Health Insurance Vs. Pre-Paid Healthcare

by Jimmy Akin

in Economics

The current political season has had a good bit of discussion of health insurance and whether everyone should have it and, if so, how that should be accomplished.

But what kind of health insurance are we talking about? There is a point at which insurance covers so much that it ceases, for practical purposes, to be insurance and instead simply becomes a prepaid service.

Why is that significant?

Because any service–whether it’s insurance or otherwise–costs more money on average than you’re going to get out of it. Otherwise the people offering the service wouldn’t be able to stay in business. They have to make money, right?

But here’s the difference: If you have an insurance service that covers only a few things, which happen rarely to people but which are costly if they do–what you might call major medical insurance–then the overall cost of healthcare isn’t impacted that much.

But if you have health coverage benefits cover every single doctor visit and every single medical service (or just about) then the cost of health care will be driven up because the insurance companies need to make money, on average, per medical transaction, and they’re now covering a vastly larger number of medical transactions.

And that’s not to count all the additional costs put into the system by doctors having to keep a larger staff devoted to filing insurance claims for every medical transaction the doctor participates in.

At some point, the system stops resembling insurance as it historically has been understood and becomes just a comprehensive prepaid service–and a comprehensively more expensive one.

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{ 80 comments }

BillyHW March 10, 2008 at 12:40 am

Imagine no socialism, it’s easy if you try…

Mary Kay March 10, 2008 at 3:33 am

Jimmy’s back!

Joseph March 10, 2008 at 5:43 am

Jimmy–I love you and your blog–and I do like other topics–but I wish you would stick to theology and other related issues and not politics.
The anti-”Socialist” mindset is from an Anglo-American Protestant uber capitalist mindset and is not rooted in Catholic social teachings. Health insurance, or pre-paid health service or whatever you call it (and that does not mean “nobody” pays or no personal responsibility) are concepts that would naturally arise from modern health circumstances vis a vis technology and Catholic concepts like Solidarity and Subsidarity.

bill912 March 10, 2008 at 5:59 am

“One cannot be at the same time both a good Catholic and a true socialist.”–Pope Pius XI

bill912 March 10, 2008 at 6:03 am

I have this silly idea that, since the blog is Jimmy’s, he can blog on any subject he darn well pleases. I ignore the posts I’m not interested in. If I wanted a blog to post only the things I’m interested in, I’d start my own.

Mike Melendez March 10, 2008 at 6:05 am

Joseph,
I don’t believe I’m as conservative as Jimmy, but I don’t have any problem with his speaking his mind on his private blog. I rather like it. I get viewpoints I don’t otherwise get and all of it flavored with a Catholic mindset. That last is the seasoning that makes the dish.
A side issue, are you aware how “crypto” the first sentence in your second paragraph reads. I personally can’t parse it as other than blame words though I’ve tried. Your second sentence does better, though the “naturally” speaks to a certainty akin to fortune-telling. I’m sure you know the Church’s stance on that issue.

bill912 March 10, 2008 at 6:10 am

Correction to above Pius XI quote: “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist.”
Note to self: Don’t quote from memory unless you are 100% sure and have had enough coffee!

TerryC March 10, 2008 at 6:20 am

The writer is right and wrong. The point he overlooks is that, we have, as a society moved beyond health insurance. If insurance is a bet, and it is, then the fact is we have many people, young and old, for whom the need for health care is not a bet.
My wife is a diabetic. There is no doubt, without medication she WILL die. If she had to pay for all of her medication out of pocket we would quickly become destitute, and then she WOULD die.
There is no set of odds there that any bookie would take. It’s a sure thing. They’re going to lose.
So then it comes down to Christian charity. Do we want a civilization where all of the people who could be alive are permitted to die of treatable diseases because we insist on keeping an non-viable betting system?
This is where it gets ugly, because charity cannot be imposed. Once you go to taxing to solve a problem it ceases to be charity.
Unfortunately we already know that when it comes to real people if betting doesn’t work (and it doesn’t.) And charity doesn’t work (And it seems not to. Else explain why all of those Catholic hospitals founded in charity are now “non-profit” corporations run like any other business) then what is left other than letting thousands die due to unlucky genes or other bad luck.
Or we can suck it up, admit that it isn’t fair for the healthy young to pay for the rest of us old sick people, and then admit that life isn’t fair and its more wrong to let people die of treatable diseases just so someone else can buy a nicer car or big screen TV.

