Friday, January 22, 2010

The less observed consequences to government health care

Socialized medicine through out the world has the following characteristics:

• It leads to delays where, as in the case of Canada, patients wait for 17 weeks on average from the time a general practitioner says indicates that something is wrong until one visits a specialist

• It leads to rationed care, where people not only wait for years for things such as hip replacements, but often find themselves forced to pay for such out of their own pockets in foreign countries

• It has a negative effect on mortality rates, as we see those who suffer from certain diseases such as cancer, surviving half as long in countries like England compared to patients in the United States

• It has been linked to "economic euthanasia," in which individuals are allowed (or even encouraged) to die because they are no longer economically viable since they no longer pay taxes. That is exactly what happened to my own grandfather in England • It leads to no recourse, as government officials "apologize" for their negligence or horrible mistakes, but there is no viable way of pursuing damages

These are fairly obvious and well known and observed by medical and policy professionals around the world. In spite of how horrible they are, their proponents tell us that "socialized medicine is better than nothing." In fact, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer used those words recently. Our indigent population is provided for better in our current and flawed system than those under socialized medicine, so the reasoning simply does not make any sense.

To make matters worse are those effects that are less noticeable. I do not want to sound like a conspiracy therapist, but their implications are far reaching and threaten to undermine both our robust health care system and, historically, the most vibrant economy in the history of the world.

Socialized medicine is part of a "cradle to grave" approach to governing that puts enormous financial strain on individuals and undermines individual responsibility. The mega rich can be taxed to pay for the cost of such programs and still have plenty of resources to do what they want with their money. They can still start enterprises, buy additional businesses, buy new toys, and more. But for the vast majority of individuals in the upper middle class and lower, such excessive costs can literally drive people into a lower income bracket in terms of quality of life and spending power purposes. Such costs make it all the more difficult for people to invest in new tools, to transition from employee to self-employed, and to pursue the climbing of the rungs of the ladder towards economic success.

In essence, these types of programs actually protect the very wealthy from aspiring entrepreneurs that are attempting to achieve economic success of their own, this is among the reasons the rich support big government programs. They might be an inconvenience to them, but are devastating for those who want to be rich. It should not be a surprise then that, in the last presidential election, the highest income group supported Obama 3 to 1 over McCain. It is not only because they can afford to support it, but because it is a small price to pay to stay "competitive."

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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