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Thread: John Stossel explains why socialized health care is retarded

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    Default John Stossel explains why socialized health care is retarded

    If you only watch one of these, watch the last one, but you should really watch all six.












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    Bet you when I watch these later today when I get home that they won't convert me from my socialized health care. I'm immensely grateful for my universal health care and here in Canada, Tommy Douglas (creator of the UHC system) is considered one of our national heroes. I'll get into the whole debate of this when I have a chance to watch your vids. They're blocked here at work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mn0good View Post
    Bet you when I watch these later today when I get home that they won't convert me from my socialized health care. I'm immensely grateful for my universal health care and here in Canada, Tommy Douglas (creator of the UHC system) is considered one of our national heroes. I'll get into the whole debate of this when I have a chance to watch your vids. They're blocked here at work.
    Yay. I love debating.

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    I'm not entirely sure how convincing those arguments were for no socialized health care.

    I believe that health care should be socialized as a means of providing a minimum standard for those who cannot afford health care. But at the same time, I also happen to believe that government health care should be as much of a competitor with private health care providers for those people who can afford better health care. The far more competitive private health care will appropriately be of superior quality while allowing for the lower quality socialized health care to cater to minor concerns or those who cannot afford higher quality care. This also frees private health for further specialization in their respective economic advantages.
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    Me too! Fun times ahead, to be sure. I'm poking through some of Stossel's articles on health care from the ABC site.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I'm not entirely sure how convincing those arguments were for no socialized health care.

    I believe that health care should be socialized as a means of providing a minimum standard for those who cannot afford health care. But at the same time, I also happen to believe that government health care should be as much of a competitor with private health care providers for those people who can afford better health care. The far more competitive private health care will appropriately be of superior quality while allowing for the lower quality socialized health care to cater to minor concerns or those who cannot afford higher quality care. This also frees private health for further specialization in their respective economic advantages.
    My problem with free medical care is how it perpetually increases demand while simultaneously reducing incentives for innovation that result in lower costs, better quality, and faster service in a free, competitive market. I don't have a problem with certain types of social programs in theory, but they often have too few strings attached, which only causes more poverty in the long run.

    I like the idea of helping disadvantaged people to improve their circumstances, (since it feels good to help people and also improves everyone's quality of living) not just their quality of living via handouts that they're only eligible for as long as they remain poor. Maybe they should pay deductibles for care under a certain amount, so they don't go to the ER for sniffles, and maybe a several months/years long grace period of extended eligibility beyond the maximum income level--thus making it less risky to start earning more money--would also be a good way of making these kinds of programs more transient.
    Last edited by discojoe; 07-25-2008 at 09:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    My problem with free medical care is how it perpetually increases demand while simultaneously reducing incentives for innovation that result in lower costs, better quality, and faster service in a free, competitive market. I don't have a problem with certain types of social programs in theory, but they often have too few strings attached, which only causes more poverty in the long run.
    Which is why social health care should look to cater to those of lower income while competing with the competitive private health care to create incentives to buy them instead of leaning strictly on the socialized health care.

    I like the idea of helping disadvantaged people to improve their circumstances, (since it feels good to help people and also improves everyone's quality of living) not just their quality of living via handouts that they're only eligible for as long as they remain poor. Maybe they should pay deductibles for care under a certain amount, so they don't go to the ER for sniffles, and maybe a several months/years long grace period of extended eligibility beyond the maximum income level, thus making it less risky to start earning more money, would also be a good way of making these kinds of programs more transient.
    Yes, but that is general the idea. A crutch is a handout given to allow you to continue your mobility while it should be severally impaired. No one wants to use crutches. They want to heal as rapidly as possible to be off of their crutches and resume regular mobility. No one particularly should want to have the socialized health care when the privatized health care should appear, and in fact be, the better quality option.

    But when some basic health problems cost more than a working family's earnings, then this creates a clear dilemma that forces families to choose between economic viability or the health of a loved one. Then there are surprisingly large number of homeless who were previously working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet only to get sick or in poor health conditions and are fired from their jobs leaving them unable to afford their health care or their housing. Socialized health care helps to alleviate some of this. I do not think that higher taxes should be required to accomplish this in the US, as I think that the US is inefficient in their overspending in the military.
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    Alright, here's my take on the arguments presented and what I usually have to say for socialized health care. While there are certain benefits to a free market system of health care, it also opens up as many problems. For instance, one of his arguments is that by removing the insurance provider, consumers will receive cheaper and better service because they are being dealt with directly. Yet in the USA a by-pass surgery costs 3X the amount it does here in Canada (I'm talking about the cost to the government, of course). Additionally, health services work outside the realm of the normal market because they are not always elective. There is often little choice involved. Either you pay or you die. And sometimes you either pay, or you stay in agony because you can't see the specialist who will prescribe your prescription (which is equally expensive). It seems like Stossel's argument is that the solution to health care is a free market without insurance. But that only works on an elective level: Do I see my doctor about my cold, or do I tough it out?