Barbara March 10, 2008 at 6:29 am

A few years ago when, in quick succession, both my parents needed to be hospitalized, I realized that every doctor and his brother who is on duty, stops by and checks the chart. They then sent a bill for that, which Medicare paid, no questions asked. I thought, ‘that’s extortion, and the government is going along with it’!
There’s a lot more wrong with the system, that is driving up costs, than people realize. I don’t know what the answer is, but the government is definitely not the organization who will be able to solve it. They’re part of the problem.

Bill March 10, 2008 at 7:56 am

As Catholics in the United States, we’re stuck. Can’t vote for the Democrats because of their promotion of abortion. Depending on how you feel about whether the war in Iraq is just, you may not be able to vote for the Republicans, and in any case voting for Republicans who seek out and pander to anti-Catholics like Hagee is repugnant.
I am diabetic, and I live in fear of what happens no matter who gets in office.

BillyHW March 10, 2008 at 7:57 am

Hi Terry, do you have a car and a tv?

M.Z. Forrest March 10, 2008 at 7:58 am

In practical terms this should be true, ceterus paribus. All things aren’t equal though. Given the relative ease of collection with insurance compared to those on credit, there is a significant benefit for practices to treat those with insurance. The ease in collection results in a signficant cash discount being offered from the provider to the insurance company. As for the distinction attempting to be made about insurance, the definition of insurance is faulty. Insurance is the agreement to pay a benefit upon the occurence of an event. Workmens’ Compensation is even more similar to pre-pay care since so much of the premium is paid out within a year. It is still called insurance though. For those feeling super nerdy, look up retrospective insurance.
The idea that it is common for those with insurance to ruthlessly attempt to accrue benefits is really more urban legend than anything else. Insurance companies would stop offering plans if it were the case. A widely held belief seems to be that there is signicant over-utilization of health care here. We have been working off this permise for around 30 years. It is the reason behind HMOs. It is the reason HDHPs. At some point, we should look at re-evaluating this premise.

David B. March 10, 2008 at 8:03 am

voting for Republicans who seek out and pander to anti-Catholics like Hagee is repugnant.
From the Catholic League:
It was reported over the weekend that Sen. John McCain denounced anti-Catholicism and explicitly mentioned Rev. John Hagee’s role. McCain said that “I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee’s, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics.”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented as follows:
“Sen. McCain has done the right thing and we salute him for doing so. As far as the Catholic League is concerned, this case is closed.”

Anonb March 10, 2008 at 8:05 am

I’m not sure I understand the point. I suppose it’s true, in the limit. But I guess in a free capital market if that’s a product that people want, it will and should exist as an option. My employer used to offer an HMO and PPO. The HMO covered more, but the premiums were higher (I did the math and opted for the PPO, self-insuring to an extent). A former employer offered many more options. My auto insurer offers low-deductible policies and high-deductible policies. That’s a good thing, right?

Bill March 10, 2008 at 8:14 am

Thanks for the update, David. I hadn’t seen that. Unfortunately, I am still a bit uneasy about McCain for other reasons (not including the war in Iraq).

BillyHW March 10, 2008 at 8:15 am

Jimmy–I love you and your blog–and I do like other topics–but I wish you would stick to theology and other related issues and not politics.
Why are socialists always trying to tell other people what they should do with their own time and money?

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 9:48 am

I agree with so many posters here, so I’ll go point by point:
1. This is Jimmy’s blog. He can write whatever he wants in it (the Tripods post is a case in point : )
2. The poster Joseph was also expressing his wish/opinion. He was not commanding or mandating Jimmy to do anything.
3. There is NOTHING against church teaching regarding socialized medicine. NOTHING. On the contrary, the church is clearly pro social justice, which includes healthcare for those who cannot afford it.
4. The only problem I have personally with ANY private health insurance is that they have the right to refuse to insure anyone they want with little or no justification. I can thank God (and do) that I am in good health and at my prime age-wise. But I will eventually get old, and because I travel extensively, there but the grace of God have I not picked up a disease or met with any physical trauma which would jeopardize my chances of being insured later in life.
A quick example: I am an EU AND US citizen, and for a very brief period in 2006 while living here I was uninsured. Lo and behold, it was just then that I received my first (and God willing, last) kidney stone. This one-time trip to the emergency room would have cost me $15,000 but I was able to convince them to forego certain tests and got them down to around $5,000.
The irony here is $5,000 would have paid for a business-class round-trip ticket to Europe, where upon arrival I would have gotten free medical care. Luckily, the emergency room I went to was a Catholic hospital, so I didn’t feel all that bad about writing them a check.

