Why Universal Health Care Sucks

on Thursday, September 6, 2007

Miq al-Moor has a new anti-American movie out called “Sicko.” When first reading the title one might assume that this is some sort of autobiographical sketch of Moore. But alas, once again Moore’s documentary about American health care grossly distorts the facts, exaggerates a false view American ethics, and argues that anybody who disagrees with him is a ‘moron.’

But instead of focusing so much on the film itself, I would like to broaden the approach to include all of those who believe that universal health care (UHC) is a solution to the health care problem in America.

Before continuing, I want to make it clear that I admit that private American health care has its flaws. There are numerous problems which many other sources have addressed. But the purpose of this post is to show that the implication of UHC would have a devastating negative impact on America and that the current health care system is superior to UHC in almost every way. Below is a detailed breakdown of some reasons that UHC causes more harm than good:

1) UHC is NOT “free” health care
Not by a long shot. Recent estimates show that setting up UHC in America would cost about the same amount as the cost of the Iraq war, if not more!! Democratic presidential candidates have also stated that resources would be pulled from things like defense and education to help fund their multi-billion dollar “free” health care plan. Another estimate states that income taxes to the American worker would increase an extra 20% (that averages out to be between $510 and $1020 a month)! That’s about the same, and in most cases, less than most premiums cost for an entire family. So in other words, “free” health care would cost more than what most of us are paying for private health care right now. Also, since when does the government manage your money properly?? Name me one branch of government that functions efficiently and spends its money wisely. Just one. UHC would likely be just as inefficient.

2) I have a hangnail – Quick, I need a doctor!
Co-pays and deductibles are put in place to discourage people from going to the doctor for minor problems. Most people don’t want to pay a $30 co-pay just to have a physician look at their stubbed toe. But when a person can see a doctor anytime for anything without cost to them, they see a doctor all the time. As you may already know, I work in an emergency room. Just a few weeks ago we had a lady come into the ER for… a papercut! No joke. But since she didn’t have insurance, it was at no cost to her. She had nothing to dissuade her from going to the ER for such a minor issue. This type of abuse would happen on an epic scale if UHC was implemented. I also happen to know of a man (who again, doesn’t pay for his own health care) who visited a doctor about 50 times in a 2 year period. Once again, he has nothing to dissuade him from visiting the doctor for minor ailments like headaches or mild diarrhea. More patient visits cause longer lines at the doctor’s office – which brings me to my next point…

3) Less doctors = longer lines
I come across at least one liberal blog each week that tries to argue that this fact isn’t true. Well, it is. UHC always produces a shortage of physicians. Why, you ask? Because why would somebody want to go to college for 14-16 years just so that they can make $70,000/year. I wouldn’t. I could make that much after 4-6 years of college in some other field. Fact is, current doctors work hard to build a practice because, for him, it is a business; It’s how he makes his living... and when he works harder and studies more, he makes more money. But when the gov’t steps in, they control his salary and end up paying him less which violates free market principles. He no longer has incentive to build a private practice, provide superior care, attract new patients, and make more money. As a result, less people choose to become doctors. Less doctors, combined with increased visits for trivial problems, results in long lines and even longer waiting lists for people like you and I who need to see the doctor for more serious issues.

4) Fewer effective drugs
Drug companies would be hindered by price controls and regulations that would stem from UHC and soon they would be forced to cease research and development of new medications. Research for cures to cancer, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, Parkinson’s, etc., would be severely road blocked. American start-up drug companies would not be able to afford to compete with gov’t mandates, so the market would then be reduced, research would slow to a halt, and the pharmaceutical market would be dominated by a few established monopolies.

5) Hillary Clinton chooses whether you die or live
Hillary, among many other trillion-dollar promises, has promised UHC if she is elected president. What you don’t know about UHC is that the gov’t chooses whether or not you can have a specialized procedure. Need a lung scope? The gov’t will decide if you can have one. Want a C-section instead of a natural birth? Hillary will decide that for you. Need a heart transplant and you are over the age of 70? Well, the gov’t has decided that, since you’re old, you don’t get the surgery and finds that it’s in their best interest that you just die off instead of costing them thousands of dollars. Good Luck! (That's a true story, by the way.) And even if you are lucky enough to make the long waiting list for a procedure, remember, access to a waiting list is NOT access to health care.

