Only if we developed a fondness for long waiting lines and ever more insurance mandates.
he United States has a complex health-care delivery system composed of private and government-funded insurance plans. Half of all Americans receive their health insurance from their employer or their spouse’s employer. Over 40 percent of Americans receive their health insurance from the government. The remainder are either uninsured or obtain health insurance through the private individual market. The current political debate concerns how large a role the government should play in our health-care delivery system.
The United States spends far more money per person on health care than other industrialized countries. Last year, overall medical spending in the U.S. totaled $3.5 trillion or 18 percent of the national gross domestic product.
Because other countries spend less on health care, they are often used as models for the U.S. Looking to other countries to solve our health care delivery system problems, however, may not be reasonable. Other countries are smaller than the U.S. and have more homogenous populations. What the people of one country favor may not be applicable or acceptable to people living in a different society.
According to a Forbes survey, the U.S. accounts for 38 percent of life-saving and life-extending medical innovations, compared to an average of 15 percent in other countries. The U.S. also leads the world in the research and development of pharmaceuticals.
In all other industrialized countries, the demand for health care is much greater than the money budgeted for it. The results of this supply/demand mismatch are chronic shortages followed by strict rationing of health care. The rationing can take many forms — from long waits, to denying the elderly access to certain procedures, to allowing individuals with political influence to receive priority attention from providers.
Canada has a truly single-payer, nationalized system that is totally funded by taxpayers. In 2018, wait times for specialty care averaged 20 weeks. In practice, Canada has a two-tiered system in the sense that officials allow their citizens to travel to the U.S. for privately funded health care.
Great Britain established a comprehensive government health-care system in 1948 that gives every citizen cradle-to-grave coverage. About 10 percent of the population has private insurance, and many physicians combine government entitlement work with private practice. Over the past year, 250,000 citizens have waited more than six months for planned treatments within the National Health Service, while 36,000 people have waited nine months or more.
Switzerland has a comparatively large private health-care sector, and patients are responsible for 30 percent of their own health-care costs. Consequently, a certain degree of health-care consumerism exists in Switzerland, and the country has been fairly successful in holding down costs. Unfortunately, as officials increase the number of benefit mandates required in insurance plans, health-care costs are rising.
Singapore has a multi-tiered system with different levels of care depending on the patient’s ability and willingness to pay more. This is similar to the system in the U.S. before the passage of Medicare and Medicaid: private hospitals and doctors treated paying patients and charity hospitals and residents-in-training cared for low-income patients.
Is there some combination of measures from other countries that the U.S. can use in reforming our health-care delivery system? Although the overall systems vary, the common factor for all other countries is government-mandated health insurance. Even those countries that have a component of “private” health care continue to mandate that every citizen have government-approved health insurance.
While universal health insurance coverage is a worthy goal, the critical point is using the best mechanism to allow the greatest number of Americans access to health care. Simply having health insurance in no way guarantees timely access to health care. The American experience with the Veterans Administration hospital system, a comprehensive, government-controlled, single-payer health-care program, reveals unacceptable wait times and huge inefficiencies.
The United States distinguishes itself from other countries by a broader use of free markets. Just like all other economic activities, the free market offers the best solution to provide the greatest access to health care and to control costs.
Instead of looking to other countries, health-care reform in the U.S. should allow Americans to freely make their own health-care decisions and use their own health-care dollars. This would give Americans the best chance to use their right to access health care. Eliminating third-party payers, greater use of health savings accounts, price transparency, and health insurance reform would put patients, rather than the government, in charge of their own health care.
By Madeline Osburn • The Federalist
Before New York Mayor Bill de Blasio even officially announced his presidential bid on Thursday, New Yorkers were already pleading for him give up his White House ambitions.
De Blasio, who has been mayor of America’s largest city since 2014, is now one of the 25 Democratic candidates seeking a presidential nomination, despite the lack of support from his own constituents. His approval rating sits at 42 percent, and an April poll found that 76 percent of New York City voters did not want de Blasio to run for president. In March, a Monmouth poll found that de Blasio was the only Democrat asked about with a negative favorability.
While one would think his socialist policies, such as universal pre-k and the New York City Green Deal, would make him popular among his progressive-leaning constituency, he is consistently mocked for blunders and disingenuous attempts to relate to the working class.
For starters, it is well known that de Blasio’s hands are stained with the blood of Staten Island Chuck, the Staten Island Zoo’s groundhog whose real name is Charlotte, after he dropped her during a 2014 Groundhog Day ceremony. She died a few days after the incident from internal injuries.
Each morning, the mayor insists on traveling from his mansion on the Upper East side with a police escort to work out at the YMCA gym in Park Slope. In April, a concerned citizen hung a flyer at the Y with the disclaimer, “By entering these premises you agree not to run for President of the United States in 2020 or in any future presidential race. You agree to focus solely on your current job here in New York City, which you are not excelling at.”
