Seriously, why does the USA want universal healthcare?
Why does Tom Daschle write a book appealing for a European-style healthcare system? Why does Michale Moore make a movie begging for a Canadian/European hybrid healthcare system?
You see, I work in the health insurance industry, and I see the problems with healthcare from the inside. I also know what statistics to look at that average Joes, politicians, and even doctors don't know about.
Granted, the US healthcare industry is far from "free market," but it is still not nearly as nationalized as the European and Canadian systems are. What do you say that I take you, dear reader, through the wonderful land of facts, and compare the Canadian and European systems to the current American system?
In Canada, the healthcare is so fantastic that MPs fly to California to get treated! What does it say about Canada's healthcare system when a Canadian politician, not just a commoner, pays twice for healthcare: once through Canadian taxes, and a second time out of pocket for the actual treatment in a California hospital? This was no sprained ankle that the MP had treated. No, it was breast cancer! Most Canadians of course don't have the luxury to fly to the US and pay out of pocket for cancer treatment.
Of course, the MP insists that it didn't have anything to do with speed of service or confidence in Canada's healthcare system. The MP did admit, however, that it was done for personal reasons as well as privacy concerns, which implies that one would lose privacy rights under a nationalized healthcare industry.
Speaking of cancer in Canada, their universal healthcare system isn't as universally effective at treating cancer as the US system is. Compare these numbers:
* For women, the average survival rate for all cancers is 61 percent in the United States, compared to 58 percent in Canada.
* For men, the average survival rate for all cancers is 57 percent in the United States, compared to 53 percent in Canada.
Part of America's superior cancer survival rates is due to the earlier detection that American's get for their cancer:
Early Diagnosis. It is often claimed that people have better access to preventive screenings in universal health care systems. But despite the large number of uninsured, cancer patients in the United States are most likely to be screened regularly, and once diagnosed, have the fastest access to treatment. For example, a Commonwealth Fund report showed that women in the United States were more likely to get a PAP test for cervical cancer every two years than women in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Great Britain, where health insurance is guaranteed by the government.
Healthcare in Western Europe, and especially the UK, is often cited as a model that the USA should copy. Well sure it is, at least if you want to stop giving the world's rich and powerful people a reason to come to the US for their treatment! Western Europe, like Canada, has lower rates for cancer survival than the US:
Europe’s survival rates are lower than in the US, where 66.3 per cent of men and 62.9 per cent of women survive for five years, compared with 47.3 per cent of European men and 55.8 per cent of women. These figures may represent earlier diagnosis.
Another misconception that people often have is that a national healthcare system will guarantee that you will be cared for. Sadly, this is not the case. NHS, the UK's monopoly healthcare organization, routinely denies care for treatments that even the most stingy American insurance companies pay for. But unlike in the US, if you have a nationalized healthcare system, and you are denied care, you have no alternative - no other service provider that you can turn to (unless you are rich enough to pay out of pocket for healthcare in the US). That is why they refer to the NHS' denial of care decisions as "death sentences."
And finally, government is generally known to always perform more slowly, and at higher cost, than it promises to the citizens. The latest example is the UK's NHS medical database, which will cost at least 12.7 billion pounds (not dollars), and is already four years behind schedule. With that kind of abysmal performance, couldn't the UK hire a different service provider? No, because the NHS has a monopoly! The UK is stuck with it. In other words, the quality (or lack thereof) of the NHS services have no consequence for its revenues. No matter how badly the NHS performs, it will always have it's loyal, paying customers (even the rich people who pay out of pocket for care in the US still have to pay for the NHS system no matter what).
So why in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does the USA want universal healthcare?