Monday, November 02, 2009

Gambling with our health care system

I saw that Dr. David Gratzer's new book, Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster is now out. Glenn received a copy last week and I read it in one sitting as it is small, compact and full of great information on free-market health care reform. He is also the author of The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care that I read when it came out last year.

Gratzer, a psychiatrist, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He uses examples from his experience with the failures of the Canadian system to show why socialized medicine doesn't work. He was born and raised in Canada and at one point, believed that government health care was "compassionate and equitable." He soon learned that this was a crock, after a relative and other patients couldn't get the care they needed and were left to suffer.

Most notable about his current book is that he disputes many of the arguments in favor of government-controlled health care and uses facts to back up his statements. For example, Gratzer points out that "some argue that countries with government-run health care have found a way to tame the health-inflation problem. They claim that while costs spiral up in the US, there countries are doing better." He found that the cost of health care in socialized-care countries like France, Canada, and Ireland is growing at roughly the same rate as in the United States. "Between 2000 and 2006, the OECD average real annual growth rate for health spending was 4.9 percent; the US rate was 4.95 percent. Despite the rationing and central government control, these countries haven't stopped the trend of rising costs."

The book is quite good if you want a handy, compact book that succinctly makes the argument against universal health care and for free-market reform. I have used it several times in discussions with others on the topic. But if you want more detail, I suggest you read Gratzer's book, "The Cure."

Labels: ,


Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

the real-time arguement is when a friend or relative gets ill with one of the ailements that are on the list of things that aren`t covered....and you discover how much the meds will cost.


per month.

for life.

that`s why i have no time for idiots, canadian or otherwise, that still crow on about us having the best health care on earth.

what we actually have here is a one time free consult.

obama wants you guys to have that too.

these are the same people who want you to have an innoculation against a virus they made themselves. one which (and i`m quoting the world health organisation here) will clear up on its own without treatment in about a week except in rare cases.

for the retentives and nit-pickers i suggest you got to the w.h.o. website yourself and read it.

i did yesterday while in conversation with a doctor friend.

3:37 PM, November 02, 2009  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

The problem with rational, logic-and-evidence-based arguments for a free market in health care (and related insurance) is that the promoters of government-managed health care do not care. They're not interested in improving health care; they're interested in controlling it -- and by extension, controlling those of us who need it, which eventually includes everyone.

Gone are the days when we could realistically assess the promoters of such harebrained nonsense as merely misinformed or logically deficient. They are aspiring totalitarians, and they must be stopped.

5:03 PM, November 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest all who can get to D.C. for Thursday do so. Head for the steps at the capitol.

If it passes the house, the nuclear option will probably happen in the senate. And we all know Obama will sign it. There'll be no going back. Even if we vote every last one of them out of office in 2010. I was speaking with a friend on the phone earlier who is surrounded by dems at work. She says even many of them are scared. Everyone should be scared, and mad as hell.

8:18 PM, November 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

simple fact:
The US pays twice as much as any other nation in the world for health care. And yet we rank 50th in average life expectancy. Account for that, please. 50th!

You mislead the reader if you believe that under the proposed system you can choose to keep the insurance (private) you now have. That being so, what then is there to bitch about?

Now try this: take the number of folks on Medicare. Add those on Medicaid; now take all the people in our military (govt paid) and add to that all the zillions of govt workers. In fact half the nation already is on govt health plans! How many of them want out?

10:49 PM, November 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

fred wrote: "The US pays twice as much as any other nation in the world for health care. And yet we rank 50th in average life expectancy. Account for that, please. 50th!"

fred, you are just wrong, we do not pay twice as much as France, our nearest spender in terms of dollars per person. We spend less than 50% more. You need to get your statistics from reliable sources pal. We could discuss the amount spent in terms of our GDP but I fear that would terminally confuse you.

And it is really quite easy to account for our longevity in comparison to other nations with two statistics. The obesity rates of our poor people and our teenage pregnancy rates. Teen pregnancies end in the death of the baby far more often than mom's in their twenties and we have whole cultures that start having babies at around 14. 0 really kills your longevity rate.

So does keeping accurate statistics! Not even Spain keeps statistics as accurate as ours.

A LARGE majority of people who work in America are happy with their health care. People who do not work are not happy with theirs which is a good thing. It helps them to want to work.


12:05 AM, November 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stats? a large part--'what percentage since over 50 % want a change to a public option

try this

here is what we now spend, did spend, and will spend per family

as for what wes spend compared to other nations, yhou are wrong

5:56 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

And yet we rank 50th in average life expectancy. Account for that, please. 50th!"

