Archive for June, 2009

Socialized medicine: Save taxpayers money, die with dignity

June 16, 2009

By David Farside

Establishing a national health care program has been the main political agenda of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama is also in favor of a federally subsidized health care program and will be introducing his schematics for socialized medicine within the next few weeks. The concept that every American should have adequate health care will now shift from rhetorical idealism to the pragmatics of politics.

Most Democrats are in favor of establishing government-controlled national health care programs, similar to Medicare, rather than using private insurance companies. Using their proposed concept, everyone will receive medical care funded by the government. Premiums paid to the government will be deducted from paychecks based on family income and payments made on behalf of the working poor will be subsidized by the government. The medical profession could be regulated by the federal government and the czar of socialized medicine will decide who needs and receives medical care and who doesn’t.

The majority of Republicans have been opposed to the Democrats’ national health care scheme. They cite Medicare’s high cost due to excessive billing by the medical providers and unnecessary office visits made by hypochondriacs. Instead, Republicans are arguing that private insurance companies can provide better coverage at a lower cost with a minimal subsidy provided by the government. In either case, a premium paid directly to a government insurer or a government subsidy to pay for a private insurer is still socialized medicine.

No doubt, any new health care legislation will almost eliminate the patient’s ability to file a malpractice suit against their family physician.

One of the reasons for the high cost of medical care is testing and imaging. Doctors today won’t make a diagnosis unless they have a blood test, an X-ray or an MRI of the patient. By justifying their methods of treatment, they’re reducing the possibilities of malpractice suits.

The concept of socialized medicine is not new. Prince Otto Von Bismarck, chancellor of Germany, initiated what he called “compulsory national health insurance” in 1884.

At the time, Communism was spreading throughout Europe. Bismarck was opposed to Communism and feared this new philosophy would expand into a form of international socialism. He thought by giving the German people socialized medicine they would not embrace Communism as a political system. Bismarck said his new plan would create a “nationalistic socialism to end international socialism.” According to Dan Smoot, the irony is he was “the first leader of a great nation to fight communism by adopting communism.”

Bismarck’s plan didn’t work. Although the premiums were higher than private insurance, the Germans received less coverage with fewer benefits.

The British, in 1911, initiated socialized medicine with what they called “Bismarckian” national health insurance. It was an economic failure and was abandoned. But leave it to the British to compound their mistakes. In 1948, England passed new national health care legislation. They eliminated the insurance companies as the middle man and established socialized medicine fashioned after the Soviet Union’s system created by Vladimir Lenin.

Within a few years, every doctor had a register of almost 4,000 patients and the average office visit was less than five minutes. There was a long list of patients waiting for hospital care while thousands of hospital beds remained empty because of a shortage of nurses.

To reduce the cost of medical care in England, the government determines which patients will receive medical care, based on age and the possibilities for recovery in your lifetime. Just as one of many examples: If you were healthy and needed a hip replacement but were within five years of your life expectancy, you would forget about a hip replacement.

You don’t have to go to England to see frightening examples of socialized medicine. Just go to the state of Oregon. They have a state-run health program. A few years ago they denied a terminally ill patient potentially life-saving medication because it was not cost-effective for the state and she was going to die anyway. Even worse, to reduce the cost to the state, they told a man they would pay for his assisted suicide instead of giving him life-saving treatment.

This brings us to another frightening thought. On Oct. 27, 1997, Oregon enacted its Death with Dignity Act. It permits terminally ill Oregonians to voluntarily end their lives with the consent of their doctor. All they need is a prescription for a self-administer lethal medication to remove themselves from the state-run health plan, making the plan more cost-effective.

With Oregon being the only state allowing doctors to assist in patient suicide, you have to wonder if it was humane legislation for dying with dignity or a cost-effective remedy for their socialized medicine.

Obama wants new legislation for health care reform on his desk by August. We’ll see if it is fashioned after similar cost-effective socialized medicine practices in Oregon, permitting doctor-assisted suicide. If it is, we’ll see if Obama will sign a bill encouraging all terminally-ill patients to save the taxpayers money and die with dignity.