Can Government Healthcare Work in America?

Much has been written on this site and others, about the fallacy of a successfully run government healthcare delivery system in the United States.

Whether it is labeled single-payer, socialized medicine, national healthcare, etc., it is all the same and it will never work in America. In virtually every nation where the government runs the healthcare system, costs have risen well beyond expectations; long waits for treatment are commonplace; care is rationed and some treatments are denied; and taxes have increased to pay for the unexpected cost increases. There are no truly successful nationalized healthcare systems, when quality of care is compared to the gold standard: The U.S. healthcare system. By most measures however, the U.S. lags behind many other industrialized nations.

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 24th in the world in life expectancy. This statistic alone should be cause for alarm, but upon further examination, we learn that the reasons have little to do with our healthcare system and more to do with the way we drive, what we eat, our violent behavior, our tobacco use, and our substance abuse.

The U.S. spends more on healthcare, per capita, than virtually every other industrialized country. But again, if we examine why, we find that this has much more to do with factors other than the actual cost of healthcare, like legal awards and fees, defensive medicine, malpractice insurance, the high cost of advanced technology, and certainly not least; the high cost that we all incur for the government mandates placed on health insurance companies.

We pay more for prescription drugs than any other country. However, the cost of drugs still remains only about 10% of our total cost of healthcare. Upon further examination, we can thank our own government for this. More on this later.

There is no arguing against significant reform of our healthcare system, but the prescription for the cure cannot be written by our current government. The Democrats in control of the U.S. government have only one fix; more government. They know no other way, it is in their DNA. But even putting aside politics, there is no way for a single payer system to work in America. Here is why…

Our Legal System: The American Bar Association would have us believe that litigation accounts for only 1% of total healthcare costs. This may be true for jury awards, but they are leaving out the biggest drivers of legal costs within the healthcare system. Things like legal fees for the defense, defensive medical practices, and malpractice insurance premiums are not factored in to the ABA figure.

Countries that rank above us in healthcare, according to the W.H.O., all limit plaintiff awards and have nowhere near the medical litigation we have in the U.S. In fact, if we were to just copy the medical-legal reforms of France, we could bring down healthcare costs in a significant way. Healthcare reform without true tort reform is only a haphazard attempt.

Immigration Law Enforcement: Virtually none of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. have healthcare insurance, since one needs a valid Social Security number in order to obtain coverage. Knowing that emergency rooms cannot turn away patients, the illegals have turned so many emergency rooms across the country into their primary care providers and pay nothing. These costs must be paid, so they are shifted to paying customers, driving the cost of an emergency room visit up for everyone except of course, for those who do not pay.

Illegal immigrants get sick, they get pregnant, they get into auto accidents and work-related accidents, they are involved in violent crimes, etc. If one multiplies the likelihood of these events by the millions of illegal immigrants, the result is enormously costly to us all.

Until we take strong measures to secure our borders and rid the country of those here illegally, we will continue to incur these costs.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Drug abuse in the U.S. is higher, per capita, than in any other industrialized country. The insidious drug abuse crisis in this country is a major driver of healthcare costs. Emergency room visits, mental health treatment, counseling and rehabilitation, and criminal activity all place upward pressure on the cost of healthcare.

Alcohol abuse is also responsible for a large percentage of serious auto accidents, which puts tremendous pressure on the system.

Government Mandates on Insurance Coverage: When advocacy groups successfully lobby congress or state governments and pressure them to force insurance companies to cover certain illnesses, it affects us all in the form of higher premiums. Many of us pay for coverage we don’t want or need, but they are forced upon us by our own government. One example is mental illness coverage. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, an advocacy group and lobbyist, successfully coerced government to consider mental illness on par (parody) with physical illness, resulting in the mandate that every health insurance policy must cover mental illness. However, the group didn’t stop there; the scope of coverage was broadened over time to include such things as alcohol counseling, addiction counseling, and medication for shy people (now referred to as Social Anxiety Disorder). Severe mental illness can be catastrophic to the families of the mentally ill. Treating these patients can be very costly and coverage should be available in catastrophic insurance policies. But to mandate that every health insurance policy must cover the mildly depressed or shy or those who have difficulty paying attention drives premiums up for everyone.

