Healthy Opinions About Health Care June 21, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, About Health, Canada, Health.
Tags: canada health, canada health care, health care, health care reform, health costs, health insurance, health opinions, healthcare reform, hmos, national helath, new york time poll, opinion polls, private health insurance, roger hollander, single payer, tommy douglas, universal health
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Roger Hollander, www.rogerhollander.com, June 21, 2009
We Canadians know a good thing when we see, and live it and enjoy it and depend on it. I’m not talking about maple syrup, although that might come in a distant second. It’s our national health plan. In the forty one years I have lived in Canada I have never once heard any politician from any political party suggest its abolition (not that the Tories do not do their best to defund and attempt to erode it). It would be political suicide. A few years ago a CBC poll asked Canadians who in their estimation was the greatest Canadian of all times. The hands down winner was Tommy Douglas, the man who, as Premier of the prairie Province of Saskatchewan, introduced universal health care to Canada (he also happened to be Donald Sutherland’s father-in-law).
What Canada has is NOT government health care. It is rather universal health insurance with a single insurer, the government (organized province by province). Contrary to myth, and unlike HMOs and other private health insurance in the States, Canadians have an absolute right to choose their own physicians. Furthermore, in all my years living in Canada not once have I walked into a doctor’s office, clinic, laboratory or hospital and had to open my wallet (other than to produce my plastic health card). When my father was visiting from the States and needed to see my primary care physician, the office staff had to fumble around trying to figure out how to take a cash payment from him. It had never happened before.
The Canadian health care provider, be it a physician, laboratory, etc., simply fills out a form and sends it to the government for payment according to a scale that is negotiated between the government a provider organizations such as the Canadian Medical Association. There are no blood-sucking private health insurers to send costs through the ceiling and squeeze out bigger profits with co-payments and by denying treatment. The Canadian plan is funded by employer and employee contributions.
Despite massive disinformation campaigns about the Canadian health care system that are funded and promoted by the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the Republican Party, a majority of Americans favor what is referred to as a single-payer system over the existing Rube Goldberg system in the States that passes for health care, a system that costs more, yields poorer results, and leaves tens of millions without coverage.
A CBS News/New York Times poll that was published in today’s New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/health/policy/21poll.html?_r=1&hpw) showed that 72% of respondents supported government health insurance with only 20% opposed (the poll did not refer to a “single-payer” plan, but rather a public plan that would compete with private plans; other polls have shown a majority in favor of single-payer).
Surprisingly, the poll showed 50% of Republicans in favor with 30% opposed. 87% of registered Democrats approved and 73% of Independents.
50% of all respondents thought government would do a better job than private insurance companies in providing medical coverage against 34% who thought it would do a worse job. 59% thought government would do a better job of holding down health costs while 26% thought they would do worse.
But here is what for me is the most interesting and telling statistic that arises out of the poll. Respondents were asked if they were willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans have health insurance that they can’t loose no matter what. 57% said yes and 27 % said no. That’s better than a two to one ratio. And here’s the kicker: of those who earn less than $50.000 annually, 64% are willing to pay more so fellow Americans are not denied health care and 27% are not. For those earning more than $50,000, 52% are willing and 44% are not.
Look at those numbers carefully. While only 27% of poorer Americans are not willing to help their fellow citizens, a whopping 44% of those with greater means don’t give a damn.
This is what I call compassionate conservatism.