Here's your accountability, fred.

Car accident fatalities:
For 2002
United States: 14.9
Canada: 9.3
United Kingdom: 6.1

In the United States in 1996, the per capita deaths by car accident for people aged 0-74 is 127.5, versus 58.4 for those aged 75 and older.

Murder rates:
24. United States with 0.042802 per thousand people
44. Canada with 0.0149063 per 1,000 people
46. United Kingdom with 0.0140633 per 1,000 people

More HERE.

Life expectancy is a poor statistic for determining the efficacy of a health care system because it fails the first criterion of assuming interaction with the health care system.

the U.S. is ethnically a far more diverse nation than most other industrialized nations. Factors associated with different ethnic backgrounds - culture, diet, etc. - can have a substantial impact on life expectancy. Comparisons of distinct ethnic populations in the U.S. with their country of origin find similar rates of life expectancy. For example, Japanese-Americans have an average life expectancy similar to that of Japanese.

The United Nations Statistics Division, which collects data on infant mortality, stipulates that an infant, once it is removed from its mother and then "breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles... is considered live-born regardless of gestational age."16 While the U.S. follows that definition, many other nations do not. Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt notes that in Switzerland "an infant must be at least 30 centimeters long at birth to be counted as living."17 This excludes many of the most vulnerable infants from Switzerland's infant mortality measure.

Switzerland is far from the only nation to have peculiarities in its measure. Italy has at least three different definitions for infant deaths in different regions of the nation.18 The United Nations Statistics Division notes many other differences.19 Japan counts only births to Japanese nationals living in Japan, not abroad. Finland, France and Norway, by contrast, do count births to nationals living outside of the country. Belgium includes births to its armed forces living outside Belgium but not births to foreign armed forces living in Belgium. Finally, Canada counts births to Canadians living in the U.S., but not Americans living in Canada. In short, many nations count births that are in no way an indication of the efficacy of their own health care systems.

And, there's more, all not related or minimally related to the quality or availability of health care. fred, I'm sure that all this is so far outside of your locked in beliefs that you'll reject them out of hand the same way some reject the theory of evolution. But, please don't waste our time with such stupid questions when you could easily find the answers if you so desired.

10:20 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Additionally, it's not worth another year or two of life to live in your leftist, totalitarian utopia.

10:40 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Mister Wolf said...


Oh! Just imagine all those car wreak victims and gunshot wound victims that would of been saved if they only had health insurance! Too bad they where left in the street dying when the paramedics ask them if they had insurance and they said no...then the paramedics promptly stopped helping them, got in their ambulance and drove away.

10:48 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

when one considers the total sum of all human intractions that comprise each country, and then try to compare those interactions statistically with eachother, one is bobund to come up with wrong answers.

alan watt pointed out over 40 years ago that if we continue to pull things apart and label them we will become increasingly bureaucratic and chaotic...and risk averse. he thereby predicted the magnificent bureaucratic clusterf**c known as government as we know it today.

this doesn`t help though. knowing what we are in doesn`t indicate a way out.

voting for one form of administrative steerage over another merely makes things worse.

statitically, i`m a wealthy middle aged man with a home paid off and a summer place by the lake.....

11:16 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

fred, you strike me as a decent guy. I appreciate your posts that are not political in nature as they are typically thoughtful and accurate.

But on your political poasts you really swig the kool aid. fred, youtube is not a good place to get accurate statistics. And the statistics matter fred. The data, the reality of the situation matter a lot. And you are being lied to and accepting it uncritically.

Here are some stats with the citations. One comes from the Kaiser Foundation, which you state as your source, but the percentages are not the same. And the Kaiser Foundation has an agenda and their figures are on the high side of the four others I found in 10 minutes.

Council On Foreign Relations – 44% more than Sweden

Nationmaster statistics 11% higher than Sweden

Kaiser Family Foundation America 20% higher than Luxembourg

info please America 44% higher than next country

Commonwealth says 53% more

These stats completely contradict your assertion that America spends 200% more on health care than any other nation.

Dadvocate supplied the answer to your use of life expectency as a poor indicator of health care. He also could have included the horrid death rate we have in America due to 14 year olds and younger getting pregnant and their children dying. Then there is the fact that the poor in America are fat and have attending health problems. Very few other countries have those two problems.

So do yourself, do us all a favor, and start doing some more critical thinking about the talking points. They do not fly here. Think for yourself, dig in and get the information first hand. You will be surprised at what reality holds for you.


