Watching the Health Care debate here in the USA, is quite laughable at the extremes. As luck would have it, I was born and raised in Australia and have lived in the the USA for nearly a year.
The Centre and Left (Democrats) like to label it Health Care Reform, the Right (Republicans) and Libertarians call it Social Medicine or Obamacare. As a person born and raised for the most part in a government run health care system like the Medicare System in Australia I can look at this from a fairly good perspective!
Here are some things to consider about Australia Medicare:
- It is far from perfect: Doctor make mistakes, hospitals are sometimes underfunded.
- Most Australians pay a 1.5% Medicare Levy on Income and people below income poverty line pay nothing.
- The fastest way to NOT to get elected or to get thrown out of government in Australia is to try to change Medicare in Australia from a public system to a private system – even incrementally.
Here are some hard facts (from statistical data) about the US Health Care System
When I continually hear people say that “the USA has the best healthcare in the world” I think these people are at best ill informed or at worst just plumb liars. If you look at the statistical data – it is obviously wrong!
- Most Expensive: It costs more than 3 times as much as most western countries to have private health care in USA.
- It costs the government more per person for a private system that most countries that already have a public system – including Canada and Australia.
- USA has the highest costs as a % of GDP of all countries at 16% (Australia is 8.7%)
- USA peoples life expectancy is the lowest in all of the western world.
- USA has the worst infant mortality rate of all of the western world.
So after looking at these figures – even if they are out by a few % in each category – it is plain to see that the US Health Care System is completely broken. The first thing all parties have to agree on is this simple fact, if there is no agreement here, then I am afraid it is pointless moving on.
The second thing that must be considered is how to fix it. This is where these different groups will fundamentally disagree and that is fine. However, if the government can pass policies because it has the numbers, it has every right to do so. If the people disagree then they can be thrown out and things can be reversed.
Australia has a far from perfect system, but pick up any newspaper on any day of the week in Australia and you will see the government of the day getting battered from pillar to post over health care. Each successive government knows that by failing its people on health care it will inevitably fail themselves and get booted out of office, and that is a good thing!
There are many things that federal governments have no right to be a part of in modern society. The 20th century saw governments running roads, rail, telephony, electricity, mail and santization. Later in the 21st century most federal governments sold off these assets and rightly so – unfortunately many created private monopolies.
There is no justification in holding onto many of these utilities in the 21st century. However, I firmly believe the future of any economy is in the education, security and health of its people and these should always be controlled at the federal level for the good of all the people of each country.
That is not socialism (if you think it is do some reading), it is just an idea that certain sectors are better run by the public purse rather than for profit. Yes governments overspend, have productivity levels lower than nearly all private sectors, but they work!