The Mystery of Countries Where Single Payer Health Care Works

j0427673You might have heard a few days ago President Barack Obama said “There are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well.”  The only problem is, no one knows what countries those are.

Neither, apparently, does Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

From CNS News:

“I don’t know exactly the countries. I think if you talk to the people in the countries that have that system, they think their health care is pretty good,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told Wednesday during the daily press briefing.

Asked again if he knew specifically which countries, Gibbs replied: “I assume Canada, Britain, maybe France. I don’t know the exact countries, but again, I don’t think the president is going way out on a limb that some people in other countries have a health care system that they like. Just as some Americans like the health care system that they have.”

If this utopian institution is so wonderful, you’d think the names of those wonderlands of bliss would be ready on the tongues of everyone in the administration which is pushing this rapturous medical delight on the American people. Yet strangely it isn’t.

I lived in England for three years and used the National Health Service, and I can tell you with first hand knowledge: it blows chunks.

I had many British friends who had used the National Health Service all their lives, and without fail every single one of them affirmed to me with their first hand knowledge: government health care blows chunks.

Socialists here in the States used to tell us, “Oh, we need to be more like Europe.  Let’s have government health care like they have in England.”  Then word got around about how bad the waiting lines, quality and taxpayer costs were there.

So they started telling us, “Oh, we need a government health care system like Canada.  That’ll do the trick!” Then word got out that the Canadian system had the same problems seen in England.

Then socialists started telling us, “Well, what we really need is a government health care system like Sweden.  Now theirs works.”  Then we found out that–guess what–same old mess in Sweden.

The American people must quit buying the rosey-posey smack being peddled by socialists.  Socialists don’t care about your freedom.  Socialists don’t care about your tax burden.  Socialists don’t care about inconveniencing you. Socialists don’t give a rip about your Constitution, either.

There are more than 1,200 Independence Day Tea Parties coming up July 4, including one here in Rapid City.  That’s a perfect time to find one in your area, join your voice with those of thousands of other patriots around the country, and call for Washington to put an end to this un-American abomination of an idea.

20 Responses to “The Mystery of Countries Where Single Payer Health Care Works”

  1. Actually, a single-payer system is not government-run, nor is it socialized. A single-payer system is a PRIVATE system where private doctors work for themselves, hospitals are independent, and bills are sent to an insurance company. The insurance company is a not-for-profit corporation that is funded using tax dollars.

    Your extreme ignorance of the issue diminishes your credibility. Do a basic google search before you lie about single-payer health care, which is used in Japan, Canada, Australia, and other developed countries to provide better health care, for everyone, at a fraction of the cost of what the United States pays.

  2. Who will implement such a system? Government. Who will force it on the American people? Government. Who will regulate and control it? Government.

    You are either twice the moron you think I am, or you're a propaganda artist. I'm not sure which, but your assertion that Canada provides better health care at less cost makes me lean heavily toward “moron.” Although I admit that could be evidence that you're simply a typical socialist propaganda peddler. So hard to decide…

  3. Holy hordeolum, Ken, do you not take the time to inform yourself before making such ridiculous assertions? A corporation that is “funded using tax dollar” is government run. You cannot name a single exception. “Independent” doctors and hospitals? If they are beholden to government for reimbursement they cannot be independent. They will be required to follow every dictate of the bureaucrats or suffer loss of income. It matters not whether the government-mandated protocols are good for patients or not. How can you say they would be independent?

    “Better health care at a fraction of the cost?” Every government run health service is broke and the only way they can continue to function at all is by rationing of health care. If they let many of their sickest patients wait months for necessary diagnostics, therapies and surgeries, many will simply die while waiting thus saving money for the system. Those lucky enough to get evaluated often receive only minimal treatment as dictated by bureaucrats, whose concerns are financial above all.

    Our system certainly needs reforming, but we should concentrate on giving patients more say about their health care and by freeing doctors and hospitals from the onerous threat of financial ruin with every patient they serve.

