This will go over like a lead balloon:
Sen. John Breaux expects to wrap up a bipartisan agreement soon to reform Medicare using private insurance plans and then, he said, he is ready to begin persuading his centrist colleagues on Capitol Hill to support the idea of mandatory health insurance for all Americans.
The Louisiana Democrat has teamed up with the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy group; the Commonwealth Fund, a non-partisan public health research group, and Blue Shield of California. Together, on Wednesday, they outlined a strategy to provide the nation’s 41 million uninsured with health care coverage — while preserving choice for consumers who want and can afford more, and making the private sector a key participant.
Mandatory insurance. Grumble.
the talking dog
Well, most civilized countries (that’s something like the other 19 of the top 20 industrialized countries) HAVE some form of mandatory national health insurance– usually (though not always) a government plan.
I guess we Americans pride ourselves on our national health, or our rugged individualism, since we do not have such a plan.
All that said, the plan proposed by Breaux does sound nice. We’ll pay for it… how again? Its obviously dead on arrival, so we needn’t debate it. Most people with insurance don’t give a shit about people without it, and while there’s some fear of losing health insurance– we generally call that fear of losing YOUR JOB.
This is the ongoing problem with Democrats– they– we– whatever– are trapped in the cycle of “we can fix everything by spending mroe money”. Health care has always bugged me, because its a non-issue issue. FACT: We have made a social and political choice to have slightly lower taxes than our European and Japanese and Canadian friends (and add up state, local, sales, excise, property, etc. taxes PLUS the federal taxes, and I do mean SLIGHTLY), without providing many of the social services and social safety net those nations provide (such as higher education, national day care, generous unemployment benefits, mandatory vacations, or of course, health coverage above the level of the very old or the very poor).
To me, the issue is– why do the damned Europeans LIVE BETTER than we do? We may have plenty of jobs here, but a huge number of “new jobs” are low wage, no benefit affairs– and our regressive tax structure starts sucking money from low wage earners at dollar one (at least many lucky duckies don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes– though social security, state and local taxes don’t exist, of course!)
THIS IS AN ISSUE WITH LEGS. Why do Americans work harder than just about any modern industrial society (more hours, fewer vacations) with less benefit to show for it? If someone can run with it– its a winner.
We’ve lost our way as a nation–
You forgot one or two minor items while listing all those wonderful things that the Europeans and Japanese apparently enjoy.
Frex, these countries spend very little on the military. Now, that might sit fine w/ you, but for some of us, we think that that’s not a great trade-off. Because, at the end of the day, it’s little things like militaries that decide what kind of a world you live in—whether you decide it, or someone else decides for you.
Economic development. Ever wonder why the Japanese and the EUros are economically far slower than we are? Might it have to do w/ entrepreneurship including, yes, the potential for failure?
Ah, but they live better than we do. Do they? By what metric? Take Japan—do you really think three-generation-long mortgages are a sign of a better standard of living? How about a months-long wait for an MRI or “non-essential” hip replacement?
At best, you can call it a DIFFERENT standard of living, but I’d venture that “better” is entirely in the eye of the beholder.
And if you like it better there, if you think we’ve “lost our way as a nation,” feel free to go and live there. This is not jingoistic “love it or leave it” crap—this is a genuine curiosity as to why you would want to stay, if life there is so much better?
“How about a months-long wait for an MRI or “non-essential” hip replacement?”
I’m always mystified by opponents of government health plans who bring this up.
Millions of Americans CANNOT GET AN MRI OR HIP REPLACEMENT NO MATTER **HOW** LONG THEY WAIT!
Now that we have that out of the way….
Really? One of the reasons why hospitals are often in deep financial straits is that they are required to treat every person who comes in (usually to the ER), regardless of their ability to pay.
Now, that precludes an MRI as a preventative measure, but if you come in w/ a broken arm or somesuch, you WILL be treated, including an MRI scan if you need it.
As for hip replacement surgery, which is usually a function of age, the elderly are covered by Medicare, which covers all Americans over age 65 (iirc), and that includes hip replacements. Now, if you’re 40, and in need of hip replacement surgery, and have no insurance, then you’re much more out of luck. But that number, I would venture, is nowhere near the MILLIONS that you cite.
