General Question

augustlan's avatar

Why isn't Universal Health Care more popular with conservatives?

Asked by augustlan (46609 points ) August 8th, 2012

My doctor and I had an interesting discussion the other day, in which he pointed out that Universal Health Care (single payer system) would actually advance some pretty traditional conservative ideals, and that the less far reaching ‘Obamacare’ achieves similar things.

Aside from cost/benefit ratios, most of these things don’t seem to be talked about much. For instance, many people who would rather be a stay-at-home parent have to keep working solely because their job is the one that provides health insurance benefits for their families. Would-be entrepreneurs are often in the same boat, unable to make the leap to self-employment because they need those insurance benefits. Less access to birth control results in more abortions. So, if Universal Health Care results in lower costs overall, more stay-at-home parents, more independent business owners, and fewer abortions… what is the downside, to a conservative?

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40 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

First of all, Universal Healthcare was invented by a conservative, Bismarck, in the late 19th century, and even in the Colonies conservatives once supported similar plans.
But today’s conservatives have drifted so far to the right, anything the government is involved in (except bombing brown people in turbans with ultra expensive government owned toys) is “socialism” and “marxism”. And Obama, the kenyan muslim communist marxist death robot from space, is for it, so they are automatically against it.
They have become intoxicated with a vile mixture of racism and a cold war mentality.

ragingloli's avatar

That and it would take customers away from the private insurance behemoth.
Probably the same reason why they are actively trying to destroy the USPS.

gorillapaws's avatar

Not only that, but it’s inline with the teachings of Christ to help the sick and weak, which is also supposedly a conservative value, along with mercy and non-violence. I’ve long since abandoned trying to find a way for the modern Christian conservative movement be internally consistent with its own values.

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marinelife's avatar

As a matter of fact, the system that became known as Obamacare was first put forth by conservatives (it came from a conservative think tank), but in their rabid if Obama touched it it must be poison attitude, they have distanced themselves from it,

bolwerk's avatar

There isn’t really a downside for conservatives. The USA’s conservative party, the Democrats, has generally been supportive of expanded, if not quite universal, healthcare. Republikan opposition to it has more to do with the fact that the other guy wanted it than any particular objection on the merits.

@ragingloli: “Universal” Obamacare gives more customers to private insurance behemoths. Problem solved!

thorninmud's avatar

Not Darwinian enough, for one thing. If you see life as a game with winners and losers, then what’s the point of trying to win if the losers have it pretty good too? Losing should be a miserable experience, otherwise the game goes all to hell.

It does have its own internal logic, once you accept the “game” premise. In that scheme, the government just keeps messing up the game whenever it does something to blur the distinction between winners and losers.

ragingloli's avatar

@bolwerk
Well, that is only because the ‘Public Option’ was impossible to get through.
But they are against it anyway, because it smells of ni Obama.

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, this is a conservative plot to foil single-payer. By opposing Obamacare, the Republicans get the Dems to fight in favor of it, even though we don’t want it. In supporting Obamacare, we actually forward the conservative agenda, which is to fleece the American public and fill the coffers of health insurers with excess profits and expand the health sector of the economy as much as possible.

Ok. Not buying the conservative conspiracy theory? But isn’t it amazing how it has worked out that way? Now why can’t liberals find a way to make conservatives fight with each other and thus forward the liberal agenda?

Or are we? Notice the primary victories of several Tea party candidates in key senate and house races? Could divide and conquer allow us to take back the House and keep the Senate?

bolwerk's avatar

@thorninmud: if they really think that. they’re doubly stupid. The whole point of universal healthcare is it actually reduces costs for everyone on average. Virtually everyone needs medical care at some point, so virtually everyone wins.

@ragingloli: yeah, but I wouldn’t let the Dems off the hook for that. Right-wing (relatively speaking, that is; all Dems are right-wing) Dems are the reason the public option wouldn’t pass.

Mariah's avatar

Because Obama did it and God help us if we admit that Obama did something right – my theory anyway.

LostInParadise's avatar

Salon online magazine is running this article today, in honor of conservative icon Milton Friedman. The article says that the Affordable Care Act is essentially healthcare with vouchers, making it the only proposal of Friedman to be adopted.

