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Monday, June 13th 2005

New York Times Supports Universal Healthcare

In a stunning move, the NY Times has published an op/ed supporting a single payer government run healthcare system.

What Krugman fails to mention, but I have, is that more recent surveys find that support for national health insurance drops well below the majority mark if 1) Patients are limited in what physicians they can see and 2) Waiting times for elective procedures increase.

Both of these are inevitable in a single payer system.

That is the most concrete problem with such a system. Other problems include, but aren’t limited to, a significant decrease in physician compensation; over time and if such a decrease is significant enough fewer med school applicants which means a drop in the quality of physicians.

And finally, it’s simply, matter of fact, unethical. To support universal healthcare is to support the wealthy paying for the healthcare of the poor — it is as simple as that. What you are saying is that there is an inherent right to some subjective level of healthcare but not to property.

A single payer universal healthcare plan cannot guarantee the highest quality care for everyone. There will always be expensive elective procedures that would, not save lives, but improve care, which simply cannot be covered in a pragmatic sense. So the level of care provided is subjective. Someone in some bureaucratic office says that if we cover such and such a procedure but not another, then we’ve fulfilled one of the basic human rights — that of healthcare. Ridiculous.

If you’re going to be subjective about what quality of care people are entitled to (and let me make it clear I don’t believe they’re entitled to any), then I say the quality of care the uninsured receive NOW is completely satisfactory. And that argument is just as legitimate and defensible as any other claim of what constitutes acceptable care.

This is why healthcare is not an inherent right. It’s an amorphous and ever changing thing, unlike say the right to speech or property or life.