Panda Monium March 10, 2008 at 11:34 am

The US people (some) and the legal system with its medical liability cases is putting an undue increase into the cost of health insurance in the US just in the area of hospital reactions and what they now cost so as to avoid lawsuits for said hospitals. I went to the hospital for extreme dizziness several years ago and since they could not ascertain the cause quickly, they admitted me and proceeded to give me $30,000 worth of tests and released me(thank God I was covered)all of which amazed my regular doctor two weeks later in another state since he simply noted that I had an inner ear infection…he gave me a pill….and noted that it would vanish in a week….and it did. Notice that the hospital released me uncured at the point at which they were covered legally for having tried quite well to diagnose me.

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

Panda (GREAT name : ), my experience was similar in that the men in my family suffer from kidney-stones, so I literally had to convince the attending physician (who I interacted with for a grand total of 3 minutes, costing me $1,800 for the encounter) that it was a kidney stone so that he would not conduct the ultrasound tests which would have increased the total three-fold.

SDG March 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm

The irony here is $5,000 would have paid for a business-class round-trip ticket to Europe, where upon arrival I would have gotten free medical care.

Ignorant American question: When is European medical care rendered upon arrival, and when do you have to wait on a list for treatment? We Americans sometimes get the impression that in some cases Europeans (and Canadians) may have to wait weeks, months or longer for treatment, sometimes while their condition worsens.

BillyHW March 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm

SDG, in the case of abortions or sex change surgery, you definitely never have to wait.
Now if you need hip replacement, cancer treatment or a MRI it could be months to years.

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm

SDG good question. And yes, this has always been the best FUD people use towards arguments agaisnt socialized medicine. The answer is this: anyone at any time can walk into an emergency room or a doctors office on “open days” (all medical practices must have one open day a week) without an appointment and will get seen the same day. I have waited anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. If there is a life-threatening condition which requires immediate attention/operation (i.e. septic shock, heart-attack etc) they will get it. If there is an on-going condition which requires attention (i.e. a heart murmur, joint replacement) this will be put on a schedule which could take months. However, if you work for a decent company, you will get insurance through the company as well, which bumps you up to a higher standard of care, meaning you will get immediate attention whenever you need it and by a higher calibre of facilities. In that sense it is very much like the US (i.e. HMO vs PPO).
One final thing, back to the long waits; when they excede a certain period of time, the state is required to take action and in the case of the UK, will often send people to Greece, Poland or other parts of the EU with a far less cost of living for the procedures. The state pays the tab for everything, which comes out about the same as if the procedure were done in downtown London.

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm

BILLY to your comment, I don’t know if you were being funny, but there is truth to what you said. The more common a procedure is, the longer the expected wait. And since most EU countries have a large aging population at this point, hip/joint replacements are extremely common, and have a wait (once again, unless you have private insurance, in which case there is no wait). But since there is no clamor for sex changes, I would expect there to be little wait for the procedure. But there was a special done on the BBC while I was living in London which made the applicants wait something like 6 months under observation to make sure it’s what they really wanted to do and not some spur of the moment thing, or fraternity stunt. After that point they got the treatment. So, maybe the 6 months is also spent finding the surgeons in anticipation of the eventual outcome. I dunno.

Uncle Joe March 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm

“No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist.”

Bill912, could you give us a source so people can check the full statement, context etc. as Popes tend not to go for soundbites.
I have a feeling that that criticism is directed towards the totalitarianism also called Communism, rather than democratic socialism.
This is what Pope Benedict XVI
said about 2/3 of the way through an essay called Europe and its Discontents [my emphasis].