    A note about our social system:

    Certainly, we can have long waits for surgery. But we can get surgery. I mean it's dandy to look at it from the lower level like the GP, but when you get up to the issues that are actually life-threatening, there are times when you will not be able to afford your treatment. Simple as that. If you have insurance, sure, but then your free market system becomes redundant.

    And we have a current issue with a doctor shortages, but that has to do with the labour market shift more than anything else. Babyboomer doctors are retiring because, unlike a lot of other babyboomers, they can afford to. That creates a drop in the number of doctors because we have a smaller generation that's taking over the market. Additionally, we have a higher number of elderly as the babyboomers are hitting seniority. This causes a strain on the system. Lastly the social dynamic here in Canada is different from the states. There aren't as many people who are looking to become doctors here because schools and campaigns are directing people in other directions, namely trade and tech. So you get a shortage of doctors, simple as that. Our doctors still rack in as much as the average doctor anywhere else and people still get treatment. We have health care clinics that you can go to if you're sick and we have hospitals that treat people. Yeah, I had to wait for several hours to get my foot stitched up, but it's because I was treated by priority of need. I was just fine sitting there waiting. I think if you asked the average Canadian (and by this I mean middle-class) if they like UHC they would tell you they do. They would tell you that they prefer waiting over cost-risks.

    You guys were talking about socialized health care for lower classes, and I find that interesting. Something people talk about in Canada is the possibility of a two-tier system where you can opt to pay into universal health care or you can opt out and stick to private care. It's an on-going debate that seems to lose because of the concern that the UHC would get left behind. Why be a UHC doctor when you can work in private and charge people extravagantly and have fewer patients?
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    Which is why social health care should look to cater to those of lower income while competing with the competitive private health care to create incentives to buy them instead of leaning strictly on the socialized health care.
    Are you talking about universal social health care, or free health care for the poor? Because I can't see private health insurance competing with free government health insurance.

    Yes, but that is general the idea. A crutch is a handout given to allow you to continue your mobility while it should be severally impaired. No one wants to use crutches. They want to heal as rapidly as possible to be off of their crutches and resume regular mobility. No one particularly should want to have the socialized health care when the privatized health care should appear, and in fact be, the better quality option.
    I think you're totally off here; I think people--not all, but a lot of them--want to be taken care of, even if it means hanging onto a crutch their whole lives, especially people who grow up in these types of environments. People very easily become complacent, especially when you tell them they can continue to receive free things as long as they do nothing to help themselves to not need them.

    But when some basic health problems cost more than a working family's earnings, then this creates a clear dilemma that forces families to choose between economic viability or the health of a loved one.
    This just seems like a fact of life. Resources are scarce, and some people will inevitably die or be badly off for lack of having access to them. The reason the book I wanted to buy cost 8 dollars is because there aren't 6 billion of them, so only those who are willing to pay 8 dollars for that particular book can have one.

    (Written below is more of a diatribe against universal health care in general--I'm not saying you share these particular views I'm ranting about.)

    I'm not saying "screw the poor," but I just don't see how feasible is to remove prices, and thereby give a signal to everyone that says that scarce resources are actually unlimited resources. Medicine is going to be rationed, one way or the other--either by prices or by long lines--but with prices we at least get high quality care that rationed "free" systems can't provide, since no one is getting a worthwhile return on their investment to bother innovating.

    And after medicine, where do we stop? Are food and water human rights? In that case, what gives America the right to buy food that poor people need? What gives me the right to swim in Lake Michigan when there are billions of people without reliable access to fresh water? The fact that we can afford it? So what if free food means less food for everyone, and at much lower quality, because there are poor people who aren't eating! Practical concerns are petty compared to human suffering!

