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Health Services and Government

Quantum1.0 posted this thread...
May 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

This came up in another thread so I decided to make one dedicated to the topic.
What do y'all think about healthcare and insurance? Should government be involved? If you're from the US, what about things like "Obamacare", Medicaid, and Medicare?

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half.note replied...
May 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm

I live in Canada which has had had "free" healthcare for quite a while.
I don't think it's a good idea, personally, since I have never even been to the hospital and yet all through my adult life I will be forced to pay taxes to fund something I don't even use.
It takes away people's free will to chose if they want health care or not, which I don't think is right for the state to do.
It also lowers the quality. Nurses and doctors are way overpaid.
People take advantage of the system by going to the hospital for minor problems and thus creating long waiting lines for people who actually need help.
And what does the government do? They just throw tax money at it and hope it fixes itself.
So overall, not a good idea.

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stuntddude replied...
May 18, 2013 at 12:10 am

I wouldn't be so quick to reject universal healthcare as a whole based on specific problems you have with the way the Canadian government has tried to implement it.

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Quantum1.0 replied...
May 18, 2013 at 12:21 am

I tend to agree with half.note regarding government's involvment - some reforms are probably necessary, but I think they should be done in the private sector - whenever the government gets involved in something it gets inefficient.
However, I don't think doctors and nurses are overpaid for three reasons:
1. They "waste" a lot of the time most people are starting careers going to medical school so they deserve more money to make up for that time.
2. As long as doctors can have the c.rap sued out of them for malpractice - oftentimes for unavoidable things doctors deserve a lot of money to make up for that risk (my mom used be an OB/GYN and she had a friend whose career was ruined because of a lawsuit around a patient who died by freak chance - not some sort of screw up)
3. Would you want an underpaid doctor?

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half.note replied...
May 18, 2013 at 12:32 am

Ack, I'm pretty libertarian and conservative altogether, it's not just problems with the Canadian government.
I think universal health care is just crossing one too many lines (for any government).
If a person decides that they don't want to spend their hard-earned money on being able to go to the hospital if something might happen, then they should be free to do so.
There are a few services that should be provided by the government which regular citizens can't provide(roads and road care are one example), but I think people should have the option to buy health insurance or not instead of being forced to pay for everyone's healthcare.
Universal healthcare is socialism, which is the next step to communism.
People are altogether too happy to give up their freedom to the government just so they can feel "safe."
I'll just answer #3:
That's the problem, if the government wasn't running things, doctors and nurses would get paid what they deserve.
The money that the government has is not theirs, it's all tax money. That's why they feel free to waste it.
Anyways, my mom's an RN so I really shouldn't be complaining. :P

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Jubilex replied...
May 18, 2013 at 4:32 am

I'm Australian. We've had subsidised health care for a long time. It's available to everyone, but helps those of low socioeconomic status the most. It covers more of the "need" aspects that surround medicine. Medication (we have a scheme for which meds are discounted), doctor's appointments, surgery (non-elective), hospitalisation, etc.
If you earn over a certain amount of money per year, you're required to pay a levy with your tax.
We also have private health. This covers a whole range of areas that our government healthcare does not. Things like eye appointments (glasses, etc), dentistry, physiotherapy, elective surgery (e.g., laser eye surgery, dental surgery), ambulance cover.
I'm very much for government funded healthcare. I think it's incredibly useful, not only on a personal level, but on a societal one too. I'll state some reasons.
1) It allows people of low socioeconomic status to receive health care. People who can't afford private health still have options.
2) People are not bankrupted/severely put out if they develop a condition that requires constant care/a one time large expense ( e.g., chronic conditions or surgery respectively).
3) The people who pay tax on it are people who can afford to pay tax for it. So people who can easily afford to pay the levy are paying it so that people who can't even afford basic health care can have it available to them.
My sister's epilepsy medication is subsidised by the government. Whithout that subsidisation, we would have trouble paying for it. This is medication that she needs. She will die if she does not take it. And there are plenty of people out there far worse off than my family who would be in similar positions.
Okay, now for some more pointed arguments.
"free will to choose health care" - You still have that choice. You can go to the doctor when you're sick, or you can not. No one is forcing healthcare on you. It's simply there if it's needed.
"I've never been so why should I have to pay for it?" - This one is really simple. You can afford it. And you being able to afford it helps other people who can't. Collectively, that money goes towards a whole bunch of people who can't afford surgery, or medication to treat their chronic condition, or  private health to help with those things. It's not so much about the people who have the luxury of being able to decide whether they want to spend their money on private health or not, it's about the people who have no choice.
Not all the money that the government has is taxes. However, I would believe that all revenue is taxes (if you include areas like customs fees as tax). Governments can also do this thing called borrowing, which can be cheaper than using their own money (complicated process. No, I don't really understand it).

