Pondering Socialized Health Care

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Clive At Five, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Clive At Five macrumors 65816

    Clive At Five

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    #1
    I've been thinking about Universal Health Care, lately. I've come to the conclusion that of all the things that the government could subsidize entirely, it's quite possibly the least justified.

    The market effects of UHC are two-fold: first, it destroys competition amongst pharmaceutical companies and secondly, it entirely eliminates insurance companies. (The latter is a by-product, not a direct component of UHC.) So let's start with the pharms:

    Socialized medicine suffers the same drawbacks of any other subsidized market. It lacks incentive to produce. Suppose I was a genius biochemist in a free-market and I had an idea of a drug/process that I thought would revolutionize cancer treatment. I'm going to research/patent it as quickly as possible so I can sell it on the market and make a couple bucks. Under a gov't-controlled model, I would still be a genius biochemist and I'd still work in a lab to develop a cancer treatment, but I'd be funded by the taxpayer. Every month, I would get a pay check regardless of whether I developed a cure or not. So long as I can convince my superiors that I am making an honest effort, I keep getting paid. A similar scheme applies to health services.

    Without free-market medicine, insurance companies become irrelevant. While this aspect might send cheers to the jilted (I sense a lot of unjust ire for the insurance companies) it is not a positive outcome at all. Until I studied actuarial courses, I, too, ridiculed the insurance companies for what seemed like consumer exploitation. Those courses completely grew my knowledge and respect for insurance companies. The beauty of individual insurance is that each person pays for their own risk factors. That means that I don't have to pay for my downstairs neighbor's insanely high DUI-insurance, or the incompetence-factor of his idiot teen daughter. Plus, with my own insurance, everyone has an incentive to reduce their own risk factors to lower their premiums.

    We could increase competition amongst insurance companies in our current system by disassociating them from workplaces. I see no reason I should have to pay for a plan my employer picks out, which more likely than not, doesn't represent my personal health needs. It ends up in a lot of waste that individuals have to pay for. I prefer the sort of competition we see amongst Geico, esurance, and Progressive. The only negative side-effect would be a billion TV ads about health insurance.

    The other controversial aspect is the notion of a "right to health care." As opposed to the Right to Food, Right to Work, and Right to Education, the right to health care cannot be self-fulfilled. Subsequently, it can neither be protected nor guaranteed by government as it depends of the capability of other people to administer it (and the government can't force individuals to pursue careers in health). The supposed right to health care is therefore not a right at all.

    A privilege, perhaps, but then, we come back to the notion of whether it's right to A) pay for other people's health problems & bad habits, and B) making other people pay for ours.

    The most ideal of solutions is to maintain a safety net which protects the impoverished, and in the meantime, de-collectivize workplace insurance to reduce the burden on companies & workers, and drive down prices on insurance policies so the less-fortunate-but-still-productive can have more affordable health care that's customized to their needs.

    Cue the flames.

    -Clive
     
  2. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #2
    Your post betrays an astounding ignorance about the way in which other universal health care services operate.
     
  3. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #3
    Not all socialized medical systems subsidized drugs, and those that do subsidize prescription drugs. Market incentive still exists for over-the-counter drugs. The free market can also be as detrimental to the development of drugs — taking the extremely unrealistic viewpoint that you've presented that biochemists are only interested in money — because repackaging an easy cure as an extensive treatment process would earn significantly more money.
    Under a socialized system, everyone's premiums go down. I pay less for my healthcare period than you pay just in taxes for healthcare, never mind whatever absurd premiums or fees you also have to pay.
    Cue an absolutely abysmal understanding of socialized medicine. The bottom line here is really simple Clive; your nation's healthcare ranks absurdly poorly for the richest nation in the world. It's not serving the people, and it's costing you more than a universal system would. You pay more in taxes for less in service.
     
  4. MyDesktopBroke macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Isn't this how we turn the world into zombies?

    The cynics will kill this idea I'm sure, but maybe if medical treatment wasn't such a lucrative market, there would be less people in it for the money, and more in it to heal people.
     
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #5
    As always, I admire your tenacity. ;)
     
  6. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #6
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #7
    Clive, do you have a solution for those the insurance company deem uninsurable? Say you've had cancer before, and you lose your job. When you get a new job, the insurance company deems you to large of a risk, and refuses to cover you. What do you suggest?
     
  8. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #8
    ????

    I don't understand how health care cannot be self-fulfilled, but education, food, and work can? Aren't there schools staffed by teachers and administrators just as there are hospitals staffed by doctors, nurses, and administrators? What's the difference here, in the way you conceive this as self-fulfillable?
     
  9. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #9
    ........ and Germany and France and Denmark and Spain and Japan and......

    It boggles the mind how when it comes to health care, the rest of the world is irrelevant to Clivian minded people...
     
  10. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #10
    Would you elaborate on this.
     
  11. Ntombi macrumors 68030

    Ntombi

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    #11
    I was going to respond, but I'll just quote Iscariot instead. He said it right.