Nullo's avatar

I like the idea, but I’ve seen the execution and it’s not as pretty. The Italian universal health care system has great triage, and it was great to be able to stop in at the doctor and then swing by the pharmacy on your way home and never open your wallet. But the technology was far from the cutting edge (which isn’t really an issue with routine stuff, but that new potential treatment is beyond your reach), and they would ration care to people with things like cancer. We lost two family friends there to cancer, because they were pretty much ruled incurable after the stuff came out of remission and they couldn’t afford private care.
More generally, a lot of conservatives that I’ve talked to about it don’t like that Obamacare penalizes them for not buying in.

Just because something comes from a “conservative think tank” doesn’t mean that it’ll necessarily be popular with conservatives. We’re not all the same, you know.

JLeslie's avatar

Because big business insurance companies have put a lot of money into lobbying to maintain the current system, and the conservatives have signed on. The argument smaller government and free market have been used to woo the conservatives on the healthcare topic. Also, doctors are in many ways business owners before they are even medicine men at this point. Many own their own practices, and they have enjoyed high salaries, and the conservatives talk the talk regarding earning more and more, and not being socialist or communist.

Which brings us to word choice, socialized medicine. I guess we moved to the term universal healthcare to avoid the word socialized, which is a buzz word for the conservatives to run to the hills and arm yourself ready for the attack.

I also am kind of with @wundayatta how twisted everything became. As you know I have been luke warm and wary of Obamacare, because I feel it expands the bad system to more people, rather than fixing the system. Some jellies have educated me on where Obamacare might actually be better, solve some of the things that anger me so with the current system, but probably not enough for my liking. We’ll see.

I think conservatives like having benefits offered through the workplace, it enslaves the labor, if you have the government provide it, people are more able to quit their jobs when employers suck. Conservatives talk competition in the free market, but I think more often they are actually practicing collusion.

@Nullo In Italy can’t they pay for healthcare if they want to be treated by a private doctor? Or, they have to stay within the social system? In the US if they don’t have insurance they would be in the same boat. If they do have insurance and the insurance deems that it will be ineffective or is not proven to be successful the insurance company won’t pay.

bolwerk's avatar

@Nullo: but then, years of crony conservative governance has made Italy one of the more corrupt countries in western Europe. Universal care works great in most of western Europe. And it’s not like there aren’t shortages for finding care in the USA. Any evidence that they’re greater even in Italy?

Nullo's avatar

@bolwerk I dunno, I hear it’s messed up in the UK, too. I haven’t had the opportunity to study the Italian health care system except as it affected me.

bolwerk's avatar

@Nullo: I can probably point to ways in which it’s somewhat messed up almost anywhere, but the results placing the USA near the bottom of the list in so many ways really speak for themselves. The UK national health service doesn’t seem unusually bad from what I’ve seen, despite the odd propaganda about how it should have killed Stephen Hawking.

Also, the problem you mention in Italy is practically one of over-success: the Italians aren’t supplying enough care to meet demand, admittedly, for an aging population, despite having one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita in the world. In the USA, people don’t seek out care in the first place because they don’t even have the option due to crappy coverage or the fact that doctors congregate in large metropolitan areas. If the USA has experiencing market clearance, big whoop – it’s still falling short.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk You make the point I often do, that all the health systems around the world have something to complain about. The big gripe in Canada that Americans used to haro on was waiting times for an MRI scan. But, in the last few years Canada has actively purchased more machines to meet the demand. That’s the real trick I think, is to constantly improve, knowing mistakes will be made, but complaints can be addressed. I could complain for ours about things that have happened to me in the American health care system. Americans against socialized medicine never seem to look at the whole picture of any of the systems. Probably some people for socialized medicine also idealize that system, nothing is perfect, but I’ll take the socialized system please. Even if care winds up beng equal, the socialized system costs less. Less scamming, fewer unnecessary tests, from what I can tell, and like my point above, the employer can’t own the employee because they need health insurance.

Facade's avatar

Because they’re greedy and want to keep all the green, rectangular, fabrics that they can. In a flippant mood today..

bkcunningham's avatar

I am very reluctant to weigh in on this. But I would like to very respectively try to tell you how I feel.

The American people elected a man who made promise after promise which I supported. He backed down on all of them. The first broken promise was that we will have both parties in a public discussion to work toward an answer and will come up with a bill to address health care costs, which, in his own words..“must include tort reform but must address the cost of health care”.....must be totally transparent in getting to the law because of the fact everyone agreed on the problems.

