Why no free healthcare?

I have always wondered this. How come America does not have 100% totally free healthcare for 100% of it’s populace? Canada has this. I’m pretty sure a lot of European countries have this. Why don’t we? Why does our government (as a whole, I do know there are people trying to change this) think it’s in our best interest to let huge insurance companies charge and arm and a leg for you to keep your arm and leg? Is it because they liek to spout it off as “America’s free enterprise at work for the best interest of it’s nation?”

I have a friend who is a pretty convervative republican, especially financially. The other day the topic of Canada’s healthcare system came up, and he went off on a tirade, saying how horrible it was, and thank God we live in America where we get good healtcare. I asked him what he meant, and he said, basically, that because most of it is free, the doctor’s get paid less, the technology is less, and overall it’s worse healthcare thna in America. My rebuttal is that, well, America’s might be better…if you can afford it. Too many people die because they cannot aford their cardiac bypass, or surgery to remove a brain tumor.

It just irks me that our country feels it’s better to spend money on a bloated military budget, give tax cuts to the rich, and let good Americans die. :mad:

Basically, the American people do not want it. They prefer the low-tax, low-service model of government. Despite polls that show support for universal health care, there is little support for paying the taxes ‘free’ health care requires.

(Heck we can;t get people to support school bonds for Pete’s sake.)

As the American philosopher P.J. O’Rouke pointed out, ‘If you think health care is expensive now, just wait to you see how much it costs once its free.’

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this thread title was: “Taxes are bad!”

IOW… you phrased my thoughts better than I could have, Paul in Saudi.

We still pay for the health care of the poor, the disabled, the old, government employees and veterans. Does anyone know what percentage of total health care this in terms of people and dollars. Given that I would presume the old, poor and disabled and poor make up a disproportionate chunk of health care spending, I wouldn’t be suprised if we’re closer to paying all health care costs in this country then is generally thought. I’ve heard that the veterans association alone, for example, covers more people then does the UK’s entire universal health care system

Actually it is because private health care providers fight tooth and nail to prevent it. Private medicine is big business and funds powerful lobbies. For example, ever hear the phrase “socialized medicine”? It is on the checklist of things to say anytime there is an opportunity to scare the American population about such a proposal. By contrast you don’t hear much discussion of the military in terms of “socialized defense,” do you. Guess why not.

Every other first world country has univeral health care and public approval of it. It is one of those things that once it occurs, it meets with such approval that it becomes fatal for any government to oppose it.

Basically, once a nation achieves a certain level of affluence, people want the same things everywhere, the US, Europe, everywhere. Universal health cover is one of those things. Knowing this, the US private sector is ahead of the game and spends up big to demonize what is an empirically effective and desirable policy, so as to foreclose rational debate.

Pretty much what Paul in Saudi said. Or think of it this way if you like…we live in a democracy. If the majority of citizens want ‘free healthcare’ (and the associated taxes) then we’ll get it. The OP seems to think of the government as a monolithic entity thats a law unto itself. Remember that Clinton tried to get universal healthcare passed in his first term…then dropped it like a hot potatoe when it went no where because of lack of popular support. Always trust Clinton on one thing if nothing else…to support positions and policies that are popular. :slight_smile:


Cite? There are about 60,000,000 people in the UK. Do you think there are 60,000,000 veterans in the US?

As for the OP, nothing is “free”.

As it is, we are currently paying for the health care of other average citizens – not just the old and the poor. When you buy a car, you pay an extra $1,000 so that the automobile manufacturer can provide health care insurance to the employee.

By the way, a considerable amount of money goes to pay for medications. At this time, Medicare does not pay for that for the elderly. What they get in Social Security may well be going in its entirety to pay for meds.

I’m only 61 and I have very good insurance. Without it, I would be paying around $500 a month for medications.

It is a choice of where you want to spend you extra money - from your paycheck and on prices, or in government taxes.

I prefer the solution that doesn’t leave 40,000,000 Americans without health insurance. Some others would rather have that extra weekend vacation. :smack:

Yes, I see your point, but the answer to the OP remains. Americans for whatever reason have not (yet at least) demanded universal healthcare.

As for The Medical Establishment killing the idea, well you have half a point. They are certainly opposed to universal care, but once it is enacted they will become big fans of it as well.

As for me, I prefer to pay for the healthcare of me and my family myself. I contribute heavily to my favorite charity (no guessing as to which one) to help others. Perhaps yo would favor another system, but I am happy as is.