    Well, just as there isn't a sustainable way to remove fresh water from the Great Lakes and shipping it abroad without depleting them over time, or a way to cheaply ship and sell food to poor remote areas at high enough prices to cover costs, there is no way to "freely" distribute scarce resources such as medicine to everyone without gradually affecting their quality, reliability, and availability for every single person (except the rich elite who can afford to setup their own black market to pay for better goods).

    It may sound ridiculous, but there are plenty of people who see the results of other people's time and effort as being something they have a right to, but the truth is that they only have a right to it as long as the producers are being compensated based on the supply of the product and the demand for it.

    Then there are surprisingly large number of homeless who were previously working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet only to get sick or in poor health conditions and are fired from their jobs leaving them unable to afford their health care or their housing. Socialized health care helps to alleviate some of this. I do not think that higher taxes should be required to accomplish this in the US, as I think that the US is inefficient in their overspending in the military.
    Maybe it would be sustainable for a time, but sooner or later the fact that nothing has a price tag for each individual person in each individual medical visit would mean that taxes would eventually start to rise, and keep rising indefinitely, because we'd all be spending "someone else's" money. And no, I don't think it's even remotely feasible to expect people to be in the least bit conservative with their medical care once they don't have to pay with their own money, regardless of the increasingly high taxes that would follow. Actually, I think that because of the rising taxes people would have an attitude of "Well, I'm paying too, so I better well get my money's worth, since everyone else seems to be."

    I don't know, it just seems like a terrible, terrible idea.
    Last edited by discojoe; 07-26-2008 at 04:48 AM.

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    The fact of the matter is that you pay for it no matter what. At least with socialized health care there is a guarentee that services will be provided to all, even the disadvantaged. And while I don't have the numbers in front of me, I have read that Canada ends up paying less per capita for its system than the US. And by the WHO's standards our system is placed above the US (as are many socialized systems throughout Europe).

    There is also an economic benefit - there is one case I know of where an automaker built (or wanted to build) a factory in Canada over the US because of the lower amount of money they would have to put into health benefits as our system fronted the rest. Secondly, innovation doesn`t only happen in private healthcare; academia is also involved, and private drug companies can still operate in socialized systems because the only thing that changes is the government foots the prescription cost.

    In terms of societal progression, socialized healthcare is undoubtedly a mark of a highly civilized state, relatively speaking. This may be a difficult point to grasp depending on how much thought one has given to the idea, but it can be easily argued.

    I am not opposed to the idea of a two-tier health system as that is essentially what happens anyway on the international stage. But fundamentally I believe socialized healthcare to be better for all. That said, I`m speaking as a Canadian and not an American; it`s at this juncture where our respective national values tend to diverge.
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    I too, might enter into this debate to go against socialized health care, but not right now though.
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    It's the 60th anniversary of the British NHS this year.

    Before the NHS, the upper classes would have a doctor with a few hundred patients, while the lower classes would have a doctor with thousands of patients. The doctors tended to chase the money, and shorter working hours.

    People like the miners suffered from really bad ailments in the mines etc., and often couldn't afford to pay the doctor to treat them. So unions were set up, where people paid if they could, or were supported by the union if they couldn't. This was clearly a better system for the community and for individuals.

    In the initial days of the NHS, people sought treatment for long-term ailments that would not have been able to do otherwise - e.g. broken bones, poor eyesight, chest infections etc.

    I think the important thing to recognise is that we all suffer from ill-health at various points in our lives, and therefore, health is not a commodity which should be sold. And if the miners are digging up coal at least partly for your benefit (i.e. in a high risk, low paid job), then you should pay for national healthcare based on your ability to pay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    I think the important thing to recognise is that we all suffer from ill-health at various points in our lives, and therefore, health is not a commodity which should be sold. And if the miners are digging up coal at least partly for your benefit (i.e. in a high risk, low paid job), then you should pay for national healthcare based on your ability to pay.
    Read my posts above for several reasons why this is a bad idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    Read my posts above for several reasons why this is a bad idea.
    Goverments can put up taxes if they wish to invest more in healthcare. And private healthcare does exist in the UK if people wish to go for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    Goverments can put up taxes if they wish to invest more in healthcare. And private healthcare does exist in the UK if people wish to go for that.
    You're neglecting many other points I already brought up. I don't feel like explaining it all over again just because you don't feel like following the discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    You're neglecting many other points I already brought up. I don't feel like explaining it all over again just because you don't feel like following the discussion.
    You mean about how you have concerns that people will exploit the system to get healthcare they don't need?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    You mean about how you have concerns that people will exploit the system to get healthcare they don't need?
    And how it degrades the quality of care by destroying incentives brought on by competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    Discojoe's right here. Almost everything turns out better when there's competition. If you don't think so, then you have a warped view of human nature, and that's exactly why communism doesn't work.

