General Question

CMaz's avatar

Is universal health care possible for the United States?

Asked by CMaz (26268points) June 8th, 2009

I can see Canada with their 33,212,696 population manage. But when we are at 304,059,724. Could it be a matter of the fish too big to pull in the boat?

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21 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

It’s possible if we didn’t feel like we had to guarantee insurance companies obscene profits. Since we want to keep them stealing our money, it’ll cost a hell of a lot more than it has to. The population is not what blocks it. Ideology blocks it.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s entirely possible. The problem is really not whether we have the resources, but whether we have the will. The insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies are a really strong lobby, and they spread a lot of propaganda.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

As it stands, no it is not possible because there is too much political division on this issue.

The ideal would be to set up a base level of health care for everyone while not decreasing the level of anyone’s existing health care. I believe that is entirely possible.

alive's avatar

why not? it is paid for by tax payers, so whether it is 33,212,696 tax payers in a nation of 33,212,696; or 304,059,724 tax payers in a nation of 304,059,724. Depending on the location and the concentration of doctors in that location there might be longer lines. (do we want the most possible convenience or do we want the most justice??)

Birchly's avatar

Canada enacted single payer in 1970! that’s not that long ago. Before that, they had all the same insurance companies we do, with all the same problems. In the most recent survey, Canadians had fewer complaints about their healthcare system than any other industrialized nation. On every measure of healthcare outcome (except control of pain after heart surgery), a patient has a better chance of a good outcome under the Canadian system. In the US, Medicare is an example of a single payer system that was suddenly put into place. The majority of citizens here in the US want single payer. The majority of doctors want it. The majority of nurses want it! What’s stopping us?

pikipupiba's avatar

@alive That would be true if 100% of Americans paid taxes. In reality, less than 50% do. That percentage is much higher in Canada.

Why is no one even mentioning how it’s a BAD idea! I just got out of an appointment that solved my knee pain. My life is infinately better now. In and out in 15 minutes. $20. NO appointment. Try pulling that off with government run health care.

YARNLADY's avatar

@pikipupiba The stories of universal health care being inefficient are very newsworthy, expecially in the US where big business prevails in spite of what would be best for the country. However, the truth of the matter is that all polls and independant surveys prove that the majority of the people servced by single payer systems are overwhelmingly in favor of the system and satisfied with the level of service.

ragingloli's avatar

And what about poor people who require treatment that cannot be administered in just one session? 5 sessions á 20 quid is a lot for a poor family.
Then there are the issues of medication, lengthy hospital stays, surgeries, chronical illnesses, etc. These can mean bankruptcy for an uninsured person. And in the US there are many of them.

Blondesjon's avatar

We can’t even properly fix this nation’s roads due to red tape and corruption.

How in the hell do you think we are going to pull it together and give the country the health care it so desperately needs?

It will happen though. Just as soon as the government and private enterprise figure out a way they can make an even larger profit than with the existing system.

wundayatta's avatar

Excuse me, but when did hospitals and doctors start building roads and bridges?

The US has been running two large health insurance companies—Medicare and Medicaid, which, between them, insure about 40% of all Americans, and they do it with administrative costs that are about one-fifth of those for private insurers in the US.

People who think the Federal Government is inefficient with respect to health insurance should stop practicing yellow journalism and get their facts straight.

Another thing: private insurance has done no better than public insurance at discouraging skyrocketing costs for health care. The lack of significant cost containment measures lead, mostly, by the lack of any significant discouragement of “defensive” medical practice, has driven the prescription of far too many unnecessary tests for the entire population of the United States. Some may call it rationing, but I call it delivery of appropriate care. It isn’t patients who love seeing the inside of hospitals, it’s the doctors who aren’t educated about best practices practicing defensively.

Never let it be said that conservatives or libertarians let their minds be confused by the facts.

mattbrowne's avatar

The ratios between richer and poorer folks are similar. Same in Europe. Of course it could work in the US, if the majority can endure the outcry of the far-right free market fundamentalists. Solidarity is important in any society. Here’s my number 1 argument to deal with the far-right

A lack of universal health care kills unborn life!

