Thursday, May 5, 2011

A False Dichotomy

In a lot of discussions about health care systems, the Americans point to the Canadians and say "we don;t want that". Curiously, the Canadians point to the Americans and say "we certainly can't imagine that system being a good idea". But merely looking at these two (fairly extreme) examples is a fundemental failure of imagination. A lot of countries have developed health care systems and it would be remarkable if we couldn't learn a lot from them.

Consider a Libertarian's view of the French health care system:

What’s more, none of these anecdotes scratches the surface of France’s chief advantage, and the main reason socialized medicine remains a perennial temptation in this country: In France, you are covered, period. It doesn’t depend on your job, it doesn’t depend on a health maintenance organization, and it doesn’t depend on whether you filled out the paperwork right. Those who (like me) oppose ObamaCare, need to understand (also like me, unfortunately) what it’s like to be serially rejected by insurance companies even though you’re perfectly healthy. It’s an enraging, anxiety-inducing, indelible experience, one that both softens the intellectual ground for increased government intervention and produces active resentment toward anyone who argues that the U.S. has “the best health care in the world.”

The anecodates as to the efficiency of the system are pretty interesting as well. I can tell you from personal experience that the Canadians are unlikely to have the author's happy experience with universal short wait times.

So maybe we should be looking more broadly for examples?

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