11:43 AM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

I'd like to second the points made by DADvocate above. He has the explanation for the reason why the US is so far down the line in apparent health care effectiveness. If you moved our diverse culture to Japan and started using our standards to measure in Japan, they would drop like a rock. The same thing can be said in all of the other countries that look so wonderful by the way the stats are tabulated today. As things are, the stats are just about meaningless, but they are great for building a slanted argument.

1:13 PM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

If Fred gets his statistics from the WHO they are undoubtedly wrong. The WSJ did a recent column on how the WHO gets their numbers and its almost comical. Comically inaccurate.

Did you know that Cuba was able to report its number of babies births/deaths for the previous year in 48 hours? It takes the US and other major countries almost a year to calculate, verify and send out that information. Yet Cuba did it in 48 hours! Wonder why? They won't tell but the guess is they're making up the numbers to look good & hide their true statistics. Imagine that.

2:29 PM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Mister Wolf said...

"...Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of Accuracy.

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head." - George Orwell, 1984

6:40 PM, November 03, 2009  
Blogger Fen said...

Hey now, be nice to Fred. Last quarter he saved/created 1,000,000 jobs.

2:00 AM, November 04, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Good one Fen! I hope the tone of my post was more patient than punishing with fred. He seems to be a decent enough guy, I just want to help him be a little more skeptical of talking points.


9:52 AM, November 04, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

1984 points out the increasing chaos of bureaucracy, and brazil, a movie made by the monty python boys, amplifies the points for all to see.

unless you still believe in political solutions......

3:08 PM, November 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pretty simple fact that health care probably costs a lot more than in other countries because physicians and hospitals take more than they should.

I realize that "take more than they should" is going to get pounded by proponents of market forces.

But I'm a proponent of market forces as well. And if you get in a car accident, you don't spend weeks poring over fact sheets on various hospitals until you decide which one to go to.

And, for various reasons, doctors are also not chosen based on traditional market force reasons.

In Europe, in Germany for instance, physicians earn a bit more than other professionals with a comparable education (many years of graduate school) earn. That's OK.

In the United States, doctors are Gods who are entitled to God-like money. The problem is that people then think they are Gods, and the doctors eat it up, and then we see in malpractice suit after malpractice suit (and most errors are covered up) that doctors are just high-earning professionals like in Europe, so maybe they should only make that much.

No one seems to care that hospitals charge $11 per aspirin and doctors charge mega-bucks to look at your chart (just before the big golf game on Wednesday, and regardless of whether they commit malpractice or not).

Since it is not market forces deciding these prices anyway ... maybe cut them a little bit. Big Wheel Physician can still earn money hand over fist, he may have to limit the 3rd mink coat for his mistress, however.

9:18 PM, November 05, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to make it clear:

After a severe car accident, you are brought to the nearest trauma center.

That is not supportive of competition. Think about it a little.

So maybe monopolies have to be regulated if they are also supported (as hospitals are) by taxpayer money. Same with Dr. Big-Wheel.

9:22 PM, November 05, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

OK, JG, so is ObamaCare your proposed solution, or something else?

9:23 PM, November 05, 2009  
Blogger kentuckyliz said...

If we get the socialist paradise, the next time I get cancer, I will beg the death panel for the sweet release of death.

Calls to mind the passage from 1984 about the sweet moment of the bullet in the brain.

Except I'd want to book a future appointment and throw massive parties and travel and spend every last dime of my money before my scheduled Thanatos Center appointment for my elimination.

Because I wouldn't want this POS government to collect one red fucking cent of death taxes for such a crazy, freedom-hating system.

I would go down in a blaze of glory...really wickedly good parties.

4:13 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

The US pays twice as much as any other nation in the world for health care. And yet we rank 50th in average life expectancy. Account for that, please. 50th!

This argument is essentially that since we have more gang-bangers capping each other, and everyone around, we need ObamaCare.

But now that we find that we might spend up to 5 years in prison for refusing to pay the ObamaCare tax for not carrying health insurance, my solution of sterilizing all women who have kids out of wedlock makes more and more sense.

After all, the real problem with gang bangers, and all those guys in prison right now really is a direct result of the mainstreaming of bastardy, and that we can attribute to the Great Society and its War on Poverty.

Oh, and the correlation between gang-bangers capping each other and life expectancy is that inner city violence is a major contributor to our lowered life expectancy.

11:51 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

Look at some of the other statistics (above), it also looks like we need ObamaCare if we spend too much time driving, don't abort premies, and any number of other factors that play into life expectancy.

11:55 PM, November 07, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home