Letter to the editor

Letter: Nothing is free

Posted 7/19/17

What one critic of the Republican healthcare plan didn't say in last week's letter to the editor is that she wants socialized medicine. What she and others don't seem to know is that single payer …

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Letter to the editor

Letter: Nothing is free

Posted

What one critic of the Republican healthcare plan didn't say in last week's letter to the editor is that she wants socialized medicine. What she and others don't seem to know is that single payer health insurance will cost all working Americans in higher taxes. Nothing is free. But Obamacare did a great job of offering free health care to some, at the expense of others. Now, if Congress tries to fix health insurance, those who unreservedly received Medicaid will scream unfair!

The writer did make one good point. This country was not created for the rich. It was created so that, with hard work an an entrepreneurial spirit, you could become rich. I say no to Trumpcare because it doesn't offer choice, competition, USA's or tort reform. Rand Paul had some ideas that are not being listened to because they would mean getting rid of the freebies in Obamacare. We need to repeal the ACA and replace it with several small bills that address specific areas and quit trying to make everything comprehensive.

Thor Johnson,

Arvada

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Hulk Smith

Single Payer System

Problem 1: It inevitably must ration care.

A single-payer system is a “free-for-all system,” where costs are driven up. Patients over-consume health services because they don’t have to pay for them, and, thus, providers must oversupply those services. The only way a government can deal with overconsumption and oversupply is to ration those services through waiting lists.

Canada’s health care system, for example, illustrates this very point: everyone in Canada’s public system must wait for practically any procedure or diagnostic test or specialist consultation. Moreover, in the long term, access to care will decrease more substantially because the prospect of lower compensation (see below) and lower lifetime earnings reduces the incentive for talented people to choose careers in health care.

Problem 2: It would not save money.

When has our government ever saved money? Social Security is essentially bankrupt. Medicare will soon be bankrupt. So will Medicaid. These programs don’t save money and, instead, lose a lot of it because of the amount of fraud and, more importantly, the overuse they incentivize. Overuse is the real cause of rising health care costs.

After all, when something is free and you feel like you need it, would you ever stop asking for it? Moreover, as long as doctors are paid for providing you with that free service, why would they stop providing it? The same scenario would exist with a single-payer health care system. Overuse of services (again, because they are free) would limit any potential savings and eventually bankrupt the system.

Moreover, any analysis of costs savings by a government-run system is always misleading. Comparisons between private sector costs and the costs of a single-payer system usually exclude many government administrative expenses, such as the costs of collecting the taxes needed to fund the system and the salaries of politicians and their staff members who set health care policy. By contrast, the salary costs of executives and boards of directors who set insurance companies’ policies are included in private sector costs. A government is somewhat immune to the free-market bottom lines that private sector companies deal with annually. Government doesn’t have to account for every penny, and, thus, a lot is lost through the cracks.

Problem 3: Compensation for physicians and health care providers would decrease.

A single-payer system would substantially lower payments to physicians and health care providers compared to our current system. For those of you who embrace class warfare and think this is a good idea, consider this: human beings are only so charitable. Many will draw a line somewhere. An individual spends almost an entire decade (and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans) studying to become a doctor, and that doesn’t even include college. These people expect to be (and should be) compensated adequately for their effort and expertise. Whatever you think of what they should be paid, if they don’t feel they are paid enough, they will find something else to do. If doctors leave a profession that no longer pays well, the system will experience a reduction in the supply of active physicians.

That reduction, in turn, will impair access to health care and the quality of health care for everyone.

Problem 4: The quality of care would decrease.

Lower compensation for doctors will limit their ability to invest in advanced medical equipment and new technology, as well as the time they need to stay up to date with medical developments. These limitations, too, will impact the quality of health care for everyone.

Problem 5: It would take medical decisions away from doctors and patients.

A single-payer system will insert the government into private decision-making. Many provisions within the health care bill will slowly chip away an individual’s ability to make choices about everything from his or her private health insurance to actual decisions about medical care.

Now, who wants Uncle Sam telling you what insurance you should have or what treatment you should receive? These are private decisions made by an individual and, often, with the private advice of a physician. The government has no role or expertise in this area and should stay out.

Problem 6: It would hamper medical research.

A single-payer system would also reduce the rate of medical progress. Recall (from above) that, because doctors will be compensated less, fewer talented people will pursue careers in medicine. Fewer people receiving medical training decreases the supply of talented medical researchers and, thus, impairs medical research and progress.

Problem 7: The countries that have had single-payer systems for decades are slowly moving towards more private systems.

Canada, the United Kingdom, and even Sweden are slowly moving away from public systems of health care and allowing the private sector to take over. In each of these countries, particularly Canada, their single-payer systems have been disasters. Five-year cancer survival rates are higher in the U.S. than those in Canada. Americans have greater access to preventive screening tests and have higher treatment rates for chronic illnesses. Only half of emergency room patients are treated in a timely manner. The physician shortage is so severe that some towns hold lotteries, where the winners gain access to a local doctor.

The most vivid indictment of Canada’s system might be the fact that Canada's provincial governments rely on American medicine. Between 2006 and 2008, Ontario sent more than 160 patients to New York and Michigan for emergency neurosurgery. If Canada's single-payer system is preferable to our own, why would they send us their patients? (Hint: Because our system is better.)

These problems are likely only the beginning of what would happen to our health care if the Democrats have their way. I believe a majority of the country already understands the dangers of this health care bill. Details, however, are very important, and opponents of this bill must emphasize (to their Congressmen and fellow voters) the fatal drawbacks inherent in a single-payer system.

Wednesday, August 9