Friday, March 30, 2007

Where Do You Want To Be If You Get Sick?

I read an excellent article in my paper this morning that simplified this bumbling, short-sighted behemoth known as Universal Health Care down to its lowest denominator. The author, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, was discussing John Edwards (known as The Breck Girl in our household) and how he used his wife’s press conference to espouse his platform that universal health care is the One Way. While my heart goes out to Mrs. Edwards and anyone who suffers from this cruel disease, I, like Mr. Tanner, believe that her condition would worsen far faster under her husband’s myopic system.

Sure, universal health care sounds really cool. The connotation is that virtually everyone (including illegal aliens- but that’s another post all together) will have complete and total health care for free – the ol’ no one gets left behind idea. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who has insurance – regardless of whether it’s a PPO or an HMO (referred to as Commie Care in our household) – knows that we’re subjected to the whims of the insurance companies. They decide arbitrarily whether to accept or deny certain drug and treatments, regardless of their doctor’s recommendations. They’ve taken much of the decision making away from doctor’s (always a dangerous idea) and put it in their bank accounts – but, again, that’s for another post. In short, the insurance companies are partaking in rationing on a very direct level. Our level.

It gets much more frightening when it’s put on an indirect level. Rationing also affects what Mr. Tanner calls global budgets. Instituting a global budget means that high-tech medical equipment isn’t no longer available, and this imposes longer waits for patients seeking treatment. In short, people die waiting.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the countries where universal health care is the new Messiah. In the U.S., most women survive breast cancer with fewer than *25% succumbing to the disease. In comparison, 46% British women die, 35% French women die, 31% German women die, 28% Australian and Canadian women die, and 46% New Zealand women die.

30% of Americans die from colon cancer while a staggering 74% British die. 62% New Zealanders die, 58% in France, 57% in Germany, 53% in Australia and 36% in Canada.

Look, the free market has always been the progeny of freedom and innovation, and it’s no different with medical care. Being free of price controls, the free market provides their own incentives that lead to new drugs and other medical technologies. *The U.S. is responsible for developing half the world’s major new medicines over the past twenty years and have played a major roll in 80% of the top medical advances of the past thirty years.

I’m not saying our system is perfect. Those who can’t afford health insurance are socked with huge medical bills, and too many people don’t have insurance. But ask yourself, where do you want to be if your personal shit hits the fan? Do you want a free market where you have the best treatment possible or are you one of those benevolent creatures who are willing to die for your beliefs?

*Figures taken from Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute

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