     
  12. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #12
    UHC (or socialised healthcare as you've put in the thread title - are they analagous?) does not have to be all or nothing. It can coexist with private health care. In Australia we have a combination of public and private. You have a urgent problem (i.e. emergency, cancer etc) you go straight to surgery or treatment. If you need to go to emergency you get seen depending on the urgency of your presenation (not your bank balance). If you want elective surgery or treatment (non-emergency) you can go on a public waiting list (often long) or get it done sooner under your own private health insurance. If you want to be treated by a specific doctor you can choose to do so under your own private health insurance. It's not a perfect system by all means but better than a system where an insurance company is a third party deciding medical treament. It's certainly not the all or nothing you are presenting in your first sentence.

    Besides education I can't think of many other things that rank up there with healthcare as something that a government should concentrate on providing for the citizens that it represents. I'd be interested to hear what else you have on the list that a government should subsidise that rates above healthcare....
     
  13. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #13
    You do realize that not every nation provides end-user healthcare services right? Most of Western Europe (and other developed nations, along with many developing nations, just to mark how pathetic it is that we're still having this discussion at such a low level of discourse) provides its citizens with a national insurance plan that they can then use to purchase healthcare just like you do today. Most of these nations also allow the individual to not use the government insurance plan and make use of a private insurance plan (you receive a credit towards your selection of a private plan) if they so desire.

    Drug companies across the globe are not run by governments. Just recently, the Swiss biotech giant Roche purchased American biotech pioneer Genentech. You'll note that the Swiss have what you conceptualize as "socialist" medicine. I wonder how on earth they managed to have a free-market pharmaceutical company, let alone one that is at the leading edge of the industry. :confused:

    Insurance companies become irrelevant once we realize that pooling risk should not be a profitable enterprise. If you really conceptualize what an insurance company does to earn its profit, you will see that it essentially aggregates risk and then skims a little off the top for itself. This is unacceptable when we are talking about life and death.

    An insurance company does not generate new ideas, innovate new medical technologies, etc. Removing its profit incentives would only benefit everyone who needs to pool their risk (which in the case of health insurance, is everyone).

    That's right, after all, all medical problems are the fault of the individual. Predisposition to cancer is clearly the patient's fault right?

    Health insurance is not as simple as life insurance or car insurance, where the factors are far more in the individual's control. For those risk factors that are within individual control, you can have "sin" taxes, which serve as a two-pronged solution. On the one hand they reduce use of the dangerous substance, and at the same time they provide additional revenue for our grand risk pool to compensate when someone has a health problem related to that dangerous activity.
    And with that you can also kiss goodbye the benefits of buying in bulk. Employers receive discounts on their insurance plans because they typically purchase large bundles, saving money in administration and making it easier for the insurance company to manage its policy holders. Imagine if that same principle was applied to over 300 million people as opposed to a few thousand. Consider the savings the entire system would generate. Since I'm sure you're very busy, I'll let you in on a little secret: the estimated savings of having a universal insurance plan for the entire nation would save the entire nation $100 billion in administration costs alone. Once you factor in other savings, like reduced usage of the emergency room, and you get a really good picture of how costly our current system is.
    You can't really educate yourself either, or else no one would bother paying for school. It's also rather difficult to be employed on your own without at least some assistance from some people. No one is an island, we are all on the same ship and we might as well work together to have a better life.

    In a formal sense, the US has no positive rights (like the right to education). Our Constitution only has negative rights (protections from government intrusions). This doesn't mean we should not treat access to essential services as a right, because as a matter of human dignity, they are a right.
     
  14. Clive At Five thread starter macrumors 65816

    Clive At Five

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    #14
    I don't have the time or ability to respond to everyone, but here are a couple responses.

    On a top-level view, yes, initially the sum of all taxes paid will be less than the sum of all premiums paid. There are two problems though...

    A) In a perfect world, UHC would cost less in total than premiums, but it's unrealistic to think that a system would remain untainted. Look at what has happened to education, where bureaucrats and unions have abducted the system, made it less efficient and made it cost more. And for what? Our kids haven't performed this poorly in decades. I have a hard time believing that an even more-complicated mess like Health Care wouldn't suffer the same tragedy, if not something even more severe.

    B) Let's be honest. Would this really result in every single person paying less in taxes? Really? Even the top 10% who pay 70% of the total Federal income tax? No, of course not. The step tax system would make sure these people were paying "their fair share."

    In a system with competition, everyone's prices trend downward over time when new procedures/technologies/medications are invented. The increased quality of care counters the decreasing cost of competing industries. In a socialized system, there's less innovation and an ever-growing bureaucracy which will ensure that the amount of money required to keep it afloat is always increasing.

    They are covered by the "safety net" as I said in the original post. Though politicians want you to think you are surrounded by these people, their cases are few, just like other "burdens of the state".

    I can grow my own food, I can teach myself to read, but I can't give myself a life-saving medical treatment. I can't develop medications to cure my biological woes. A government, in my opinion, only has an obligation to see that your natural rights (food and education) are attainable, not to actually ensure that every individual has those things.

