Bob Bennett's Peculiar Fear of British Health Care
Utah's Bob Bennett is certainly one of the GOP's most learned senators on health care reform. Which is why it's so disappointing to hear him lashing out with this kind of nonsense:
“The sticking point in this entire debate is the demand on the part of the Obama administration that the final product have a government plan as one of the options, and if that happens, I will do everything I can to say no because I am convinced we would end up with only one option that survives,” said Bennett in his speech on the Senate floor. “Right now, nearly 1.8 million Britons are waiting for hospital or outpatient treatments at any given time. Let's realize that the American voter will never stand for the kind of rationing by delay that seems to have crept into every other government-run health care system.”
I count at least three things wrong with that argument. The first is the suggestion that a public health insurance option would naturally lead to a socialized system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors: If it hasn't happened in France, or Germany, or the Netherlands, why would it happen here?
Second, the 1.8 million Britons waiting for treatments are waiting because Britain pays about 41 cents for every dollar we spend on health care (and yes, those are per capita numbers). To put it more starkly: Britain spends $2,760 per person, per year, on health care. America spends $6,714. According to Bennett, in this scenario, 3 percent of Britons wait for non-essential services at any given moment. If Britain spent $3,954 more per person -- which would more than double their spending -- does anyone really think waiting lists would persist? If so, why?
Third, 1.8 million Britons are waiting for treatments? That's 3 percent of the British population. Is Senator Bennett really prepared to argue that there's not 3 percent of the American population unable to afford a doctor's visit or a necessary treatment at any given time? In a country where more than 15 percent are uninsured? Really? And what about if we erased the single-payer programs of Medicare and Medicaid? How many would be without care then?
(Photo credit: http://bennett.senate.gov/)
June 4, 2009; 4:06 PM ET
Categories: Health Reform , Health of Nations
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