Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Some" are evil

So, I'm in the car again.

I'm in a big city, so I'm listening to Marketplace, which is produced by something called "American Public Media", which sounds like a deeply liberal cabal.

So I'm ready to be pleased.

Only, what I hear is some dulcet-voiced Dow Jones type telling me (with regard to national health) that "Some want a system like they have over in Britain, where the National Health Service offers care for free. Or at least it's funded by the taxpayer to the tune of almost $200 billion a year."

The newsreader goes on to report on some egregious defects in the UK's system, mostly related to people dying from cancer while other people get sex change operations and boob jobs.

But that's neither here nor there.

I'm still thinking about what the first guy said: "Some want a system like they have over in Britain."

Who are these people?

Are they any of the declared Presidential candidates? (no) Are they Congress-critters who have proposed legislation? (no) Are they healthcare professionals who take policy stances? (no) Are they lobbyists? (no) Are they pundits, or Public Intellectuals, or Academic Researchers, or freakin' Hollywood Stars?


There are over 300 million people in the US, so it's almost certain that "some" in that cohort want a sytem like the UK's - a few low-income Brit expatriates, some doctrinaire Marxists, the odd victim of the American system, but nobody - nobody - with a voice in US policy.

The Brit system was created in the (politically pre-Hayekian) forties, and it socialized healthcare providers. It has been a source of much contention (unexplained in the Marketplace report) since at least the Thatcher era. There are exactly zero policy proposals in the US that use it as a model. Current proposals draw more from the French experiment, which socializes insurance instead. The Economist said of the French system:
Its hospitals gleam. Waiting-lists are non-existent. Doctors still make home visits. Life expectancy is two years longer than average for the western world.

....For the patient, the French health system is still a joy. Same-day appointments can be made easily; if one doctor's advice displeases, you can consult another, a habit known as nomadisme médical. Individual hospital rooms are the norm. Specialists can be consulted without referral. And while the patient pays up front, almost all the money is reimbursed, either through the public insurance system or a top-up private policy.

For family doctors too, liberty prevails. They are self-employed, can set up a practice where they like, prescribe what they like, and are paid per consultation. As the health ministry's own diagnosis put it recently: “The French system offers more freedom than any other in the world.”
I admit that I'm not truly surprised that a show called Marketplace, funded by grants from God only knows what corporate foundations, would air a disingenuous piece on an important public policy matter.

That doesn't keep it from pissing me off.

=v= There was a grassroots push some years back for a health care system more like Canada's, but it did not succeed.

I expect you're seeing the results of public relations-prompted "news" in an attempt to contain the new Michael Moore movie.
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