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half.note replied...
May 18, 2013 at 11:49 am

I'm glad that universal healthcare has helped your family, but I still think it's taking away certain freedoms.
1) If someone can't afford private health care, I don't think it should fall to the government to step in. It should be the responsibility of the community to help.
Is this too idealistic to expect? Probably. :P
But I still don't think that the government should swoop in with tax money all the time. Individuals (or even the government) could set up a charity where people who can afford it can donate money to help those who need it for healthcare. That way it's voluntary. Taxes are forced.
2) Again, I don't think it's the governments responsibility to step in.
People will experience hard times. There will always be people in poverty. There is nothing the government can do to prevent that.
It should be up to individuals to help their fellow man.
3) This is basically socialism, which I do not believe in.
Why should the government have the right to take your hard-earned money and give it to others?
This may sound selfish, but it's not. By taking away the money of people who can "afford it," they begin to lose their incentive to work hard and all of society suffers.
And who says everyone who is paying can afford it? Yes, they may be recieving a big pay check, but they may need that money for debts and bills. The government can't just take it away.
Your other points:
I understand that I am free to go to the hospital or not, I just meant that I am not free to chose whether or not to pay for it.
Okay, so what if I am making a lot of money? That is my money. I should be able to chose what to do with it. If people can afford it, they should be able to chose to give money to people who can't afford healthcare.
If all of my money is being taken away by the government, why should I even bother working so hard? After all, if I can't afford to live, the government will take care of me with somebody else's hard-earned money. (sarcasm)
Okay, yes, the government can borrow, but that is a  bad, bad idea. The US government borrowed from foreign governments and now they are trillions of dollars in debt (mostly to communist China).
Governments can also print money. This is also a bad idea, as it just lowers the value of the currency.
Anyways, that wasn't really my point. My point is that most of the money the government has is from tax-payers. And it's much easier to spend money that which isn't theirs.
I'm sure you've expeienced this. If you're mom is going to buy you something, you probably don't give much thought to the cost. But if it's your money that you worked hard to earn then you will be much more consciencitious.
So since the money that the government has isn't theirs, they feel free to waste it.
For example, one of my brothers is a carpenter and he was hired by the government to build some-sort of a government office space. So him and his team got to work. They finished an entire building (it was painted and everything), but the government people decided they didn't like it so they had them tear it apart and rebuild it.
Now, where do you think all the money to fund this (no-doubt costly) project came from?
That's right, Tax-payers.
If individuals had been funding this project, they would have made sure it was done right the first time and they wouldn't have wasted so much money.
Governments don't value the money they have because they don't work for it.
That's why we can't trust them to spend our money wisely.
Anyways, I'm not as crazy as I no-doubt sound. :P
And I'm not totally against government, I just get wary when they start getting involved in aspects of society that they shouldn't get involved in.
Okay, rant ended. :)

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stuntddude replied...
May 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

In response to half.note:
1. You say "Is this too idealistic to expect?" as if it's a trivial detail. No, the fact that it's FAR too idealistic is the aspect that makes the whole thing fall apart. Wouldn't it be nice if people banded together to finance building roads as well, without government interference? You obviously know it'd never get done. That's the purpose of government -- to do the things that should be done but that individuals can't or won't do. Healthcare falls under this category, and just like building roads and providing public education, sometimes you have to use force to get things done. That's just the way of it -- you can't be free in everything or you and the people around you will live a miserable life (see John Locke's "state of nature").
2. It absolutely the government's responsibility. I don't know about your government, but the U.S. constitution's preamble very clearly lays out the purpose of government: "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," as it goes. And as I said before, in my opinion the very purpose of government is to do the things that should be done that citizens can't or won't do. You say the government can do nothing to prevent poverty, but that's clearly not true -- the world's governments are currently doing things to fight poverty, many of them successfully.
3. You go on about how people should be charitable and help out there fellow citizens, but when it comes to actually doing it in a way that works, you are suddenly strongly opposed. It's clear from this paragraph that, contrary to what you've said about individuals helping their fellow man, you (just like the rest of us) wouldn't be charitable if given total freedom. That's an unfortunate fact about human nature, but it's one that has to be accounted for. It cannot be ignored. And of course, then you say the money would be being "given" to others, as if your money is just taken and given to someone else. That's an incredible misrepresentation of the truth. People are not just given money by the government and then allowed to spend it how the choose. People aren't even given money by the government at all. The only way a person can benefit from government money in a universal health care system is if they need it. Yes, need. And yes, I do think saving lives that would otherwise be needlessly wasted is more important than those who are priveleged keeping all their money for themselves. So sue me.
The government has the right to collect taxes because it has to in order to fulfill its other duties.
And then everything else you argue depends on the government being practically incapable of doing anything right, which is not only not the case, but also a problem that can be fixed, just like the problem of people being unable to afford the health care that they need.
Sorry if I seem really angry in this marathon-length post, but if I'm honest, I kind of am.