This law does not address health care costs, does not include any tort reform, the law was done with back room deals and actually used blackmail to even get his final democratic votes because even those Dems didn’t want it and the law was conceived under the the exact opposite of transparent.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham It doesn’t explain why they were against it when Clinton wanted it for the country though. It isn’t just about being against Obama as @Mariah also suggested. I don’t see how Obama could have had a big discussion with Republicans and have got it all done. There @Mariah is right that the Republicans for the most part hate him. And, when Clinton tried to involve Republicans on healthcare they shot it all down. Do you remember the commercials on TV against Clinton’s plan for socialized medicine? It’s too adversarial now in politics. Moderate republicans in congress are retiring or not being reelected. The middle ground and cooperation is harder and harder to reach.

I agree with you that things are missing from obamacare. I wanted costs addressed also, maybe even some more regulation (which the republicans would freak about) but as far as backroom deals, I think that is part of politics pretty much most of the time on both sides, both parties.

nikipedia's avatar

Costs are addressed under the ACA in part. Consider that at least 80 cents of every premium dollar you pay to your insurance company must go back to health care.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie, if you look back at history, the Republicans weren’t the only people who fought against the Health Security Act. The Democrats controlled Congress when the legislation was debated and tabled.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I don’t doubt it. I don’t know the full history actually. Sometimes there is some detail in a bill that causes an objection, when other parts of the bill are agreeable, and so sometimes it is hard to know why a congressman exactly was against something. That’s on both sides of the aisle of course. Auggie recently sent me an article regarding transparency in pricing for medical services, and both the dems and repubicans were against it according to the article, which disgusts me. I think big business is a problem for both parties. Both are paid off, and both have to worry about business owners in their states.

wundayatta's avatar

Why did Obama mention tort reform? Because he wanted doctors on his side. The truth is that tort reform will save no money and do nothing except let doctors walk away from mistakes with no consequences. It is a BAD idea.

Last time I checked, law suits add less than one percent to the total cost of health care in this country. But it does affect a very few doctors quite strongly, especially those who suffer from so-called “frivolous” suits. There are surely other ways to get rid of frivolous suits, but it needs to be done with a scalpel, not a broad brush.

jerv's avatar

TL:DR

Democrats like it, therefore it must be a Socialist Satanic plot to eradicate America.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I wonder if the less than one percent includes unnecessary tests to CYA. Last I heard 30% of diagnostic tests run are done so a doctor can say they did it, show they were thorough, even if the chance of anything showing up on those tests are close to nothing. I don’t know how accurate the 30% number is, but I would not find it surprising. Forget that they also make money on some of the tests.

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham I appreciate your willingness to share your views on Obamacare. Thank you. I’m unclear as to whether or not you would support a single payer UHC system, and if not, why not?

jax1311's avatar

Although I can’t exactly call myself a republican, it’s my opinion that the combination of a complex bureaucratic system, big business lobbying money, and pork riddled legislation turns every major federal regulatory effort toxic.

This is yet another example of our federal government overreaching beyond the powers granted to them in the constitution, and therefore I don’t support it. And yes, I know that the Supreme Court has deemed the legislation constitutional.

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli your first two answers nailed this question. They are my sentiments, exactly. Good work and thanks for doing the writing for me.!

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie The issue of defensive medicine (CYA test doing) is another issue. I’m not sure that there is evidence that relates defensive medicine to fear of torts. I’m sure there is a lot of anecdotal evidence, but I don’t know if there is actual scientific evidence of such a relationship.

From what I understand, doctors practice according to how they have been trained and according to ongoing medical education. So if you want to change the number of c-sections being ordered, you educated doctors about when and why to order c-sections. You show them data about which ones work and which ones don’t. That is how you change doctor’s practice habits.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I did a little googling after reading you answer. “This”: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2053354,00.html article 5th paragraph states indeed sometimes doctors do tests for fear of lawsuits. The stats seem high enough to me that it is significant. I agree usually the are following medical standards, but I don’t agree the standard practices are always decided by utilizing a scientific method. I think the majority they are, but more than you think it is logical extrapolations from the knowledge they already have or antidoctal observations that doctors have published and it becomes standard practice, or at least accepted practice.

