Mike the Mad Biologist

Because a good healthcare system isn’t like the Manhattan Project or putting a man on the moon. When you read articles, blog posts, and books about trying to change the healthcare system, often an argument is made about how difficult finding a solution is.

Well, I call bullshit. We’re not trying to develop the first nuclear reactor, or figure out how to actually land on the moon. All of the original NATO allies, some of the newer ones, and the non-aligned European countries are able to provide at least basic, and in most cases, good healthcare to their citizens. All of these countries are developed and at the same technological level as the U.S. (or even a little less so). We don’t have to invent anything from scratch: we have the advantage of learning from others’ mistakes. We can incorporate the parts we like from different countries, leave out the partand make a good healthcare system.

This isn’t a technical problem at all, but a political one. Keep that in mind when you hear politicians talk about all of the ‘challenges.’ If our NATO allies can do it, why can’t we?

Si se puede, baby.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    January 27, 2007

    America as a culture, has been conned into believing that all forms of welfare not only do not help, but actually cause harm by damaging the ‘spirit’ or ‘willpower’ or some other delusional woo property of the human psyche.

    Healthcare is placed into the same category; the argument is that if big government and and their black helicopters provide healthcare, people will lack the incentive to get the better jobs that actually provide good healthcare. They will, we are told, find no reason to work hard at all, as someone else is providing for them, keeping them healthy.

    We’re taught that helping people is actually hurting them. It explains much, if you thiink about it.

  2. #2 Gerard Harbison
    January 27, 2007

    All of the original NATO allies, some of the newer ones, and the non-aligned European countries are able to provide at least basic, and in most cases, good healthcare to their citizens.

    I’ve lived in three EU countries. The one with the best health care system was the one whose health care system was the closest to the US’s. The British NHS left me with a mouth full of unnecessary tooth fillings (the dentist was working the system); the German system cam pretty damn close to killing my ex-wife in a University Klinik.

    I’m not sure what we can learn from these systems, except perhaps that socialized medicine sucks.

  3. #3 df
    January 27, 2007

    Gerard, while I feel bad for the poor care you and your wife received, I don’t see how that proves that those health care systems are inferior to ours. A small percentage of dentists (and doctors) in the US commit insurance fraud. If you were unlucky enough to pick the wrong US dentist you could well have had a similar experience. And US hospitals and clinics have certainly nearly killed, or actually killed, patients through mistakes or negligence. I am not saying you are wrong but I need more than two discrete data points to be convinced that you are right.

  4. #4 Miguelito
    January 27, 2007

    I’m living with a socialized system right now.

    Simply put: it’s a form of rationing. Thus, we get long lines to do anything here (Canada). There aren’t enough doctors/nurses/technicians to go around so, even if they had enough money to throw at the problem, it still wouldn’t fix it. Going private, even a combined private/socialized system, wouldn’t solve this problem because of this shortage.

    Expect the same health-professional crunch in your country if some form of universal coverage is introduced.

    Like I said, it’s a form of rationing. We need far more health professionals to solve our problem. Perhaps the U.S. can learn from our problem.

  5. #5 jamie
    January 27, 2007

    We have the same health professional shortage in the U.S. This is largely due to demographics, among other reasons, none of which are due to universal coverage, since we have nothing of the sort. The healthcare section of the job ads in my local paper is larger than all other sectors combined, despite this U.S. city having a community college aggressively working to fill the gap in healthcare workers, especially nurses and techs.

  6. #6 Ashish Hanwadikar
    January 27, 2007

    Yes, the solution is very simple. Just tax the rich and give free (but rationed) health care to the poor. In fact, we can solve all our problems like that!

    Just wondering how will have the incentive to produce in the first place!

  7. #7 Ashish Hanwadikar
    January 27, 2007

    Yes, the solution is pretty simple! Just tax the rich and distribute to the poor. we can solve all “our” problems like that!

    Just wondering who will have the incentive to produce in the first place.

  8. #8 jamie
    January 27, 2007

    Ashish: a single-payer, universal system would be cheaper for everyone. People would still have “the incentive to produce.” They would still need, for example, luxuries such as housing and food.

  9. #9 Brian
    January 27, 2007

    I recently wrote a post, Comparing Healthcare, about this on my blog. I was shocked to find out that even without universal coverage the US government actually spends more money on healthcare than Canada and other socialized nations. The problem is obviously political rather than economic.

  10. #10 Rabbit
    January 29, 2007

    Like I said, it’s a form of rationing. We need far more health professionals to solve our problem.

    I often think that one healthcare issue in the U.S. (I’m not very familiar with the Canadian educational system) is the cost of become a doctor.

    I had a classmate who spent $11,000 just getting into medical school, so that he could then become a few hundred thousand dollars poorer.

    Meanwhile, I came out of my undergraduate years interested in disease, motivated by vague philanthropic ideals, and in debt. I have no interest in private practice and aspire to work in public health. I considered medical school but decided that I would be paying off loans until I died with my career goals. If there was some kind of program where I could get an education priced for a career in public work, I’d be seriously interested. As it is, I’m heading to graduate school in the fall (about $10,720 richer than my classmate, and with a stipend to look forward to.)

    Point of my long, rambling story: it’s really f’n expensive to become an M.D. Maybe there would be more people willing if they didn’t have to sell their first born to do it.

  11. #11 stewart
    February 1, 2007

    I work in the healthcare system.
    ALL HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED. Say it again. And again.
    There will never be enough money or resources for everybody to get everything when they want it.
    In the US, it’s rationed by price and insurance administrators (it’s a socialized system, but working for the benefit of insurance companies – about 30% of costs go to administrative overhead – check out the VA system to find the rate for single payer, which is about 5% or less). As well, many providers (I’m most familiar with psychologists) find that insurers deny or underfund their claims – thus, they provide services for free or below cost.
    In other countries, services are rationed by time or availability. The benefit of a publicly-funded system is that the public can exert pressure on the administrators to change priorities, and in an integrated system, there can be more emphasis on the cost-effective, broad health services, although the high-tech stuff is neat when you need it. Diabetes prevention and yearly check-ups are VASTLY more cost-effective than heart transplants.