The Instigator
sdowling
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

United States should switch to a Universal Healthcare System

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2007 Category: Health
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,700 times Debate No: 711
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

sdowling

Pro

There are many reasons for the United States to move to a single-payer Universal healthcare system.

Among these reasons are things like the fact that the United States is ranked 37th in the world for healthcare. Another one of these reasons is that the average lifespan of an American is shorter than that of almost every country with social healthcare. Yet another reason is that everybody should have access to healthcare, but in the United States only a minority of people have regular, affordable access to healthcare.

I would be interested to see what possible reasons anybody could come up with for not having a social healthcare system.
SperoAmicus

Con

Now, it's just too easy for someone to make an opponent of Federal Health Care into a bad guy and to be alarmed at the idea someone could be against it. But there is more to compassion than mere provision, and there are more consequences to Federalizing healthcare than the question of "Who pays?"

The simple argument is that unfettering the Private Sector would enable it to do the job better. The American people can work through businesses better than they can work through government.

Government programs are a monopoly, and there's no surprise that they act like a monopoly. That is, they provide lower quality resources at higher prices, and without the incentive to make long-term investments in things such as technology, better organizational practices, or efficiency. There's no incentive for a government hospital to cut the length of time one waits for a surgery, to turn down procedures that needlessly backlog busy doctors, or to reduce the cost - that is, the economic damage - of their services with even just effective resource management.

Moreover, under a government provision, you have WORSE than monopoly, for you remove still the only competitive drive which a monopoly holds:

The threat of non-use of the product.

~~~

Then there is the Economic argument. To put it simply,

Free Markets => Reduced Cost => Increased Coverage

Government Monopoly => Increased Costs => Higher Taxes => Less Employment => Reduced Wages => Reduced Standard of Living => Poorer Health => Increased Cost of Basic Health Care => Poorer Health Care

~~~

Rather, we should be focusing on reducing the aspects of modern healthcare which are keeping the basics of the free market from operating effectively. This would lower prices, and thereby increase substantially the number of people using healthcare, without compromising the quality of the healthcare provided.

For instance:

- Provide healthcare directly to the consumer, instead of through employers. The current system averages the price among all users, which means select outliers are bringing up the costs for everyone. Individual competitive pricing would lower the price for most consumers, and there are other ways of sponsoring healthcare for those who are driving up prices.

- Require government grants to be matched by hospital resources. Currently, for instance, a hospital may apply for a grant to fund an MRI machine. But that hospital only does it for the prestige of owning one, and may not actually run enough MRIs to make it worthwhile from an economic perspective. Consequently, MRIs at that hospital are needlessly expensive, because a few tests are paying for the upkeep of an expensive machine, while at another hospital, MANY tests are paying for that same upkeep. Matching grants with current resources encourages financial discipline in hospital investment, rewarding and highlighting better hospitals.

- We need to develop technology and resources which enable open but informed competition among drug companies, to begin with, that takes place at the consumer level. We also need to couple this with international agreements designed to encourage other countries to remove price constraints on drugs, because their price constraints are raising the price of U.S. drugs substantially, so that the U.S. market is solely responsible for the Research and Development of drugs worldwide. Pairing informed consumer competition (not easy, but very possible) with a world-wide competitive price of drugs would lower our drug prices dramatically.

- We need to reduce the role of doctors as middle men as much as possible. Middle Men are an economic waste, as you currently have to pay for the information of a diagnosis before you can pay for treatment. Wherever possible, we should be asking the medical industry to find better, faster, cheaper ways of providing diagnoses and test results. That means consolidation and resource management, which can NOT be done in government healthcare.

- We need to develop a method of isolating high-cost patients and providing them with secondary health care funding in a way which does not compromise the legitimacy of the free market system, and also provides additional resources to enable them to learn how to reduce their risk factors. Widespread social problems, such as obesity and smoking, are driving up health costs, and targeting these factors directly and selectively would help to reduce these as a factor driving up costs.

This is how the system ought to be improved, rather than embedding ourselves in a government system which will cripple our economy to provide a shoddy quality of healthcare - a system also which is difficult or impossible to undo once created.
Debate Round No. 1
sdowling

Pro

sdowling forfeited this round.
SperoAmicus

Con

SperoAmicus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
sdowling

Pro

I do agree that your proposed improvements have some merit, but I believe that your views on a government system are a little too cynical.

You claim that a government system is worse than a monopoly, but this is not really the case. I mean, sure, it could happen, but the chances are virtually astronomical. Social healthcare is run on legislation, legislation is made by ELECTED officials, and elected officials have to keep voters happy. Insurance companies, HMO's, and medical boards have no such responsibility, since the only way to healthcare is through them, and they can't be replaced by another elected official like politicians can. So essentially, a government system HAS to maintain low prices and efficient service, or those in charge can be voted out of office.

