Peter Singer’s recent New York Times Sunday Magazine piece on health care rationing – we already ration health care even though we prefer not to think of it that way – concludes:

It is common for opponents of health care rationing to point to Canada and Britain as examples of where we might end up if we get ‘socialized medicine.’ On a blog on Fox News earlier this year, the conservative writer John Lott wrote, ‘Americans should ask Canadians and Brits – people who have long suffered from rationing – how happy they are with central government decisions on eliminating ‘unnecessary’ health care.’ There is no particular reason that the United States should copy the British or Canadian forms of universal coverage, rather than one of the different arrangements that have developed in other industrialized nations, some of which may be better. But as it happens, last year the Gallup organization did ask Canadians and Brits, and people in many different countries, if they have confidence in ‘health care or medical systems’ in their country. In Canada, 73 percent answered this question affirmatively. Coincidentally, an identical percentage of Britons gave the same answer. In the United States, despite spending much more, per person, on health care, the figure was only 56 percent.

☞ We should have the Canadian system with a uniquely American twist – namely, the freedom to pay extra for ‘premium’ care: a luxury room, ‘no-wait’ elective surgery, house calls . . . anything the basic, decent plan won’t cover.


Ted Strange: ‘I am distressed by the way the Republicans are portraying the Canadian health system. They are unfairly distorting the truth: We can walk in to a ‘Walk-in Clinic’ without an appointment any time during office hours. (Free.) We can go to the emergency room at a General Hospital any time 24 hours a day. There we will be triaged immediately. If it is acute, we will be looked after IMMEDIATELY. (Free.) If it is not acute, yes we may have to wait. Your American system is an anomaly, as you are ordinarily noted for being efficient. There was a documentary on TV a while back that compared a hospital in Seattle with a hospital in Vancouver, cities of comparable size. The billing department in Vancouver took up one floor of a building. The billing department in Seattle was a five-storey building. Yes you do have to wait for elective surgery and that is sad. But no one is bankrupted by major medical events.’


Paul Krugman, in small part: ‘There are no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.’


Here’s an out-of-the-box idea. Bill Press asks: Why does Congress have to take an August recess? Why not spend the time getting health insurance reform done and then take whatever might be left of August? Hmmm?


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