Is socialized healthcare a good idea?

Dont know if this topic has been run into the ground yet, but most other people i talk to about this let their personal philosophies (libertarian ideas of independence from government vs. concern for the well being of others) blind their judgement and make facts something to mold to justify or condemn. So is it good or bad? Are other countries enjoying success with it?

First, i know its not ‘free healthcare’. Medicaid & medicare cost $500 billion a year, which is about $2777 a year from every taxpayer in the country (180 million).

Seeing how insurance (i’m talking for one person, i know insurance for a family has skyrocketed to $300 a month) for 1 person is about $40 a month with a $2-5k deductible, why doesn’t the government just loan people (who qualify for low cost insurance) money interest free to get insurance?

What about medical discount plans (similiar to a PPO, if you visit a listed provider you get medical work done for a discount).

I think it’s a good idea.

We live in a very affluent nation. Even in these poor economic times, we are surrounded by abundance. Money no longer decides who eats and who starves, who goes to school and who stay ignorant, who works in unnessecarily dangerous jobs and who is safe. But money still decides who lives and who dies.

It’s ridiculous that in a country this wealthy, a mother has to decide if she wants to take her baby to the hospital (and have to cut down on food for the month) or to hope that the fever passes. It’s ridiculous to have people looseing their teeth at twenty because they can’t afford the dental work to fix them up (that would be me). It’s ridiculous that a guy has to risk driving to work without his glasses because they broke and he can’t afford new ones. It’s ridiculous that people can’t get life-saving cancer treatments and potentially life-saving preventative care.

The people that say that our current system “works” and other ones don’t are the ones that actually have insurance. It’s great that they are happy with their situation, but that doesn’t mean that the system as a whole works. It doesn’t work. People die when there is no good reason for it. I’d gladly wait in any kind of line if that meant I could get a crown on my tooth instead of having it ripped out. I’d gladly wait in line if it meant my friend could get chemotherapy instead of morphine to make her passing less painful. I’d gladly wait in line not to watch my family and friends- even the little babies- rot away surrounded by so much wealth for want of health care.

I don’t have any experience of private medical insurance - I’m in the UK where we have the National Health Service (NHS), free to all.

And, frankly, you get what you pay for. It’s a meat factory. I had my first ever operation last year - a hernia - and swore I’d never have another op on the NHS again. Disgusting service. I’m unemployed at the moment, but as soon as I’m working (hopefully very soon) I insist on getting private healthcare for all my family.

No disrespect to the frontline staff of the NHS - I have family who work in it as well (A&E and caring), but the system itself is a bare minimum disgrace. Damn Tony and his “economic efficiency” and Tory bareboine funding.

There has to be a third way (sorry Tony) - of paid healthcare with a scalable voucher/exemption system for the lowest bare incomes.

This is a little off topic, but do you know what medical discount plans are? like i described in my original post, they are plans where you can visit a listed healthcare provider for a discount.

Anyway, dental discount plans are pretty good, you can get fillings for $50 with the careington dental plan (they’re usually $110). You should look into it (if you didn’t know about them already). $11 a month subscription.

While i’m on the subject of discount plans, how do they currently or how would they play a part in socialized medical care? Would a discount of say 50%, combined with interest free government loans for service be a tangible idea?

The only people it is good for is the poorest of the poor. It fucks everyone else over to some degree or another, through increased taxation, especially the middle class.

Socialism is never a good idea. A governments mandate is not to provide for every aspect of a persons life, nor to redistribute wealth. Governments are inefficient at all they do. Why give them more to do then is absolutely necessary?

As can be seen in the UK, a socialised healthcare system exhibits Parkinson’s Law. I do think that the state should provide some sort of healthcare, perhaps limited to Accident & Emergency and children only?

I live in Norway. We have free medical care for all. It is not a “meat factory” like I, Brian describes the UK’s NHS to be. It works pretty well, though there are waiting lines for non-essential (lifesaving) operations. So, qts, all socialised healthcare systems don’t exhibit Parkinson’s Law.

I see virture in socialized medicine on the UK model, where the government actually provides the care, rather than just pay for it. It insures that everyone get access to medical care (of uncertain quality and promtness), but it does not restrict private medical care. More and more Brits arfe buying insurance to give themselves access to private medical care.

I don’t like the Medicare model. [ol][li]Since the government controls only one aspect, it’s easy for them to blame the doctors or hospitals when things go wrong.[]In order to make it affordable, the government winds up imposing all sorts of regulations and controls over private health care.[]Medicare includes provisions making it difficult for physicians to also take private patients.[]Medicare does nothing to restrict malpractice lawsuits, which drive up the cost of medicine.[]The medicare patient has the burden of filing claims, since reimbursement is partial and uncertain. [/ol]I would favor a chain of government clinics administered by local government. These clinics should provide a reasonable amount of health care, but not some very expensive or optional treatments. They should be exempt from malpractice suits. Doctors should be allowed to work part-time in these clinics and be unrestricted in how they practice medicine outside the clinic.[/li]
This is not a new idea. I was treated at a clinic like this in the Bronx 55 years ago.