You also said the cost of medications would go up, but that's not true either. In Great Britain, another socialized health system, all prescriptions, no matter the kind or amount, are approximately $10. I currently use a medication for my sleep apnea that costs $60 for a 30-day supply. Not to mention last year, there was a movement to try and access CHEAPER, but just as effective Canadian medications. The same principle as before applies. Politicians have to keep prices low, or risk being voted out of office.

Quite plainly, it's obvious to those who have studied the subject that a universal healthcare system is a vast improvement. Many people have claimed that a government system discourages technological improvements and innovations, but studies prove otherwise. France, the current leader in the world for healthcare, is a government-run system. Not to mention, the government already sponsors innovation in areas like military technology, social engineering, and even medicine. So why do you say that switching to a Universal system would suddenly make the government less willing to give grants for medical technology research?

Another common argument is that switching to a government system would make taxes go through the roof! This argument is based on the idea that tax structure would remain the same as it is today. The problem lies in the fact that the current tax structure was designed by either a retard, or a rich person, or possibly both (George W. Bush anyone?). Taxes, in their current structure would be devastated by a universal healthcare system, but that can easily be fixed. A simple adjustment, as well as better spending controls would give almost everybody in the country a tax break, only raising taxes for the richest 6% of the country.

Finally, I have to bring up the greatest issue of universal healthcare: the health benefits of the general public. Many people love to say things like "Oh, universal healthcare has failed in other countries." In reality, it is quite the opposite. As the United States has remained one of the few industrial nations without a social healthcare system, we have slowly but surely dropped to 37th in the world for healthcare, according to the U.N. Even a study by Harvard University has found that "U.S. citizens are less healthy and less able to access healthcare than Canadians." This health decrease has also led the U.S. to drop to 38th in the world for life expectancies, ranking behind even Cuba, according to the United Nations. Above us you can find France, Britain, and Canada, all of which are Universal healthcare systems.

Thanks to our fellow industrialized nations, Universal healthcare has become a time-tested reality, found to have more pros than cons. I respect your ideas that a social system may not have your best interests at heart, but I believe otherwise. I am looking for a system that can provide high-qaulity healthcare for EVERYONE for pennies a day. I believe that a government-run universal system can accomplish all this.
SperoAmicus

Con

We of course have the difficulty now of a two-round debate. Anyways, I'll take it point by point.

You comment:
>I believe that your views on a government system are a little too cynical.

It comes from having worked for the government and from witnessing how things are done.

To your first response...
>You claim that a government system is worse than a monopoly, but this is not really the case. ... Social healthcare is run on legislation, legislation is made by ELECTED officials, and elected officials have to keep voters happy.

First, there is a huge difference between POLICY and OPERATIONS, and it is in the latter where competitive motivations take place. As an example of mediocre consequence, it's simply not the lawmakers' job to make sure the janitor is doing his job properly and not standing around wasting time. That happy job lies with the individuals managing maintenance in the hospital, and if that person is charging the hospital for six janitors when four harder-working ones would do the trick, then he is simply wasting money. THAT is where competitive drive normally kicks in, but in government, does not.

Government is by definition a Monopoly, meaning there is no competitive motivation anywhere in the system. But it's worse because you do not have the option to non-compete. Simply put, there is nobody in the office to kick and scream when expenses get high.

Secondly, you are correct, the motivation of lawmakers are based on getting reelected. I would argue, of course, that getting elected is the only sensible reason anyone would push for government health care to begin with.

Regardless, the primary motivation of the individuals running health care should not be getting elected, but providing the greatest benefit (measured in REVENUE) at the lowest cost to society (measured in EXPENSES).

>You also said the cost of medications would go up, but that's not true either. In Great Britain, another socialized health system, all prescriptions, no matter the kind or amount, are approximately $10.

Difference:
Cost to Manufacture /= Price to Consumer

As I stated before, most European countries and Canada have price controls while the U.S. does not. The result is that the U.S. consumer is ALONE in paying for the Research and Development of new drugs. If we enacted similar price restraints, or enabled consumers to purchase cheaper Canadian drugs, then flat-out, R&D on new drugs in development would be crippled, and the progress of pharmeceutical health care world-wide would come to a halt.

Getting these price controls removed worldwide should be a key objective of American foreign policy.

>Quite plainly, it's obvious to those who have studied the subject that a universal healthcare system is a vast improvement. Many people have claimed that a government system discourages technological improvements and innovations, but studies prove otherwise. France, the current leader in the world for healthcare, is a government-run system. Not to mention, the government already sponsors innovation in areas like military technology, social engineering, and even medicine. So why do you say that switching to a Universal system would suddenly make the government less willing to give grants for medical technology research?

Your data is wrong, the U.S. may fall behind in coverage but it is by far the world leader in the average quality of Health Care services. Where "France" is the "current leader in the world for helathcare" is beyond me, as that distinction is to my knowledge, depending on the measure used, usually awarded to Sweden.