There are numerous studies comparing prenatal care, miscarriages and infant mortality rates. Many pregnant women in the United States do not get prenatal care because they lack insurance.

CMaz's avatar

It is possibly feasible. What seems to stop me is the infrastructure needed to manage such a large population. We just don’t throw a switch. The buildings, the thousands of people (= salaries) to manage this and all the support suppliers. This would be an additional cost added to the “premium”. Government appropriated and run. (Uncle sam and his additional run up costs) Which means added cost to get it up and running.
What seems simple, like sticking a letter in a mail box. Is an extremely complicated and expensive process, in order to get your mail to the other side of the country. Using that example, the only reason why it still works (or was able to) is because the Post Office started very small. A simple process ( a man on a horse) when the population was small.
I can build a bird house, but asking me to build a 10 story building. is a whole other process.

wundayatta's avatar

@ChazMaz Actually, that administrative system already exists. They are called fiscal intermediaries and they handle all the administrative work for Medicare. They are the private health insurers. So most likely, the government would outsource the administrative work so private insurers, but there would be significant savings, since you’re paying only for handling paperwork (which would be much simplified, especially on the provider side), and also you’d eliminate the amount we currently pay for private insurers’ profits and reserve requirements.

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon. . .People who think the Federal Government is inefficient with respect to health insurance should stop practicing yellow journalism and get their facts straight.

Here are some more “yellow journalism” dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, and how on the ball our govenment is.

The Medicare and Medicaid Center.

The Senior Journal.



Medicare program a red tape nightmare.

The list goes on forever. You know what? I prefer that the government doesn’t take over health care because they are incapable of even running the 40% they take care of right now.

My apologies to you for letting the stories above and the hundreds like them confuse the “facts” in my libertarian brain.

we all know what lying propagandists cancer patients are

pikipupiba's avatar

I wouldn’t dig into your wallet to pay for something I want or even need. If you wanna help me out, thanks.

Moral of the story? People are smart. They can spend THEIR hard earned money however the hell they want. If that involves helping some charity for the uninsured, then good for them! If they don’t give a flying frenchman whether or not every poor person dies a slow, horrible, uninsured death, then good for them too! Thank God for America! The land of the FREE! F-R-E-E!

Way to take the choice out of my life. Good-bye America.

I’ll miss you…

ragingloli's avatar

what you call “land of the free”, sounds to me like a clear cut case of social darwinism.

wundayatta's avatar

An individual story does not a case make, but I can show you individual stories, too:

A J Hawks

Private insurers are really on the ball, too! Not!

A Rip-Off by Health Insurers?

I could go on and on. I’m glad you like the private health insurance system which leaves upwards of 40 million Americans uninsured, can’t control costs, and denies coverage to so many. I wish I could say “welcome to it.” Unfortunately, it’s my only choice.

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon. . .All I’m saying is that Medicare and Medicaid are no different than the private health insurance companies.

I wouldn’t piss down any of their throats even if their guts were on fire.

Did you even read what I posted? Tell the truth now…

wundayatta's avatar

@Blondesjon I don’t know how I could have answered the way I did, had I not read what you posted. Don’t be projecting your shortcomings on me. [Ooooo, diss! ;-) Actually, I don’t believe you have any shortcomings. You are like a god unto me!]

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon . . .I’m glad you like the private health insurance system which leaves upwards of 40 million Americans uninsured, can’t control costs, and denies coverage to so many.

I take it that was an informed passive/aggressive poke? I don’t recall ever posting that I cared for private health care any more than Medicare or Medicaid.

Are you sure you read what I posted? Perhaps you’ve confused me with someone else?

wundayatta's avatar

@Blondesjon So is that to imply that you don’t like any kind of health insurance? You’re right, I made an assumption, which doesn’t seem to have been warranted. If you don’t like health insurance, how do you think health risks should be shared? Not at all?

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