  4. I agree with you, Ken. People throw out the word socialism and stop thinking or looking. My wife is from Canada. there is no question that she prefers the Canadian system over the US non system. In spite of the illusions that bad pressmen such as this commentator gives on the horrid care and expense and the ungodly waiting lines (none of which exist… yer sick, go to the doctor, give him your card… get your diagnosis and prescription… adios)

  5. Bob, your ad hominid attack aside, I would ask you to look to Medicare. Doctors who accept medicare as insurance are not public servants. They are not regulated by the government any more than doctors who do not accept Medicare are. They are not controlled by anyone.

    Your second paragraph undermines your credibility further, especially for someone who's supposed to be level-headed, like a journalist.

  6. Let me put this on a context that conservatives will understand: school vouchers. The whole point of school vouchers is to disentangle the government from education. If

    By your standard of logic, if a parent uses a voucher at a private school, that private school is “socialized” in the same way a public school system is. Were South Dakota to adopt school vouchers, there would be one single financier of education (the state government), but many administrators of it, from traditionally private schools to religious school to formerly public schools.

    If “socializing” something and publicly financing it were the same thing, there would be absolutely no difference between a public school system and a school voucher system. However, as we all know, that is not the case: a voucher system marries the benefits of universal education with the efficiency and choice of competition. Further, a voucher system would not make nuns and teachers of a private Catholic school “public servants”; nor would single-payer health care make doctors and nurses of a private hospital public servants.

    Is this starting to make sense?

    As for whether a the single-payer agency is government-run. I'll admit there's a little more nuance there. PBS and NPR are government-chartered and partially publicly financed, but they are *private* not-for-profit corporations. Also, state medical boards are sponsored by the government, but not government-run. The late Franny May was government-sponsored, but was not (until recently) government-run.

    Any of this getting through?

    But moreover, my point is that conflating socialism with public financing is a lot like conflating public schools with a voucher system. There's a world of difference, were opponents of it intellectually honest enough to come to understand the difference.

    Finally, as for better care at a fraction of the price. I invite you to compare, on your own, the relative health spending, as a percentage of the GDP, in the United States, Japan, and Germany. Then compare life expectancy.

    Or you can, like Bob did, write anyone who actually does this kind of research as a “moron.”

  7. School vouchers are for the purpose of introducing competition into the failing public education system and to allow students and parents some say in their education.

    A great fear of many conservatives is that the government will attach too many mandates to schools that receive voucher dollars. When government pays the fiddler (with our money) they will cal the tune. It is always so just as it is with Medicare and Medicaid as I've written in another post.

    If parochial schools receive voucher money, how long before someone complains about teachings at the school on abortion and homosexual issues? What will the government do? You know what they will do! “Stop the 'hate speech' or lose your eligibility for the voucher program,” in which case the nuns and teachers will indeed become government employees. I, personally, am not in favor of Christian schools getting involved in government education, including vouchers. I do not accept that the federal government has ANY role in education. Period. You might take a look at the Constitution if you disagree.

    I am surprised that you bring up NPR, PBS and “Franny May (sic).” They are all perfect examples of what government money (and control) can do to a business.

    Medical care in the US is way too expensive. And, we have government to thank for that. Government regulations alone increase the costs by 50% or more. Lack of patient control is the other major factor.

    Life expectancy is a very poor measure of quality of health care. It has been shown to be tied almost directly to personal behavior such as drug and alcohol use, violence, etc. In the cases of life expectancy and infant mortality, when adjusted for the increased drug use, alcohol abuse and violence the US comes out at the top of industrialized countries. Can you guess why we have so much of this in America? Government schools, a laissez faire attitude about other's choices, and a welfare program that allows and even encourages irresponsible behavior. Every ER nurse and doctor knows that they will see more problems related to drugs, alcohol and violence in the first week of the month that in the remaining weeks combined. Care to guess when government welfare and disability checks are mailed? I'll wait…I knew you'd get it, Ken.

