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Monday, April 24, 2006

My Presidential Platform

I've decided to run. My platform has one plank. Here it is: Healthcare in the U. S. should be outsourced to Canada.

Why do I suggest this? Because, as I understand it, all Canadians get their healthcare paid for by the government, that is, by taxes. Let's get them to include U. S. citizens and approved aliens in their program. Over 40 million U. S. citizens aren't covered now, and this is a huge problem for them, and for those of us who care about the plight of others.

I recognize that there are some large problems with my proposal. Now, before our health insurance companies have me assassinated, read on. I'll tell you what I think the main problems are, and how I propose dealing with them.

First, some people in the U. S. don't think that Canada's healthcare is as good as theirs. That may be true. It may not. All the Canadians I've ever heard of who know something about our "system" prefer theirs to ours, and will go to considerable lengths, if living in the U. S., to keep their Canadian coverage. But there's another argument on my side. That's the people in the U. S. who do not have health insurance. Whatever the faults of the Canadian system, almost none of these people have better health care than the Canadians. Adding them to the mix means that the U. S. "system" is considerably worse than that of our neighbors to the North.

Second, there's the matter of paying the Canadians for taking over our "system," or, rather, giving us a real system. How can we do that?

Well I have several suggestions. First, a frivolous one. We could just say that we'll not worry about how much it's going to cost. Our current administration and Congress seem to have already taken that attitude toward various matters, such as the war in Iraq, the prescription drug plan for seniors, earmarks in the transportation bill, and cleaning up after hurricanes. We can just spend it.

Let's try another one. We can increase taxes. No one wants to do that, of course, but think. The biggest part of the cost of an automobile made in the U. S. is health care. (The last I knew, healthcare was also the largest expense of the South Carolina District of my church. Not evangelism, not missions, not church building, but healthcare. There was something wrong with that picture.*) If auto companies, and many others, were freed from the burden of providing health care for employees and retirees, they could cut costs, compete much better with other companies from countries where businesses don't provide healthcare directly to their personnel. (This should help the trade deficit.) They should be able to pay more in taxes than they do now, and still come out ahead. Similarly, U. S. consumers should be able to pay more taxes, because they will have to pay less for goods and services that they buy. With the increased tax rates, we can pay the Canadians. Besides, the increased profits that companies could make would mean increased taxes without raising the rates.

A secondary benefit of my plan, which would free companies from being responsible for the health care of their employees, is that they should be better able to provide retirement benefits.

We could phase out the prescription drug program for seniors, which was enacted with the stipulation that the program could not negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. (I wonder who wanted that in, and I wonder why our Congresspersons put it in?) That would save money.

Another way to save money is on prescription drugs. Some U. S. entities (including, I believe, a city or two) are already getting drugs for their plans from Canada, because they are cheaper.

While we're at that, most people could increase their productivity, because they wouldn't be trying to decide what insurance plan to get, or filling out red tape to get reimbursed, etc. That would make more taxes more palatable.

There are other benefits to my program. Retired Canadians could now spend twelve months a year, if they chose, in Florida, Arizona, and other places, since they would be getting their health care from the same source as in, say, New Brunswick. These people would add to the U. S. economy.

Third, how could the Canadians take all this on? Well, it would be unrealistic to suppose that they could do so, at least not all at once. We would need to phase the program in. The U. S. health insurance companies, who would face the prospect of being phased out (except for the wealthy who might choose to take out insurance to pay for items the Canadian system might not) would get contracts to help with the transition, and the Canadians would be offered their offices, their equipment, and their personnel, or as much of these as would be needed, for the purpose of administering their plan in the U. S.

Fourth, why should the Canadians take this on? Well, having so many more customers/clients/whatever should lead to some economies of scale, so healthcare would be cheaper for Canadians if they would do this.

Fifth, and probably the most serious objection, is that some things in the U. S. would change radically, at least for some people. Drug manufacturing, hospital ownership, and insurance company stocks, for instance, would be affected. Well, OK. We've had things like that happen before. To solve critical problems, changes usually have to be made, and they usually hurt someone. The messy "system" the U. S. has now, especially with so many not being covered by health insurance, is a critical problem. Let's solve it.

Thanks for reading.

P. S. I'm not really going to run. Anyone who wants to use my platform idea is welcome to it. Thanks for reading!

*Local pastor's salaries were paid by the local church, but healthcare insurance was paid by the District.
When I say that there was something wrong with that picture, what was wrong wasn't that the health insurance of pastors and other employees of the church was paid for. That was our scriptural responsibility, as I understand it.

On August 10, 2009, I posted on the current situation in Healthcare in the US, pointing out several problems, and their causes.


Elliot said...

Well, we Canadians do like our healthcare system. But we also like to complain about it. I think that, 80% of the time, it works quite well. The biggest problems and costs come from the other 20% of cases: major operations and new procedures. There are always long waiting lists for those things. We also have a hard time keeping doctors in rural areas.

A coworker of mine moved here from the States last year and he's told me that, even though we have our own poverty problems, there isn't nearly the same degree of desperation he's seen in the U.S. He attributes this to our health care and other social networks.

The drug companies get very angry with us for selling prescription drugs to Americans, but everyone else seems to like the idea. For a time my wife worked for a company that filled those orders. (A number of them have sprung up in Winnipeg over the past few years.) She said it was mostly poor seniors who were calling and at times it was heart-wrenching work.

April said...

Very good post, Dr. LaBar! You always have a way of stiring up those thoughts. :)
Thanks for posting on my blog. Hope all is well with you and your family. Back home yet?

Julana said...

I lived in Canada for two years. It was interesting.
I hear they have long waits for speicalists in anything.
I think you may be able to get private insurance, too. Don't know.

Maybe we could afford it, if we weren't fighting a war?

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your comments.

There are problems with the Canadaian system, but they have a system.

I wish some of our leaders would think about this more. Having over 40 million without health care coverage is a national disgrace. I believe we could pay for a national health care system if we really made it a priority to do so. There would be some savings, such as our industries being more competitive with other nations, if we were to do this, and we really could raise taxes, if we knew it was important.

saraec1122 said...

I agree with your thoughts...let Canada take over. It is such a shame that we have so many things separating us in this country, including healthcare. We have the means, NO ONE in this country should, for example, miscarry a baby due to lack of prenatal care they cannot afford. Jared and I are well taken care of and compensated very well, but even we would be burdened by the expense of the prenatal, birth and well-baby care of Noah if we did not have health insurance. Capitalism is a great idea, but not always the best when applied to things like healthcare.

Daniel Haszard said...

I applaud your blog,i took zyprexa which was ineffective for my condition and gave me diabetes.

{Only 9 percent of adult Americans think the pharmaceutical industry can be trusted right around the same rating as big tobacco}

Zyprexa, which is used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, accounted for 32% of Eli Lilly's $14.6 billion revenue last year.

Zyprexa has been linked to causing diabetes and pancreatitis.

Did you know that Lilly made nearly $3 billion last year on diabetic meds, Actos,Humulin and Byetta?
Yes! They sell a drug that causes diabetes and then turn a profit on the drugs that treat the condition that they caused in the first place!
Daniel Haszard

Martin LaBar said...

As I say, we don't have a system. What passes for one benefits the drug companies and health insurance companies at least as much as it benefits sick people, often a lot more.

Sorry for your problems.

Martin LaBar said...

In an e-mail, a reader suggested an alternate plan, namely outsourcing our healthcare to Sweden. OK, that would probably be better than what we are doing now, but it's a little further away than Canada.