Let me put it this way. Name the three sectors in this country that are failing the most. Go ahead, without reading ahead.

I would name:

Education
Healthcare
Maybe the Legal System?

And like me, you've probably named three government run or government influenced sectors. We could envision a system, for instance, where the U.S. Government has to handle the accounting and bookkeeping of every company in the world in order to prevent cases of fraud and ensure adequate reporting and information-sharing of business. But can you imagine the logistical nightmare? The accounting incompetance? The needless and overbearing red tape? The USELESSNESS of it? If you know anything about bookkeeping, then OF COURSE YOU CAN!

Why ON EARTH should Healthcare be any different? Why should we embrace the logistical headaches, the cost overruns, the beaten-up efficiency, and the red tape, when we CAN provide UNIVERSAL Healthcare by changing government policies to bring up competition, bring down prices, and make PRIVATE Healthcare affordable to everyone? There is no reason at all.

>Another common argument is that switching to a government system would make taxes go through the roof! This argument is based on the idea that tax structure would remain the same as it is today. The problem lies in the fact that the current tax structure was designed by either a retard, or a rich person, or possibly both (George W. Bush anyone?). Taxes, in their current structure would be devastated by a universal healthcare system, but that can easily be fixed. A simple adjustment, as well as better spending controls would give almost everybody in the country a tax break, only raising taxes for the richest 6% of the country.

You mean, by charging your employer who happens to be richer than you? You only encourage your employer to attempt to save money elsewhere, such as in the salaries of the people who might be working for him. Taxes are a NET ECONOMIC LOSS greater than the monetary value of the program they are spent on.

Rich $=> Bank Investment $=> Loans $=> Startup Business / Students
Rich $=> Stocks $=> Business $=> Salaries for New Employees
Rich $=> Private Jet $=> Boeing $=> Pilots and Staff
Rich $=> Taxes $=> IRS $=> Government Program

And here's the rub: The value of money is based on the number on the bill, times the number of times that bill is spent. In the first three equations above, each transfer is associated with the Creation of Value. In the fourth, the length of time the dollar is being controlled by the IRS, transferred internally in the government, until it is spent by that government program, is a NET LOSS on the OPPORTUNITY COST of how quickly the dollar would be spent elsewhere. The length of time that bill stays in the hands of the government? About six months.

>Finally, I have to bring up the greatest issue of universal healthcare: the health benefits of the general public.

I already brought up Universal Healthcare, and I argued that the private sector could do a better job of providing it by reducing costs and increasing efficiency, thereby increasing both the desirability and availability of coverage. Try to interact with these arguments in the future.

As for your data....
>Many people love to say things like "Oh, universal healthcare has failed in other countries." In reality, it is quite the opposite. As the United States has remained one of the few industrial nations without a social healthcare system, we have slowly but surely dropped to 37th in the world for healthcare, according to the U.N. Even a study by Harvard University has found that "U.S. citizens are less healthy and less able to access healthcare than Canadians." This health decrease has also led the U.S. to drop to 38th in the world for life expectancies, ranking behind even Cuba, according to the United Nations.

To show that Government Healthcare is superior, you actually need to isolate the data for only those with healthcare, where you will find that it is not. Our numbers are lagging because of poor coverage (people do not have healthcare), which can be improved through increased Privatization and Competition through the methods I described, and you ignored, in my opening remarks.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by GKH 9 years ago
GKH
If we have the worst health care system why does everyone want to come here for major health care needs? We have the best doctors in the world under a universal health care system most people would not have access to these doctors and would have to wait weeks for simple procedures.

I work with many Canadian citizens in my job as a Recruiter and to get a surgery done they are given a time frame of when they will be getting the surgery not a firm date so you could go weeks before getting a surgery.

If people in this country weren't so unhealthy in the first place health care costs would be greatly reduced. Most people in this country eat a diet of mostly saturated fat and products loaded with preservatives and artificial chemicals which cause sickness and diseases. Everyone in this country wants to take a pill to get better and not take the time to fix the underlying health problem. Your prescription for sleep apnea costs so much because of all the marketing that goes into these drugs. You can't watch a program on TV or read a magazine without being bombarded with ads telling you to talk to your doctor if you:are over weight, can't sleep, sleep to much, depressed, anxious, pee to much, constipated, heartburn, headache, can't get it up etc. I think you get my point.

Finally it is not my job to pay for everyone else! Taxes will go up and not just for the top 6% of earners, I only made forty grand last year and I had to pay the US government and the state of MI. I feel special that I am in the top 6%!
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
I went out of town as well, so maybe we should call this one off.
Posted by sdowling 9 years ago
sdowling
Ah sorry, I forgot to reply in time. It's been really hectic around here. I'm home for Christmas, and so of course my family has me busy all the time. I'll try to keep a closer eye on this debate for the next round.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Boo, I hope he replies. It's no fun arguing alone.
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