    Some things the goverment has to do, like the military, but even that has incentives for people to make things work better.
    Yeah, and the military buys many of its weapons from private companies who compete with each other.

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    If doctors started prescribing prosthetic hearts made out of gold at the expense of the taxpayer, they would probably get the sack.

    Also, hospitals in the UK do compete with each other for funding, which is based on how good they are.

    Doctors also compete in a sense, because if they are not good enough for the job they aren't employed.

    People working for the public health service aren't payed as much as lawyers can be paid, which means the people who do work tend to do it out of a genuine sense of care rather than for reasons of monetary profit. They could work in private healthcare if they wanted too, and people could get treated through private healthcare if they so wished, but most don't.

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    If doctors started prescribing prosthetic hearts made out of gold at the expense of the taxpayer, they would probably get the sack.
    If doctors in socialized health care systems have incentives to keep costs down, that will lead to less medical research and less new medical treatments, ones that often turn out to be lifesaving for millions of people, because drug companies won't want to risk spending billions of dollars researching new medicines that doctors won't bother prescribing.

    Also, hospitals in the UK do compete with each other for funding, which is based on how good they are.
    The problem is that whoever is keeping score of the doctors in the UK based on "how good they are" is at a disadvantage, because whatever system they're using to keep tally can't possibly be as efficient as prices and will inevitably end up relying more and more on what the doctors themselves are saying about the condition of their patients, leading to incentives to lie in order to receive money.

    Doctors also compete in a sense, because if they are not good enough for the job they aren't employed.
    The problem with that line of reasoning is that, in a free market, "good enough" means being able to lure customers/patients away from other doctors to stay in business, whereas in your system it means being good enough to not be evaluated as incompetent by a board of tired bureaucrats and then assigned to some station to serve an endless queue of patients in a needy and inefficient socialist medical program.

    People working for the public health service aren't payed as much as lawyers can be paid, which means the people who do work tend to do it out of a genuine sense of care rather than for reasons of monetary profit. They could work in private healthcare if they wanted too, and people could get treated through private healthcare if they so wished, but most don't.
    By that reasoning, there would be just as many doctors no matter how low the pay were. Try cutting the average salary of doctors in the UK by 80% and then see how many new students enroll in medical school.

    Just because doctors don't make as much as the richest lawyers does not mean that they aren't at least partially lured into the profession by the prospect of high pay. Sure, many people become doctors because they want to help other people, but there are also many other reasons. Whatever the case, no matter what reasons people have for becoming doctors, if you lower the pay enough no one will bother going through years of medical school to become one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    If doctors in socialized health care systems have incentives to keep costs down, that will lead to less medical research and less new medical treatments, ones that often turn out to be lifesaving for millions of people, because drug companies won't want to risk spending billions of dollars researching new medicines that doctors won't bother prescribing.
    Why wouldn't they prescribe the new medicines?

    The problem is that whoever is keeping score of the doctors in the UK based on "how good they are" is at a disadvantage, because whatever system they're using to keep tally can't possibly be as efficient as prices and will inevitably end up relying more and more on what the doctors themselves are saying about the condition of their patients, leading to incentives to lie in order to receive money.
    Is the problem of lying for money any different than US medical research? From what I have seen, there is little difference.

    Just because doctors don't make as much as the richest lawyers does not mean that they aren't at least partially lured into the profession by the prospect of high pay. Sure, many people become doctors because they want to help other people, but there are also many other reasons. Whatever the case, no matter what reasons people have for becoming doctors, if you lower the pay enough no one will bother going through years of medical school to become one.
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    Why wouldn't they prescribe the new medicines?
    Because of the cost-cutting incentives I mentioned in the very paragraph you quoted. New medicine = more expensive.

    Is the problem of lying for money any different than US medical research? From what I have seen, there is little difference.
    The problem is that, if doctors are paid based on "how good they are", they will lie about the conditions of their patients in order to "juke the stats", meaning yet another decline in medical care.