Even sven - that wasn’t really what the OP was asking. It sounded more like Calculus was asking whether socialized medicine in the nature of Medicare or NHS is a good idea, rather than providing tax credits or something so people can buy their own private insurance.

I personally think the latter is the best idea. The problem with an NHS style health care system is that it has to receive proper funding to be effective - something I’m not sure would really happen in the US. The same objections sort of apply to the Medicare system, although not so much due to the difference in how it is done.

And contrary to Brutus’s ignorant suggestion, socialized medicine does not only help the poorest of the poor. Government insurance would probably be a good idea for small businesses and the self-employed as well as the poor and lower middle class families that don’t have any health care. Not only that, but in 1998, 41.2 million people in the US had no health insurance or about 14% of the population. Of that 41 million, though, only about 10.1 million were below the poverty line. So that’s 30 million people who aren’t even considered poor without insurance. [ulr=“http://democrats.senate.gov/~dpc/pubs/107-2-311.html”]Cite.

Anyway, I still think a tax credit would be good.

Crap. I can’t believe I mispelled “url” in the coding. Mod, por favor?

How embarassing.

I live in Sweden and I’d just like to second Elethiomel.

Following applies to US

  1. Just for the record the Clinton health care plan was remarkably similar to the Nixon health care plan.

  2. Many states already have socialized medicine in that hospitals cannot turn away anyone with a life threatening condition.

  3. I can relate a personal incident where the hospital actually sent the cops to enforce socialized medicine.

  4. Since hospitals know that only a fraction of their patients pay their bills they add that overhead into the price causing the insured, with high insurance rates, to pay for most of the nation’s health care.

Find a way to do it without totally fleecing my meager income and I’m all for it.

I’d like to see everyone taken care of, but me and my family come first AFAIK.

FWIW, as someone who is covered by a nationwide mandatory insurance system, I wouldn’t have it otherwise.

I pay 13,7 % of my gross income into the insurance scheme, and get peace of mind out of it. I never need to factor cost into whether to have something seen or treated (for minor ailments it is much more of an issue if it is worth the time), I must pay a modest sum (a few EUR) towards the cost of any prescription medication, and when I was in hospital a few years ago they billed me somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 EUR/day. Otherwise I just present my insurance card.
If I fell on hard times and only earned half the pay - well then my insurance contribution would also be halved.

All in all I am content - and this is as a single person whose insurance contributions subsidise a lot of children and nonworking spouses covered at no extra premium.

Of course there is a lot of fuss about the cost of the system and reforms - has always been since I remember, i.e. the 70s. I really ascribe it more to a national tendency for pessimism and grousing.

even sven’s scare tactics and horror stories aside, I don’t think this is a good idea for the US. There are several reasons:

  1. The US has a one of the world’s highest healthcare cost rates, owing to the fact that every one of us wants the damned very best care possible, period, and more and more people aren’t just taking their doctors’s advice, but seeking out other options and second opinions.

  2. The money is still coming somewhere, and the poor will have to shoulder a tax increase equal to their gain. I’ not sure their finances will actually improve.

  3. Hi Opal!

  4. Socialized healthcare will likely slow investment in new technology, as the government may well not be willing to pay high prices for new drugs and treatments - at least, not during the intial period where the makers are trying to recoup their investment.

  5. Americans aren’t the best at efficient beurocracies. We aren’t too shabby, but its not something we enjoy or admire.

Anyone from the USA care to comment on the odds of Brian getting a free hernia operation might have been there ? How good would the service have been ?

Well, you already get government subsidized health care and insurance through Tricare, don’t you?

even sven, I’m in the EXACT same boat as you are, and I completely agree. I need at least two root canals, crowns, bridges, etc. I can’t even get a cavity filled.

As wealthy as we are, the hard fact is that we still cannot afford all the health care we would like. In other words, there is scarcity. There aren’t enough doctors, nurses, technicians, hospitals, and equipment to go around…

So the question isn’t, “Should everyone have all the health care they want.” The question is, “Since everyone CAN’T have all the health care they want, what is the best way to allocate scarce resources?”

In countries where health care is ‘free’, the decisions are made by bureaucrats. And the answer is usually long waiting lists, reduced schedules of covered services, and outright rationing of certain procedures based on ‘need’. In some countries, if you’re too old to be a ‘good candidate’ for certain procedures, the way the government provides your free health care is to provide a free consultation where you’re told you don’t qualify for treatment, and are going to die.

Another way health care costs are rationed in socialized medical systems is to attempt to limit the salaries of doctors and nurses by law. That works in the short run, and everyone’s happy (except the doctors and nurses). In the long run, the professionals leave the country, and fewer new professionals enter the marketplace. Twenty or thirty years down the road, you discover that your best people are all in the United States, and that your rate of job creation in the medical professions is dropping.

TAANSTAAFL. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. You can’t pass a law and magically give everyone all the medical care they need. People who advocate socialized medicine should be clear on that. What they are proposing is to remove money as the allocator of medical resources, and turn it over to bureaucratic planning. The total amount of medical care in the country doesn’t change.