Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Single Payer Works Well." Where, Exactly?

The Lord Obama told the AMA that 'single-payer systems work pretty well in other places,' but he didn't say where.

And the MSM didn't report that sentence from his speech, either.

The full context of Obama’s remark is available from the official transcript posted on the White House Website. One paragraph of this transcript reads:

“Let me also say that—let me also address a illegitimate concern that’s being put forward by those who are claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I’ll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well. But I believe—and I’ve taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief—that it’s important for our efforts to build on our traditions here in the United States. So when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: They’re not telling the truth.”

You won't find the red-highlighted sentence in the NYT, WaPo, or LATimes reports.

That's because the assertion is indefensible, like his assertion that the US is 'one of the larger Muslim nations.'

Even more blatant is his lying about 'not trying to bring about government-run healthcare.' Of COURSE that's what he's trying to do; it's something he's campaigned on for years, and there's plenty of evidence. (HT Sykes)

But to Obama, truth is not fixed. It's relative to audience, time, and place.


RAG said...

I doubt anyone is telling the truth on this.

Single payer? I lived in Canada and can comment first hand about it because there are tons of misperceptions and outright lies about it. The truth (like so many things) lies in the middle: neither as good as supporters think it is or as bad as opponents say it is.

First, it does not restrict your access to doctors. You have a choice. The difference is that instead of 300+ insurance plans, there is one basic one which is administered through the provincial government.

Second, the good news is that people get seen and treated for routine care. The Canadian system is very good about this. The bad news is that there are waits for surgical procedures and there is scrutiny whether those procedures are needed. Even worse is that the provinces aren't always consistent.

However, if you really need something done and can't wait, options do exist. For example, there are a small number of neonatal beds in, say, Calgary and Edmonton, both large cities. If you have a high risk pregnancy and those beds are occupied, Alberta is picking up the tab to fly you to Great Falls, Montana and your newborn will be a dual citizen.

There is some merit to the logic that it's cheaper to do this than waste money on duplication of services. Unlike here, you won't find hospitals across the street from each other competing for business and blowing beaucoup bucks (loonies?) on advertising and promotion.

Third, not everything in Canada is covered. Dental and drugs, for example, or many elective surgeries. People can buy supplemental insurance and/or negotiate it via union contracts.

Dental, like here, is costly for Canadians. Drug prices are lower for prescription medicines AND don't believe the crap about safety. I think Canada invented regulation. Sheesh.

Just for grins, I asked a Canadian pharmacist friend how much my Micardis blood pressure pills would cost per month in Canada. The answer: $38 ($3 more than my co-pay here).

Now, also for grins, my insurance company wants me to switch to Diovan which has a $20 co-pay. How much is Diovan in Canada? $85.

And, here in the U.S., Diovan is actually more expensive than Micardis, a newer drug marketed by Abbott, but has a smaller co-pay.

Why the discrepancy? Canadian pharmacist friend says it's because Diovan gives better breaks and kickbacks.

Can the U.S. system be saved? It may be beyond repair. Nothing can ever be accomplished without eliminating fraud, waste, duplication of services and corruption.

Whatever the cure, a single payer system may not work in the U.S. under, say, the Canadian model, because our system is way too messed up to control. And, like here, Canadians are faced with rising costs as well.

As I said at the beginning, the truth is in the middle. The Canadian system is not horrendous as some would lead Americans to believe but neither is it epitome of perfection.

End note: a couple of years ago when there was a flu vaccine shortage in the U.S. I got my shot in Canada. $20CDN which would have been free had I pulled out my Canadian insurance card.

RAG said...

I need to clarify a couple of other things.

I can't speak for other nations but Canada does not per se have a "government run" health care system. In fact, it's somewhat easier for physicians because, unlike here, there aren't, as one of my physcian friends here says, "one hundred different insurance companies telling me one hundred different ways to treat my patients."

Secondly, Obama and Congress (both parties) have so many hair-brained schemes which can't work because there is no cost containment and elimination of corruption, fraud, waste and duplication of services.

And the bonus: There is one benefit to business in Canada and that by spreading the cost small businesses, where most job growth is these days, can compete for talent with larger employers. Of course, Obama-mia isn't sharp enough to pick up on that.

Dad29 said...

I don't question whether the US system needs close examination and (likely) re-tooling.

But ANY system which is not bound by the law of subsidiarity will fail, miserably.

IOW, decisions must be made at the lowest possible level.

And that's not the Obama plan. The lack of surgery facilities in Canada would seem to indicate that (at least in that portion) it is not in the Canadian plan, either.

And your small business argument is interesting--but then again, LARGE businesses are trying to dump health benefits.

jacksmith said...


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You