    Yes. And?
    It sounded like Subterlolian was hinting that doctors are mostly made up of humanitarian crusaders who love working for socialized medicine, even at a personal financial cost to them in the form of lower pay. I was correcting him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    Because of the cost-cutting incentives I mentioned in the very paragraph you quoted. New medicine = more expensive.
    Well, wouldn't doctors be equally as likely to be fired if it was discovered that they weren't using the best medicines or technology? I mean, maybe that's expecting a little much from the government, but don't you think people would be pretty outraged when John Doe died sixth months earlier than predicted because the government didn't supply him with the latest heart transplant? Although I guess that could get expensive. Maybe people in the hospital could be given the option of writing a letter to a billionaire asking for the funds to pay for their heart transplants I sure wouldn't say no...

    And as far as researching goes, I don't think socialized health care necessarily = socialized medicine development/pharmaceuticals; it seems that, if this is the case, there would still be plenty of competition between companies researching new medicines and technologies.
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    Well, wouldn't doctors be equally as likely to be fired if it was discovered that they weren't using the best medicines or technology? I mean, maybe that's expecting a little much from the government, but don't you think people would be pretty outraged when John Doe died sixth months earlier than predicted because the government didn't supply him with the latest heart transplant? Although I guess that could get expensive. Maybe people in the hospital could be given the option of writing a letter to a billionaire asking for the funds to pay for their heart transplants I sure wouldn't say no...
    Let's say you're right, that people would find out about some particular case where a patient died from not getting the best available treatment. What could we do to reduce the risk of more patients dying the same way in the future? Even though some doctors would be upright and honest about their patients, there would still be many doctors who would knowingly keep overoptimistic records of their patients' treatments in order to be eligible to receive a pay raise at an upcoming performance evaluation--even at the risk of getting into legal trouble.

    So how would we prevent future patients from dying as long as there exists an incentive for doctors to lie? Reduce cost-cutting incentives? But how can we do that when drug companies aren't around to create new medicine, since we've destroyed their incentive to spend billions of dollars on research? Leave it to the government? Who's going to end up paying the costs? We will. And since the government has no competition there won't be as many medical breakthroughs, and the ones we would end up getting would cost a lot more--again, due to lack of economic incentives to reduce costs by increasing efficiency.

    And as far as researching goes, I don't think socialized health care necessarily = socialized medicine development/pharmaceuticals; it seems that, if this is the case, there would still be plenty of competition between companies researching new medicines and technologies.
    But socialized health care amounts to price control, since we'd each only be paying what we paid in taxes for our medicine. This would mean that drug companies aren't getting the billions they need in order to be able to continue researching, especially since the government--which does not operate under the intense pressure of competition--wouldn't need to be as careful about which of these new medicines is purchased from insurance companies, yet would also have every incentive to reduce costs of the ones that were purchased to levels that would have ruined them in a competitive market due to their poor quality.

    Remember, the line between efficiency and quality won't be successfully walked unless both are equally important to the survival of the company, so while efficiency may go up under the government, quality probably won't, since there isn't a competitor who can threaten the government with less business by making higher-quality goods. Since the government doesn't have to worry about getting paid, (since its fees are mandatory taxes that are levied on everyone) its cost-cutting incentives will be about saving money, (which only means reducing the total sum of money paid) and not about earning more of it, (which would mean increasing output per dollar while maintaining standards set by competition) because there wouldn't exist a correlation between its performance as a health care provider and its continued existence as one.

    The government will not help you out of the kindness of its heart.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I'm not entirely sure how convincing those arguments were for no socialized health care.

    I believe that health care should be socialized as a means of providing a minimum standard for those who cannot afford health care. But at the same time, I also happen to believe that government health care should be as much of a competitor with private health care providers for those people who can afford better health care. The far more competitive private health care will appropriately be of superior quality while allowing for the lower quality socialized health care to cater to minor concerns or those who cannot afford higher quality care. This also frees private health for further specialization in their respective economic advantages.
    That's exactly how things are now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    Let's say you're right, that people would find out about some particular case where a patient died from not getting the best available treatment. What could we do to reduce the risk of more patients dying the same way in the future?
    Ummmm...fear of people taking responsibility for themselves by gathering information from the doctors about the procedure and the resulting possibility of job insecurity should they not use the optimal methods?

    Even though some doctors would be upright and honest about their patients, there would still be many doctors who would knowingly keep overoptimistic records of their patients' treatments in order to be eligible to receive a pay raise at an upcoming performance evaluation--even at the risk of getting into legal trouble.
    Right, but if people take care to inform themselves, doctors aren't going to lie when inquired about the procedures or technology being used if they want to keep their jobs.