6) Destruction of an entire economy
I have had a difficult time finding the exact number of Americans who work in the health insurance industry, but I know for a fact that it is in the millions (several hundred work in our hospital alone!). And if UHC takes over, all of those people will be out of a job. And I can promise you that millions of jobs WILL NOT be created in Washington to replace the ones lost.

7) Sub-par medical treatment
The quality of treatment decreases when UHC is implemented as Doctors Unions don’t govern quality control. Medical schools also need to keep their tuition flowing in if they want to survive the doctor shortage that UHC creates. Sometimes this results in accepting less qualified applicants. Weaker applicants generally make weaker physicians. And, as previously stated, a physician has little incentive to provide you with the best care you’ve ever had. This results in decreased quality of care to you and your family.

8) What?! Campaigning Democrats are demagogues? Say it aint so!
This is one of the best examples of demagoguery I have ever seen from the left. Dems have been calling for health care reform for years now. But it wasn’t until a study came out a few months ago stating that 41.2 million Americans are uninsured that Hillary, Edwards, and Obama said that they would provide health care to all Americans via united health care. In their minds it was like, “We can win 41.2 million votes if we promise health care to all those who don’t have it! Let’s do it!” Clearly, they saw this as simply another issue they can politicize and spin to their advantage to, as they see it, win an election. Well I’ve done a little homework and it turns out that the “41.2 million” number is distorted. Here are the actual facts:
Those 41.2 million people "without healthcare" in the U.S. are roughly 13.7 % of the entire population, which means that a whopping 86.3% of Americans actually HAVE insurance. Also take note that the 41.2 million figure includes people who were without healthcare for at least part of the year surveyed, meaning that some of those actually do have healthcare, but were in between jobs or something. Also, according the U.S. census, approximately one-third of that 41.2 million people live in households with an income over $50,000. And half of that third have an income of over $75,000. This means that at least one-third of those 41.2 million are people who can afford to buy healthcare but are choosing not to. Another third of that 41.2 million are people who are eligible for public health insurance programs but have chosen not to sign up for them. That leaves only about 13 million people (out of a nation of 300 million citizens) that don't have immediate access to healthcare. That's only about 4% of the entire population of America, a number far smaller than the 41.2 million originally sounds.

Once again, I admit that the current health care system is far from perfect and needs some reform – but universal health care is NOT the way to fix it. In fact, it may be the worst of all the options we currently have available. What we need to do is repair the system that we already have in place. How do we do that? Well here’s what Mitt Romney did while serving as governor in Massachusetts:

To briefly sum it all up, Romney modified a state fund that reimburses hospitals when they treat patients who can’t pay due to their lack of health care (the federal government has a similar fund). With it, they channeled the funds into another account to help float the costs medical premiums to citizens of Massachusetts. Romney then contacted the private insurers directly and asked them what they could do to lower premiums. They responded by stating that Massachusetts has several expensive mandates that force them to push premiums up. They basically said, “Get rid of the government mandates on us and we’ll be able to drop premiums.” So Romney, as governor, did just that. Premiums fell, the fund was set up to help cover costs, and citizens were soon able to afford private health care. If the plan continues as follows, every citizen of Massachusetts will have private heath care within the next decade – and all without raising taxes!!

A similar tactic could be used in a federal setting. Access to private health care could be available to all Americans without raising taxes or causing the other negative effects listed above. But people like Hillary don’t get that. They love Stalinist techniques in which they gain control over every aspect of your life. Do yourself, your family, your doctor, and your paycheck a favor by not supporting those that support united health care.

**Once again, I leave out my data sources to prevent clutter, but will make them available to all who request them**