But in Europe, in the nineteenth century, the two models were joined by a third, socialism, which quickly split into two different branches, one totalitarian and the other democratic. Democratic socialism managed to fit within the two existing models as a welcome counterweight to the radical liberal positions, which it developed and corrected. It also managed to appeal to various denominations. In England it became the political party of the Catholics, who had never felt at home among either the Protestant conservatives or the liberals. In Wilhelmine Germany, too, Catholic groups felt closer to democratic socialism than to the rigidly Prussian and Protestant conservative forces. In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.

M.Z. Forrest March 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

From my reading SDG, it is a somewhat complex topic. Take for example prostate cancer. Here, it is treated very aggressively, generally via removal. In Britain, medical opinion is to wait until later stages for removal, since prostate cancer can take over 5 years to really manifest itself and having the prostate removed can cause other complications and of course causes infertility. Many people in fact die of other causes before the cancer manifests itself. So in the US you end up with more people being diagnosed with prostate cancer. People take this as evidence of rationed care. However, the mortality due to prostate cancer rate is almost equal between the U.S. and Britain. So in many cases there is a difference in treatment philosophy. One thing I do now when I see a health care story is to go to WebMD and see what the urgency actually is. More often than not, a lot of treatments can be put off for a year without significant adverse affect, let alone 3 months.

M.Z. Forrest March 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm

As to the warrant for providing government coverage, John XXIII offered health care in a litany that included such things as rode building, so I think one would be hard pressed to say the government was precluded from the activity.
64. The public administration must therefore give considerable care and thought to the question of social as well as economic progress, and to the development of essential services in keeping with the expansion of the productive system. Such services include road-building, transportation, communications, drinking-water, housing, medical care, ample facilities for the practice of religion, and aids to recreation. The government must also see to the provision of insurance facilities, to obviate any likelihood of a citizen’s being unable to maintain a decent standard of living in the event of some misfortune, or greatly in creased family responsibilities.
PACEM IN TERRIS

Brian Day March 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I think that people still are conflating health insurance with affordable health care. The two are not the same.
Everyone has access to health care. There is no one, or no government agency, that says, “No access to a doctor for you since you are (insert favorite group here). Now, not everyone can afford the cost of health care. That is the issue that should be addressed, not whether or not someone has insurance.
Health insurance is one part of the answer. The elephant in the room that no one wants to address is why does it cost so much to visit the doctor/hospital. Once the national discussion tackles that question, then I think that real progress can be made.
There are at least half a dozen reasons for high health care costs. I won’t list them here as it will invite someone to nit-pick and side-track the point. I would hope that people recognize that the problem is multi-faceted and that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
Personally, I think that some form of the following has to occur: Make health insurance “major medical” only. Make routine care an out of pocket expense. If routine care is unaffordable, then set up social safety nets, to meet that need. These social safety nets should be subsidiarity-based, with Church/society first and government involvement last.
Of course, no system is fool-proof and many people will continue to “game the system” (read: fraud), so vigilance at all levels would be required.

Happy Dad March 10, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Our son had supraventricular tachycardia (his little heart was beating over 200 bpm in utero.)
He was rushed to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis after birth, my wife spent a month at St. Mary’s beforehand. He then was in the NICU for 3 weeks before he was released.
We had no insurance and there was no way we could even think about paying off the debts.
The Hospitals ate the bills, they didn’t charge us a thing.
Deo Gratias!
Now he’s 2 1/2 and has no signs of SVT at all. We chalk it up to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick! That’s a powerful and underutilized (if I may phrase it that way) Sacrament!!!!!

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm

BRIAN, you are right in that affordable healthcare and insurance are two separate issues, but one of course is born of the other. The NHS or National Health Service is in fact an Insurance System. You pay into it with your taxes throughout your life.
I have lived in countries where a visit to the doctor costs about $15 USD. This may sound low, but when the per capita income is less than $200/year, it means a LOT to a poor family with many mouths to feed. The problem I have with your argument is what exactly is “affordable”? What is affordable to you and me typing on the internet with obvious access to electricity, computers and other “necessities” that others might find as luxuries (yes, even right here in the USA) is not affordable to others. So, unless you are talking about subsidies, then affordable is relative. And if you ARE talking subsidies, then what’s the difference between that and national health insurance?