    But socialized health care amounts to price control, since we'd each only be paying what we paid in taxes for our medicine. This would mean that drug companies aren't getting the billions they need in order to be able to continue researching, especially since the government--which does not operate under the intense pressure of competition--wouldn't need to be as careful about which of these new medicines is purchased from insurance companies, yet would also have every incentive to reduce costs of the ones that were purchased to levels that would have ruined them in a competitive market due to their poor quality.

    Remember, the line between efficiency and quality won't be successfully walked unless both are equally important to the survival of the company, so while efficiency may go up under the government, quality probably won't, since there isn't a competitor who can threaten the government with less business by making higher-quality goods. Since the government doesn't have to worry about getting paid, (since its fees are mandatory taxes that are levied on everyone) its cost-cutting incentives will be about saving money, (which only means reducing the total sum of money paid) and not about earning more of it, (which would mean increasing output per dollar while maintaining standards set by competition) because there wouldn't exist a correlation between its performance as a health care provider and its continued existence as one.

    The government will not help you out of the kindness of its heart.
    Competition for government contracts could be motivation for development and continuing research; whoever makes the best products and can sell them for the cheapest gets the government's business. And I'm sure there would be enough popular incentive for the government to stay up to date on medicine; it's a pretty important issue. I mean, the government doesn't have any serious incentives to repair roads or provide welfare, but they do it because the people think it's a good idea; why wouldn't the same be true for health care? If people care enough about the issues, they can influence the government. We DO still vote on things like this, you know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joy View Post
    That's exactly how things are now.
    Ummm...the United States government does not provide any public healthcare as far as I know.
    But, for a certainty, back then,
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    Belgium, the uk, and south korea spend half of what the us does per capita and they cover their ENTIRE populations. The us uses its health care system as just another method to harvest its population's dwindling resources.
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    It's at the state level. And aside from whatever programs states offer, hospitals that accept federal funds have to provide care to those who need it, even if they don't have insurance and can't pay for it (I don't know the specifics of the rules or those funds, just that they exist and that many hospitals have used them and have to take patients that can't pay for health care).
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    Ummmm...fear of people taking responsibility for themselves by gathering information from the doctors about the procedure and the resulting possibility of job insecurity should they not use the optimal methods?
    The problem is that there won't be any job insecurity--or at least no significant risk of being fired--because that would only exacerbate the shortage of doctors caused by the massive surge in demand for "free" health care.

    Right, but if people take care to inform themselves, doctors aren't going to lie when inquired about the procedures or technology being used if they want to keep their jobs.
    I think that's wishful thinking. You can't really expect millions of lazy people to suddenly become responsible citizens and research all of the newly available treatments for their conditions before visiting the doctor. Plus, we'd also have to research possible treatments for various types of injuries that may occur, so in addition to our known ailments, this means that we'd all have to do dozens of hours of medical research each year in order to stay up-to-date.

    But more to the point, it's not so much that the doctors would flat out lie about medical treatment, (though I'm sure that would happen) but that when someone goes to the doctor and complains of nebulous symptoms, the doctor would be more likely to tell him that it's nothing, instead of ordering the expensive tests that could mean the difference between living or dying.

    I don't think this would happen right away, but once money started to get tight we would see the government putting pressure on hospitals to make various "practical" cut backs that would actually mean that doctors would have to start ignoring certain signs of rare conditions based on their likelihood.

    Competition for government contracts could be motivation for development and continuing research; whoever makes the best products and can sell them for the cheapest gets the government's business. And I'm sure there would be enough popular incentive for the government to stay up to date on medicine; it's a pretty important issue. I mean, the government doesn't have any serious incentives to repair roads or provide welfare, but they do it because the people think it's a good idea; why wouldn't the same be true for health care?
    The government will not be able to pay for everyone's expensive medications and treatments. It can't pay for them now, and it won't be able to pay for them after the massive influx of demand starts clogging up the hospitals and clinics.

    Even if the government could somehow, beyond all common sense, actually afford to keep paying for these medications and treatments (and at prices high enough to keep drug companies in business) without totally devastating the economy via taxation, (meaning less investments, less jobs, less lending) it still wouldn't be any good at all at telling us what is best for us, since it doesn't have to worry about the accuracy of its advice in order to continue to exist, and there would be no one competing with the government who would have the incentive to tell us the truth about new medicine.