The defense of our country is “socialized” if you want to call it that. There is no practical way to privatize it. Not so with healthcare. Your analogy is not just a bad one, it’s terrible.

It is one of those things that once enacted it is impossible to get rid of. People come to the US for medical treatment. How often to you hear of Americans going somewhere to obtain medical treatment unavailable here? The only instances are those where the government has not apporved of the procedure.

Your statement is self-contradictory since it can’t be shown that the American populace wants government controlled healthcare. You can postulate a conspiracy theory by the medical establishment, but that is something which is simply impossible to prove.

It is a fallacy: That if the majority of the population in a democracy consider a policy to be a good idea, then it will occur.

Instead, what counts is the energy and capital put into promoting, or preventing the implementation of a policy. E.g. in Clinton’s case, there simply wasn’t enough of either to push the policy through. Especially given the concerted opposition.

The US is full of such policies, gun control and farming subsidies are other examples. What forms the ultimate policy position on these issues is manifestly not the policy most likely to meet with the considered approval of a popular majority. It is the position taken by interested lobbies. The general public isn’t motivated to take an equivalently strong position. Those are the signals Joe Politician reads.

In a word: Inertia.

The US govt cant even maintain Social Security with any form of credibility and now that they are thinking of privatizing it (Social security), could we really trust politicians to be in charge of a national healthcare system which they cant even agree upon how its going to be structured?

From the Dept. of Veterans affairs:

“About a quarter of the nation’s population – approximately 70 million people – are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.”

I heard the original cite on NPR, I don’t recall the program though.


nothing in the USA is “free”. Theres no such thing as a free lunch and free healthcare is going to cost the middle class an arm and a leg plus 2 minor organs.

Sorry, but I still need to see a cite that 70M people in the US are elligible for full healthcare coverage thru the VA. My father was a career military guy, 30 years in the service, and I get nada.

Here’s the problem: No countries can afford all the health care the citizens would like. So, health care has to be rationed. There will NOT be ‘free health care for everyone’. There will just be a different system for rationing.

There are two ways to ration health care. One is to open the market and let people essentially bid for what they are willing to pay. Prices then rise to the point where they represent the value of health care to the public.

Or, you can declare that health care is ‘free’ - at which point the demand for health care will rise and you will wind up with shortages and waiting lists. Britain, Canada, and other countries with mature socialized health care systems tend to have either long waiting lists, or other methods of rationing care such as deductibles, treatment cutoffs for certain problems or for people of a certain age, etc.

In fact Donald Rumsfeld and I agree on this one. There is scope to privatise defence.

Secondly, my analogy: The point is the way we hear about these things talked about. "Socialized’ is a poison term in the US, I think you agree. However because of general goodwill and acceptance of the military, no-one is prepared to routinely talk of defense in those terms. Not so ‘socialized’ health care, where spreading poison is the order of the day. So to speak.

What does this establish? That there is high quality medical care available in the US? Certainly. But that is beside the point here.

My statement is not self-contradictory. At worst it is unverifiable. I rely on the fact that the rest of the first world has and popularly approves of universal health coverage.

Conspiracy? Impossible to prove? I wouldn’t use the word 'conspiracy." The fact of medical sector lobbying and representation is well within the scope of proof.

“Socialized!” I knew someone would stick to the approved script.

First, health care is not price elastic. People are sick or they aren’t. There simply isn’t the empirical evidence of increases in demand Sam asserts.

Secondly Sam does omits the successful universal health care system: The hybrid model. Under this model universal health care is available pretty much as Sam describes. There are waiting lists for a minority of procedures. That is the cost of universal cover.

However there remains a parallel private system. If you are sufficiently determined you may take private health coverage in addition to the extant public cover. This enables you to avoid the risks of waiting lists, sharing a ward with plebians etc.

In effect the govt mandates that you take a minimum of health cover, through taxation. Any further cover is at your own discretion and cost.

I believe this is the model Clinton intended to adopt.

Canada does not, nor does any European nation I know of. They all pay by higher taxes. They also- in general- have to give up the idea of keeping your personal Doctor. This last is what torpedoed Hillarie’s plan. Dudes weren’t willing to give up having their choice of Dr- not unreasonable, sure- but it adds hugely to the cost and complexity.

If you want both “free” healthcare- AND the ability to keep “your” Doctor- then we have to be willing to pay a LOT extra in taxes- and your Doctor has to be willing to put up with a lot of extra paperwork.

Not gonna happen