Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Unhealthy Care

While reviewing the new Senate with Becky, we stumbled upon Bernie Sanders, the Representative-turned-Senator and the only independent in the new upper chamber (Lieberman actually belongs to a third party: Connecticut for Lieberman; I am not kidding). Sanders has some pretty nasty positions, notably he's against free trade and for universal health care.

She was surprised I was against universal health care, especially since Canada's system is so successful. But it's not successful, I corrected, and here's why:

-It removes the incentive to provide quality health services. Not surprisingly, a uniform low pay for all doctors drives away the good doctors that want (and can) to save lives and be paid well. There's less reason to become a doctor and invent new medicines, too.

-It creates an incentive to flood the system. When you don't pay for something, you are more willing to consume it and so the waiting times for even basic medical procedures lengthen to weeks. People die on waiting lists.

-It crowds out other avenues. Governments expand and their existence shadows other alternatives. It is now illegal to purchase medical insurance or opt out of the Canadian system, even if your life hangs in the balance.

-It provides an opening to put government where you won't want it. When everyone pays for your medicine, your life becomes everyone's business. If you like doing something that could be counted as dangerous (like eating fast food), then be prepared to have it taxed or taken away.

-It is unethical. Health care isn't free for everyone; that money comes from somewhere (like taxpayers). Assuming the patient is seriously ill, it is immoral to create another set of victims because of someone else's misfortune.

Universal health care sounds like a nice idea, but so does rent control. Rent control is a disaster in the US, often benefiting the wealthy (who are more connected) than the poor (who find a sudden lack of suppliers). It would be a cruel act to do the same thing to their health.

For more information, Prof. Walter Williams wrote this article and this article on the Canadian system.

1 comment:

Warren said...

A good visual lesson on the Canadian health system can be found here.