I posted this at Swallowing the Camel today:
The lies, distortions, and conspiracy theories being used to frighten Americans away from universal healthcare are really getting on my nerves. While there are some legitimate concerns about U.S. healthcare reform, the astroturfing efforts being carried out on behalf of corporate insurance interests are based almost entirely on scare tactics and misinformation. Just a few of the factoids that are floating around:
Socialized medicine is the slippery slope to socialism, or communism, or facism. If you really believe this, it means you have been so thoroughly brainwashed by rightist propaganda that you're pretty much beyond hope of recovery. Nothing will convince you that health care is not just a privilege or a decadent indulgence, so I'm not even going to bother. Let's move on to arguments that aren't completely retarded...
The elderly will be denied care, or even euthanized against their wishes and/or the wishes of their next of kin. At best, doctors will pressure family members to let the patient die - to save money.
This would violate the whole Hippocratic thing they've got going on, but if you really insist on believing that most health care professionals are psychopaths in lab coats, there' s not much I can say that will convince you otherwise, is there? I'll just skip it. Here's the bottom line: Whether they're being paid by insurance providers, the state, or patients themselves, doctors still make a lot of money. Every service they provide puts more money in their pockets. So they don't want to talk their patients out of receiving more health care. If anything, Americans should be concerned about doctors providing more services than are strictly needed. Which brings us to the next argument...
People will take advantage of the system by seeking treatment for minor complaints, and/or become irresponsible about their health.
Good old-fashioned fear of doctors keeps most people from taking advantage of free health care. And people will not dance around on rooftops or stick forks into electrical outlets just because they know there's some free health care waiting for them. As for those of you who are concerned that AIDS patients will receive free treatment when they're clearly godless mucksuckers who should just die? Fuh cough.
Universal health care means fewer doctors, a lower standard of care, and longer waiting lines at clinics and hospitals.
No. Though Americans are being told horror stories about the endless waiting times at Canadian hospitals, the truth is that such lineups occur mainly in busy metro-area hospitals or clinics - just as they do in the U.S. and other countries. The average Canadian clinic is indistinguishable from American clinics when it cames to wait times and quality of care. Having grown up in the States and having lived in Ontario and Alberta for the past decade, I'm not just guessing. I have had no problem receiving timely, high-quality health care in Canada. And I don't have to live in fear of losing my insurance coverage.
As for doctors, where are they gonna go? The U.S. has been siphoning off our Canadian doctors for years, but U.S. doctors will just have to stick around, won't they?
Doctors will be told where to live. Show me a single Canadian or European doctor who has been ordered to live or not to live in a specific area, and you've won this one. Doctors can live where they please.
Taxes will increase. If tax hikes are more troubling to you than the lives of uninsured Americans, fine. You have to live with yourself.
Doctors will be told how they can treat their patients. Um, they already are. There are standards, regulations, and laws already in place to control how doctors treat their patients. A single-payer healthcare system isn't any different. No procedures will become off-limits just because taxpayers are picking up the tab.
Medical innovation will slow to a crawl or grind to a halt, because there will no longer be sufficient financial incentive. We might see fewer worthless pharmaceutical products like this one, but there will still be a huge market for life-saving and life-enhancing procedures and products. The major pharmaceutical manufacturers might make fewer billions for the first year or two as consumers adjust to the new system, but I think they'll survive.
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