Tag Archives: Death Panel

Is Bernie Sanders correct to say that Canada has better, lower-cost health care?

Wall Street Journal calculates cost of Sanders spending plan
Wall Street Journal calculates cost of Sanders spending plan

He seems to be really passionate about raising taxes on working families, and then giving them “free” health care in return. Let’s see how that’s working out in Canada, where they do have a single-payer health care system.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Waiting times for medically necessary health care services under Canada’s single-payer system have hit a record high, according to a report from the Fraser Institute.

[…]The Fraser Institute found that patients under Canada’s single-payer system this year waited an average of 10.9 weeks—roughly two-and-a-half months—from the time they had a consultation with a specialist to the time at which they received treatment. Physicians consider 7.2 weeks to be a clinically reasonable wait time.

The report also found that patients’ wait for treatment after referral to a specialist by their general practitioner was 21.2 weeks, or longer than four months.

“This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 128 percent longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks,” the report states.

The report, which looks at 10 provinces in Canada, found that there are 1,040,791 patients waiting for procedures. There are also high wait times to receive scans and ultrasounds. Patients waited an average of 10.8 weeks for an MRI scan and 3.9 weeks for an ultrasound.

“Research has repeatedly indicated that wait times for medically necessary treatment are not benign inconveniences,” the report states. “Wait times can, and do, have serious consequences such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish.”

According to the report, patients experience long wait times for surgeries, waiting as long as 41.7 weeks for orthopedic surgery, 32.9 weeks for neurosurgery, and 31.4 weeks for ophthalmology.

“In certain instances, [wait times] can also result in poorer medical outcomes—transforming potentially reversible illnesses or injuries into chronic, irreversible conditions, or even permanent disabilities,” the report states. “In many instances, patients may also have to forgo their wages while they wait for treatment, resulting in an economic cost to the individuals themselves and the economy in general.”

Fraser points out that previous studies have found the lost economic output in waiting for joint replacement surgery, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, MRI scans, and cataract surgery totaled $14.8 billion in 2007.

The report also notes that 46.3 percent of patients would prefer to have their procedure performed within a week if they had the opportunity to do so.

The article also quotes Sally C. Pipes, a Canadian health care expert who knows how much Canadian taxpayers pay for “free” health care.

Pipes also refutes Sanders’s claim that Canada’s system offers relatively the same quality of care at a cheaper cost.

“It isn’t cheaper because Canadians pay for health care through their taxes,” Pipes explains. “The average Canadian family pays anywhere between $4,000 and $12,000 a year in taxes for a system where they have to wait over five months from seeing a primary care doctor to getting treatment by a specialist.”

“There’s fewer doctors relative to the population than in all but four other industrialized countries,” she said. “It’s last in terms of acute care hospital beds and there’s doctor shortages, residency spots are down, and waiting times—this is what happens when government controls the health care system, and this is what Bernie Sanders wants for the United States.”

Canadians are also paid less than Americans. Why? Because Canadian employers have to pay a percentage of their employee’s salary to the government for health care. Obviously, the employers are going to take that out of their employee’s salary without telling them.

Finally, it should be obvious that progressive Canadian politicians go South when they’re sick for healthcare. They know that when health care is free, you get the quality you’re paying for.

One thing you need to understand is that if you put health care in the hands of politicians, they they will use it for vote-buying, like they do with any government-run social program. So, if you are young and want an abortion or a sex change, you’re in luck. Because you have a lot of voting ahead of you, and they want to keep you happy with big government. But, if you’re old, and don’t have so much voting left to do, you’re expendable. That’s why countries with big government health care, like the Netherlands and Canada and the UK are always tinkering with euthanasia for the elderly.

Wall Street Journal explains the death panel of Obamacare

Guess what! Sarah Palin was right, as the Wall Street Journal explains.

Excerpt:

Signs of ObamaCare’s failings mount daily, including soaring insurance costs, looming provider shortages and inadequate insurance exchanges. Yet the law’s most disturbing feature may be the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, sometimes called a “death panel,” threatens both the Medicare program and the Constitution’s separation of powers. At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses at the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny.

For a vivid illustration of the extent to which life-and-death medical decisions have already been usurped by government bureaucrats, consider the recent refusal by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to waive the rules barring access by 10-year old Sarah Murnaghan to the adult lung-transplant list. A judge ultimately intervened and Sarah received a lifesaving transplant June 12. But the grip of the bureaucracy will clamp much harder once the Independent Payment Advisory Board gets going in the next two years.

The board, which will control more than a half-trillion dollars of federal spending annually, is directed to “develop detailed and specific proposals related to the Medicare program,” including proposals cutting Medicare spending below a statutorily prescribed level. In addition, the board is encouraged to make rules “related to” Medicare.

The decisions of the IPAB are absolute, and very hard to overturn:

The ObamaCare law also stipulates that there “shall be no administrative or judicial review” of the board’s decisions. Its members will be nearly untouchable, too. They will be presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed, but after that they can only be fired for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”

Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures—featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees and other steps of the process, and supermajoritarian voting requirements. The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths supermajority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15. If the board fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by HHS Secretary Sebelius or her successor.

