The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Be Very Afraid

Kevin Drum has found the key to the destruction of the Democratic Party: a war of ideas centered on single-payer nationalized healthcare. Mr. Drum writes:
Let me be clear: I don't underestimate the political difficulty of getting universal healthcare enacted. I don't underestimate how long it will take. But if there's anything the Democratic Party ought to be united on, it's the principle of loudly and enthusiastically endorsing universal healthcare as a goal.
An own goal, perhaps. In the comments section, Steve White responds with a good summary of nationalized healthcare in the real world.

Note that in Britain's last election, all three major parties agreed that the NHS was broken and required major reforms, which were going to cost billions of pounds to fix. Check the pages of the Guardian, and you'll see that problems continue with waste, with under-funded, bankrupt health care units, and with timely treatment.

France has similar problems: don't get heat stroke in August. The French health care workers are frequently on strike protesting various problems (of course, they're French so a strike is like a lunch-break -- and they still get their pay when on strike).

The Scandinavian countries have decent health care, and that's consuming their national budgets. Ditto the Low Countries. Germany's government is becoming increasingly constrained by health care costs. They can't do the many other things they need to do.

The point is simple: point to a single-payer NHS system in the world that provides first-class care without breaking the national budget. There isn't one. You can have second-class care (Britain), you have have a bankrupt system, you can have increasing delays (Canada), but you can't have everything you're trying to promise people.

... In no way is the current American system perfect, or close to it. I work in it and I can point out plenty that is just plain stupid. But I wouldn't trade it for any NHS system I've seen anywhere in the world.

I can hardly improve on that.