In response to this post, in which I mentioned how touchy “single-payer advocates are about the “S” word, I received a comment from C.M. Hughes reciting the de rigueur “progressive” talking point about socialized medicine:
The reason we don’t like equating single payer with a socialized system is because they AREN’T EQUAL! Socialized systems, like England’s, are ones in which the government owns everything … Single Payer systems, like the most succesful systems around the world, are like our Medicare and medicaid programs.
This shopworn trope ignores the real issue, of course. Regardless of what entity nominally employs the health care workers or owns the facilities, government-run health care is predicated on the notion that central bureaucratic control is somehow superior to the operation of the market.
Today’s news contains a fresh refutation of the claim that outcomes are materially different in these two types of government-run systems. In Canada’s vaunted single-payer system, expectant mothers are still finding it necessary to come to the U.S. for care:
Sarah Plank, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Ministry of Health, said a spike in high risk and premature births coupled with the lack of trained nurses prompted the surge in mothers heading across the border for better care.
And, in Great Britain’s system of socialized medicine, there is an identical shortage of adequate care:
Many neonatal units were forced to refuse new admissions for considerable periods of time … Mothers and babies may be forced to travel long distances in search of a unit with the appropriate facilities to care for them.
Hmm … These examples suggest to me that the difference between “single-payer” and “socialized” health care is mostly semantic.
Maybe Hughes and the other the advocates of government-run health care could explain how an expectant mother with no bed in Canada is happier than an expectant mother with no bed England.
+ May 2007
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