    I'm not saying there isn't a middle ground between all or none (i.e. the safety net), but in terms of each individual paying what he or she truly owes, the only fair way to do it is a non-socialized way.

    ...unless, of course, you believe that the poor are victims of an evil conspiracy by the rich. If that's the case, I can understand the desire to punish them. I, however, don't believe in that crap.

    I think we should focus on making sure everyone has access to wealth, but as far as attaining it goes, they're on their own. We've become obsessed, however, with granting everyone reparations, like they were somehow wronged by every person that earns even a dime more than him or her.

    -Clive
     
  15. kastenbrust macrumors 68030

    kastenbrust

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    #15
    The World Health Organization's ranking
    of the world's health systems:

    1 France - Socialized
    2 Italy - Socialized
    3 San Marino
    4 Andorra
    5 Malta - Socialized
    6 Singapore - Socialized & a tiny bit Privatised
    7 Spain - Socialized
    8 Oman
    9 Austria - Socialized
    10 Japan - Socialized
    11 Norway - Socialized & a tiny bit Privatised
    12 Portugal
    13 Monaco
    14 Greece - Socialized
    15 Iceland
    16 Luxembourg
    17 Netherlands
    18 United Kingdom - Socialized
    19 Ireland
    20 Switzerland
    21 Belgium
    22 Colombia
    23 Sweden
    24 Cyprus
    25 Germany
    26 Saudi Arabia
    27 United Arab Emirates
    28 Israel
    29 Morocco
    30 Canada
    31 Finland
    32 Australia
    33 Chile
    34 Denmark
    35 Dominica
    36 Costa Rica
    37 United States of America - Privatised

    Enough Said?
     
  16. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #16
    Actually, it would. You already pay something like 60% of US healthcare costs out of your taxes. You don't have a private system; what you have is a system wherein the costs are double-dipped into your pocket to extract maximum profit. You already pay more in taxes than I do for healthcare.
     
  17. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

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    #17
    Ok something about what you italicized and

    isn't adding up or I'm really misunderstanding what you are trying to say.

    Im guessing from your location your in Toronto (or from some place that has a very odd name) and I was always under the impression that Canadians paid more in taxes on their income than those in US. I'm referring to middle class(we'll say 50k and up). What is the income tax scale where you live and if you are paying less for healthcare than we are, where does your tax money go?
     
  18. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #18
    Well you did. I've put it in bold for you;

    That's how you framed your argument with your opening paragraph. It's false.


    Fair by what measure? That people needlessly die because they can't afford care? Or by your measure does the perception of economic fairness trump all?

    Justifying who receives medical care and who lives and dies based on their bank balance is absolute crap. That is absolutely no way to run an equitable health system.

    This has nothing to do with an equitable health system. You're mixing up your economic ideology with healthcare. The two are distinct.

    Except not really in any modern society. We're all linked. Our quality of life is dependent on the whole of society (healthcare, employment, crime, goods etc). Enhancing the health of the entire community is an investment for everyone.

    This isn't true. You are regurgitating a strawman of a talking point.
     
  19. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #19
    It seems counterintuitive, but forcing everyone to have insurance does indeed lower the cost of insuring each individual.

    The reason is quite simply that risk can be pooled far more successfully, and administrative costs can be drastically reduced. In addition, people don't have to use the emergency room like a physical, which saves immense amounts of money.
    Americans unequivocally pay more per capita for healthcare than any other group of people, period. We expend over 17% of our GDP towards healthcare, far more than any other industrialized nation.

    Ask yourself what we have to show for this very expensive system. We have the highest rates of infant mortality, the highest rates of preventable death, and the most inequitable levels of overall health in the developed world.

    In return, we do have some minor advantages over other nations' healthcare. Our terminal cancer patients tend to survive longer and those with other rare and deadly diseases tend to do better in the US when they are nearing death. However, keeping doctors and drug companies in the private sector would continue to generate the innovation that has made this possible. All we really need to do is make everyone insured. Is that really so bad?

    And I'm rather disappointed Clive At Five; many of the things you brought up in your most recent post I addressed in my previous one. Surely you can muster the time and dexterity to deal with me? ;)
     
  20. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #20
    Perhaps his insurance doesn't cover his required carpal tunnel operation :p;)?
     
  21. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #21
    Well they would have, but the keyboard was a preexisting condition.
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #22
    Should have switched to a DVORAK before making a claim :D!
     
  23. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

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    #23
    I understand the math behind the bolded statement My only issue is with the force aspect. Forcing people to pay for a product to subsidize the cost for someone else(this is essentially what is happening since costs only go down when everyones in) doesn't sit well with me.
     
  24. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #24
    Ahh, well then it's an "experimental procedure." :D

    Say, I'm good at this. Maybe I should become an insurance agent; it can't be any worse than being a lawyer! :D
     
  25. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

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    #25
    I think it can :(
     

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