Why I support single payer Universal Health Coverage but not really

Despite much of the chatter to the contrary, not everyone who opposes Obama’s health “reform” proposals are against it because it seems like a sneaky way to introduceuniversal_health_care a single payer “socialized” system.  And despite Mr. Obama’s protestations to the contrary, we all know that he would prefer a single payer system, or at least that’s what he said before it became politically inexpedient to say so.

The fine folks over at the Confluence and many other liberal types dislike the current health care reform packages because they do  not go far enough in providing universalized access and a single (government) payer.  For them, the big problems with the proposed legislation is Mr. Obama selling out the American people to big Pharma and insurance companies. One of their front pagers, Dakinikat, is an economist and does a good deal of the mind blowing wonky numbers crunching to demonstrate how to make the numbers work both in health care and on any number of other topics.  Her analysis, combined with my particular old liberal leanings, and the sheer common sense nature of it all combine to give me a King Agrippa moment: “almost thou persuadest me.


I believe single payer health insurance coverage is a good idea in theory.  In fact, I think most liberal ideals are quite… ideal.  I love the notion that every person will go easily into the nearest quality medical center and receive whatever care is deemed appropriate for his or her condition at no immediate cost to them.  I love the idea that no one will be turned away because of preexisting conditions or denied because of profit motivated insurance companies.  I love the idea that American businesses will not be saddled with the competitive disadvantage of having to provide expensive insurance for their employees.  Its all wonderful.  Sign me up NOW!!

I want a system where stories like this are common:

Some time ago, Kang Myong Suk, a woman in Ongjin county, south Hwanghae Province, received a note on health checkups from the Red Cross General Hospital of Korea, drawing particular attention of many people. Such note is mailed to her twice a year.

An ordinary farmer at the Ongjin county integrated farm, she was supposed right after her birth to die in ten years of congenital valvular disease.  However, under the tender and regular care of first-class hospitals of the country such as the Red Cross General Hospital, the Pyongyang University of Medicine Hospital and the Kim Man Yu Hospital, she could become a mother of two children and is now getting along very well at her age of over 40.

She has so far received from the state such enormous benefits of free medical care that her family can hardly repay through generations.

According to her clinical records, she was hospitalized for a total of 680 odd days and underwent a major operation of nine hours by a team of skilled surgeons. In addition, her pace-setter was replaced three times, a transfusion of blood of scores of litres was performed and very expensive medicine was given for the recovery of her health.But, she does not know that the benefits of medical treatment she has received so far reach astronomical figures, when counted in cash.

In the DPRK where the greatest man-centred politics has been administered, the system of universal free medical service has been enforced since the hard-fought Fatherland Liberation War period (June 1950-July 1953).   Under the advanced section doctor system enforced later, everyone is given systematic medical service–regular checkups, consultation, preventive inoculation, etc.–By his or her section doctor. Such practices can be seen anywhere in Korea as a doctor visiting a patient and a hospital sending a notice on health of a patient discharged from it.

The law on public health was adopted in April 1980 to ensure health of all working people.

Of course this story is propaganda in support of the horrible regime in North Korea, so it’s unlikely to be at all true (unless of course the woman in the story is a high ranking party official, in which case it might actually be true), but even if it is, it’s no more problematic than Michael Moore’s propagandistic look at Cuban health care, exposed here:

None of this however is the reason that I’m nervous about UHC.  I don’t think we’ll see Cuba style hospitals anytime soon, and I certainly don’t think we’ll have fly covered patients suffering in state owned institutions.  My problem with UHC and with many liberal programs can be summed up in this brief exchange I had over at TC in response to my statement about Congress’ irresponsibility in handling the nations finances.

myiq2xu, on August 14th, 2009 at 3:39 pm Said:

Too much outgo and not enough income.

Medicare and Social Security don’t take in enough money to pay all their liabilities. Politicians don’t want to cut benefits (reduce outgo) or raise taxes (increase income) because to do so is politically unpopular. So the problems are papered over with ‘creative accounting.’

Agreed – but the problem isn’t inherent with those programs, it is a failure of execution. The same politicians that put those programs in jeopardy have been cutting taxes and increasing spending. Now that Social Security aand MediCare are in trouble they are claiming it’s because the programs don’t work. (and many other government programs)

That’s like someone who runs up their credit cards and then instead of paying the bills they go to Vegas and spend their paycheck. Then they turn around and blame the credit card company for their financial problems.

theblackcommenter, on August 14th, 2009 at 4:26 pm Said:

That’s like someone who runs up their credit cards and then instead of paying the bills they go to Vegas and spend their paycheck. Then they turn around and blame the credit card company for their financial problems.

What a wonderful description of Washington politicians, except they just vote themselves a higher limit on the credit card and just keep gambling.

As I have said, I could be a proponent of single-payer, or expansion of federal government into health care and other areas. However the government simply has not proven to be responsible with the funds and the power they’ve been given. Why give the paycheck gambling, maxed credit card person you mentioned yet another go at the family finances just because they “promise” to be good this time?

I have numerous other concerns; concerns about privacy, about intrusion of the federal government into areas that it is not constitutionally supposed to venture, concerns about liberty.  But right now the biggest concern is the tone deafness of the federal government and their patent disregard for our national well being.   I really don’t care about how efficient and well UHC works in other countries.  I don’t live there.  Nor am I impressed by horror stories of insurance companies denying claims and seeking to maximize profit.  They are for profit business and I expect that from them, though I think there must be moral restraint in any capitalist system.

Large, unresponsive, “helpful” government is the single largest threat to our liberty.  If the government can call the shots on health care, they can call the shots on anything else.  If the government had demonstrated integrity in other areas, there would not be such outrage over this.  But it is hard to sell a people who’ve been systematically lied to about everything from Vietnam, to Bill Clinton’s sex life, to the war in Iraq that this time they are going to get it right.  It is even harder to believe when Congressmen openly declare that they do not read the legislation, demonstrate quite readily that they do not know what’s in it, and insist quite adamantly that they themselves ought not to be subject to it.

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5 Responses to Why I support single payer Universal Health Coverage but not really

  1. Great post!

    Mr. VanNuys at AmericanMissive has been expressing similar discontent. Perhaps the proposed solution is the way to go, but the reputation of the system proposing this solution is poor at best. It is almost a certainty that this follow the same path. It is the nature of a “democracy.” With peacefull revolutions scheduled every four years, the power and ideals will be in constant flux assuring that funding will never be met.

    Even still most of these systems have been imposed in other nations, such as Canada, and yet these nations have budgetary issues.

    • It is quite simply silly to think that tremendous entitlement programs can work within budgetary guidelines without the self rationing of the market or the bureaucratic rationing of government. Neither is perfect but at least within a market system such rationing does not carry the force of law and there are alternatives.

  2. Great post! This is why the our founders tried to write a Constitution that limited federal powers–the federal voting booth is not adequate to reign in this irresponsibility. In the free market, you have the numbers, which demand much more immediate and logical action.

    Those who still hold onto the pipe dream that a large government can overcome its tendencies toward corruption are a little naive. Stronger local and state level governments (and a weaker federal one) are the only hope for our futures.

    Sorry for the rambling, but it was a thought-provoking post!

  3. Thanks for the URL posted in Investigating Obama. I’ll have to pick a place on the I.O. sidebar for this educational blog. Probably in the Obama Insurrection Research / Obamology blogroll.


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