RealClearPolitics – Socialized Medicine? Bring It On

Sometimes you can see the trees, and think it’s a forest:

RealClearPolitics – Socialized Medicine? Bring It On

In the last two months, I have spent many hours accompanying a loved one to hospital emergency rooms — all of them privately operated. The rap on what is sometimes called socialized medicine is that if the government ran the system, the wait would be interminable. Well, I am here to tell you that even when the government does not run the system, the wait can be interminable.

This presumes that a “Privately Operated” ED isn’t essentially a government operation.

That presumption is incorrect.  The future of Government Medicine is presaged with EMTALA, and the ED.  No market, no choices -> your local ED.  No competition beyond billboards and ‘customer satisfaction surveys’.

I’m not making light of their very average care, and I’m sorry about it, but the  entirely unsupportable claim that ED care inside a pure government monopoly is evidence that we need to send all medicine off the cliff is a) silly and b) totally unsupported by current data.

“I had some average care, so let’s socialize medicine”.  Umm, no.


  1. TheNewGuy says:

    Does this man not realize that government mandates are what have created our current dysfunctional system?

    Talk about wandering out of your lane… sheesh.

  2. Goatwhacker says:

    Recall the last time you went to the emergency room and ask yourself if the government could possibly do a worse job.

    This guy has no idea.

  3. Guys, unless physicians get organized and stop this, it’s a done deal. It’ll take some time, but the big first step is coming in the next couple of weeks. The goal is European style healthcare. The question is – what are physicians doing about it? I’m shocked your biggest lobbying organization, the AMA, isn’t doing more.

    On the upside for you, though, you’ll probably get some form of a European malpractice system. Hope it’s a good trade.

  4. TheNewGuy says:


    This is the end-game. Health care is already largely socialized in the US; that’s certainly the case for the ED. Obama has the votes, and he doesn’t give a damn what physicians think.

  5. Perhaps, but you have to admit you guys have not done a very good job organizing against it. I don’t know why you have the AMA. Other than tort reform in a few states, which was really underwritten by the insurance industry and tobacco cos, where are your great legislative successes? Getting the govt. to occasionally throw you a few crumbs? For a group as collectively wealthy as you guys are, it’s pretty sad how ineffective your lobbying is.

  6. Goatwhacker says:

    Matt, unfortunately for doctors your comments are true. I don’t know why we have the AMA either as it abandoned it’s constituents long ago. We have no great legislative successes.

    I think the difference between the ABA and the AMA is the ABA has been able to frame issues in such a way that they are positive for both attorneys and the populace. The AMA has not been able to frame issues so they are a win-win for both physicians and the public.

  7. Unfortunately, we continue to remain in a phase of rhetoric, on both sides of the debate, and until we get out of this, it’s hard to be optimistic. We need to turn off the fear-mongering, simplistic terminology, and come to some sensible proposals.

    I get irked everytime I see yet another person say, “health care is broken.” If health care is broken then I suppose everything about modern society is broken, and besides, saying it’s broken is no credibility that the speaker has any solutions.

    Calling proposals for some form of national health insurance “socialized medicine” is at least an exaggeration, and on a par with calling our current government socialist.

    There is a reasonable call to make health care available for everyone, by some means. It’s up to private insurers to decide how that can happen if they want to be a part of the process. That will include some concessions on limiting their profits and executive bonuses if they expect the government to help.

  8. Pertinent aphorism from thw world of Information Technology:

    “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.”

  9. “There is a reasonable call to make health care available for everyone, by some means.”

    This is a nice, but not useful, sentiment. Even assuming such a call is “reasonable”, you have not defined what you mean by “health care”. What does that include?

  10. Advocates are dropping the reference to Canada and UK style and putting France out there as the way to go. You know, the place where the average income of a doctor is $55,000/year.

    You won’t be alone in underemployment, but you’ll still have to pay back your student loans and your house note will stay the same. There are tens of throusands of actuaries, underwriters, agents, and sales guys that will be in the same situation.

  11. The single payer advocates are in the thrall of Canadian health insurance systems. Fine. Just realize that Canadians actually pay for that system. Americans will squeal like stuck pigs when they see how high their income taxes will go, when we start paying 15% VAT (and more) on all of our purchases, when their treasured home mortgage interest deductions disappear and and when their gasoline taxes raise the price of motor fuel to European levels. And “free” means rationing for all but dire needs, rationing by time more than anything, with long waits for things that most people who already have insurance would unaccustomed to wait for.


    The average of salaries of doctors is not $55K. That is bunk. In the UK, they earn about the equivalent of $200K as generalists and more as specialists.

  12. Thomas Sowell says that in response to any grandiose scheme to socially engineer something, the following three questions should be asked:

    1. “Compared to what?”

    2. “What is the cost?”

    3. “What are the real facts?”

    Read his “Vision of the Anointed (Self-congratulation as a basis for social policy)” to see him explain how things get implemented based on emotion as opposed to fact-based decision-making.

  13. They’re kind of pretty, but you can tell how dysfunctional the UK National Health Service is from these diagrams…

  14. I would suggest that readers go to the Bill Moyers Journal site and watch or read his interview with Wendell Powell, a former top executive for Cigna who is now exposing the insurance industry’s tactics for stopping any change in the cash cow they call health insurance. Note how many of the terms now tossed around by politicians and doctors speaking against Obama’s plan originated and were fomented by the insurance companies.

    By his own statements, note that the overhead for Medicare is about 3%. Insurance companies enjoy a profit of 20%.

  15. Correction: it’s Wendell Potter.

  16. TheNewGuy says:

    Bill Moyers?

    Sorry… not interested.