Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Single Payer and Poster Children

In the past week or so Senator Mitch McConnel has been telling the story of a Canadian woman who ended up getting treatment (at her own cost) at a facility here in the United States because she would have had to wait months to see the needed specialists in Canada under their Single Payer system
Senator McConnel is using this woman's story as a cautionary tale about the failures of Single Payer and why we cannot possibly adopt anything close to that here.
I won't pretend to understand what happened in this woman's case that caused the delays.
What I do know is that this failure in the Canadian system is relatively rare.
A good friend of mine is Canadian. Her mother was ill with a serious disease and a shortage of the appropriate specialist resulted in her recieving treatment in the US - paid for by the Canadian Single Payer system.
The Canadian Single Payer model is not perfect.
But Senator Mitch McConnell has a good Poster Child for his case.
I have 47 million.
What ever the weaknesses in the Canadian system, the Canadian system covers EVERYONE IN CANADA. No one in Canada has to rely solely on the Emergency Room for their only medical care, and then only when they are really sick. No one in Canada has to go into Bankruptcy because of their medical bills.
Senator McConnell and the Republicans point out that the Canadian system is not perfect.
What a newsflash. The Canadians don't have a perfect system.
But for far less money per person than we spend, the Canadians have longer life spans, lower rates of infant mortality, and universal coverage.
He has his poster child
I have 47 million uninsured poster children.


StanDavis said...

Well said, Uncle Walt.

Stan Davis
Lakewood, CO

Stacey A. Ward, Esq. said...

As ever Walt, I could not agree more. It is easy to find examples of where the Canadian system or the UK system have occasionally malfunctioned. Our system, on the other hand, malfunctions as a matter of rote.

Matty said...

Ah, but to claim you have 47 million poster children is to misunderstand the concept. What of the tens of millions of those who, like me, were uninsured by choice and had little or no medical issues? Were I to have paid into a single payer system it would have been a vast waste of money, would it not?

If you want poster children you have to at least be able to show that they have been harmed by the current system. I am not opposed to your use of the statistic but you can't throw it about to show hardship when clearly some large portion of that actually benefited from not being burdened by insurance premiums: whether private or single payer.

Uncle Walt said...

Even if you want to claim that there are 10 million who are voluntarily uninsured, then I still have 37 million uninsured poster children.
And what about those who chose not to have insurance and then get hurt anyway. They still go to the doctor, starting at the Emergency Room. They still get treated. They still incur costs and most of those who chose not to have health insurance can't then afford their medical bills. So they go bankrupt and the doctors/hospitals etc have to swallow the cost of treating someone who made a fundamentally irresponsible decision.
In that period after you left your fathers plan and before you got your current job, who would have paid your medical bills if you had been seriously injured or if you had come down with a serious disease?? The rest of us would have had to subsudize your lack of insurance. The fact that nothing bad happened is not good planning or taking responsibility for yourself, its pure blind luck.
And relying on pure blind luck is not good national policy.
All that aside, even if we subtract 10 million who chose not to be insured, I still have 37 million uninsured poster children.
McConnell has his one.

Anonymous said...

I work with the low income. They have what is essentially a single payer system and it works very well for them. More convenient than my Anthem through my employer. My mother has Medicare, also single payer, also extremely efficient. Neither my low income clients nor my mother have a waiting time or a "network" they have to use.

Uncle Walt said...

It looks lie Anon didn't get the email. We are supposed to believe that our Government either can't doing anything better than private industry or that competition between government and private industry is unfair to private industry.
A single payer system run by the US Government has to be a disaster!!
Doesn't it????

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I think you're minimizing the wait time issue in Canada. I could quote some statistics, but I think the fact that the Canadian government has spent 5.5 billion dollars on the problem since 2002 is evidence enough.

Uncle Walt said...

I don't think I am minimizing the wait time issue in Canada.
They seem to be attempting to address the issue. I don't doubt that it is a real issue.
Part of my point, is that whatever system we create will be an American system.
No one is proposing to simply adopt Canadian Single Payer or the UK Socialized Medicine, or the German non-profit private insurance company model, or any of the other models completely as they exist in those other countries.
We have 47 million uninsured people in this country. Simple, horrible, almost immoral fact.
Our national health care bill is growing faster than the economy can absorb it. The current system is a disaster in the making.
We need a system that addresses the explosion in health care costs AND ensures that every American has coverage through some program, private insurance or public option or single payer.
I would prefer Single Payer but that isn't going to happen. We all know that.
So having a Public Option needs to be part of the AMERICAN solution that we come up with.
A solution that achieves universal coverage AND reduces the rate of health care inflation.
Let us learn from the Canadians and the Germans and the Swiss and the Brits and all the other industrialized countries that have found a way to have universal coverage and lower costs and still live longer healthier lives.
Using the weaknesses in the Canadian Single Payer system as some sort of proof that we should not try anything like their system assumes that we can't do any better.
I think we can.