The result of this is the expectation that every personality quirk must be treated by a doctor with expensive medicines. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the system. Drugs designed to treat even mild mental illness are some of the costliest and most widely prescribed medicines.

A married couple in their fifties should not be forced to pay for maternity coverage; they should be allowed to negotiate it out of their policy in exchange for a lower premium. Shouldn’t we be able to choose which coverage we want based on our individual needs? Unfortunately, government usually forces onto the majority, what is demanded by the minority.

In a single payer system, could the government roll back some of these mandated coverages without a revolt? Or would it simply continue to treat these illnesses and pay for it with mammoth tax increases? Probably the latter.

The Great Melting Pot: As preposterous as it sounds to the educated among us, the diversity that makes America unique will also make it nearly impossible to implement a nationalized healthcare system. Let me explain.

The United States is the least homogeneous country in the industrialized world. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when we fail to see ourselves as Americans first, we have no inherent vested interest in the country. America is perhaps the only country in the world that insists on hyphenated labels for everyone. We cannot simply be Americans of African descent, or of Asian descent. No, we must be African-American, or Asian-American. Are there African-Austrians or Asian-Canadians? I don’t know, but I have not heard of any. My point is the great sense of nationalism and American pride that used to exist in America has been under assault for much of the last forty years. During this time, the tide has turned; instead of the U.S. Government playing the role of the great unifier to unite many groups into one great nation of Americans, it seeks to divide us along racial lines. The political Left has successfully segregated our society into a bunch of victim groups with their politically correct social engineering. In one of the greatest speeches of our time, John F. Kennedy implored us to ask not what our country can do for us- ask what we can do for our country. Over time, JFK’s own party has completely turned his appeal to Americans around 180 degrees.

This has rapidly created an entitlement mentality among a large percentage of our population. Nowhere is this entitlement mentality more evident than in the realm of healthcare.

We have already seen the havoc wreaked on our healthcare system when care is provided by the government. Studies of the Medicaid system have shown the average Medicaid patient accesses the healthcare system about ten times more than those on private plans or self-pays. In addition to free healthcare, we provide a cab ride to and from the provider’s location.

The Cost of New Medicines: There is no disputing the fact that Americans pay more for their prescription drugs than any other nation. To change this, we must first examine the causes. A certain amount of greed does exist on the part of the pharmaceutical industry, but this greed is what has given us some of the most innovative advances in medicine. It is a fact that most of the life-saving and life-changing molecular compounds have been developed with the hope of a profitable return on the investment, and without the superior economic landscape of the United States since World War II, finding and creating these compounds would be less likely to be a profitable endeavor. We can thank greed for our current quality of life and the dramatic decrease in infant mortality.

The very government that seeks to find a cure for the rising cost of prescription drugs is mostly to blame for these costs. In most other countries, one can go to the local pharmacy and purchase many of our prescription medicines without a prescription. Like any other government agency, the FDA does not like to give up control. When it reluctantly does however, we see a dramatic drop in drug prices. A case in point is the drug, Prilosec. Prilosec was at one time, a $5 billion a year cash cow for its manufacturer, AstraZeneca. Has anything changed in the ingredients or strength of Prilosec since it became an over-the-counter medicine? No; other than the fact that people can afford it now, and a doctor visit is not required to obtain it, it is the same drug that required a prescription before its patent expired. There are several classes of medicines the FDA knows are relatively safe, but chooses to keep them classified as prescription drugs.

The approval process for prescription drugs is a costly and arduous one for pharmaceutical companies. It requires three phases of testing, and once a compound is submitted for approval, the patent protection clock begins. Although pharmaceutical companies make their best educated guess as to which discoveries to submit for approval, the FDA approves about one out of nine submittals, on average. $300-$900 million later, a drug may make it to market. This is the preponderant reason that a pill which costs ten cents to manufacture is priced at five dollars. The fact that many in Congress do not understand this should be troubling to all of us.