    It's not coincidence that America, the only developed nation that doesn't have socialized medicine, is where almost all new medicine is made. It's because we're not relying on the government that is at the mercy of uninformed citizenry who want everything for free. Try telling a for-profit company that you want everything they make for free. They'll laugh at you and sell their goods to someone who can pay for them. That's something a politician can't afford to do, because it looks mean, and the fact that it actually results in better standards of living for the great majority is almost always overlooked by people who don't like to read history books.

    If people care enough about the issues, they can influence the government. We DO still vote on things like this, you know.
    The problem is that we only vote every two years, but companies can go out of business any day. The person with the most to lose will always act more reliably.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollywoodWanderer View Post
    Belgium, the uk, and south korea spend half of what the us does per capita and they cover their ENTIRE populations. The us uses its health care system as just another method to harvest its population's dwindling resources.
    The actual care is more expensive because it's not shitty. Why do you think so many people come to the US for cancer treatment? To save money? No. It's because they don't want to die.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    The actual care is more expensive because it's not shitty. Why do you think so many people come to the US for cancer treatment? To save money? No. It's because they don't want to die.
    Why do Americans go to other countries for healthcare, then, if it's so top quality?

    ...ohhhh, right....

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    The actual care is more expensive because it's not shitty. Why do you think so many people come to the US for cancer treatment? To save money? No. It's because they don't want to die.
    Stop filling this forum with your right-wingishness!
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    Quote Originally Posted by akeaneau View Post
    Stop filling this forum with your right-wingishness!
    I may not agree with discojoe's views, but at least he is putting up a hard argument. Where are your counterarguments?
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    This discussions is pathetically ideological.
    Remember that economics should be aimed at bettering welfare, which has a clear psychological component. Which, in turn, means that competition is to be considered better as long as the utility function of the members of the society says so. So, saying that competition always leads to a better outcome may be true in strictly practical terms (but not always, given that in certain occasions cooperation is definitely much more efficient), but we should also consider the global effect of this kind of view.
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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    If doctors in socialized health care systems have incentives to keep costs down, that will lead to less medical research and less new medical treatments, ones that often turn out to be lifesaving for millions of people, because drug companies won't want to risk spending billions of dollars researching new medicines that doctors won't bother prescribing.

    The problem is that whoever is keeping score of the doctors in the UK based on "how good they are" is at a disadvantage, because whatever system they're using to keep tally can't possibly be as efficient as prices and will inevitably end up relying more and more on what the doctors themselves are saying about the condition of their patients, leading to incentives to lie in order to receive money.
    The doctors are supposed to give the best treatment possible - they don't give shoddy treatment because it would reflect badly on them.

    It would be difficult for a doctor to lie about the number of people who died after receiving heart surgery, for example, and patients are asked about their degree of satisfaction with their treatment also.

    The UK government gives money to many promising research areas, e.g. university projects, and rewards hospitals that do well through monetary incentives. The hospitals can improve by sacking incompetent doctors or bringing in outside help from the world of business. It sounds like with the US system, only conditions where medicines would be profitable are researched – here, research is based more on need.

    The NHS can buy drugs en masse, they have no interest in making a profit from their patients, and can cut out the middlemen, hence cheaper drugs.

    Having a nationalised health service also means the patient can see how well a hospital is doing compared to another hospital (there is supposed to be an element of choice in the hospital you receive treatment at).

    The NHS can invest in specialised healthcare centres and pioneer new techniques – which would be difficult in a free market where people keep new innovations to themselves. Having many hospitals where like-with-like comparisons can be made also means improvements can be made by examining the methods of the good and poor hospitals.

    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe
    If The problem with that line of reasoning is that, in a free market, "good enough" means being able to lure customers/patients away from other doctors to stay in business, whereas in your system it means being good enough to not be evaluated as incompetent by a board of tired bureaucrats and then assigned to some station to serve an endless queue of patients in a needy and inefficient socialist medical program.
    What system do you have in the US in order to decide which doctor to go to?

    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe
    If By that reasoning, there would be just as many doctors no matter how low the pay were. Try cutting the average salary of doctors in the UK by 80% and then see how many new students enroll in medical school.
    There have actually been concerns because Britain has been recruiting doctors from developing countries and taking away their best doctors. So Britain does engage in free market principles, as unethical as they are.