    Ronaldo Magnus could have been speaking about you when he said, “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.”

  8. I'm sure Dr. Theo will want to respond to your ignorant statements, but in the mean time I have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

    If vouchers came with all sorts of strings that forced the private schools to do this or that, or forced a private school to accept whatever voucher amount the government deemed “appropriate” whether they like it or not, it might qualify as socialism. In fact, fear that such strings would be attached to vouchers is why some people who otherwise support educational choice aren't too keen on vouchers.

    As for the rest of your worship of the government-god, I'll just sum up my sentiments with the fact that government intervention in the health care market violates the United States Constitution which specifically defines in Article 1 Section 8 the few and specific actions which the federal government is authorized to perform. And as the Tenth Amendment clearly states, powers not specifically granted to the government here are reserved to the states and the people.

    As much as you might like the idea of a government-god to take from someone else and give it to you, government health care is ILLEGAL. Surely even you can grasp what “illegal” means. The last I checked, our Constitution still stood.

  9. If it fits the definition of socialism, then it should be called socialism. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.

    I suppose socialized health care (having experienced it myself in England for several years) is okay…if you don't mind paying through the nose in higher taxes, reduced quality, rationing, waiting lists (extremely well documented, so don't try lying here–you won't get away with it), violating the U.S. Constitution, and stealing from your neighbor. Other than that, it's great.

  10. That seems pretty hypocritical to whine about “ad hominid” (sic) attacks when you come here and leave such an asinine comment that the only reasonable conclusion is (a) you're a propagandist and you think I'm a complete moron who will buy it or (b) you don't have a clue of what you're talking about and don't even realize how ignorant you are, and expect me and other readers to buy that tripe. Either way, to come here and make such a brazenly false statement is highly insulting to me and any other intelligent reader.

    If I have to spell it out for you, I'll give it a shot. Who created the Medicare program? (Hint: government) Who administers the Medicare program? (Hint: government) Who collects money from the American people against their will to finance this government system? (Hint: government) Who tells doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals what they will and won't receive in compensation for their services when treating a Medicare patient? (Hint: government) Who gets to make any choices or decisions related to Medicare? (Hint: government)

    I hope with this many hints you can figure it out. People that just don't have all the information, I don't mind helping. Propagandists and people who refuse to learn, I have no time for.

  11. Ken, you said “Doctors who accept medicare as insurance are not public servants. They are not regulated by the government any more than doctors who do not accept Medicare are. They are not controlled by anyone.”

    You could not be more wrong in your analysis. Medicare and Medicaid run everything. They tell us who we can see, when we can see them, what tests are allowed or not allowed, what medicine is allowed, when patients can be admitted to the hospital and when they have to be discharged. They then tell us what our work is worth, take it or leave it!

    Years ago I had a rural practice and made some house calls, mainly for some elderly folks that had a difficult time getting out. In those days (1980s) I charged $60 for a house call and Medicare would only pay $25. Sometimes, I didn't bother to turn in the paperwork for reimbursement judging it just wasn't worth the trouble. When the Medicare police learned that I saw some patients at no charge they reasoned that the lowest charge for a service was the appropriate “approved” fees that I could charge, which was $0, and that I owed them $20,000 in “overcharges” for the fees that I did report and collect over several years. They succeeded in this extortion by threatening to bar me from Medicare participation if I did not pay up. I had many elderly patients and for their sake I paid the bill, but I learned that I could no longer discount anyone's fees for any reason, and that I could no longer make house calls. (Nope no government control there. I was completely independent, wouldn't you say?)

    Many times I see patients in the ER who are very ill and alone and can't care for themselves at home, but their diagnosis is not sufficient justification for admission according to Medicare. My choice is to “fudge” the records so as to get then qualified for admission, for which I can be fined $10,000 and lose my license, or send them home and hope they return when they are even sicker and then maybe I'll be allowed to get them a hospital bed that they need (if they don't die first). What would you do, Ken? Furthermore, a Medicare recipient cannot pay out of pocket for care, even if they want to and have the resources. If Medicare says no, there is no recourse. Would you call this government control, Ken?

