In my (admittedly limited) experience with debates on healthcare, they always lead to discussions of countries with nationalized healthcare like Canada, Sweden and the UK. As the national “discussion” (if it could legitimately be called so) elevates to a near-frenzy, some pretty weighty assertions are being thrown around. Last Friday, Sarah Palin referred to such a system as “downright evil” and conjured up images of “death panels” deciding whether her son, Trig, would be “allowed” to live, given his Down Syndrome:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Yes, Sarah. That system would be evil. Good thing that system isn’t what’s being proposed, and isn’t what exists in industrialized countries with socialized medicine. Also, I wonder if Ms. Palin is aware that private insurance companies decide who to cover, and for what, based on how profitable it will be to them to provide coverage.
Critics of Obama’s healthcare plan have claimed that people like Stephen Hawking and Ted Kennedy wouldn’t be treated in a “socialized” healthcare system. Nevermind that Stephen Hawking was born in the UK and has lived there his entire life, and later said, “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS.” (The Investor’s Business Daily later retracted the opinion article making that claim, and hopefully gave the author a decent tongue-lashing for his shoddy research abilities.) Paul Broun, R-GA, went so far as to say the UK and Canada, “don’t have the appreciation of life as we do in our society, evidently.” Apparently he defines “life” as “people who have money to spend.”
The UK Department of Health finally had enough, and recently emailed the Associated Press with a three-page rebuttal of each perceived mistruth being spread about the UK’s healthcare system. I wish I could get my hands on a copy of that – if you come across one, please point me in the right direction.
Interestingly, the UK has significantly lower adult and infant mortality rates and a higher healthy life expectancy, despite the fact its per-capita healthcare costs are dramatically lower ($2714 pp vs. the US’s $6714).
Besides, nobody is even proposing that we all go over to completely nationalized healthcare. We’re essentially just adding another option. It’s not even right to compare this proposal to countries like UK and Canada, because we will still have a private insurance market. They’ll just be forced to get their asses in gear if they want to keep their jobs, is all. But that’s certainly not scary enough to push people into beligerently interrupting town hall meetings, now is it? Unless you work for an insurance company, I suppose.
Are there problems with the UK’s healthcare system? Of course. Just as there are in all systems, socialized, privatized or otherwise. But are NHS officials “death-dealers,” as Sarah Palin would have you believe? Of course not. If they are, though, I hope they’re like the death-eaters in Harry Potter. A masked man apparating in a cloud of black smoke into my nursing home and throwing an Avada Kedavra my way would be a pretty badass way to die.