Sunday, April 27, 2008

Massachusetts and Universal Health Care.

Don't expect much reporting on this. The formula involved forcing coverage for everyone by extra taxes, penalties and coercion, along with subsidies for the poor. That part worked. Still, it seems that the free-market / communist hybrid is producing the predictable results: Health care rationing via queues. What I found out on my visit was that there is an income threshold where $1 of additional income results in a complete loss of government supplied health benefits, but you are then legally obliged to pay the health benefits out of your own pocket. This is a great way to kill the enthusiasm for the poor to put in a decent work day.

The other thing I was told is that it is now illegal to purchase health services privately in Massachusetts. Fortunately, much of the state is close to adjacent states where people can legally get treated, but a 5 minute checkup can cost $500 due to the supply/demand distortions.

Interestingly, the article above provides an argument that queues and skyrocketing prices aren't the result of a shortage of doctors and nurses, while admitting that the aging population will require 40% more primary care doctors by 2020. My impression is that next to nothing is being done to train these additional health workers, so like the oil crisis, we are really at the early, preliminary stages of the problem. Falun Gong will do well.

4 comments:

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Livingsword said...

LOL

Clearly the US health care system is broken and so is ours! Please do not try to emulate us as many on the left postulate….

One of the challenges of “universal health care” is people think it is free. They go to the doctor/hospital and pay nothing. However they pay huge amounts in taxes. Many abuse the system with unnecessary repetitious visits which makes non-urgent medical needs back up the system. Emergent care is immediate just as with the US, with equally superb service, but line ups for hip replacements things of that sort are ridiculously long.

That being said very few here would want a US style system (and trust me we understand the US system). More immediate service is needed here for non-emergent care and clearly the US needs to find a way to provide affordable excellent health care for everybody….

I have many relatives in the health industry and demand for their services is immense world wide. My wife who is an x-ray technologist (they are more highly trained here than the US so a direct correlation is not possible, she could do 5-6 various related jobs in the US which are considered one job here) gets several job offers a week, many from the US, but there is a shortage of medical professionals here.

We are behind in training for the medical field as many that would typically have gone into this sector have instead gone into high tech. Another factor is the immense measures we now go to for those in dire medical conditions which draws down on the present system. Cancer had us on the ropes then AIDS came along….now the baby boomers are getting more needy…

A recent study showed that if smoking was eliminated we would need much less health care, the problem we have in BC is it would have to eliminate more than one kind of smoking….

Looney said...

Hmmm. And I thought only the US was moving towards a ban on tobacco while legalizing marijuana ... Or is it something else that is being smoked in Canada?

Medical training, however, is linked to education in general in the US. The "no child left behind" philosophy is certainly altruistic and praiseworthy, but the consequence is that the majority of society will never realize their full potential. In other words, I don't think the medical crisis can be dealt with without a fundamental re-think of education that doesn't include teachers unions and ph.d's in education. Eventually we will get these, but perhaps only after the baby-boom generation dies off.

Livingsword said...

British Columbia is a hotbed for marijuana growth and those trying to legalize it. It is a bane in our society…and yes we are also big promoters of a decreasing of tobacco smoking (the least smokers of any province but the most pot smokers). Yet so far our governments have stood up against this movement despite our judges being extraordinarily lenient on this issue….of course our judges are not elected…

I hear you on the no child left behind concept, we are quite similar here, in general we promote competition in school less than you do but more than in Europe. Actually this is probably the case in most things, we balance between the US and European views. It is actually unfortunate that we adopt as many concepts from Europe as we do but many are concerned about our society becoming indistinguishable from the US. We have a population equal to California so obviously it is easy for us to be overwhelmed by US culture so it is understandable that there would be some protectionist feelings. However we are not that way about trade so the Democrats views on NAFTA are a hot topic up here….

Always an interesting conversation with you Looney….