Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Rethinking National Healthcare

The recent news concerning GM and Ford cause me to rethink the Social Healthcare concept. To recap the news, GM and Ford's bond were recently rated as junk bond. They are not doing too well. And main reason is seemed that the cost of healhcare for their employee is too high. For every car that they produced, $1,500 goes to healthcare. Steel per car is only $800.
While some of the problem of GM and Ford is more than just healthcare cost, it worth taking a look at our healthcare system in term of global competitiveness. With many of our competitors having national healthcare, their businesses do not incur additional cost of funding health insurance for their employees. Some even call it a soft subsidy. But since other countries healthcare system cover employee as well as people who are working, this is hardly a subsidy to businesses.
Nevertheless, it impacts our competitiveness. Perhap to make us more competitive globally, we should bring back the national healthcare idea. I know. I know. I can see the dismay and shock on some your faces. A conservative is proposing national healthcare? It is heresy. But hear me out.
I understand the problem of public healthcare than most. Being a member of the military, I have seen the poor quality of healthcare being offered to servicemen, the lack of customer service, the bureaucracy and redtape, being treated like a nuisance instead of a patient. I have endured all those frustration. But can we have a public healthcare system without those problems? It is an idea worth exploring. If it works, it would greatly reduce the cost of doing businesses for American companies, so they can concentrate on being competitive.
Of couse before the idea can be implemented, there are several obvious issues that stand in the way, primarily the cost of healthcare. Healthcare in the US is too expensive. They are expensive for reasons external to the healthcare system. They are expensive because the cost of being a doctors is too high. Beside other forms of insurance, an average physicians have to pay $50,000 on malpratice insurance. The cost of bringing drugs to the market is too high, and it take too long to get approval for new drugs. Therefore the path to national healhcare run through tort reform and reform of the FDA. Sadly liberals want national healthcare, but they want to cater to ambulance chasers as well and want to do nothing about reforming the FDA.


Blogger Michael said...

Negative on that.

I think there are two issues here - the quality of health care, and the cost of health care affecting the bottom line of companies. Regarding the quality of health care, I don't believe nationalizing it is going to improve quality of life for the patient. Just look to our neighbors in Canada, or the example you provided with military health care. Sorry, but I'm very skeptical that the government will provide the best care possible.

As far as company profitablity goes, the consumer is going to pay one way or the other. If the company builds health care costs into the cost of its products, then at least he or she has the choice of which products to buy, compare price points vs. value, etc. The company will also have some freedom in choosing the type of health care they provide to their employees. If we're on a national system, everybody pays with little say as to what is provided.

Besides, a national health care system is a step towards socialism, and I don't think it's done Europe that well.

I enjoy reading your blog, especially the snippets about the Vietnam war and what-not.

Cheers from a fellow Viet-American.


4:48 PM  
Blogger Minh-Duc said...


I am not proposing nationalized healthcare, not yet. I am stil skeptical. I am merely proposing a reconsideration of the idea, meaning more opened mindedness on the subject.

2:53 PM  
Blogger John said...

I think there are some possibilities inherant in HSA's (Health Savings Accounts). They are starting to provide an alternative to our current dilemma; a non-nationalized non-bureaucratic way to pay for health care.

The problem of course is that not everyone has the money to start an HSA. Thogh I am a conservative I am coming to suspect that this is a place where government might usefully intervene (without creating the nightmare of a nationalized system.) Perhaps even providing an initial HSA contribution for everyone, or a mandatory payroll contribution (something like the private accounts proposed for Social Security.)

The current system of having employers provide health care is a historical accident, that started in WWII when employers were not allowed to raise wages, but were allowed to offer health care plans...It's a bad idea.

2:49 PM  

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