Sunday, May 13, 2012

U.S. lagging Rwanda in Healthcare?

Here is an article in the L.A. Times by Noam N. Levey, who attempts to carry the administration's water by chastising those in the U.S. who oppose Obamamcare. Specifically, he holds up efforts in China, Mexico and Thailand and others who are attempting to give universal health care to all of their citizens:

Even as Americans debate whether to scrap President Obama's healthcare law and its promise of guaranteed health coverage, many far less affluent nations are moving in the opposite direction — to provide medical insurance to all citizens.

China, after years of underfunding healthcare, is on track to complete a three-year, $124-billion initiative projected to cover more than 90% of the nation's residents.

Mexico, which a decade ago covered less than half its population, just completed an eight-year drive for universal coverage that has dramatically expanded Mexicans' access to life-saving treatments for diseases such as leukemia and breast cancer.

In Thailand, where the gross domestic product per person is a fifth of America's, just 1% of the population lacks health insurance. And in sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda and Ghana — two of the world's poorest nations — are working to create networks of insurance plans to cover their citizens.

"This is truly a global movement," said Dr. Julio Frenk, a former health minister in Mexico and dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. "As countries advance, they are realizing that creating universal healthcare systems is a necessity for long-term economic development."

So after getting in a jibe at us anti-Obamacare folks, Levey holds up China, Mexico, Thailand, Ghana and Rwanda as examples the U.S. should follow in terms of universal health coverage? Um, OKaaay.

But the other thing that strikes me is Julio Frenk's assertion that creating universal healthcare is necessary for 'long-term economic development'. Not sure how he worked that out given that countries like the UK and France have done this for years and they systems are both bankrupt and rationing health care. Just for the record, entitlements have never proven to be an economic stimulus.

Look, the U.S. has been without universal health care for over 200 years and it appears to me that we've done pretty well for ourselves not to mention the rest of the world (you know leading the entire world in economic development and raising millions around the world out of poverty).

But further to the point of the article I just don't understand how you can compare the U.S. with any of these countries. For example Levey asserts that China's problem is that their population is 'saving excessively' due to the lack of coverage:

Chinese leaders were concerned their citizens were saving excessively because there was no system to protect them if they got seriously ill, said Yanzhong Huang, director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University. The high savings rate was restraining domestic demand for consumer items, making the economy overly dependent on selling goods abroad.

Here's a question: is this due to the high cost of health care or low earning for the average worker? According to Wikipedia the household median income for Mexico (the only country Levey cites in the top 34) is $4,689 (34th) while in the U.S. its $31,111 (2nd). So it would seem that the Chinese citizens are simply prioritizing their remarkably limited discretionary income. My point here is that the citizens of these countries have very little room for error given the lack of discretionary income compared to the U.S.

Further, Cristiam Baeza makes the point that 'people are demanding responses from their governments':

"People are demanding responses from their governments," said Cristian Baeza, health director of the World Bank. Indeed, in countries such as India, politicians have learned that one of the surest ways to secure votes is to promise better access to healthcare.

Given the low wages and lack of economic freedom I am not in the least surprised that the populations of these countries are looking for government help. My guess is that the populace is threatening to revolt unless something is done. So in order to stay in power, the powers that be will promise healthcare in exchange for civil peace.

But here's the rub - there is no way these countries will be able to afford universal healthcare for their people unless they follow the UK model that gives substandard care and rationing of services. More specifically whom are these countries going to tax in order to provide these services? As noted above the median income of these countries is anemic at best so how can you tax someone if they have no money?

But that's not the point of the article. Levey wants to make the embarrassing point that the U.S. is lagging these more 'forward' thinking countries like Rwanda and further call out us unenlightened troglodytes who oppose Obamacare.

But the one thing Levey fails to address is the economics of universal healthcare. It is one thing for the politicians/dictators of these countries to promise universal healthcare and another all together to deliver in anything like the services we enjoy in the U.S. But just like all liberals Levey simply assumes that it's all free because it is provided by the 'government'.


  1. Sure, we're such backward bumpkins on healthcare and all that other good stuff...

    Which is why nary one Liberal has been able to coherently (aye, there's the rub!) explain to me why ALL of the small and makeshift craft that have risked the shark-infested waters south of Florida have gone FROM Cuba TO the U.S. to seek freedom and a "better" life and to date there is not one recorded example of one such seafaring vessel making the opposite trip for ANY reason at all. (Mikey Moore, take note!)

    1. Chris - Mikey Paaalleeeezzzzz get on over there and get some of that wonderful healthcare the Castro's are dishing out..

  2. 124 billion to cover the Chinese? That's like $124 a year per. Accupuncture needles and tiger bladders must be cheap.

  3. There are so many countries who is launch new ideas regarding the health plan, all the peoples want clean review about it.


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