If the government runs health care, it will ration it. Bureaucrats will set the quantity and price of care, limiting what can be consumed. This is also known as a command economy.
For those of you not familiar with command economies, they currently exist in Cuba, China, and North Korea. Command economies for health care exist in most of Western Europe, Japan, many other states.
If much of the developed world relies on a system of government-owned and operated health insurance/delivery, why shouldn't the US?
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Simply stated, the US is the most demand-driven economy in the world. The understanding of liberty and personal freedom in the US means citizens spend their money on the goods and services they demand, in the quantities they demand, with the government butting out. While this statement isn't 100% accurate, it is pretty close.
In 2009, most US citizens have health insurance, and most are satisfied with it. There is a dispute about how many residents don't have health insurance, yet US law requires equal treatment of all patients, regardless of the ability to pay.
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Americans recoil, rightly, when they read about rationed care in Canada, namely this story out of the Vancouver Sun:
Vancouver Coastal — which oversees the budget for Vancouver General and St. Paul’s hospitals, among other health-care facilities — is looking to close nearly a quarter of its operating rooms starting in September and to cut 6,250 surgeries, including 24 per cent of cases scheduled from September to March and 10 per cent of all medically necessary elective procedures this fiscal year.
So, if you were one of the 6,250 cases to have waited for surgery between September '09 and March '10, well, sorry about that. Perhaps you should get in your car and drive to Seattle and get the surgery you need tomorrow. While I am not going to relate every horror story from socialized medicine, such as the case of the women delivering on a sidewalk due to no ambulance, or the case of Oregon paying for assisted suicide, but not cancer treatment, rather, it is to highlight the loss of liberty in socialized medicine.
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As I have stated above, in socialized medicine, the government, who delivers the service, also sets the quantity to be consumed, and must pay for it. Government will set the budget based on political constraints, and not on the medical needs of individuals. Government also becomes free to regulate other elements of people's lives in the name of "health care." In short, socialized medicine is overwhelming regulation of human behavior and destruction of personal liberty.
To help you better understand this point of view, let late President Ronald Reagan explain it to you. This speech, given in 1961, is critical to understanding what is at stake in today's socialized medicine debate.