Take a look at these health care facts from the other industrialized countries. It's funny how this simple information in never summed up like Dr. David Edelberg has done here, originally posted at MoneyedPoliticians. The idea that higher taxes in Europe are repressive, when those same taxes free up so much time and money, is the saddest part of the conservative lie and promise of “liberty and freedom."
Both the UK and Canada have single-payer systems, what might be called “Medicare for all” here in the US. Physicians and hospitals bill the government for professional services. Their fees (which no doctor on earth is ever happy with, no matter what country or which system) are determined in advance and regularly renegotiated. At least in Canada and the UK everyone–prime minister to cab driver–is equally covered, with the option of self-funded add-ons.
The healthcare systems in France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries are even better. France and Germany are rated by the World Health Organization as #1 and #2 in the world respectively for effective health care delivery. The US is #37, beating out Slovenia. In these highly rated systems, doctors are in private practice (not government employees) and submit their bills to nonprofit government-regulated regional insurance companies. The companies are genuine nonprofits and the salaries of the employees and management are determined by the government, as are the fees paid to doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. These systems save incredible amounts of money because everyone’s health records are available in an online network. But what really makes the European system so superior to ours is that no one is in health care to make a profit. Citizens expect their doctors and hospitals to be fairly paid, but there are no outside investors, venture capitalists, hedge funds, or shareholders whose interests come before those of the patient.
To Europeans, the very existence of an insurance company like UnitedHealth Group is a source of shock and amazement. UnitedHealth Group is the master of health care for profit. In 2004, United’s CEO William McGuire (an MD, woefully enough), received compensation of $125 million, obtained, you may be sure, by tens of thousands of denials.
I’m going to close with a quote from an exchange I found in the provocative new book Europe’s Promise … After some escalating irritation between Americans and Europeans about “who has the better system,” a man from Denmark entered the conversation:“I am a teacher, and so is my wife. We have together a yearly income of $120,000. We have raised four kids; one has finished his free college education and the others will be heading to college. Besides free education, they will each receive $660 a month from the state for expenses. I myself was operated on for my shoulder last week, free of course, and will be receiving full salary during my absence from work…We have saved $100,000 in the bank and have a summer cottage worth $200,000. Our apartment is $850 a month including heat. We have also a pension plan that will guarantee 75% of our present salary from the day we retire until our deaths. We pay 42% of our income into taxes and for that we get comprehensive social security, free education for our children, free health care, and full pension. All that with a 37 hour work week, twenty holidays and a guaranteed six-week paid vacation every year. We use this vacation time to travel and this year have been to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Yes, it is surely hard to live in Europe.”