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Happy Dad, God grant your son a long and happy life!
Just as an aside, I remember the whole Archbishop Burke v Cardinal Glennon Hospital issue a year back regarding the Sharon Crow concert.

Greg March 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Can’t agree too strongly with Jimmy’s initial points, as well as those who separate cost of health care from the separate issue of insurance. What we’re doing now is basically analogous to insuring your car against running out of gas – and throwing around reams of paperwork just to fill the tank. Insuring against routine expenses makes no sense, and involving the government as another layer of insurance bureaucracy will make the situation worse, not better. Of course there are those who warrant special consideration for reasons brought up by several writers, but we don’t need to design a system for everyone based on the situation of a relative few – there are better ways to deal with that. Finally, notice the drastic reduction in cost over the past few years for laser eye surgery? It’s generally not covered by insurance and is not controlled by government edicts. Of all areas of medicine, it behaves most according to a free market model. It makes use of technology to reduce prices, and competes for business. Seems to me that we should pay more attention to that, and less to Hillary-care.

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Well, to be honest I wouldn’t trust anything Hilary has to say on the subject. She said she was going to reform healthcare when Clinton was in office and that was the last of that. Lobbyists are huge forces here, and politicians are clearly in it for themselves on this issue.

Brian Day March 10, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Deusdonat,
And if you ARE talking subsidies, then what’s the difference between that and national health insurance?
As I stated in my post: “These social safety nets should be subsidiarity-based, with Church/society first and government involvement last.” Happy Dad is a perfect example. There is no need for a national health plan when local entities/charities do their part.
As far as “affordable” is concerned, there has always been services based upon the ability to pay. In the case of those who are truly in the depths of poverty, I would have no qualms about free public health clinics. It’s just my preference that control be left to the lowest level of control possible – either at the individual charity or local government level.

Deusdonat March 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm

There is no need for a national health plan when local entities/charities do their part.
But isn’t that the point? Without regulation, you are essentially at the mercy of the “benevolence” of said local entity and charity. There is nothing forcing them to be charitable. There is nothing keeping them from saying, “Yeah, sorry. We don’t treat your kind here. Try the county/clinic down the road.”
In a perfect world this would work, but I personally just don’t have too much faith in human nature when it comes to any corporation. And most hospitals are corporations.

Mary March 10, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Well, at least there’s a clinic down the road. In a government system, you have no choice.
In UK, doctors ensured that no patient waited more than four hours for treatment in the emergency room — by leaving the patients in the ambulances. Which meant the ambulances couldn’t go and get new patients.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/17/health.nhs

Mary March 10, 2008 at 6:36 pm

1. This is Jimmy’s blog. He can write whatever he wants in it (the Tripods post is a case in point : )
2. The poster Joseph was also expressing his wish/opinion. He was not commanding or mandating Jimmy to do anything.

3. The rest of us were also expressing our wish/opinion. We were not commanding or mandating Joseph to do anything.

Brian Day March 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Deusdonat,
Without regulation, you are essentially at the mercy of the “benevolence” of said local entity and charity.
Gee, I wonder how did we survive so long without national health care?
Sarcasm aside, I agree that some regulation is required. But I am not going to say that more “government” is cure. When you think about it, name one (1) government program that hasn’t been totally screwed up. Most program start out with good intentions and good results, but given enough time and political meddling, EVERY program goes awry. No human system is perfect since we live in a fallen world, but local charities do as good of a job as any – at a much lower cost, and without the over-regulation that has led to mess we have today. That’s why I would prefer a system based upon subsidiarity, not upon national government-based programs.

John Schultz March 10, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Actually – health insurance companies are now offering more high-deductible plans that are still costly for employers, but shift the burden of the first $4K or so in out of pocket expenses to the employee and his family. It’s supposed to be a disincentive for the individual to “consume” health care. Still its expensive for the employer, and really only covers everything until you’ve satisfied your deductible. More companies are choosing plans like this because they cost the company less than “all you can eat” plans.

