The New Republic Sounds Old and Tired on Health Care

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  • 04/10/2007

According to Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic universal health care ala Europe (note he excludes Canada!) is a great model for America because....

"You don't see their citizens choosing between prescriptions and groceries, or declaring bankruptcy, because of medical bills. "

Well Jon, that's because the European bankruptcy system is based on a debt counseling model while in the US (and Canada) we have an easier path to permit public assumption of private debt. Given Canada's social safety net, in 1997, the incidence of personal bankruptcy was 3 in 1000 there cf to 5 in 1000 in the US.


Moreover, according to the Federal Reserve, debt as a percentage of household income is higher in the UK, Japan and Canada than it is in the US (which has the same ratio as Germany and higher than France).


There are surveys galore that also claim up to 35 percent of seniors choose between food and home heating bills.

Should we have universal food insurance or universal heating coverage too, with consumption and price levels set by government?

If Cohn and other liberals want to diddle around about whether you can get better care in the US or Europe or Canada or Japan that's fine. The reality is that everyone else waits longer than Americans for all kinds of care, particularly cancer care and low birth weight babies are less likely to receive life sustaining care anywhere else on the planet. We do have gaps and holes in our system of coverage but they are created because of duplication and regulations that protect corporations, insurance companies and unions from market competition.

America has a health system better prepared to deal with an aging society, better positioned to invest in the health of its citizens for long term prosperity and independence, more dedicated to extending and enriching life at both it's beginning and end and poised to achieve in greater gains against infectious diseases and chronic illnesses than any other nation in the history of mankind.

Europe's health care system is tethered to an unsustainable method of financing --a shrinking work force paying higher taxes -- and is propped up in the short term as it's military by an indirect subsidy from America's technological superiority and inventiveness. That too is coming to a quick end as health systems throughout the continent are explicitly and implicitly rationing access to the best and newer medicines.

Cohn and other liberals want us to believe universal health care leads to better health. But the gap in health status between rich and poor, educated and uneducated here and abroad are largely the same.. Health care might be free but if you lead a chaotic and disorganized life or engage in risky behavior or postpone seeking care your chances of survival decline. And time is not free to anyone regardless of income. Ultimately, time has a cost and it exacts a particularly heavy one on the poor and elderly. Countries that ration access to the right treatment at the optimal time through waiting, canceling appointments, gatekeepers etc, step therapy kill their society from within.

As quick PS added April 11... The tool the Euros use to ration? Comparative effectiveness analysis. Which is what the Dems are pushing for in order to push down drug prices and access to new drugs.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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