    Most of the problems in American health care are a direct or indirect result of government intervention. Bureaucrats make rules; that's what they are paid to do. It matters not whether the rules are good or patients. Then they think they deserve to be paid very well for their efforts. Fifty percent or more of health care charges are the result of government interference.

    Obama's plan would essentially expand Medicare to include all of us. The government will then decide what doctor to see, when, what tests can be ordered, what treatments are approved, what medicines can be prescribed, when to go into the hospital and when to be discharged, what surgeries you qualify for, and on and on.

    You simply don't know what you are talking about, Ken. (Is this an “ad hominid [sic]” attack?)

  12. Dr. Theo, you make a mistake in painting me under the brush of “liberal.” I’m liberal in the sense that I want a permissive government, not in the since that I’m a “liberal democrat.” For example, I oppose affirmative action, I would prefer the “department of education” be eliminated (I agree with you, it’s not in the scope of the federal government), and I think most businesses are over-regulated.

    Having said that…

    My intent with respect to vouchers isn’t to argue the relative merits of school voucher systems, nor was I arguing that NPR or PBS are, necessarily, good uses of government money. My observations are merely: (1) government-run and government-financed are *not* the same thing; (2) conflating the two isn’t helpful.

    I concede that life expectancy is not necessarily a good measure of care quality. I also concede that a single-payer system, while not “socialized”, does involve the government in health care.

    But here’s my question for you. Suppose the government withdraws and Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP are no longer available. Suppose also that you are a 65 year old widow with type 1 diabetes and a pre-existing diagnosis of cancer.

    No insurance company will take you for less than several thousand dollars a month. This isn’t because of government intervention, either, it’s a simple cost of insuring you.

    What 100% free market mechanism will provide health care to people who are simply unable to pay for the care they need?

  13. What we have now, a for-profit at any cost (even lives) market system of health insurance have failed to help protect Americans. If our “market-driven” health insurance system truly worked there would be no debate in Washington. Instead, a huge number (15.5%) of Americans have NO health insurance and the outrage has forced politicians to think twice about “business as usual”.

    And that doesn't count the very poor who have State coverage… but hard-working folks who are trying to make it without handouts in this tough economy.

    Do we see Health Insurance Companies coming to the rescue? Or rather do we see rising policy charges, claims denials, cherry-picking through “pre-existing conditions”, or outrageous deductibles before they pay a cent.

    I'm talking about me, 39 year old self-employed, personally responsible with a Humana policy that has a $7,000 deductible… When was the last time I chose to go the hospital or got a checkup?

    Come to think of it, Bob, when was the last time you did? -Or as a writer do you do like me and first consider the monthly budget?

    Time to get off the high-horse and look at the reality on the ground and find solutions to the problems we face. It's easy to whine and complain while our society falls apart. It's harder but more satisfying to know we are working to make our country better and stronger for ourselves, our kids, and hopefully our grandchildren.

    Time to take the profit-motive out of Health Insurance, save 30% off their profits and overhead, and plow all our current money into some Single-Payer entity! Heck, we are all currently paying $7K a year (per capita) into a system that is falling apart that gives Health Insurance Companies record profits.

  14. Ed, you may be hot and lusty to live in a socialist society that takes care of you like a great, benevolent parent who treats you like an idiot little child who doesn't know what's good for you, but I am totally repulsed by such elitist, consescending socialist prattle.

    Being an American means I get to choose what I do and don't do, and what I do with my property. Frankly, I'm with the Founders on the sanctity of property rights, and I get mighty upset at a government that thinks it is entitled to my hard-earned money and knows better than I do what I should do with my own property.

    It sounds like you, Ed, feel the need for someone to hold your hand, rub your head and give you comfort and noogies every time you feel a little insecure.

