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Republicans Demand the Impossible in a Healthcare Bill

Sunday, March 26, 2017 8:50
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(Before It's News)

Eric Zuesse

Republicans demand a healthcare bill (or medical system) that will simultaneously (and without sacrificing quality of healthcare) reduce their total expenses on medical care — including their insurance premiums and their out-of-pocket costs — and that will also be more free-market (with less government involvement and regulations) than in existing U.S. healthcare policy (both before and after Obamacare began); they want more free-market, and less cost, and also no sacrifice on quality.

The economic data show that (by far) the most cost-effective medical care is in countries that have socialized healthcare; the least cost-effective (meaning the least efficient) medical care is in countries that have not socialized healthcare, and the middle that’s between those two extremes is countries (there is only one: Switzerland) that are between those two categories: countries that legally require everyone to have health insurance but that remove the profit-motive from health insurance by having (as Switzerland puts it) “60 government-approved non-profit insurance providers offer basic mandatory insurance and optional loss-of-earnings [disability] insurance in accordance with legal requirements and the supervisory authority’s directives.” America’s propagandists for Obamacare had been saying such things as “Switzerland Has Its Own Kind of Obamacare — and Loves It”, and mentioned that “For many Americans, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which makes health insurance mandatory, is a bitter pill to swallow” but that it’s really “a victory for common sense,” but they were misrepresenting the extent to which the Swiss system is similar to Obamacare, and also misrepresenting (over-praising) the Swiss system’s track-record of performance.

Besides the Swiss system’s using only approved non-profit insurers, it importantly has nothing like Obamacare’s “insurance mandate.” One might wonder: how, then, could coverage be “mandatory” in Switzerland? The answer is that, “If you fail to insure yourself within three months, the canton will chose a provider for you and you will be sent a premium bill by the provider.” Consequently, whereas Switzerland really does have “universal coverage” (meaning 100% of citizens are insured), Obamacare leaves 10.9% of Americans uninsured. Prior to Obama’s coming into office, 14.6% of Americans had no health insurance; so, Obamacare increased the pre-Obama 85.4% of Americans who had health insurance, to 89.1%. He increased the insured percentage by 3.7%. That’s all — nothing like increasing it to “universal insurance” (100% insured) which is what every other OECD nation has (besides their having better health care, at far lower prices, as will be documented in the paragraph immediately below). Democrats propagandize about their achievement, by comparing the current 10.9% figure versus the 18.0% peak figure that was the all-time high percentage of Americans who had no insurance, which was right before the Obamacare exchanges opened for business, on the first day of October in 2013. Millions of Americans had simply dropped their existing insurance as Obama’s promised health insurance system came closer to reality, and especially after the U.S. Supreme Court gave it the go-ahead; but for propagandists to compare the 10.9% figure versus the 18% figure is fraudulent, which is par for the course in U.S. politics and government — thoroughly untrustworthy, like in a dictatorship. (Jimmy Carter calls the U.S. an “oligarchy” instead of a democracy; he’s correct, and an oligarchy is a dictatorship by the super-rich. Democracy is impossible with a misinformed public, such as here. “Oligarchs” need it to be that way.) The Democrats’ touting that 18% pre-Obamacare uninsured figure includes the additional 3.4% of Americans who, after Obama became elected in 2008, abandoned insurance, because they were hoping for the Democrats to provide a much better health insurance system; but the Democrats, immediately after Obama’s win in 2008, yanked much that was best in their promised plan — for example, the promised “public option” was immediately abandoned by Obama; he never really intended it, except as an attractive campaign line. He knew that the insurance companies didn’t want to be competing against that, and he had a top executive, Elizabeth Fowler from WellPoint, America’s largest health insurance company, actually draft his Obamacare plan, in the Senate office of his buddy U.S. Senator Max Baucus.

The U.S. has the most-free-market healthcare system, and by far the most inefficient, with super-high costs, and the worst performance, among all the OECD countries. Here are the facts: the detailed data are right here. Look at it. Life-expectancy is used there as the measure of healthcare-quality, because the reliable data for calculating it in a trustworthy way are available for almost every nation on Earth. So, look there at the graph, “Life expectancy vs. health expenditure over time, 1970-2014” and what you’ll see is shocking: The U.S. is alone in one category, of astounding inefficiency — high cost combined with low quality — and all other OECD nations are clumped close together in a very different category, where they all are remarkably similar, all of them having vastly higher efficiency: far higher life-expectancy, and far lower cost, than the United States. It looks like the U.S. is rip-off-ville — Reagan’s City on a Hell, to reverse his exaggerated claim, toward the extremity that it’s actually getting far closer to: his greed-is-good libertarian ideal (the Republican predilection) — the place where defrauding the public reigns without any effective challenge at all. Then look further down that page, at the “Appendix: Latest available data on life expectancy and spending on health per capita in OECD countries.” The exact figures are given there, “Life expectancy” and “Health spending per capita.”

Okay: so, Democrats are deluded when they say that Obamacare is anything close to the best that we can do, but Republicans are blithering fools who demand that we do even worse than we already are.

To make healthcare more free-market, with lower prices and without cheapening the quality, is proven by all the data to be a ridiculous ideal, which, the more that it is pursued, will suck up an ever-bigger percentage of the total national economy, while it makes the public sicker, shortens the public’s lifespan, makes the public more disabled, lowers workers’ productivity, and drives down the entire nation’s economic international rank. Such a nation is in decline, as compared to its economic competitors. Anyone who would want to buy that package, I would want to sell a bridge in Brooklyn to; and, to such a person: Good luck charging tolls on it, while motorists sue you for its potholes and the damages it has done to their cars and trucks (if not also to themselves).

Free-market-extremism can be very costly to a country, because anything that builds a country’s physical infrastructure (such as roads) or human capital (such as healthcare) is far more efficiently provided by the government than by the private sector; and this fact is recognized practically everywhere on Earth except in the suckered-by-oligarchs United States. And what results from that — the failing, and the falling — is now clear in the data.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Republicans Demand the Impossible in a Healthcare Bill was originally published on Washington's Blog


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