Saturday, June 23, 2007

National Health Care

National Health Care. Just the words make me think of HRB's foray into the health care industry when her husband was President. Now with the 2008 elections around the corner, this issue is being raised again as a campaign platform.

It doesn't matter what side of this issue you are on. Everyone has valid points for their side of the argument. My two questions about the matter are: Who is going to pay for it, and who is going to manage it?

The short answer for the first question is: You are. You will pay for it in higher taxes, direct and indirect. Your income tax will increase. The goods you buy will most likely have their increased cost of materials rolled into the price (companies pay taxes on the raw materials used to manufacture their product). And if possible, the sales tax on those goods could increase too.

The answer to the second question, if the politicians have their way, is the government. Again, nations that have a national health care system manage it with a governmental department.

A quick look into nations that have nationalized health care show that they do indeed pay higher taxes. Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, and others have horrendously high percentages of their taxes going to their health care systems, but services and the health of the system itself is failing. An example is that France has 9.8% of its Gross National Product going to its health care system, and the system itself will be 70 Billion Euros in debt by the year 2020 (link here).

Does anyone else find this frightening? Look at the examples of current government-managed programs and you will understand my concern. Wasteful, redundant, mind-numbing bureaucracy will be the norm. Anyone who has dealt with a government agency and an insurance agency know that there is little difference between the two, but I would much rather deal with the insurance agency – I will get things accomplished much quicker.

What is also disconcerting is that the politicians supporting a national health care don't really have a good plan on how it will be funded, much less run efficiently. Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are all in financial trouble. To add another government controlled bureaucracy is financially suicidal, and raising taxes will not be the solution. These bozos either don’t have a clue or don’t care how this policy will affect the country.

Last, is this really what we need to have? Hospitals, by law, are required to treat anyone without regard to their capability to pay. Yes, there are sad stories of people not being treated in time and dying. But look at the waiting lines for surgery in Canada and Great Britain, and one wonders if this would be an improvement over the current system. For some, yes, for others, it will not.

Quite frankly, if there is to be a nationalized health care system, I would not have it run by a government department. Rather, it should be run by a contracted non-profit private agency with an oversight from the Government Accounting Agency (GAO). Waste would be held to a minimum, and the contracted agency would need to show fiscal responsibility and high standards for patient care in order for the contract to be renewed. But then, that's me...

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