Thursday, February 5, 2009

Equal Health Care for All?

Maybe I am a mean, horrible person for writing this, but I'm doing it anyway.

I was reading comments on a blog-- one I've mentioned here before, which is written by someone who is half Swedish, half American, raised in the US, but now living in Sweden. He'd written about his recent experience with the Swedish health care system, and it generated a number of responses.

Now, normally, I wouldn't have much to say about health care in another country. Leave it to those citizens to decide how they want things to be run. However, these days, with our own system in such a mess and the very real threat of having it changed to something that will probably be even messier, I find this subject has become a sore spot for me. Some want us to believe that people in Canada-- Sweden-- wherever-- have it made, as far as health care is concerned. Based on what I've heard and read, I can't agree.

Then I read this particular comment on the blog. Here's an excerpt:
There are definitely positive things to say about the Swedish health care system, as well, though. One being the fact that you don't need to have an expensive health insurance to get good health care, meaning that people from all social classes are entitled to the same health care.

If I was more opposed to the Swedish health care than I already am and had a proneness to being sarcastic I would probably describe the Swedish health care with the following sentence: "The waiting lines may be long but at least we're all standing in the same line!"

Sadly enough, though, I guess that's what you get when you have equal health care for everybody.
(This is the part where some of you may hate me forever. (g))

that such a positive thing, that everyone gets (supposedly) the same care-- even if that means many are getting care of inferior quality to what they'd get in our current system?

I mean, sure, if I could wave my magic wand (what? don't you have one, too?) and make it so that everyone everywhere would receive top-notch medical care, that would be wonderful. But that's not how it works.

If everyone gets the same level of medical care, that implies taking an average of their previous care. Yes, some people's care will improve, but many will receive less efficient or effective care than if they were to just pay their own way. Instead of paying ridiculous fees for insurance, they're forced to pay for their health care through ridiculously increased taxes. What they get is probably worse medical care than if they had just paid their own way. So where does the rest of the money go? (Probably partly just sucked down the drain of government waste! As for the rest:) To help pay for the health care of the "less fortunate". Why are some people entitled to the money of others? (Because health care, like any service, is money.)

Gosh, this life thing is complicated! It'd be so much easier if people would get over this insidious sense of entitlement. (Fat chance!) Yes, there are some people who truly need help, and it is the responsibility of any civilized people to help provide for their needy. But I, for one, don't like it when the government tries to force my hand.

Is it "fair", if someone works hard to earn a higher standard of living, that he shouldn't be able to buy better care than someone who does the bare minimum?

Consider: You've worked hard and saved your pennies your whole life. You've managed to accumulate a little money. You won't be buying a mansion or hiring a chef to prepare your meals, but you've earned some financial security. Now, you're getting older, and the time comes that you decide you need some type of elective surgery. It would vastly improve the quality of your life-- maybe even prolong your life, as it would help you stay physically and mentally active-- but it is elective. Now that we've put the government firmly in control of health care, it's up to them to decide who gets surgeries and when. Because people believe that health care is now free (never mind the fact that someone's paying for it), the demand for all types of medical care has sky-rocketed. People who would've just made do, before, are now quick to say, "Heck yeah! Sign me up for this, and that, and that, too!" This means longer lines. It also means that there are government workers reviewing each case to decide if a procedure is warranted. (The doctors and surgeons can only do so much every day, after all, and there may be less incentive for people to become doctors, working under these new guidelines and conditions.) The health care doler-outer looks at you, an aging person, and decides that it'd be a better investment to let someone younger have the surgery, instead. You'll probably only live another 10-20 years, and that 40-year-old guy whose file is right below yours in the stack might have 30-40 years left in him. Tough luck! Even though you have the money to pay for the procedure directly out of pocket-- on top of all the taxes you've paid across the years-- you are denied. (Well, that's one prediction I've heard, and I doesn't seem too far-fetched, if you ask me. . .)

*sigh* Why can't people see the simplest things? If you take away most of the incentives of hard work, there's no reason for anyone to bother putting in the extra effort that creates success and wealth.