Government Takeover of Health Care Would Make Matters Worse

Published September 10, 2004

Dear Editor:

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has it right when it endorses private health care.

Critics of the U.S. health care system, such as recent letter-writer Pete Vazquez of Las Vegas, cite lower costs in Canada and European countries––where government runs health care. But those countries control costs by rationing care.

The average wait to see a medical specialist, such as a cardiologist, is 18 weeks in Canada. The newest drugs often are not available in Canada or other foreign markets until months or even years after they are available to U.S. patients.

The United Kingdom has the worst cancer survival rates of any industrialized nation, including India. The UK does not allow the use of the latest––and usually most expensive––anti-cancer drugs. The UK also sets age limits for certain medical procedures. If you are above the age limit, you don’t get the treatment. Letting patients die is an effective way to cut medical costs, and it is commonly employed outside the U.S.

As for our approximately 45 million uninsured: That figure includes people who were without insurance at any point during the year, even if just for a day or two. The actual number of long-term uninsured is about half the widely cited figure. And millions of those “uninsured” qualify for existing public or private subsidized programs but are not signed up.

Social Security and Medicare are already well on their way toward insolvency. A government takeover of the entire health care system will only make things worse.

Steve Stanek
Chicago, Illinois

Steve Stanek is managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a nationally distributed publication of The Heartland Institute.