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Quantum1.0 replied...
May 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

So in general I am opposed to government involvement in things that could have a private solution, which I think healthcare could.
If government is to get involved I think it should limit the risk to doctors for malpractice - that would go a long ways towards driving down healthcare costs. I also support government subsidies or tax breaks for healthcare for hospitals that treat patients of lower socioeconomic class. But the key here is that its just a reworking of incentives within the private sector. This essential because government, rarely does things more efficiently and cost effectively than the private sector. 
So I think I come in in the middle of half.note and stuntdude. I agree its totally unrealistic to expect random charity to fund this and also agree that a human life is more important than a little bit of extra money for some one well off. On the other hand, this should be done within limits and we must be sure not to demonise the well off tax payer or take too much of their hard earned money. 

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half.note replied...
May 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Sorry, man. I didn't mean to get anyone angry. :(
I know I can seem kind of extremist, but I'm really not.
You should know that I've being researching and reading-up on universal healthcare for the past half-hour or so (both the negatives and the postives).
There are benefits to it, as well as problems.
But I should say there is no perfect system. I prefer my way and you prefer your way, and I respect that.
I really hope there's no hard feelings. I know politics can be a sensitive topic.
Anyways, I'll just answer your objections, just so we're clear. :)
1)  You are right, in some ways. I'm speaking pretty idealistically here. People have become to used to caring only for themselves and letting the government always fix the problems in society.
In the past, communities were stronger and neighbours helped out neighbours. I realize it's not this way much anymore, but the potential is still there.
2)  The government does have responsibility to protect from other governments, and even to provide services that the public can't, but I personally don't think healthcare falls into this category.
I guess whether or not governments are successful in preventing poverty is a matter of opinion. :P
Either way, that's not really what I meant when I said "there's nothing government can do." I apologize for my lack of clarity. I just meant that they can't stop it 100%. In an imperfect world (like we live in now) there will always be poverty. And generally, the only way government can stop it is by using other people's money.
3)  I'm sorry if you ever got the impression that I wouldn't be charitable to others. Again, I guess I'm not being very clear. :/
I think there are people out there (and I may or may not be one of them) who would be willing to help others.
Of course, you are right, human nature may cause problems in this system.
Okay, you said that "the only way a person can benefit from government money in a universal health care system is if they need it."
Not necessarily. There are people who go to the hospital for minor problems just because it's free. This creates a long waiting list for people who do need it.
Some people may have to wait months to recieve a surgery or even just to a see a specialist. It is true that doctors will try to treat those who need it first, but there is no set regulations or standards for waiting lists, and they are usually purely based on a practitioners' personal judgement.
Wikipedia gives the statistics:
"Health Canada, a federal department, publishes a series of surveys of the health care system in Canada based on Canadians' first-hand experiences of the health care system.
Although life-threatening cases are dealt with immediately, some services needed are non-urgent and patients are seen at the next-available appointment in their local chosen facility.
The median wait time in Canada to see a special physician is a little over four weeks with 89.5% waiting fewer than 90 days.
The median wait time for diagnostic services such as MRI and CAT scans is two weeks with 86.4% waiting fewer than 90 days.
The median wait time for surgery is four weeks with 82.2% waiting fewer than 90 days.
Another study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 57% of Canadians reported waiting 30 days (4 weeks) or more to see a specialist, broadly in line with the current official statistics. A quarter (24%) of all Canadians waited 4 hours or more in the emergency room."
You also said "I do think saving lives that would otherwise be needlessly wasted is more important than those who are priveleged keeping all their money for themselves."
I'd agree that saving lives is important, but there are other options besides tax money being used to fund healthcare.
Actually, from my research I found that much of Canada's healthcare system is still partly privatized.
According to Wikipedia:
"About 27.6% of Canadians' health care is paid for through the private sector. This mostly goes towards services not covered or only partially covered by Medicare, such as prescription drugs, dentistry and optometry. Some 75% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers. There are also large private entities that can buy priority access to medical services in Canada, such as WCB in BC."
Going to the hospital can still cost money (especially ambulance bills) even with universal health care.
Why not just make it completely privatized?
You also made it sound like people who have money are "priveleged" as if their wealth is purely based on luck.
Perhaps I'm just reading into it (and I apologize if I am), but it is important to realize that people with money work very hard for it.
We are all privileged in North America, even those in poverty. The poorest person here in Canada or the US is still much richer and better looked after than any poor person elsewhere in the world.
If someone is living in poverty, it is not just because they are underpriveleged or haven't had a fair chance (although I will consent that sometimes it is the case).
Anyways, I won't go out picketing universal healthcare anytime soon, but I do think there are better options.
This is just my personal opinion. Feel free to disagree. :)
God bless. ♥

