Idaho is finally getting around to making a state run health insurance exchange even though most legislators hate the very idea of it. Health insurance in the U.S. is an absolute mess yet many people get apoplectic about the government stepping in to run health care like what happens in every single other civilized country in the world. The real question here is what is the proper role of government. I think that John Talbot said it best when he said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that government’s role should be projects that benefit all or most of society but that are financially unprofitable. Having socialized health care would certainly benefit all those who have no insurance right now and are one car wreck away from bankruptcy.
For fun, I thought I would address some of the objections to socialized health care that I have heard.
1. Do you really want the government in charge of health care? They mess up everything they touch and/or government projects are subject to huge waste and fraud.
It’s hard to deny there is some truth in this but I would answer this with the following questions: Do you really want the government building bridges that you drive on? Do you want the government regulating airplanes that you fly on and the water that you drink? Government regulation is everywhere, people and it’s not all bad. Our air safety rate is much better than countries with no regulation like Russia and just try drinking the water anywhere in the third world.
2. I never get sick, why are they forcing me to buy health insurance?
This is only a good argument if you are prepared to sign a waiver refusing treatment for any injuries you get. If you get in a car accident and are rushed to the hospital, they can turn you away at the door because you didn’t think you needed insurance. This is a ridiculously short-sighted argument but it does get to the secret truth of the matter – everyone already has health insurance.
If the above idiot who doesn’t think they need health insurance gets into an accident and taken to the hospital, they don’t turn him away, they will still try to help him. Who pays for that, you might wonder? The answer: everyone. Idaho had to put an extra $36 million into the Catastrophic Health Care Fund this year because medical expenses keep going up. Where did they get that money from? Everyone. Socialized health care is already here in a sense but it is being run very poorly because for profit companies have a stranglehold on medical care in this country and are siphoning off huge profits for themselves. Look no further for evidence of this than today’s news that Idaho hospital inflation is 6th highest in the nation. Under the current health system, costs keep skyrocketing up but nobody seems to mind.
3. I don’t want the government death panels deciding if I live or die.
Death panels are already here but they are run by private industry. I can give anecdotal evidence of this by what happened to my father in law when he retired and no longer had good insurance, just medicaid. The hospital didn’t want to take the time to deal with him when his good insurance expired. Currently in this country, health care is run as a for profit endeavor. So if you have a lot of money, you can buy better care than someone who doesn’t have a lot of money. In other countries, people are treated the same and you can’t do this. This situation is why many wealthy Canadians come to the U.S. for medical treatment. So the next time people tell you how bad socialized health care is, ask yourself how much money they have or what kind of insurance they have.
4. Socialized health care countries have lots of problems too.
True. I would still prefer a system where people are at least pretended to be considered equally however, rather than rich people getting special treatment.