Thursday, July 30, 2009

Healthcare -- A Word of Advice No One Will Hear

Not surprisingly, Republicans have moved into full-on fearmongering mode about ObamaCare. (Much worse than they were under the Clinton Administration because this time it might actually pass).

We have been warned in the most apocalyptic terms possible about the consequences of any sort of healthcare reform passing. Possible dangers invoked include government controlled healthcare, a government bureaucrat coming between you and your doctor (aren't insurance company bureaucrats much better?), loss of right to choose your own doctor, sub-third-world levels of care, euthanasia of seniors to save on health care costs, horrendous despotism, Americans reduced to Egyptian slaves building the Pharoah's pyramids, dogs and cats living together, etc, etc.

How do you argue with that level of fearmongering? It certainly won't do to point out that Canada and most of Western Europe have varying types of universal healthcare without any such apocalyptic consequences, for two reasons. For one thing, most opponents of healthcare reform already think Canada and Western Europe provide sub-Third World levels of care and are horrendous despotisms. For another, the mere suggestion that some other country might have a good idea worthy of emulation is enough to set off a lot of right-winger's inner xenophobe. (Oh my God, they think other countries are better than us! They want us to stop being Americans and turn into Canadians!)

A better approach would be to point out that here in the USA we already have a major government-controlled health insurance. It's called Medicare. All people over 65 are eligible to belong and so far no one has noticed the government doing them in to save on costs. In fact, life expectancy has increased quite a bit since we adopted it.* If government involvement in healthcare were altogether as catastrophic as you claim, wouldn't we see at least some sign of it with Medicare? And, better yet, dig up some of the fearmongering that occurred when Medicare was first proposed to show just how similar it was to the fearmongering at work today.
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*That is not meant to suggest that the adoption of Medicare caused the increase in life expectancy. Proving or disproving that would require going back in time with a time machine, stopping Medicare, and seeing what happens. But it clearly proves that government-controlled health insurance is compatible with vast increases in life expectancy.

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