If We Fail, It Will Be From Ignorance

Economic ignorance, willful or otherwise, is the death of cultures. The systematic destruction of incentives for progress - engineered by those who do not care to realize they are pulling the house down around their ears - will be the death of you and I as well if it continues. If we permit the ignorant to rule over medicine and medical research, destroying it in the process, then we deserve our fate:

A plan to outlaw private health insurance in California has been proposed by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles). Senator Kuehl's bill, SB840, proposes to create the California Health Insurance Agency, a state government run single payer system for financing the health care of all Californians. Her bill, if enacted, would abolish all private health insurance in the Golden State.


Remarkably, Kuehl's proposal to socialize California's health care is being made just at the time when the Canadian system it resembles is falling apart at the seams. For instance, Canada's single payer system is projected to absorb more than half the budgets of most Canadian provinces. In addition, the amount of time a Canadian patient must wait before receiving medical care is notorious. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years," said Dr. Brian Day in a recent New York Times article on Canada's health care crisis.

Looking at the fine print, you find that Kuehl's government-run single payer system will be cheaper because it will actually ration health care. In other words, decisions about what treatments will be available to Californians and when they will become available will be in the hands of government health care bureaucrats. Just like the Canadian socialized health care system, the new California Health Insurance Agency will determine how much it will pay pharmaceutical companies for new more effective medicines. This means that Californians, like Canadians today, will wait a long time, possibly forever, to get access to modern therapies.


Doctors are like anybody else; they work less when they get paid less. If Kuehl's system is adopted, you will eventually see waiting lines lengthening and doctors treating fewer and fewer patients. California doctors and other health care workers will leave for other states where they are better compensated, and few new doctors, nurses and other personnel will be attracted to California. Another side effect will be that many of California's innovative biotech companies will relocate to friendlier business environments.


Today, as the Canadian health care system implodes, more and more Canadians are seeking private medical care across the border in the United States. Within a decade after Kuehl's single payer system has been adopted, I predict that many Californians will similarly be fleeing across the border into Arizona and Nevada looking for modern private medical care in state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics.

Why put your life and health into the hands of people who have no interest in helping you? Why think that socialism in medicine will work this time, when it has failed miserably everywhere else? As time moves on, those of us reading this now will become increasingly reliant on the new medical technologies of healthy life extension for health and longevity. If the future of medicine is socialist, then we won't be seeing much of that future - the destruction socialism and centralized, regulated systems bring to research and progress will see to that.

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I live in Sweden, in the situation here is similar to that in Canada. I had to wait over a year for a simple 10 minute examination of my ears. The media often reports on cases with people in severe pain (or deadly diseases) having to wait years for treatment. People who have paid enormous amount of taxes through the years.

"Doctors are like anybody else; they work less when they get paid less."

And it will be much more paper work, taking valuable time from treating patients. Sweden has more than twice as many doctors in practice today than 25 years (or so) ago, but the bureaucracy is so much vaster now that the waiting lines are much worse despite the more doctors.

Read this: http://tinyurl.com/nvgfr

Posted by: ND at March 4th, 2006 4:23 AM

This post has obviously been made by a group of individuals with the monetary funds to afford
for profit heath care system.
I live in Canada and yes there is a waiting period for some forms of heath care.I would like to point out that we Canadians after repeated opinion poles have consistently voted in support for our heath care system.We do see room for improvement but vehemently oppose any talk of adopting a profit based system.The USA is the only developed country in the world to still have a wealth based access to heath care model.
The American system is also on the brink of total failure and is in fact already failing most of the population by coldly excluding the less fortunate in your midst.Your hospitals are closing many of the emergency departments cutting off the only heath care many of the poor have.Your older population
in many cases must choose between food and needed medicine.This is not the case in Canada.

The problem with this greed based view of doctors is typical of the American vision of things.
What ever happened to performing medicine with The view to helping others as witnessed with groups
like "Doctors without Borders".Contrary to the American view some people are motivated by other things besides greed.

You Americans should take a good long look at yourselves and your own crumbling society and then
make some changes.

Posted by: davros at March 4th, 2006 12:41 PM

Davros: as I understand it, you are willing to condemn most people in need of critical care to suffering and death. You would do this in order to support a system that prices those who are less well-off out of the market for that very same critical care - through taxation, destruction of incentives for progress, efficiency or price competition. In absence of the system, the same money that goes to funding a public system could be spent far more efficiently and purchase far more effective medical services and insurance.