    Me, I like having the freedom to take care of myself and do with both myself and my property as I see fit.

    What's more, I really enjoy the American way of life that recognizes this God-given freedom, and am disgusted at the efforts of socialists to scuttle the greatest nation and the greatest way of life on earth, all because they're too elitist or too lazy to take care of themselves.

    In truth, this socialist push for government health care is a crime. It is illegal. It violates the U.S. Constitution which is the highest law of our nation and defines the few things government has the authority to do–outside of which government has no authority whatsoever.

    In order that you might gain an understanding what it is to be an American and live under constitutional government, I suggest you read the enumerated powers of Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and the Tenth Amendment.

    Finally, let me leave you with some insights from the men who founded our country and set up it's government. They make it very clear that socialist schemes like this are completely un-American and illegal:

    – A wise and frugal government…shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. – Thomas Jefferson

    – To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it. — Thomas Jefferson

    – Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson

    – The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” — John Adams

    – [Congressional jurisdiction of power] is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison

    – The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison

    – With respect to the two words ‘ general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

    – I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

    – Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison

    – We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. — Congressman Davy Crockett

  15. Nice try at spouting discredited right-wing, pro-insurance company rationing of health care to those who can afford it talking points.

    Someday maybe you could actually check out what your spouting off about and see the Truth…

    So a couple dozen advanced nations are wrong and USAmerica with their “free market sick care” is right.

    If that's so, why are we number 37!!!???

  16. The only thing that has been discredited is government health care, around the world everywhere it's tried. I've spent several years living under it overseas and it stinks. But there is more than enough information available, even to those who haven't experienced it first hand, to understand what a profoundly bad idea it is.

    And yes, the United States has always been more wise than other nations (surely you can see the high level of domestic peace and prosperity that wisdom has brought us), especially those who embrace Marxist principles. Since you life in the United States, I would expect you to have a better grasp on American history, the American system of government, and even a little more pride in your country.

  17. I'm confused why you guys use the term socialism as a negative.

    Political system in which the (major) means of production are not in private or institutional hands, but under social control. Typically this is seen as one aspect of a more general concern for people's equal rights to various benefits (health, education), and of a concern to limit the inequalities of wealth and power produced by the unrestricted operations of market forces. Socialism avoids the totalitarian implications of communism, and works within liberal democratic constitutions.

    My biggest problem is your distrust of our elected officials where you would rather place that trust in a Corporations whose whole point of existence is to create a profit for its share holders.
    these same executives who receive 10,50,100 million dollars a year by denying coverage of its sickest patients .

    Health care debt is also the leading cause of bankruptcy in america. Good hardworking, previously insured citizens end up with nothing because they are sick.

    Health care is soo expensive in the USA because of the same insurance companies that provide health care.

    what is the highest cost for doing business for a Doctor? Maybe its…. wait for it…. INSURANCE.

    this is also why we have one of the worst doctor to patient ratios in the industrialized world.
    or maybe its the cost of a quarter of a million dollars for education for doctor. thats $250,000.00
    another reason health care cost so much. (maybe if citizens could get educated for free they wouldn't have to charge so much money, maybe there would be more doctors, maybe your doctor wouldn't be 30 hours into a 36 hour shift.)

    The Catholic church is about the best example of a Socialist Society.
    Works pretty well doesn't it. other then the lying, cheating, Raping, power struggles, etc…

  18. It's really simple, and I'll provide you with two fundamental reasons: (1) Socialism cause problems where ever it's tried, and (2) the U.S. Constitution prohibits it.

    Socialism is a slightly less deadly form of Marxism and any sane society should avoid it like the plague that it is.

  19. It's really simple, and I'll provide you with two fundamental reasons: (1) Socialism cause problems where ever it's tried, and (2) the U.S. Constitution prohibits it.

    Socialism is a slightly less deadly form of Marxism and any sane society should avoid it like the plague that it is.