I challenged an MRI that was done to me because I only had a agreed to an MRA, but they did both and billed me for both. The reply was that they doctor had ordered the tests and that it is within the “standard of care.” that is legal ease for they feel secure they cannot be sued for doing it. But, that still does not satisfy me that I did not agree to it, was not informed of it, and was charged for it. I never threatened to sue them, but obviously that is all they care about in my opinion when I told them I was upset to find out it was done.

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie Not sure if I mispoke or you misunderstood. But what I said was prescriptive. The best way to change doctor behavior is to educate them on best practices. The education needs to include the science supporting these practices. It doesn’t matter whether doctors practice defensive medicine because they were trained that way or because they say they fear law suits. Education in best practices is how you change the behavior.

I doubt, but don’t know if reducing law suits would change behavior. Behavior tends to be learned in school, or from journals or whatnot. I seriously doubt the data about doctors practices being created out of fear of lawsuits. It doesn’t really make much sense. They may say they are afraid, but correlating what they say they fear with number of tests is hard to do.

This is more of a political issue, in my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Ok, I understand better where you are going, and agree with you.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

I find the entire political process disgusting. With only two parties we are often left without a good choice. One party wants one thing the other party wants the exact opposite or will shoot down anything that the other party puts on the table. Even if the proposal is what the party wants. The art of diplomacy left the domestic political arena years ago. Know we have to deal with people who are out for themselves and don’t give a shit about the rest of us. They make us think that we are important to them during the election then procede to do exactly what we don’t want them to do. With the whole ACA debacle, both sides are firing away at eachother not caring that we don’t want that. It is because they know that come election time we wont have another choice. We have to pick a side. This wole political system is broken and wont be fixed very easily. It would take a HUGE change in the people who are a) running for office and b) the people voting. We have grown so accustomed to the polarization of politics that it is all we now know and it could very well be our undoing.

ETpro's avatar

Today’s so called “conservatives” are as far from the dictionary definition of the word as humanity can get. They are reactionaries in favor of tearing down virtually all our longstanding social institutions and throwing out all proven solutions in favor of ideas that are either untried or have already been shown to fail. The rank and file have been carefully programmed to adopt these ideas by a very well-heeled group of would-be plutocrats who, back in the 1950s, began to set up a network of right-wing think tanks and PR firms in all 50 states. These billionaires and CEOs of multinational mega-corporations are intent on returning the world to wage slavery and placing themselves in financial control of governments, which they can then use to keep themselves in power and the wage slaves in servitude. They want a banana republic, and they have developed the memes in middle and lower-class voters in numerous nations now that let them push for that goal through cleverly crafted bumper-sticker slogans.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because they wrongly equate it with socialism and therefore it must be bad.

Ron_C's avatar

Today’s conservatives consider punishment more important than citizenship. What better way to punish the undeserving poor then to let them die sick?

Paradox25's avatar

I’m not sure why so many self described conservatives would oppose this healthcare legislation, considering that the history of the Republican Party has varied, depending on each politician. William Taft would have resembled a typical Republican today, but the more progressive Roosevelt would be labled a RHINO by most Republicans today.

I’m not sure why there is such a divide here between partisanship and the healthcare issue. Most self-described conservatives (mainstream) and progressives are both communitarians, even W Bush and Clinton were communitarians, though their politics were drastically different on some fronts. Communitarians are not objectivists, whether they’re left or right wing.

I do think that the paradigm in the Republican Party today has become more corporatist, mixed with a bit of Christian communitarianist, along with a lot more think tanks to promote their agenda. They (mainstream Republicans) have a new platform, to fear the state more than anarchy, except when they’re the state that is. Most conservatives, regardless of what they may tell you, are not true objectivists, so in theory they should support universal healthcare, but yet most don’t. I can see an objectivist opposing universal healthcare, but not a traditional communitarian conservative. It must be the think tanks then.

noraasnave's avatar

Speaking as a conservative, I would say that many conservatives that I see are led around by the nose, by whichever religious leader they watch on the 700 club or their local pastor who does. Religious rules whether attached to Biblical passages or preached as rules from a pulpit lead these lost ones.

My very thin 2 cents is that I didn’t like all the pork that had to be included for the policy to pass. Which is somewhat related to how much this law will end up costing me, and every other tax payer.

It is only fair to note that my health insurance is paid for by taxpayers for the rest of my life already because I have completed 20 years of active duty service in the USMC. This is one of the benefits I have worked for, even when i would have been paid more for my skills in the civilian sector.

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