Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Nationalized Health Care"

It is a phrase used a lot in reference to the plans proposed by both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barrack Obama should they attain the post of President. As Kevin Freking of the Associated Press points out in a recent article, it is an inappropriate usage of the phrase:

Last week, Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, described his challengers' health care plans as a "move closer to a nationalized health care system." But that's a stretch. To nationalize means to transfer ownership or control to the government. There's still a vast distance between what the Democratic candidates have proposed and nationalized health care.

Clinton and Obama aren't proposing government hospitals or government doctors. They want people to have health insurance, and they want people to be able to choose from a variety of policies. The menu would include private plans as well as an option similar to Medicare. Tax breaks would help lower- and middle-income people pay their monthly premiums.

In addition, proposed employer involvement and the rescinding of Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy assure that there will be others besides the government paying into the program (whichever it ends up being) once it is enacted.

Such a system would continue the split system that the U.S. has when it comes to health coverage. The elderly, poor, disabled and many veterans would continue to get care paid for primarily by the government. Others would get coverage from private companies, usually through their employer, or through the Medicare-like option.

"Their approach is not taking any other country's system. It's building on what we have in the U.S," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, which conducts health research.

Freking goes on to provide an illustrative comparison between our system here in the United States and those of Great Britain and Canada. He finds that while many more here in the U.S. chose to skip seeking care out of financial fear, residents of the other two countries tend to have much longer waits when specialist care is needed -- waits that are often a month or longer.

He also touches on economic side effects of the high cost of American health care, such as the fact that stateside manufacturers find it harder to compete in the global marketplace due to the high and rising cost of coverage.
"That's why it costs less to build a car in Canada than in the United States because you've got a bunch of money tied up in health insurance," said Steven Lewis, a Canadian health consultant.
As usual, Freking prescribes a solid dose of information for his readers, including an interesting observation about the one commonality that people in all three countries share. I'll let you read the article to find out what it is....

SOURCE: "Insurance model follows American tradition" 05/10/08
photo courtesy of *clarity*, used under its Creative Commons license

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