Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sarah Palin's Health Care Stupidity

"The Democratic legislative proposals will lead to health care rationing," former Alaska governor Sarah Palin angrily roared on Wednesday night.

"The sick, the elderly and the disabled would suffer the most under such rationing; and that under such a system, these ‘unproductive’ members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care or not."

Of course, Sarah Palin's legions of adoring right-wing fans screeched in approval at her outburst - but does their condemnation of Obama's health care proposals actually hold up to scrutiny?

The simple answer is: No.

Because as opposed to government-run health care as I am, Sarah Palin's accusations could equally be leveled at the existing health care system - the one she's fighting to preserve.

"Unproductive’ members of society could face the prospect of government bureaucrats determining whether they deserve health care or not," Palin screams. But surely a private system, run by insurance companies that can arbitrarily decide that a sick person is 'uninsurable', rations health care to those who need it most in exactly the same way.

"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," Palin wrote last Friday.

But surely a privately-run system, in which people who can't afford it simply don't get access to private medical care, is equally 'evil.'

Sarah Palin's Down syndrome baby, Trig, has access to wonderful medical care - because his mother is rich. Thousands of other Down syndrome babies, born to parents who can't afford private medical insurance, are looked after by the same Government-run, 'free' health care system that Sarah Palin is complaining about. Their health coverage is 'rationed.'

My whole problem with the Republican approach to attacking health care reform is that it's all built on lies and misinformation.

President Obama's not suggesting 'socialized' health care - yet that's what these idiots are waving on their placards outside the Town Hall meetings.

While yes, President Obama is proposing that the government cover the cost of treating America's millions of uninsured - but how is that different than the insured covering the cost of treating them? Through vastly bloated premiums - as is the case now.

Remember, there already is universal health care in America. The Republicans are trying to ignore that fact, while Obama's merely trying to pay for it.

The unfortunate thing is that sound-bites and angry rants are the fuel-stuff of the Conservative movement. The more pundits like Palin get them fired up with horror stories of 'death panels' and 'socialized medicine', the more they'll oppose Obama's health care reforms without understanding what they are.

The Republicans have always been good at appealing to the lowest common denominator and working up a crowd to fever pitch. It's just unfortunate that, in this instance, they're doing it merely to oppose anything Obama proposes, rather than to actually benefit themselves, their loved ones or anybody who relies on America's health care system.


Tom said...

So the solution to the rationing of health care for some people is to ration health care for everyone?

That seems like a step down to me.

Roland Hulme said...

But is that honestly what Obama's proposing? It's so difficult to sift through the propoganda (from both sides) to find the truth.

Igor said...

Obama still not find vault birth certificate

He go back to Hawaii for 5 day but only have time to visit sick grandmother for hour
and still find no paper. Media too busy to help. They have important thing to do like
find out if Joe Plumber in union or lie about health care.

Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at

Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

Tom said...

Health care is always rationed. At the end of the day, there's a finite pool of money available to keep us alive. Doctors, Nurses, Drug-researchers, and the guy that makes the MRI machine don't work for free, and so medical care will always have costs. When those costs exceed the pool of money, then there's rationing. And we're in a situation where it's pretty much always possible to exceed the pool of money.

(Why don't we have a full-body MRI every time we go in for a checkup. It would effectively find a lot of things, but it isn't cost-effective, so we don't do it.)

The question is, who will do the rationing. We currently have a competitive market for health care.* So I can pick between an expensive plan that covers everything, or a cheap one that gives me less care. I can choose between a high-deductible plan that makes me pay the first $2000/yr of medical care, and a normal plan that does not.

With the government plan, we don't get these choices. Somebody in Washington will be making those choices for you, and if you don't like it, too bad.

The UK NHS considers a year of life to be worth £30,000. If it costs more than that to save you, you have no place else to turn.

Now, Obama claims his plan won't destroy private health insurance. Many of us don't believe him. That's because it's very hard for a private company, which has to balance its budget, to compete with the federal government, which doesn't.

* Many of the problems are due to this marked not being competitive enough.

Roland Hulme said...

Succinct, rational and verifiable response! It's much more difficult to argue with you than Sarah Palin and her 'death panels.'

All health care systems ARE rationed, I agree. But the NHS - which is a bloated dinosaur and the biggest employer in Europe - still costs less than half what the American system does. Is the cut off that most Americans can afford to save their lift $60,000 (as in the UK) or $120,000 (double that, to match the spending) or just disproportionate depending on your insurance?

Tom said...

Well, health care in the US _is_ more expensive, for several reasons. (A lack of tort reform foremost among them.)

But we're not talking about the reforms the current system needs. We're talking about a totally different kind of system, one in which the government, rather than the market, rations health care.

The thing about the market is that while it sort-of rations stuff, it does so in a subtle way. Let's take two possible systems of distributing chocolate bars.

In one system, the government takes $2 from each of us, and in return we get free chocolate bars. But since they're "free", people will start taking a huge number of them. And suddenly, the government will have to decide how many chocolate bars people get... rationing by fiat.

Now, take the case in which the bars are sold in a market. You can decide how much they're worth to you, and spend that much on them. If you really like chocolate bars, you can forgo other things to get them. If I'm not a big fan of chocolate, I can spend the money on other things.

Now, both are systems of "rationing". But market-based rationing seems way more sensible than government fiat. And this is usually the case, which is why we should try to limit government to things that _require_ government powers, like the police and military.