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Vectra Bank Expert Jeff Thredgold

“Obamacare” Comparisons

Written by Jeff Thredgold, President, Thredgold Economic Associates

July 27

Supporters of America’s move toward a government-controlled health care system frequently make reference to similar “successful” programs in other nations.  A glimpse at three such national programs seems timely…

Canada
A recent Reuters headline noted, “Soaring Costs Force Canada to Reassess Health Model.”  The article notes that with pressure from an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs.

Healthcare in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded system, which covers all “medically necessary” hospital and physician care.  It now accounts for roughly 40% of provincial budgets.  Such spending was a mere 7% of provincial government expenditures in the 1970s (Investor’s Business Daily).

Rationing of health care, including reasonable access to specialists, is a major, and sometimes deadly, problem.  It has become an all too common practice that when wealthier people or high-level Canadian political leaders require immediate access to health care, they routinely come to the U.S.

Once banned by law, private-sector health care clinics are expanding across Canada.  Health care funding and the word “crisis” go hand-in-hand in Canada today.  

Cuba
This largely failed Socialist nation 90 miles from Florida prides itself on high-quality health care.  However, the system is broken, and is slowly bankrupting the nation.

Cuba boasts of having the best doctor-patient ratio in the world, with one doctor for every 170 people, versus one doctor for every 390 Americans…

…but hang on

More than half of all Cuban physicians work overseas, many after defecting.  Doctors who remain in the country earn about $25 per month, with many instead taking jobs as taxi drivers or hotel workers, where they can make more money
(The Wall Street Journal).

Cuba has a small number of higher quality clinics catering to paying medical tourists and high-level politicians.  However, the majority of Cubans take their chances in filthy, under-resourced hospitals.  Women regularly avoid gynecological exams “because they fear infection from unhygienic equipment and practices.”

Planning to visit a Cuban hospital as a regular citizen?  Plan on taking your own syringes, towels, bed sheets…and soap.

United Kingdom
The National Health Service (NHS) is the U.K. version of government-run health care.  It is the largest employer in Europe with more than 1.3 million employees, and has been around for 62 years.  It has an annual budget equivalent to more than $160 billion (The Wall Street Journal)

It is now planning to undergo a major overhaul that will (in theory) cut high swaths of bureaucracy by eliminating a layer of financial managers.  The plan is to put more power in the hands of doctors to decide how to spend the money…

…what a concept!

The plan calls for reducing management costs by more than 45% over the next four years.  Unfortunately, placing the words “reducing management costs” and “government” in the same sentence rarely, if ever, succeeds.

Various proposals to help control hospital costs have been suggested or—on occasion—enacted.  These have included removing every third light bulb in a
corridor, asking patients to bring their own medicines from home, cutting the number of sterile packs used, and not changing the sheets between patients, but merely turning them over.

“Obamacare”…We can hardly wait

Finance Expert Right Boarder