Surely we can do better than the confusion which characterizes the 2020 election debate over whether or not such basics as healthcare or education should be treated as a human right. Should we have our government (of, by, and for the people, right?) run our healthcare system as it runs other key parts of our lives (police, roads, parks, etc.) or continue with the private, for profit system we have long suffered under?
In a column that recently ran in these pages, George Wills asks “how can [Democratic] presidential candidates be so silly” as to want to take away private health insurance from 217 million Americans most of whom say they like it. The clear implication is that most Americans are so pleased with our current healthcare system we will vote for Trump rather than have to give it up.
And yet when I go online and look up polls, a strong majority of Americans, something like 80%, say they don’t like our healthcare system. How can it be true that Americans both approve and disapprove our healthcare system?
Perhaps that 217 million figure is Americans who think the quality of healthcare in the country is fine for those who can afford it. From what I glean online, the quality of American healthcare gets the same high approval rating as , say, as the quality of healthcare in Canada and the U.K., both of whom have universal government- provided are more or less the single-payer system. It’s not the quality of healthcare that’s the problem but the expense and availability.
How can 217 million people prefer the American private insurance style of healthcare when a substantial majority of the same population declares that healthcare is a human right. The private system we have suffered under has denied that claim and even under Obamacare apparently, from what I read online, some fifth of the human beings who live in this country are still without coverage.
Right next to Wills’ column was one by Marc Thiessen with the title “The debate’s biggest losers? American taxpayers.” How could taxpayers be so silly as to agree to fund this ridiculously expensive nanny-state decadence?
It’s as if Thiessen is saying that the Democrats are proposing free medical coverage or college despite the fact that it will drive us all into the poor house. But of course that’s not what they’re saying. What they are saying is that these public options will in fact save most taxpayers, a substantial amount of money over the current ways of getting healthcare and a college education.
The only figures I have heard, and heard repeatedly, is that expanding the very popular Medicare program to other ages will, if the economics work in the U.S. as they do in other countries like us, cost less than half what the private insurer method now costs us. So yes, taxes will go up, but on balance we will pay much less than our current very unpopular prices.
That is, unless we are for some mysterious reason completely different from other single-payer countries such as Canada and the U.K.
The other big argument for the for-profit status quo is that countries like Canada and the UK don’t like their system. Again: when I look at polls that come up online, I see that whereas 80 % more or less of Americans don’t like system, a like percentage in Canada and the UK are in fact on the whole quite satisfied with theirs.
Will single-payer end up costing the average taxpayer more and not less money? Do most of us actually like the private system or do most of us believe that healthcare is a human right and not a privilege for those who can afford it? Is there any reason to think single-payer will not work here and be as popular as it is in other countries?
Despite what seems like deliberate obfuscation on the part of proponents of the for-profit status quo, the information is readily available to get some clarity about these questions.