Have you ever lost a job? Lost a husband or wife and had three kids? Had your “underwater” house foreclosed? Gotten sick with a chronic and expensive disease, and then had the GOP tell you to pay premiums for health insurance?
Yes, No, No, Yes, No.
In Australia if you don’t have private health insurance you pay an extra 1% in income tax, and that covers you for treatment in State Public Hospitals: there are waiting lists (because demand for “free” healthcare is infinite), but if you make it to the front of the queue, you get the treatment you need. Australia’s Public/Private health system is complained about by many, but delivers better outcomes for patients than America’s does, for about half the cost per head per annum. Government-run hospitals compete with Private ones and drive the prices down. This is one case where a little bit of Government intervention produces some public good. Although the Public Health budget is always poorly spent by bureaucrats it paradoxically introduces competition into the otherwise greedy private health sector, driving costs down.
I recall a case where a 90-year-old Polynesian man was dying because he couldn’t afford a heart transplant, and his sons appeared on TV in tears because their father was dying because he was poor and a heartless Government wouldn’t fund his treatment. The Minister of Health was interviewed by a populist journalist, and when accused of cruelty in front of these sons, he said, “OK, I will authorise 90% of the cost if the family comes up with the other 10%: $200K. I saw you arrive in late model cars, and I know you own your own homes. You can each sell your cars and raise a mortgage against your homes to contribute $50K for each son, and the Taxpayer will fund the rest!”
The sons talked among themselves for a bit, looking worried, then replied:
“Well, he is 90 years old, he’s had a great innings, everyone’s got to go sometime,” and so forth.
It made me realise that Healthcare must never be free, or demand will always be unsustainable. Even a 10% part-charge will introduce the resource rationing that would occur in a free market, and reduce the demand to something the system can supply.