Americans’ Self-Contradictory Views of Socialized Healthcare
Eric ZUESSE 06.04.2017 09:45

58 % of Americans want «Replacing the ACA with a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans». Only 37% oppose it. A tiny 5% have no opinion. That’s from a Gallup poll published 16 May 2016, «Majority in U.S. Support Idea of Fed-Funded Healthcare System».

However, on 20 November 2014, Gallup headlined «Majority Say Not Gov't Duty to Provide Healthcare for All» and reported that, «For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans (52%) agree with the position that it is not the federal government's responsibility to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to the start of Barack Obama's presidency in 2009, a majority of Americans consistently took the opposite view». But if it’s «not the federal government's responsibility to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage» (presumably meaning for all basic healthcare but not for vanity medical services such as «tucks» and other non-health-related medical services), then «a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans» makes no real sense at all.

Is it likely that majorities really do want single-payer, but not from the government? Hardly: a gratuitous addition of stockholders’ profits into the costs for providing essential and economic-productivity-enhancing healthcare services that everyone should have access to if it’s really needed (lawfully prescribed etc.) will not only distort the incentives to medical-services providers (and so reduce both health and economic productivity), but will also waste the money of medical consumers (government or otherwise). But what about having ‘non-profit’ firms provide the single-payer services? That cuts out profits, and so eliminates the distortions that stockholders’ wants will introduce into the providing of any services (wants such as stockbrokers have, who pump the investments that pay them the highest commissions, which necessarily harms their investors). However, the top executives even of ‘non-profit’ firms can pay themselves whatever their friends who sit on their board of trustees will approve; and so a ‘non-profit’ too can be, at least to that extent, a scam. (And, of course, in an entirely free market, there is no regulation and therefore scams will be routine; so, only crooks would want that, anyway.)

These are the reasons why the countries that have the highest life-expectancies, and therefore the best health-outcomes, are the same as the countries that have socialized basic healthcare services, paid for normally entirely through taxes and provided to all citizens as a basic human right instead of as a privilege that’s available only to individuals who can afford it. (Of course, «tucks» and such get charged extra to the patient.) The United States has by far the costliest health care in terms of not only what Americans pay for it but in terms of healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP, and yet the U.S. has the lowest life-expectancy of all OECD countries; the U.S. has the most-free-market healthcare, and also the worst healthcare, among all of the economically developed countries — all (except the U.S.) of which provide guaranteed basic healthcare services to all citizens: essential services free as a right, not charged as a privilege.

America’s combination of the worst healthcare plus the by-far-costliest healthcare is no coincidence; and healthcare profits in America are the world’s highest, so, the present American system is terrific for those stockholders (whose firms hire the lobbyists and their politicians who write America’s healthcare-laws). Because basic healthcare in the United States is a privilege instead of a right, the U.S. is the only economically developed nation that does not have universal coverage, health insurance for 100% of its citizenry, healthcare as a guaranteed right instead of dependent upon the patient’s ability-to-pay. When Barack Obama entered the White House, the uninsured rate was 14.6%; when he left office it was 10.9%; the insured rate when he started was 85.4%, and it was 89.1% when he left office. His repeated promises of «universal coverage» were lies. His plan was in no way designed for «universal coverage»; that promise was just a lie.

In the OECD’s «Health at a Glance 2015» (which is their latest version of that, and covers actually 44 nations), the United States scores at or near the bottom for almost all indicators of healthcare-quality, including: Life expectancy, Access to care, Quality of care, Doctors per capita, and Hospital beds per capita. We are by far the highest on Pharmaceutical expenditure per capita. Oddly, three nations, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, are exceptionally high in both their heart-disease death-rates and their cancer death-rates; plus their life-expectancies are even lower than America’s, and their most carefully medically calculated measured «Quality of care» rankings are also generally as bad as the United States. However, in the latest calculated year, which is shown there, which was 2013, «Health expenditure per capita» (p. 165) was U.S. $8,713; Czech Republic $2,040, Slovak Republic $2,010; and Hungary $1,719.

So, America’s was over four times as high as the healthcare costs of other countries in its class — i.e. in the overall worst class. Generally the top-performing nations were: Japan, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland. Switzerland was the second-highest in cost-of-care, $6,325, right below the U.S. Norway was third-costliest, $5,862. Sweden fifth-costliest, $4,904. Japan 14th-costliest, $3,713. Finland 17th-costliest, $3,442. Italy twentieth-costliest, $3,077. The average OECD cost for all the 44 nations was $3,453. Whether Obamacare would change any of those U.S. rankings is too early to tell. However, the U.S. is such an extreme «outlier» so that our healthcare system would need to be replaced root-and-branch in order to be competitive with any other nation’s in terms of delivering value-for-the-money, instead of rip-off (which is its existing outlier status — unparalleled by any other country’s, for delivering lousy value).

It is so bottom-of-the-barrel, that it is below the barrel. This is by far the world’s most-free-market healthcare system, but our government spends more per-capita on it than do other nations’ governments that pay almost all of their citizens’ healthcare costs. In fact, as shown in the chart «9.3. Health expenditure as a share of GDP, 2013 (or nearest year)» on page 167 of that OECD report, the U.S. is the only country where the private sector pays more of the nation’s healthcare costs than does the public sector, the government. No other nation comes anywhere close to that degree of non-governmental providing of the healthcare function. Every other nation has socialized the healthcare-function to a vastly higher extent than the U.S. has. That’s how corrupt America is: history, the data, are still ignored here, even when every other nation accepts those realities and has long-since implemented them in national policies.

Lots of other countries are more corrupt in the pettier forms of corruption such as bribery, but perhaps few match America’s higher-level, and far more complex, systemic corruption.