Originally Published: September 10, 2008 8:37 p.m.
As elections near, the subject of a government-run, one-payer healthcare system always surfaces, as in the Aug. 12 Daily Courier, in which a congressional candidate and a nurse both extolled its virtues. The caveat remains: be careful what you wish for.
Currently, the U.S. government operates Medicare and co-runs, with states, Medicaid. Besides being ineffective, wasteful and suffering billions annually in fraud, these programs have increased the cost of all healthcare services. Find someone with 10 years of Medicare claim reconciliations and examine them for the full story.
People cite countries with cradle-to-grave government programs, anecdotally, as a panacea for healthcare. Go online with the Toronto Globe and Mail or the Vancouver Sun and search "healthcare" to learn how the government system actually fares in Canada and why the Northern tier American hospitals are full of Canadians, paying cash for services.
The horror stories include weeks of emergency service delays, months, even years, for elective procedures and periodic strikes by providers. It's clear no government system provides the quality of care we now receive. With deregulation, new rules for insurers, complete portability of policies and healthcare savings accounts, we could all have private insurance for life.
But don't even think about coverage for pre-existing conditions. In cases where mandated, it has allowed well people to remain uninsured until becoming ill, leading to insurance no firm wants to underwrite, because to be acceptable, it's necessary to spread risk across all levels of personal health.
If we want many of our healthcare dollars siphoned off by Washington bureaucrats, one-third of doctors - as a sub-class of public servant - reporting to federal government clerks and two-thirds of our doctors leaving the profession, government healthcare should do nicely.