A Life and Death Issue: Universal Health Care
Rushing Towards Medical Mediocrity—At Best
Some might find it a little dramatic to discuss universal health care as a life and death issue. For those who have lived under universal health care (American politicians, tenured professors, and the general population of the
Moreover, I have read widely on this subject and want to explain to those who are willing to listen that it is not merely about health care, but rather this issue spreads its tentacles out to a variety of ethical issues. For example, universal health care has an enormous impact on questions surrounding abortion, euthanasia, and stem-cell research, not to mention economics, free market principles, the government’s take over and nationalization of banks, schools, the auto industry, and health care as well as the broad topic of (real) poverty.
The Obama administration is rushing this country headlong in the direction of Socialism and it just announced that Mr. Obama would like to have universal health care, or some semblance thereof, in place before July 31st. This administration is moving at breakneck speed towards fulfilling Mr. Obama’s agenda, which has already cost Americans more than they, their children, and their grandchildren can repay and the prognosis is that it’s only going to get worse. Even though it’s getting to be a hackneyed phrase, one cannot help but wonder aloud and on paper why the United States wants universal health care, when every country that has ever tried it finds it to be a dismal system that cannot and will not deliver what it promises. Why would anyone want to attempt to implement a system that has failed (miserably) wherever it’s been tried? Almost every morning I wake up these days wondering what stupid thing our elected and appointed representatives have done while I slept. Today it’s universal health care.
In the course of these issues, I want to lay out the numerous reasons why universal health care is a bad choice, in addition to the fact that it’s comparable to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the U.S. Post Office running your health care. Moreover, if this is such a crackerjack undertaking, why don’t Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Boxer, Feinstein, and Schwarzenegger lead by example and use this program as their only form of health insurance? The short answer is: for the same reason they oppose school vouchers, want you and me to send our children to government schools, and who send their children to exclusive, expensive private schools. It’s the same reason a huge number of public (read: government) school principals send their children to private schools as well. Our government schools receive failing grades across the board and the same is true of every country that has every experimented with universal health care.
Make no mistake: it is an experiment that repeatedly demonstrates unfavorable results. In this preliminary installment, I want to begin by taking a look at the universal health care of our neighbor to the north, Canada, and a link to an excellent video by Dr. Walter E. Williams, an economist from George Mason University in Virginia. Way back in 1991, Dr. Bill Gairdner wrote an excellent exposé on the overall ills of Canada. Chapter 11 of this fine work is entitled “Medical Mediocrity. Canada’s Sick Health-Care System.” Gairdner begins his discussion with a series of newspaper headlines from Canadian papers such as, “Metro wait for surgery forces 100 heart victims to hit U.S.,” “Patients wait in line for hospital bed,” “Second heart patient dies as surgery delayed nine times,” and “No one blameless in rise of health costs, study says.”
After using these headlines as a jumping off point, Gairdner continues, “regular cost overruns, long line-ups for surgery, experts leaving the country, patients dying as they wait for service, lack of equipment, wage clashes between professional staff and hospitals, fee-schedule battles between physicians and government” all add up to a sad but predictable story. It’s sad because I know from personal experience about a congregational member who died waiting for a heart transplant; he waited eight years and his wife found him dead in the living room one morning. It is also sad because in the past when anyone wanted to flee from their abysmal universal health care system, they could come to the United States. If Mr. Obama gets his way, this will no longer be the case. It’s predictable because it was doomed to failure from the outset. Every country that has toyed around with universal health care had the same predictable results. For Mr. Obama, that doesn’t seem to matter because he’s intent on establishing a Nanny State here in America.
Gairdner makes my point that universal health care is, indeed, a life and death issue when he writes, “But the predictable breakdown of our medicare system—yet another of our social-welfare schemes—will eventually confront us all, some in the most heartbreaking way, as we watch a loved one deteriorate at home, or die lined up in the corridor of some hospital, for lack of adequate service, facilities, or equipment.” What makes this difficult for Americans right now is that (1) it’s still an academic question until universal health care finally gets implemented, (2) it sounds good: free medical care, and (3) it sounds compassionate.
But then again, history teaches us that whatever sounds good, compassionate, feasible, etc. might not actually be all of those things. There is an important economic principle involved here. You might have heard—way back when—someone say something about “supply” and “demand.” It is a basic, fundamental marketing principle, but few seem to understand it anymore or have any respect for its validity. I say this because it is germane to the discussion of universal health care. Here’s the overarching principle: The demand for an unlimited free commodity is infinite. This is so obviously true that I’m almost embarrassed to mention it. I mention it though because recently I walked into a store where a young person was singing the praises of Mr. Obama (Apparently, to this young person, Obama is da man.) I asked him what in Mr. Obama’s economic policies he found attractive. He informed me that he had never heard the word “economic” before. Just another 18-year-old product of our government schools. Anyway, the principle is a sound one and applies in spades to every country that has given socialized medicine—that is what universal, government sponsored health care is—a shot.
There is also the adage that there is still no such thing as a free lunch rings true. Nothing is “free.” The government doesn’t pay for all this, the taxpayers do. The government will create yet another gargantuan bureaucracy that will mismanage taxpayer dollars, lose funds, make the politicians and bureaucrats wealthier, and provide, at very best, mediocre coverage for those who used to have good health care coverage.In our next installment, we will delve deeper into this socio-economic problem, but in the meantime, I want you to contemplate the principle that the demand for an unlimited free commodity is infinite. That is to say, if health care is “free” (socialized medicine is very expensive free health care), human nature will dictate that people will make use of it more frequently, which means long lines and scarcity of medicines, procedures, and doctors appointments. If you have cancer and don’t mind waiting six to eight months for an MRI, Mr. Obama’s plan is just what you’ve been waiting for.
 William Gairdner, The Trouble with
 Ibid., 299.
 Ibid., 299-300.
 Ibid., 300.
Labels: Universal Health Care