And while these complaints may seem trite, there are plenty of other more weighty accusations against de Blasio for corruption, bribery, waste, rising homelessness, and public housing scandals under his watch.
A recent New York City Department of Investigation report revealed how de Blasio violated ethics laws in raising millions of dollars to help promote his own policies, and just a few weeks ago, two of his own donors pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations. Another de Blasio donor was convicted in January for bribing NYPD officers.
Since the rollout of his decision to run began this week, the backlash has only intensified. On Monday, in an attempt to generate media attention, de Blasio held a rally inside Trump Tower to tout his record on climate change, and to criticize the president’s own emissions. The rally quickly backfired as the mayor was drowned out by the noise of protestors who were riding the Trump Tower escalators with “Worst Mayor Ever” signs.
On Thursday morning, when MSNBC asked New Yorkers on their morning commute what they thought of the mayor’s announcement, responses were overwhelmingly dissatisfied. “Is that a joke?” one citizen asked.
Perhaps de Blasio truly believes his New York toughness gives him an edge over the other 24 candidates to defeat Trump, the incumbent New Yorker. Or maybe he’s jealous of the wave of media attention the mayor of small-town South Bend, Indiana, a city that is 1 percent the size of NYC, has received since entering the race.
“I’m running for president because it’s time we put working people first,” de Blasio said in his official 2020 announcement video. If de Blasio’s message and aptitude are failing to resonate in his own city, which is heavily made up of “working people,” then it’s hard to see the potential of it catching on anywhere else across the nation.
By Christopher Jacobs • The Federalist
In talking about his single-payer bill, which he reintroduced in the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders often claims that “I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right and not a privilege.”
But his legislation would do no such thing. Understanding why demonstrates the inherent drawbacks of his government-centered approach to health policy.
Section 201(a) illustrates the catch in Sanders’ bill, and his philosophy. That section states that “individuals enrolled for benefits under this Act are entitled to have payment made…to an eligible provider” for a list of covered services. Note the wording: Sanders’ bill doesn’t guarantee access to care. Instead, it merely guarantees that people will have their care covered—if they can access it. But in government-run systems, finding access to care often proves no easy feat.
In our own country, low reimbursement rates in many state Medicaid programs can make finding doctors difficult. One 2011 study found that two-thirds of specialist physicians would not accept Medicaid patients, whereas only 11 percent of patients with Continue reading
By Jeffrey Cimmino • Washington Free Beacon
The government of Finland collapsed Friday due to the rising cost of universal health care and the prime minister’s failure to enact reforms to the system.
Prime Minister Juha Sipila and the rest of the cabinet resigned after the governing coalition failed to pass reforms in parliament to the country’s regional government and health services, the Wall Street Journal reports. Finland faces an aging population, with around 26 percent of its citizens expected to be over 65 by the year 2030, an increase of 5 percent from today.
Sipila’s reforms “intended to remove power from the 295 municipalities that currently oversee health and social care, and place responsibility within a leaner, more efficient system of 18 elected regional authorities,” according to the Journal. The prime minister also wanted patients to be able to choose from a range of public and private providers.
Sipila said “there’s no other way for Finland to succeed” besides these reforms, which could have led to $3.4 billion in savings for the government.
Finland’s aging population is increasing the financial strain on its health care system. From a BBC News report:
As an increasing number of people live longer in retirement, the cost of providing pension and healthcare benefits can rise. Those increased costs are paid for by taxes collected from of the working-age population – who make up a smaller percentage of the population than in decades past.
In 2018, those aged 65 or over made up 21.4% of Finland’s population, the fourth highest after Germany, Portugal, Greece, and Italy, according to Eurostat.
Finland’s welfare system is also generous in its provisions, making it relatively expensive. Attempts at reform have plagued Finnish governments for years.
Reuters reports that soaring treatment costs and longer life spans have particularly affected Nordic countries.
“Nordic countries, where comprehensive welfare is the cornerstone of the social model, have been among the most affected,” according to Reuters. “But reform has been controversial and, in Finland, plans to cut costs and boost efficiency have stalled for years.”
Similar problems are bedeviling Sweden and Denmark, two other countries frequently held up as models to follow on health care. Finland’s crisis in particular comes as calls for universal health care have grown louder among Democrats in the United States.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) “Medicare for all” proposal would cost the U.S. over $32 trillion over ten years, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center. It would also require enormous tax increases as “a doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan.”
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), has called for eliminating private health insurance, although a spokesperson suggested she is open to multiple paths to “Medicare for all.”
Self-described democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has also called for “Medicare for all.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 58 percent of Americans oppose “Medicare for all” if told it would eliminate private health insurance plans, and 60 percent oppose it if it requires higher taxes.