Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And this is why I love NPR...

With the current debate on health care raging, one thing opponents of universal care LOVE to do is demonize the Canadian system. They pull in Canadians who complain about the system, and tell the horror stories of how they were forced to wait for care in Canada and so came to the US for treatment. In its wonderful role as a fact-checker and myth-debunker, an NPR affiliate station went up to Canada (specifically, to British Columbia) to answer the question, "Does Canada's Health Care System Need Fixing?" Here's an excerpt from the full article, which you can see by clicking on the question in the last sentence:

Canada has a universal health care system that's paid for through income taxes and sales tax. All Canadians are covered, and they can see any doctor they want anywhere in the country with no copays or deductibles. Some things aren't covered: optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs. Many Canadians have private insurance to cover those services, though some struggle to pay for them out of pocket.

U.S. critics of Canadian health care like to call it socialized medicine, but it's more like socialized insurance — meaning the risk is pooled together. And while the individual provinces and territories set their overall health budgets and administer the health plans, the delivery of medical care is private. Doctors run their own businesses and then bill the government.

Emphasis mine. The article does address various pros and cons, and it does a fine, balanced job of presenting the Canadian system of health care.

On a similar note, Consumer Watchdog advocates "Open[ing] Up Medicare To All" as a means of addressing the problem of so many people being uninsured, and presents some solid figures on how Medicare has been a more cost-effective institution than most regular insurance agencies (among other numbers, Medicare spends 2% on overhead; most private insurers spend 25-27% on overhead).

Meanwhile, back on NPR, Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute writes "Health Care Reform? Maybe Next Year." Not because it isn't needed, but because of two factors:

It's not that we don't need health care reform. Right now, Congress basically conditions health coverage on your ability to get and keep a job. That's not health insurance. That's survival of the fittest.

But there have always been two things standing in the way of Democrats' plans for universal health insurance coverage: math and politics.

Emphasis, again, mine. Finally in this morning's health care reading, Charles M. Blow writes in the NYT about the "Health Care Hullabaloo" and how Democrats are losing control of the debate, thanks to the apathy from most of their own party. To which I can only say one thing: This is very, very sad.

1 comment:

Mike and Mindy Aumann said...

Very interesting. If they "open up Medicare" they'd need to look at how much they pay the dr's, though. Medicare pays dr's so little for their services that the dr has to raise the rest of their rates to stay afloat.

We definitely need reform, we just need a well thought out plan that will really fix it, not make it worse while trying to fix it.

Do you know of any places out there that present the current ideas in plain english? I am sorely behind on my knowledge of all this as I don't have time to spend researching... :(