Beware of Obama Care

If our health care system is as bad as some have suggested in “Letters to the Editor” and responses to the earlier blog, and the Canadian, U.K. and other European styled socialized health care systems are so great, then we should see Americans flocking to Canada to take advantage of that wonderful system.

This isn’t happening, yet it is not uncommon to read about or see on television where Canadians are coming to the lower 48 for procedures that they can’t get in Canada through their government managed care system.

Unfortunately the solutions to improve our health care system have not received open and honest debate as we have, over the years, accepted misinformation to become fact without questioning the validity of such claims. As an example, the supporters of Obama’s universal health care proposals attack anyone who opposes them as “right-wing extremists” or Obstructionists. A recent article by Philip Klein in the American Spectator reveals some of the myths being circulated by those who wish to overhaul our health care system to a socialized one. The following are excerpts from that article.

Myth: The U.S. has a free market health care system.

Reality: The most significant way the government meddles in the market is through the tax code, which discriminates against those who purchase insurance on their own to the benefit of those who are insured through their employers. By 2007, 63 percent of the insured were receiving their coverage through their employers. This restricts choice, because workers are limited to whatever health benefits are offered. It impedes mobility because insurance cannot be taken from job to job. Many states impose onerous regulations on insurers requiring them to provide certain benefits. Currently there are 2,000 benefit mandates nationwide, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, driving up the cost of polices by 20 to 50 percent, depending on the nature of the mandate. This means that even if a person who is relatively healthy wants a cheaper, basic plan he is still forced to purchase expensive comprehensive coverage or go uninsured.

Myth: 46 million Americans are without health care.

Reality: The ubiquitous statistic is not pulled out of thin air. It comes from an annual report by the Census Bureau, which recently pegged the number of uninsured at 45.7 million for 2007. Just a quick look inside the Census Bureau data shows that 9.7 million of the uninsured are not citizens of the United States. Another problem with citing the 46 million figure is that many of those who are identified as uninsured are actually eligible for existing government programs but simple never bothered to enroll. In 2003, a Blue Cross BlueShield Association study estimated that about 14 million of the uninsured were eligible for programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP. These people would be signed up for government insurance if they ever made it to the emergency room. In addition, some of the 46 million could theoretically afford health coverage, but chose not to purchase any. In 2007, 17.6 million of the uninsured had annual incomes of more than $50,000 and 9.1 million earned more than $75,000. As Sally Pipes notes in the Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide, those making more than $75,000 are part of the fastest-growing segment of the uninsured population. When all these factors are put together, the 2003 Blue Cross BlueShield study determined that 8.2 million are actually without coverage for the long haul, because they are too poor to purchase health care but earn too much to qualify for government assistance. Even being without insurance still doesn’t mean they won’t have access to care because federal law forbids hospitals from denying treatment to patients who show up at the emergency room.

Myth: Universal health care will save money because we are already picking up the tab for the uninsured when they obtain care they don’t pay for.

Reality: In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a landmark health care reform that increased coverage by expanding Medicaid eligibility and providing subsidies for citizens to purchase coverage on a state-run insurance exchange. Uncompensated care declined by 38 percent between 2006 and 2009 (projected), saving the state $246 million. However, the subsidy program created as a result of the 2006 reform is projected to cost $820 million in 2009 alone, and during the same time period, the state’s expanded Medicaid program saw its price tag swell by $1.1 billion. While costs decline a quarter of a billion dollars in one area, they increased by nearly $2 billion in other areas.

Whatever arguments may be made in favor of universal health care, the idea that it is fiscally prudent does not stand up to close scrutiny.

To those who believe the Canadian system is better than ours and don’t believe rationing of health care would happen under Obama Care, well seniors you better take note of the following information noted in an article in Human Events.

“The elderly of Canada are feeling the consequences of rationing. Limited colonoscopies have led to a 25% higher rate of colon cancer, and a ban on the use of the two best chemotherapies are part of the reason that 42% of Canadians with colon cancer die, while 31% of Americans who have access to these two medications, survive the disease. Overall, the death rate from cancer in Canada is 16% higher than in the United States and the heart disease mortality rate is 6% above ours.”

Filed under: Lou Treadway

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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