Now that we have that out of the way….
the talking dog
What matters of a standard of living is exactly that: what kind of LIFE are you living. NOT “how much money I am making”– which varies wildly regionally anyway.
By the standards of what kind of LIFE does the average working person lead, Europe kicks our ass.
Five week annual vacation. Government paid higher education and major medical and subsidized daycare.
35 hour work weeks.
Better standard of living.
Its not worth arguing.
the talking dog
By the way, Dean, when American spent MORE of its GDP on the military (a lot more, like in the Cold War), by the standards of how hard people worked relative to their return, (time off, total hours worked, that sort of thing) the average American worker did better. Remember that a huge portion of our nation’s current living standard is financed by debt- consumer debt, government debt, international debt. Factor that in too, please.
Besides, its not like France (for example) spends zero on its defense– just less than us. That alone does not explain the disparity.
And last I looked, I was free to criticize the country while remaining in it. But I guess that changed on 9-11 too?
First, read the last line of my previous post to you. My question was real: If you think we’re going down such a wrong path, and the standard of living elsewhere is so unquestionably superior, then why do you stay?
The very fact that you do suggests that, perhaps, maybe, just maybe, there are factors that are not covered by the “standard of LIFE” that you then so blithely point to, and claim isnt’ even worth arguing.
I mean, really, if life there is so much better, why aren’t our shores emptying w/ folks emigrating there? Could it be that life ISN’T so self-evidently better?
Which, in turn, suggests that perhaps those same factors may be, in fact, affected by a decision to pursue some EUropean model (what happened to your Japanese example, btw??).
BTW, I’d note that China, for example, offers 4 weeks of paid vacation, subsidized higher education and health care, and guaranteed housing. Care to comment on how self-evidently their standard of living must be superior to ours? Still sure it’s not even worth questioning?
But, let’s go back to Europe for a moment. Unemployment in Germany is, what, 11%? Or is that France? Does that affect your assessment of the standard of living? They’ve been at that level for at least a decade—does that affect your assessment? You never did address the issue of housing, which iirc, is quite a bit smaller than here (and less likely to be a single-family home). Does that enter your calculation of standard of LIFE at all?
Finally, on the French and spending on defense—none of the Europeans spend more than 3% on defense. France is probably one of the highest (other than UK, iirc). As a result, you have a military whose carrier doesn’t move very well, has no strategic lift to speak of, and whose most advanced combat aircraft are roughly a generation behind ours. “There is no greater waste of money than a second-rate military.” France, of course, and Germany, Japan, and the rest, can afford to do this in no small part because they reside under the US nuclear and conventional umbrella.
When you live on subsidies, everything LOOKS cheaper. But TANSTAAFL.
As a real-live health care practitioner, let me shed some light here:
1) The notion that private insurance is more efficient than Medicare is false. Medicare spends 2% of its budget on administrative costs. An “efficient” private carrier spends somewhere in the neighborhood of 15%. There are problems with Medicare, but “inefficiency” isn’t one of them.
2) The “look how long they have to wait for…” argument implies that MRI’s and other expensive procedures are performed right after they’re ordered. That’s only true in emergencies (and even then they’re not always paid for.) Waiting for insurance company approval for a given procedure or referal can take days, weeks or even months. The latter is especially true in Worker’s Comp cases.
Rant off. Carry on, boys.
Please note that I made no reference to the relative efficiency of Medicare. Not sure about the 2% aspect, and I’d venture that private insurance could gain some efficiencies by simply standardizing paperwork, but I’m not personally especially opposed to Medicare.
As for MRI wait-times, what’s the longest that you’re familiar w/?
6+ weeks for an MRI (or surgery approval) if the comp carrier wants to drag things out.
The two percent cost figure can be found here amongst other places, if you’re interested.
I work for the American division of a European company. Our co-workers in Europe try all the time to transfer here, but seldom do Americans go the other way. Why? Higher pay, lower taxes, better medical care. Like most large companys, our company self insures our medical and it is first rate. In fact, we had our own in house drugstore until the government made us close it (unfair to private drugstores I guess)