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21 February 2008


Mike Baggetta

Right on, DJA. This is a very important issue for all of us since we are living in this country with an incredibly F'd-up healthcare system. I've dealt with this on an all-too-personal level in the recent past and can tell you that had I not been finishing a degree at the time (within 2 months!) and on the schools "affordable" "health insurance" "policy" I, and my family, would have been bankrupt...although we still payed out a small fortune. This matter needs to be addressed ASAP. Cheers to you and Chinen (and of course best to Dennis an Andrew...and all the lesser-knowns who don't get the attention!). And, of course, you know that I don't have health insurance not because I'm "irresponsible!"

Peter Matthews

It's nothing short of Economic Darwinism: you don't have insurance, you die. Meanwhile, there will be assholes all over this city plunking down $500 a pop for bottle service...Someone should send this directly to the Clinton and Obama campaigns and make them promise to take action within 60 days of entering the White House.

David Adler

I was having beers with some Canadian colleagues during IAJE and they stated matter-of-factly that the Canadian health care system is terrible. They were quite amused by my disbelief. You're Canadian, Darcy. Your take?


Hi David,

My response is, as always to these kinds of stories, is that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." There is simply no contesting the fact that the US system is the most costly, inefficient, and inequitable in the developed world.

46.6 million are uninsured, medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies, and three-quarters of those bankruptcies happened to people who had insurance. US health care spending per capita is more than 140% above the median for industrialized nations -- but it does not result in better health outcomes, even for those who can afford care.

As for Canada, health outcomes are generally as good or better than the in the US. The Canadian system does have its problems, but it's not because there is anything fundamentally wrong with the system itself. It's because the system is underfunded. If Canadians spent as much on health care as Americans do -- $7,100 per capita versus $2,900 per capita in Canada -- they would have the best health care in the world, with full coverage for all.

But if people really want to use anecdotal evidence to make up their minds, they should take a look at this story.

David Adler

Thanks Darcy - and to clarify, my friends' critique of the Canadian system was not a defense of the American one.


Hey David,

Well, if people are complaining that the Canadian heath care system isn't quite as good as what they have over in France, fine. But the most frequently invoked comparisons are to the American system, and despite the constant sowing of fear, uncertainty and doubt by the right wing noise machine, there's really no basis for any of it. By any objective measure, the Canadian system delivers comparable care to the US at roughly 40-50% of the cost, and everyone is covered. France and Germany do better still, but that's pretty damn good.

Again, the best person to read on this is Ezra Klein -- here is his piece in The American Prospect comparing American private care to the systems in Canada, France, the UK and Germany.


there was an article in saturday's nytimes that featured both obama and clinton talking about health insurance in these very same, f'ed up terms, basically saying we need some sort of carrot-and-stick scheme to get these 'free riders' in line and paying for health insurance. what i don't understand is, we don't talk about road repair or highway building as something we have to persuade people to pay taxes for, but we somehow have to persuade people to do this for health insurance?


Hey Andrea,

I agree, and I wish both candidates had bolder health-care plans. Clinton's is actually a bit better than Obama's on paper, but I do not trust her to stand up to the established pharmaceutical and insurance interests in any way -- after all, they are some of her biggest campaign donors.

That said, either plan would be a massive improvement over what we have now. What's most important, though, in terms of actually getting this done, is to secure 60 Democratic seats in the Senate, and elect a few more progressive types to Congress. If that happens, the Republicans become irrelevant and there's some chance the conversation can be shifted to "ObamaCare or Single Payer," with the progressive Dems in Congress pushing for Single Payer. That way, there's some chance that the inevitable compromise solution will actually be better than what's on the table now. But that can only happen if we elect more and better Democrats to Congress. Because we need a victory by a large enough margin to enable ignoring anything the Republicans have to say on the topic, and to embolden the cowards, weaklings, and sellouts in our own party to do the right thing, for once.

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