This is what I mean by economic ignorance; a failure to understand how economic incentives function through society as a whole, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Posted by: Reason at March 4th, 2006 3:24 PM

NZ has a socialist health care system as well. And here comes the surprise: it has long waiting lists as well. It even has a waiting list to get on the waiting list in order to talk the official waiting list figures down, else it might be too much even for the socialists.

Posted by: Berend de Boer at March 5th, 2006 10:19 AM

You seem unable grasp a vision of heath care or perhaps any system without greed.
Scientific progress can and mostly is being made by individuals motivated by the desire to grow and learn.
In fact the greedy often avoid the long term hard work necessary for scientific exploration in favor of
turning a fast buck.
Most of the breakthroughs is medicine have been made by individuals driven by scientific curiosity and the desire to improve the human condition not to turn a profit on the backs of the sick.
No I do not condemn the poor to having no access to heath care.That is for the USA and it's system to do.
It is far better to have to wait for non-critical services than to have them simply out of monetary reach as do a great proportion of the US population.

Posted by: davros at March 5th, 2006 10:52 AM

So Davros,
You would instead condemn everyone to having bad access to health care? At least in a mixed model environment it is POSSIBLE for someone to choose to accelerate their treatment for an increased fee (much like the postal system really...)

Oddly this choice then aids the poorer by removing someone from their shared resource pool.

Posted by: iiq374 at March 5th, 2006 2:35 PM

The rich may be able to afford the heath care they need but don't fool yourself if you condemn the poor to a second class system or no system at all we all suffer.Crime and discontent will rip your rich man's world appart.
Sink or swim we are in this together.
This is not the wild west,every man for himself.
Look up Civilization in the dictionary.

Posted by: davros at March 6th, 2006 11:06 AM

It is mainly the non-rich people that pay the socialist health care system to begin with. And lots of that money is lost in socialist administration and bureaucracy. Why would people afford health care through taxes but not through private insurances or paying it themselves?

Posted by: ND at March 7th, 2006 6:52 AM

I live in Canada, and the comments in the article are correct. My grandfather pulled something and ended up with a hernia. He waited 18 months for the surgery, and during those 18 months he wasn't able to do his normal activities like walking his dog.

Meanwhile our family dog a golden retriever slipped while running down a mountainside spraining his leg, which also required surgery. The next day he went in for the operation, and a few months later his cast came off. My grandfather was still waiting for his operation and had a year of waiting left.

Helping out poor people isn't the problem, its centralizing the system and putting it under the control of unaccountable bureaucrats. As an example a family friend is an optamologist, and she goes to latin america to remove people's cataracts. When she is there she does on average 33 operations a day.

In Canada with her trained staff and equipment she does 4 a day. Because most of the day is paperwork and unneccessary steps the government mandates.

Posted by: aa2 at March 7th, 2006 2:01 PM

I should add I believe we could function without any state healthcare, as people would support charities. However something that is more realistic politically is to provide quality care to the poorest 10% of the population. Let the middle class and wealthy go to the free market, like we do in almost everything else, eg.. food, housing, clothing, etc..

Medical care doesn't need to be more expensive then other areas of our life, its only made that way by unbelievable amounts of regulation and government interference. Think of what 5 dollars of anti-biotics can do. Do we need doctorates in medicine perscribing cortisone for routine skin rashes? Not anymore then we need doctorates in mechanical engineering repairing cars. Imagine what that would cost!

Posted by: aa2 at March 7th, 2006 2:08 PM

Why is it that Americans feel that an organized government system is not workable and full of bureaucratic waste while believing the private sector with the greed motive works so much better.
Enron! Enron! Enron!
You would like to remove government controls and then moan and protest when the medicine and doctors you employ screw up and kill your loved ones.Lets go back to the days when you could buy
snake oil on any street corner or go to an unlicensed quack doctor and get hacked up for a price.
Only the best off could afford a competent doctor.
The greed motive would streamline heath care only for the lucky few who could afford it.
My fellow Canadian's story about his dogs treatment proves my point.Many people who can't afford to pay for high price pet care are forced to have their pets put down when they need an expensive treatment like he could pay for.
Before Canada had our system many families were forced into bankruptcy and lost everything to pay for needed heath care.The number one cause of bankruptcy in the US today is the inability to pay for needed heath care.
The current American profit based heath care system in falling apart.
The heart of all heath care problems is greed.Introducing more greed into the system will only make any system more unfair.
From day one many doctors and the for profit heath care industry have hated the idea of a national heath plan.They would like to get rich off of other peoples pain as do American HMOs.
Is it not better to fix the problems with a system for all instead of retreating into a plutocratic castle
and put your trust in people with the primary motive of making as much money as they can as fast as they can.

Posted by: davros at March 7th, 2006 9:26 PM
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