Theodore's World: No, Donald Trump, Single-Payer Health Care Doesn't 'Work Incredibly Well' In Canada & Scotland

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September 08, 2015

No, Donald Trump, Single-Payer Health Care Doesn't 'Work Incredibly Well' In Canada & Scotland

No, Donald Trump, Single-Payer Health Care Doesn't 'Work Incredibly Well' In Canada & Scotland


How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single-payer health care?” asked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Trump. When Fox anchor Bret Baier later asked Trump to defend his position, Trump responded: “As far as single payer, it works in Canada, it works incredibly well in Scotland.” Here’s why Trump is wrong.

Trump praises socialized medicine

First, some terminology. Single-payer health care describes any country in which the government is effectively the sole insurance company: the “single payer” of health insurance claims. Socialized health care describes a country in which the government owns the entire health care system—not just the insurance companies, but also the hospitals, the nursing homes, and the doctors’ offices.

Canada is single-payer because while Canada’s insurance system is controlled by the government, there are private hospitals and doctors. Scotland’s system, like the rest of Great Britain, is socialized, because the British National Health Service runs everything.

So, back to Donald Trump. His argument last night was that single-payer health care in Canada “works,” and that fully socialized medicine in Scotland “works incredibly well.” Let’s start with Canada.

Canadian health care model: Send tough cases to America

Canadian health care is popular with healthy Canadians who never really have to use it. But if you’re sick, look out. A 2014 study by the Fraser Institute found that wait times for medically necessary treatment in Canada have increased from 9.3 weeks in 1993—not great—to 18.2 weeks. Wait times were especially bad if you needed hip, knee or back surgery (42.2 weeks) or neurosurgery (31.2 weeks).

As we know from the scandal involving the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, health care delayed is health care denied. The people who suffer the most under the Canadian system are those who can’t afford to hop on a plane or pull strings to get treated in the United States.

Martin Samuels, the founder of the neurology department at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found this out when he worked as a visiting professor in Canada. “The reason the Canadian health care system works as well as it does (and that is not by any means optimal) is because 90% of the population is within driving distance of the United States where the privately insured can be Seattled, Minneapolised, Mayoed, Detroited, Chicagoed, Clevelanded and Buffaloed,” Samuels wrote recently in Forbes. “In the United States, there is no analogous safety valve.”

Scotland: Nearly the worst health outcomes in Europe

The sick in Scotland, unfortunately, have no such safety valve. They are forced to wait, and wait, and wait. In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. The investigators asked the question: if you get diagnosed in your country with breast cancer, or colon cancer, or prostate cancer, how long are you likely to live?

In that study, the U.S. performed better than every country in western Europe. The United Kingdom came out second-to-last. The researchers broke out the data for Scotland, and the results are revealing. If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S., you have an 84 percent chance of living for five years. In Scotland, it’s 71 percent. If you have colon cancer in the U.S., you have about a 60 percent chance of surviving five years. In Scotland, it’s 46 percent. If you have prostate cancer in the U.S., you have a 92 percent chance of living five years; in Scotland, it’s 48 percent.

This is the system that, according to Donald Trump, “works incredibly well.”

Trump’s dishonest defense

Trump attempted to justify his support for single payer health care this way: “It could have worked [here] in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.” Implied in this statement is that Trump somehow believes that single payer could have worked in America in some different, far-away time, but that America has changed too much since that far-away time.

But the “different age” Trump is referring to here is the year 2000. What, exactly, is it that makes single-payer great for America in 2000, that isn’t true today?

“What I’d like to see,” Trump continued, “is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.” (Emphasis added.)

Trump’s policy pronouncements are rarely coherent. But what he appears to be saying here is that he supports a privatized version of single-payer health care, in which perhaps a single private company has a monopoly with which to negotiate contracts with hospitals and doctors. Gone would be companies like Aetna, Anthem, UnitedHealth, and Blue Cross—or perhaps they would be merged into a single entity.

This is hardly a superior outcome to single-payer health care: an unaccountable, trillion-dollar private insurance monopoly.

Some of Trump’s aides attempt to backfill the Donald’s ideas by claiming he really wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare” with something more consistent with conservative principles. But Trump himself has never backed off from his support for government-run health care. Indeed, Trump believes that the problem with Obamacare is that it doesn’t go far enough.

Wild Thing's comment............

I hope people wake up as to what Trump is about. He is Not a conservative, he will get in office and then what, how much will his fans then like what he does. My gut says they will rue the day they supported him and wish they had kept their conservative values in tact instead of throwing them out the window to support Trump.

Posted by Wild Thing at September 8, 2015 12:45 AM