthcare would rise in this country.

Any third-payment raises the cost of healthcare.


Also, if you want to see healthcare costs decreased, someone somewhere (actually, to be more specific, all of us everywhere) is going to have to stop insisting on the maximum treatment for everything. Another reason health care is expensive is that so many people -- or their relatives -- want no expense spared to keep them alive. Most of the health care costs a person incurs are in the last year of his/her life.
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Old 01-09-08, 11:33 AM
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The poll results so far:

View Poll Results: What do you think?

I favor universal care, but only if we don't increase per capita govt spending on health care. 1 14.29%

I favor universal health care, and I favor raising taxes to pay for it. 3 42.86%

I oppose universal health care. 3 42.86%
So except for myself, everyone who favors universal health care wants to raise taxes to pay for it.

Would those of you who voted that way please explain why you favor raising taxes to pay for universal health care?
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Old 01-09-08, 11:45 AM
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I've heard that, on average, you'll spend half the money you spend on healthcare in your lifetime in the last 6 months of your life. (at least in the US)

I wonder if it's different in nations with universal care.
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Old 01-09-08, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana


Also, if you want to see healthcare costs decreased, someone somewhere (actually, to be more specific, all of us everywhere) is going to have to stop insisting on the maximum treatment for everything. Another reason health care is expensive is that so many people -- or their relatives -- want no expense spared to keep them alive. Most of the health care costs a person incurs are in the last year of his/her life.
easy to say this until it's your loved one dying
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Old 01-09-08, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana


Also, if you want to see healthcare costs decreased, someone somewhere (actually, to be more specific, all of us everywhere) is going to have to stop insisting on the maximum treatment for everything. Another reason health care is expensive is that so many people -- or their relatives -- want no expense spared to keep them alive. Most of the health care costs a person incurs are in the last year of his/her life.

I think that's indicative of a larger issue in our country. We don't handle death very well. We don't like to talk about it, we don't like the think about it and I believe many people are afraid of it (despite supposedly being a Christian nation).
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Old 01-09-08, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
easy to say this until it's your loved one dying
I don't agree. My mother was one who wanted all the stops pulled out to keep her alive. She only agreed to hospice care for the last few months of her life because she could tell that she was starting to founder mentally and realized somewhere deep inside that she wasn't going to make it. Insurance benefits kept my mother alive for at least 25 years longer than she would have lived otherwise. Over that time she had four open-heart surgeries; her bills mounted into the hundreds of thousands. While I'm grateful for every day I had her, I also realize that for the last decade or so, she was very limited in what she could do, and that if it were not for the insurance, my parents could never have paid for her care. If insurance is required to pay for that kind of expense for everyone, eventually the system is going to collapse. As someone else said, we have a problem accepting death. My mother did, I know.

Last edited by Vibiana; 01-09-08 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 01-09-08, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
So except for myself, everyone who favors universal health care wants to raise taxes to pay for it.

Would those of you who voted that way please explain why you favor raising taxes to pay for universal health care?
I'm assuming that the people who voted for that option want universal health care and are willing to pay for it. They'd prefer if there was no tax increase, but they're willing to live with one. They don't want to raise taxes just to raise taxes. Does that make sense?
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Old 01-09-08, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I'm assuming that the people who voted for that option want universal health care and are willing to pay for it. They'd prefer if there was no tax increase, but they're willing to live with one. They don't want to raise taxes just to raise taxes. Does that make sense?

I understand what you are saying.

But if that's how they feel, then they're not being honest when they cite France, Japan, or Germany as their role model for how the U.S. should run universal health care. They want a kind of universal health care that doesn't exist in any country.
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Old 01-09-08, 01:38 PM
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Now the results are:

View Poll Results: What do you think?

I favor universal care, but only if we don't increase per capita govt spending on health care. 4 30.77%

I favor universal health care, and I favor raising taxes to pay for it. 4 30.77%

I oppose universal health care. 5 38.46%

So now there are people who agree with me.
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Old 01-09-08, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
I understand what you are saying.

But if that's how they feel, then they're not being honest when they cite France, Japan, or Germany as their role model for how the U.S. should run universal health care. They want a kind of universal health care that doesn't exist in any country.
Perhaps they see France, Japan and Germany as role models but realize such programs would be more expensive in this country and are willing to pay that cost if necessary.
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