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stuntddude replied...
May 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

The thing about taking extra money from the middle class is that it doesn't need to be done. An entire universal healthcare system in the U.S. could be pulled off with just a few extra percentage points tax on the very richest people in the country combined with some cuts to the already-way-too-huge military budget. So, there's no need to take your hard-earned money.
1. You're talking about extremely small communities, not entire countries. There's a huge factor of scale that's being left out of this point entirely. So no, the potential is not there. The potential for universal health care, however, is.
2. Why would healthcare not fall into that category? Individual citizens oftentimes can't or don't provide it.
And no, it's not really a matter of opinion. Poverty rates have gone down in some places because of government programs. That's a factual claim.
And yes, of course using people's money is the only way government can help stop poverty -- it's the only way government can ever do anything. Poverty happens to be no different.
3. Sorry, I should have been more clear. I meant in a well-set-up universal healthcare system. It is really silly that people are able to delay treatment for those who need it, by going in for minor problems. I definitely agree with you there -- that's a horrible way to set up a healthcare system.
And, I probably should have been more clear before about this: I don't think all health care should be government-controlled, only the things that are needed for people to live functional lives. A lot of the money spent on health care is spent on comfort-based medicine (or even cosmetics) that people don't need, and that's a waste of the government's time and resources to implement all of that.
So why not make it completely privatized? Because that doesn't work. More people will end up not being treated for serious health conditions. "Have a life-threatening condition but can't pay for treatment? Sorry, buddy, you're screwed!" To me, that seems a lot worse than "Working hard for that money? Sorry buddy, we're taking some of that." Neither is ideal, but one is a lot better than the other.
I do realize that money doesn't (usually) come to people without hard work, but for someone who's born into poor family, it is many times harder to work your way to wealth. For some people it just isn't even possible, let alone plausible. It's not just "sometimes" the case that people in poverty aren't there of there own accord. It's usually the case. Almost always.
And you know what's one of the main ways that people end up in poverty? Medical bills.

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Quantum1.0 replied...
May 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

stuntdude: I don't know if by richest people in the country you're refering to the often used 1% statistic or not, but it made me think of it so I wanted to mention something.
There seems to be an image of the top 1% running around in private helocopters from mansion to mansion while coming up with big business deals that screw everyone else. Yes, there are probably some of those people out there, but 1% is still a lot of people - 3.1 million to be exact. There's not that many people with private helicopters. For example, I'm pretty sure my family barely fits into the top 1% category and we are certainly pretty well off, but we're nowhere near mansion-levels. I'm going to get a little bit of money for college, but I'm certainly not going to be able to go to any private school without a scholarship. We live in a nice place with a decent sized house, but there's certainly not any extra rooms considering there are five kids. And my parents both worked really hard in school and in their jobs to get to where they are. They're certainly willing to spend a little tax money, but they're also clearly not the multi-millionaires wiith more money than they know what to do with when people speak about the 1%.
Anyway, sorry for the little rant. It doesn't apply that much to the topic, but I thought I'd bring it up.

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Quantum1.0 replied...
May 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm

^^ I used certainly a bunch there. 