In a single payer system, will the government simply set the prices of prescription medicine? If so, we can forget about any more innovative advances in drug treatments. Of course one could argue that the pharmaceutical industry appears to support the public option, currently being debated. The reason is simple; a short-term revenue attitude is pervasive among the industry leaders, who are beholden to stockholders. If forty to sixty million new potential patients are being written new prescriptions, simple math shows a huge potential windfall for the industry. The same reason caused the industry to climb on board the Medicare Modernization Act, signed by President Bush; a whole new market opened up.

Race Baiting: There exists today, an entire industry of race baiting for financial and political gain. After watching Barak Obama’s inauguration speech, I breathed a sigh of relief, believing that we now have overcome a giant racial hurdle by having as our president a black role model, who is a devout and educated family man. I refused to believe Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that racial tension would increase, not decrease as a result of Obama’s presidency. After all, how could we be a country of racists when 52% of the electorate voted for a black man for president? But this is why Mr. Limbaugh is smarter than I; he looked past the obvious and foresaw what the Liberal White Americans would resort to when their guy is backed into a corner. Now, the race card is dealt to any American who publicly opposes the current administration’s policies. Dissent was patriotic under Bush, but it is racist under Obama.

Now imagine a healthcare system that does not provide immediate and superior care to minorities. Never mind that we would all have to put up with slow and inferior care in a government healthcare system, there would be cries of institutional racism from the race pimps who depend on racism for their living. Just like a whole new market would open up for pharmaceutical companies, the new market for the race industry would be enormous.

Crime: violent crime accounts for a large percentage of costly, emergency trauma treatment in urban areas. Will we be required to pay for this treatment in a government-run system? Of course we will. With our current rate of violent crime, this could easily break the bank.

Liberal Sacred Cows: Congress has already begun taxing certain behaviors that may place a financial burden on the healthcare system, like tobacco, and will not stop there. We are sure to see tax increases on sugary soft drinks, food with high fat content, alcohol, etc. Will we see a tax on homosexuality? HIV is a significant burden on the system, especially in certain areas of the country. What is a major cause of HIV in America? Unprotected gay male sex. What about abortion? Will all Americans be forced to pick up the tab for a procedure most are morally against? We all know the answers to these questions.

Often times, a new product is test marketed on a small scale prior to a national rollout. Government-paid healthcare has been test marketed already, and it has failed everywhere it has been tried in the United States. Medicare is always on the verge of insolvency, until taxes are raised to pay for shortfalls. Medicaid is on life support in nearly every state in the nation; only tax increases keep it afloat. Our Veteran’s Administration healthcare system is a perfect example of a U.S. Government run system which fails its members on almost every level. In Tennessee, Tenncare, a program which sought to expand state coverage to an additional 500,000 people using managed care organizations, eventually the program ran out of money, was ripe with fraud and abuse, and was completely revamped on a much smaller scale. In Massachusetts, the shortfall is so great that the state may have to end its state healthcare system or raise taxes in an already heavily taxed state.

The sales pitch usually begins with slick politicians promoting a “pay-as-you-go” or “revenue neutral” plan. Remember, to liberal Democrats, every program is revenue-neutral when they are using Monopoly money to pay for it. There will never be cuts in any budget other than defense. If costs rise, which they will, tax increases and care rationing will rule they day.

The Democrats know a single-payer system will not work but clearly, implementing a successful program is not their goal. It is evident that total government control is the endgame for the Liberals in Congress and President Obama. Government already controls about half of all healthcare expenditures with the efficiency of…well, insert any government agency name here.

A single payer healthcare system in the U.S. would be a disaster by any measure and must be vigorously opposed . The current plan being promoted by Democrats is another step toward an incremental takeover of the healthcare industry