The IPAB’s godlike powers are not accidental. Its goal, conspicuously proclaimed by the Obama administration, is to control Medicare spending in ways that are insulated from the political process.

That’s what people were voting for when they voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Conservatives tried to warn them about the death panels in Obamacare, but no one listened. No one listened when we told them abotu the rising health insurance premiums, or the worker hour cuts that would result. Well, guess who was right?

What are the consequences of insuring customers with pre-existing conditions?

Walter Williams

Investors Business Daily

What would happen if Obama succeeds in passing a law to force insurance companies to accept customers with pre-existing conditions at the same price as everyone else who doesn’t have pre-existing conditions?

Read this IBD editorial by George Mason University economist Walter Williams. (my second favorite economist)

Excerpt:

Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, have introduced the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act, which would eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions in all insurance markets. That’s an Obama administration priority.

I wonder whether President Obama and his congressional supporters would go a step further and protect not just patients, but everyone against pre-existing condition exclusions by insurance companies. Let’s look at the benefits of such a law.

A person might save quite a bit of money on fire insurance. He could wait until his home is ablaze and then walk into Nationwide and say, “Sell me a fire insurance policy so I can have my house repaired.” The Nationwide salesman says, “That’s lunacy!” But the person replies, “Congress says you cannot deny me insurance because of a pre-existing condition.”

This mandate against insurance company discrimination would not only apply to home insurance, but auto insurance and life insurance as well. Instead of a wife wasting money on costly life insurance premiums, she could spend that money on jewelry, cosmetics and massages and then wait until her husband kicked the bucket to buy life insurance on him.

Insurance companies don’t stay in business and prosper by being stupid. If Congress were to enact a law eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, what might be expected?

Yeah, that’s why Walter Williams is awesome. And you must read the rest to see how it would apply to medical insurance. Everything sounds good to those who do not ask the most important question in economics: “and then what happens?” And that question cannot be answered with “then I feel good about myself and people like me because I care about the poor”. That question needs to be asked for the forgotten man. The nameless man who is hog-tied into supplying the wealth that gets redistributed by demagogues desperately seeking adulation from the covetous masses.

The problem is that people don’t understand how insurance works. If you have to pay guaranteed claims from people with pre-existing conditions, then the premiums of all those people who don’t have pre-existing conditions will be increased to pay for those claims. Think. Beyond. Stage. One.

The Cato Institute

Consider this podcast from the libertarian Cato Institute, which explains a little more from the point of view of the medical insurance company.

The MP3 file is here.

Here a summary of what happens after stage one, to the forgotten man. Medical care costs money to produce. Forcing medical insurance companies to sell care for a pre-existing condition far below the actual cost of providing it will force insurers to drop coverage for those pre-existing conditions. (Or they may drop the doctors who treat those conditions from their network). That is worse for the people with pre-existing conditions. And this is how economic ignorance hurts the very people that the secular leftist do-gooders are trying to help.

Believe me when I tell you that this happens all the time with leftist economic policies. It’s the law of unintended consequences. They think they are helping their preferred victims, they feel better about themselves, but they actually hurt the very people they are trying to help. And by “help” I mean they steal someone else’s money/product/liberty and transfer it to their preferred victims in order to buy votes.

National Review

Now, take a look at this article that ECM sent me from National Review, which talks about Obama’s promise that you will be able to keep the medical coverage you have. Is Obama telling the truth? Can pigs really fly just by sheer belief and pixie dust?

Excerpt:

Obamacare would forbid insurers from basing rates on the individual health of their customers in any community. It also would force issuers to cover people who refuse to buy insurance until they get sick. These and Obamacare’s other complexities and contradictions would make insurance pricier, as would a $149.1 billion, 40 percent excise tax on high-value “Cadillac plans.” Thus, some employers would save money by paying fines after de-insuring employees. Workers who cherish their health plans then would find themselves dumped into the government-run Health Insurance Exchange.

“Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage,” explained a December 10 memorandum by Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard S. Foster. He added: “The per-worker penalties assessed on non-participating employers are very low compared to prevailing health insurance costs. As a result, the penalties would not be a significant deterrent to dropping or foregoing coverage. We estimate such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 17 million.”

Even more ominously, Obamacare would require employers to provide federally approved coverage. Obama considers “meaningful” plans those at least as generous as the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

“Obama’s definition of ‘meaningful’ coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market,” says Cato Institute policy analyst Michael Cannon. “This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not.”

It’s not just elective abortions that we’re going to be paying for whether we want them or not. In some countries with socialized health care you can pay for breast enlargements (UK), sex changes (Canada), in vitro fertilization (Canada), etc. And these elective surgeries take up money from the other vital services. Obama can make it such that every plan has to offer those coverages.

So, those who don’t use such elective services end up encouraging them, even if they have moral objections to those services. When the government subsidizes something, more people choose it. Won’t Planned Parenthood be pleased with all that new revenue? I’m sure they’ll think of something to do with all that money. Maybe a nice political donation?