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SuperFloree replied...
May 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Euh... hey who wants to hear a random fact? The only reason I was born in Canada was so my dad could save some money. Not kidding.
As for all this stuff, agreeing with stuntdude with the idea that some health-related things should be controlled by the government. However, total control isn't a good idea, as it does lead to an overlfow of people going to the hospital for no good reason.
Also an odd thing, a lot of Americans i talk to say that one of the reasons they like Canada is the free health insurance. I always point out the fact that taxes are way higher, but a lot of them always reply with "it's worth it" or something close to that.

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stuntddude replied...
May 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm

You don't have to be a multi-millionaire flying around in a private helicopter to have money to spare.
Also, Floree, I find it really funny that, as I remember, some radical conservatives were making quips about moving to Canada if Obama was elected. Of course, they wouldn't have many options for moving in the first place. Very few countries with desirable living conditions are as conservative as the U.S.

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SuperFloree replied...
May 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Stunt: lol wow XD That's all i really gotta say.

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Jubilex replied...
May 19, 2013 at 12:33 am

Yes, I agree with SuperFloree here. The government should have some, but not all control over health care. Hence why Australia has government assisted AND provate healthcare. The government helps with unavoidable health costs, and private health covers elective health costs.
You guys know there are really obvious downfalls to privitisation too, right?
And I agree with stundude on the idea that government assisted health care combined with private health is a better system than private health only. They both have flaws, but having a government assisted program simply makes more sense.
I'm not making an assumption that people in the tax bracket to pay the healthcare levy can afford it. They can. I've looked it up. A lot of people, particularly those who work full time, will have to pay on top of their tax, but not necessarily the whole amount (see: tax rebates, etc). My boyfriend only had to pay a small amount towards his (he's not at all a wealthy person). 
I know you've said you don't like socialism, and for some things I can agree. But healthcare is one of those areas that's so important. Shouldn't it be a basic human right to be healthy, and to have healthcare available? Kind of like education (which, funnily enough, is government funded)?
Like stuntdude said, we're talking about basic healthcare here. Not everything. In Australia, our government funded program covers areas required to live a functional life. So that people with diabetes can afford insulin, people with appendicitis can have it taken out, people who have been hit by a car can be hospitalised (and not have to worry about being compensated straight away), people with cancer can afford treatment. It helps keep people alive and well, when they otherwise would be ruined by their illness. Without this, people would quite simply not receive treatment because they couldn't afford it, and die, or live lives with very poor quality.
I feel that as a citizen of Australia, I am already very well off. My country will care for me while I'm not earning enough money, and when I am earning enough money, I will pay my taxes so that other people who don't have the money can survive. Society does not crumble under these mechanisms. Our universal healthcare has worked pretty well for us since 1975.
You mentioned people who rely on the public system when they can afford private health. Well, Australia has a system for that too. It's an additional surcharge for people on high annual incomes who do not have private healthcare. It adds and extra 66% to the tax. This discourages them from using the public system and pushes them to move to a private one.
Nothing the government can do to precent poverty? Are you serious? 
Australian unemployment rate = 5.6% (there was a huge news shock when it went up from 5.4%)
American unemployment rate = 7.6% (3 years ago it was over 9%).
The amount of people unemployed in America at the moment is more than the population of Australia. You're right that povery can never be eradicated, but there's plenty that can be done to lessen it.
You're right about the printing of money, but I'm not even going to start on borrowing. A very complex process that would require a whole new conversation (newsflash, borrowing isn't always bad. It can be very beneficial). I'm also not even going to start on the one-dimensional idea of how the government views it's revenue. I'm sure there are elements of what you said, but I doubt it's the full story. Nor would it be applicable with every single issue.

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Jubilex replied...
May 19, 2013 at 12:34 am

So there are still typos in my reply. /sigh

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Jubilex replied...
May 19, 2013 at 12:41 am

Taxes are pretty high here in Australia too. But you know, with public healthcare, centrelink (funding towards unemployed people, disabled people, pensioners, students, etc), HECS (subsidised university for Australian citizens), etc, I'd expect it. And I don't care that taxes are higher because of these things. I'd rather a country that takes care of me while I can't do it for myself and in return I pay for it when I can afford to, over lower taxes any day.
We also have a pretty high cost of living, but with that comes higer wages.
We've got a pretty sweet deal here :)

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stuntddude replied...
May 19, 2013 at 12:43 am

I agree with everything Jubilex just said. End.
(He said it much more clearly than I could, as well)

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