When you strip away all the peripheral stuff, health care reform comes down to choosing what our priorities are. Would we put a higher priority on good accessability and great quality in health care or do we prefer a system that features universal coverage and price controls. We know that President Obama chose the high quality option:

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.

President Obama has said that it’s important to have a public option to “keep insurance companies honest.” Greg Makiw skewers that argument in this NYTimes op-ed:

Even if one accepts the president’s broader goals of wider access to health care and cost containment, his economic logic regarding the public option is hard to follow. Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don’t need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.

Simply brilliant point.

I’m convinced that President Obama isn’t interested in true competition but rather that he’s just playing word games with the American people. I’m betting that President Obama knows that the words government-run are toxic. I’m further betting that he knows that if he sounds disinterested in market-based solutions, that this type of legislation doesn’t have a chance of getting enacted.

Here’s what happens when people opt for the universal coverage model:

A critically-ill premature-born baby from Hamilton is all alone in a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital after she was turned away for treatment at local facility and transferred across the border without her parents, who don’t have passports.

Ava Stinson was born Thursday at St. Joseph’s Hospital, 14 weeks premature. A provincewide search for an open neonatal intensive care unit bed came up empty, leaving no choice but to send the two pound, four ounce baby to Buffalo.

Her parents Natalie Paquette and Richard Stinson couldn’t follow their child because as of June 1, a passport is required to cross the border into the United States.
They’re having to approve medical procedures over the phone and are terrified something will happen to their baby before they get there.

The Canadian blogger who wrote about this made this statement:

I won’t get into the relative merits of the American and Canadian health-care systems here. Suffice it to say that there obviously need to be more neo-natal intensive care unit beds up here. Thankfully, and this doesn’t mean that the American system is better (after all, at least the couple and their baby are guaranteed care up here, thanks to our public system, even if it’s not perfect), there was an opening south of the border.

The fact that the government “guarantees” health care to everyone certainly didn’t mean that they’d guarantee that they had the capacity to deal with all possibilities. It isn’t uncommon for babies to be born 1-2 months premature. The Canadian government’s single-payer system didn’t do this couple a bit of good.

That’s because their system is built on the premise that health care costs are kept low artificially because they set a “global budget”, which includes a pricing table. This pricing table isn’t about whether it covers the cost of an MRI or EEG or other procedure. It’s simply a figure that the government pays.

Whichever way you slice it, that’s government-mandated price controls. Everytime that I’ve seen them used, price controls didn’t just fail, they failed in such a way that they turned bad situations into terrible situations. If they’re the cure, I’d rather deal with the disease.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

3 Responses to “Quality & Accessability vs. Affordability & Accessability?”

  • J. Ewing says:

    The biggest problem with this whole health care discussion is that we keep talking about what “WE” as in the whole people of the US, should be doing with the one-size-fits-all government solution, when what we should be talking about is what “WE” as in 300 million individuals, are willing to pay for what quality and quantity of OUR individual health care. You know, kind of like a free market.

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