The great Walter Williams on government healthcare

Walter Williams has a new column out on government healthcare. Conservatives and liberals want the same thing: affordable, reliable healthcare for all. The disagreement lies in how to achieve it. I am of the opinion that we should fix the problems with our own system rather than trying to convert to another failed system.

Government health care advocates used to sing the praises of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). That’s until its poor delivery of health care services became known. A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, “Delay, Denial and Dilution,” written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world. The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care. Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash. Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long that there are now “waiting lists” for the waiting list.

Government health care advocates sing the praises of Canada’s single-payer system. Canada’s government system isn’t that different from Britain’s. For example, after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks. Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless. Canadians have an option Britainers don’t: close proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends over $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country. I wonder how much money the U.S. government spends for Americans to be treated in Canada. [Emphasis mine]

…I wonder how many Americans would like a system that would, as in the case of Mr. D. of Gothenburg, prohibit private purchase of your own medicine if the government refused paying. We have problems in our health care system but most of them are a result of too much government. Over 50 percent of health care expenditures in our country are made by government. Government health care advocates might say that they will avoid the horrors of other government-run systems. Don’t believe them. [Emphasis mine]

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8 Responses to “The great Walter Williams on government healthcare”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    I have watched healthcare change a lot in my 40+ years of adulthood. I know a lot of folks that struggle and don’t have health insurance. I really don’t know what the right answer is but it saddens me to see folks have to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills. And what about folks that cannot get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions?

    The govt already is mandated to cover things like dialysis (after the first year) and other health care when people are disabled. It seems that there should be some sort of accommodation for extenuating circumstances.

  2. casey says:

    Of course. I know there are problems with our system right now, but government provided health care (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc.) and regulation determines approximately 80% of all health care prices in the US already. That means that the out-of-control costs are not a free-market failure but a government failure. According to a 2006 survey of studies by the National Center for Policy Analysis the costs of medical services not regulated or covered by government or insurance, have either fallen or not increased as much as either prices in general or covered medical services.That’s something to think about.

  3. Kansas Bob says:

    I have some experience with Medicare controlled costs and physicians and other services are reimbursed MUCH less than what is billed. One procedure I know of was billed at $25k and was reimbursed at $5K.

    On the flip-side the GOP passed RX plan excluded such govt negotiated rates and is simply a bad plan because RX manufacturers have only the free market and prey on the needs of those who are sick.

    To me it is an issue of caring for the poorest amongst us.

    (I’ll post this at my place too)

  4. casey says:

    Can’t that be fixed by making generic drugs more available? Also, I’m not sure the RX manufacturers are “preying” on the sick. They can’t exactly give their products away since they have spent millions developing them. The cost of development will not go down with socialized medicine. Instead, the drugs will be rationed out by the government.

  5. Kansas Bob says:

    Generic drugs take a long time to get to market because newer drugs are patented for about 7 years to recoup development costs. Drug companies have a huge lobby in DC.. which is why the Medicare drug program excluded Medicare like negotiation of prices.. that program was simply poor fiscal policy.. as most Lobbyist written policy is.

    No easy answers for me on this.. caring for the poor has never been easy.

    Hope all is well with you Casey.

  6. Kansas Bob says:

    FYI: I did not get your last comment via email.. also had to reenter my info when I cam back.

  7. casey says:

    Hmmm. Well, I think your information should be saved this time. The old cookie probably had to expire first. As for the e-mail, I think it is due to the new way comments are handled in the latest version of WordPress. I’m still using the old system, so I may have to rework my comment section…For now I’ve disabled the plugin. :(

  8. Ash888 says:

    My information is still getting erased too, Casey. If I don’t comment in a couple of days, it’ll be gone.