    In some instances, if a patient has to wait too long for medical treatment or if the standard of care available publicly isn’t acceptable, the NHS will pay for the treatment privately.

    And if some people don’t like nationalised healthcare, then perhaps the government could give them a rebate and let them pay for their own medical treatment?
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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    The problem is that there won't be any job insecurity--or at least no significant risk of being fired--because that would only exacerbate the shortage of doctors caused by the massive surge in demand for "free" health care.
    Not if doctors were still paid well. Personally I don't think doctors should be paid for by the government except if it is proven that a person can't afford one for themselves; if you can afford a better doctor, good for you. If not, well, you should at least be helped in affording one.

    I think that's wishful thinking. You can't really expect millions of lazy people to suddenly become responsible citizens and research all of the newly available treatments for their conditions before visiting the doctor. Plus, we'd also have to research possible treatments for various types of injuries that may occur, so in addition to our known ailments, this means that we'd all have to do dozens of hours of medical research each year in order to stay up-to-date.
    Hey, I know I'd do it, and I would make damn sure my loved ones did it, and I'm sure that you and Joy would do it...I don't think it's wishful thinking at all.

    Besides, I'm sure someone could make money (private enterprise, anybody?) by offering services to help keep people informed. There's another opportunity for competition created by socialization; probably only one of numerous possibilities.

    But more to the point, it's not so much that the doctors would flat out lie about medical treatment, (though I'm sure that would happen) but that when someone goes to the doctor and complains of nebulous symptoms, the doctor would be more likely to tell him that it's nothing, instead of ordering the expensive tests that could mean the difference between living or dying.

    I don't think this would happen right away, but once money started to get tight we would see the government putting pressure on hospitals to make various "practical" cut backs that would actually mean that doctors would have to start ignoring certain signs of rare conditions based on their likelihood.
    Again I guess this leaves more up to the consumer in terms of keeping themselves informed and acting in their own best interests. If you want capitalism to work, you have to assume that people are going to do this in the first place, so why should it be any different than?

    On the flip side, it might lead to a decrease in doctors dramatizing the possibility of severe conditions, as is seen today in psychiatry, in order to make their cut of whatever a pharm company might be paying them to promote a certain kind of medication. Ever notice those posters and signs you see up in a psychiatrist's office for this and that "wonder pill of tomorrow?"

    The government will not be able to pay for everyone's expensive medications and treatments. It can't pay for them now, and it won't be able to pay for them after the massive influx of demand starts clogging up the hospitals and clinics.
    Well, personally I don't think that they should pay for EVERYTHING; asking the government to pay for little Johnny's Ritalin because he has trouble concentrating is a bit of a stretch, IMO. However when it comes to things like heart transplants and treatment of potentially debilitating or life-or-death diseases/injuries, I personally think it's a sham to pretend that we, as a country, "can't afford" it.

    Even if the government could somehow, beyond all common sense, actually afford to keep paying for these medications and treatments (and at prices high enough to keep drug companies in business) without totally devastating the economy via taxation, (meaning less investments, less jobs, less lending) it still wouldn't be any good at all at telling us what is best for us, since it doesn't have to worry about the accuracy of its advice in order to continue to exist, and there would be no one competing with the government who would have the incentive to tell us the truth about new medicine.
    Like I said, I don't believe in totally socialized healthcare; just "help" for people who can't afford grandma's heart transplant or little 6-year old Suzie's diabetes medication. Doctor's WOULD still have to worry about their job security if people continue using their services beyond the bare minimum need which, as I'm sure you'll agree, will continue to happen as it does now.

    It's not coincidence that America, the only developed nation that doesn't have socialized medicine, is where almost all new medicine is made. It's because we're not relying on the government that is at the mercy of uninformed citizenry who want everything for free. Try telling a for-profit company that you want everything they make for free. They'll laugh at you and sell their goods to someone who can pay for them. That's something a politician can't afford to do, because it looks mean, and the fact that it actually results in better standards of living for the great majority is almost always overlooked by people who don't like to read history books.
    Again, as long as EVERYTHING isn't socialized, and drug companies still have to compete for the government's business (as well as that of people who want more than they need), I'm sure there will still be plenty of competition. There's a difference between government assisted health care and socializing all medically related industries.

    The problem is that we only vote every two years, but companies can go out of business any day.
    This is pure rhetoric.
    But, for a certainty, back then,
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    Yet even then, we ran like the wind,
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    Under cerulean skies...

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