Christopher Fair March 10, 2008 at 7:35 pm

I consider myself fairly conservative, but I have to let people know the full experience I experienced in Italy when I was there. My wife wanted to go to Italy and she was dying of melanoma, so we went despite the risks. While we were in Palermo, Sicily, her lungs had become so full of fluid she could not breathe so we had to get her lungs cleared. Now Sicily has somewhere around 10-20% unemployment so some of this must be born in mind. Here are the positives, and the negatives.
Positives:
* The doctors were all confident, competent, and reassuring.
* There was only one doctor who could do the procedure on
duty and he called for another who was there withing 15 minutes (it was 1AM) both
were friendly and compassionate
* There was no charge for anything levied to us. We are US citizens. I do speak Italian, and I directly asked
about the charges and expressed willingness to pay for any expenses. All of the doctors refused any and all
payment either personally or from the institution. BTW, my grandmother was Italian. There is something called “rights of
blood” for Italian citizenship but my grandfather would have had to have been Italian for me to claim anything like that.
Negatives:
* The hospital was…by American standards…honestly filthy.
* The procedure (which was to plunge a needle through my wife’s back into her lung) was performed without anything
but a mild local anesthetic. I was asked to wait outside and I prayed as I heard my wife shriek in pain :( It was
to date the worst experience of my life. The only thing that has been worse is watching her last painful hours as
she slowly slipped away in August.
* The were actually eating in the exam room while they looked at her back initially.
If they had not provided the service they did we would have had to fly back and she probably would not have made it (she was in a bad way). As it is we had a wonderful time in Rome, a time I shall treasure the rest of my life. And of course she lived for another couple of months, most of which she was in good spirits.
Before her death she had received the Annointing of the Sick along with the Apostolic Pardon (I hope to God for that kind of Grace). Shortly aftewards she was completely incoherent and most likely incapable of mortal sin. These graces would not have been received had we not received the care we did while in Sicily.

Eileen R March 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Billy:
SDG, in the case of abortions or sex change surgery, you definitely never have to wait.
Well, I read the other day that we have a few weeks waiting list for abortions here in the province of Alberta, because there aren’t enough clinic staff. We’re having an economic boom and no one has enough staff anywhere, and when you can get decent bucks working at Macdonald’s, who wants to work at an abortion clinic? They’ve had to reduce their hours.
Of course, the article was bemoaning all this as anti-choice, but I’m delighted that we have a waiting period as of the moment. Time for stressed women to rethink things.

Joseph March 10, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Bill912, I never said that I am demanding or forcing Jimmy Akin to do anything, only that it was my opinion that some of his political postings could be confusing (as they are prudential and debatable and some people take Jimmy as an authority). I completely realize that this is a private blog and that he (and any other private blog) can post whatever they want. Since Jimmy Akin also allows posting of comments–he has invited me and hopefully I have not violate the rules or been uncharitable or rude–so I have made a comment.
I think Bill912′s comment was rude and out of place. He put words in my mouth that I did not say as an insult to Jimmy. I also never said I was socialist.
Bill912 (and some others) should do well not to so quickly misjudge others as to misqoute them and have one line quips that can be insulting rather than discussing an issue.
I do believe that many (not all) converts from Evangelical Christianity and conservative Catholics (especially those with so called “neo-con” leanings) take political positions (completely within their rights either as a private blogger or Catholic to do so) and sometimes equate them with a spiritual matter or ignore other possibly more Catholic alternatives.
I went to the University of Chicago and could of been a Doctor but switched and am currently am in Patent Law (much to the dissapointment of my family). I am a proud US Citizen of Indian (East) ancestory and have both Syro-Malabar Rite Catholics and Latin Catholics in my family (please attend a Syro-Malabar Holy Qurbana if you get a chance/in full union with Rome). My brother is a doctor.
I got to meet David Freidman (the son of Milton Friedman) when I was at the University of Chicago and took economics classes.
Because of an Anglo tradition in Indian Catholicism and even Indian culture generally–I have read some works by GK Chesterson. I also have read some works by Hillaire Belloc. I think that some of the economics ideas such as Distributionism are worth giving some thought. The last Pope (John Paul II or John Paul the Great as some call him) wrote extensively on criticisms of capitalism as well as not socialism per se as it is understood today (as in “lite” socialism countries or Christian Democratic countries with authentic Catholic foundations built on Catholic Social teaching from the Gospel to Rerum Novarum from Pope Leo to Solicitudo Rei Socialis by the last Pope) but more a criticism of socialism as defined by Soviet (or Chinese) Communism. Even Spain under Franco could be considered “Socialist” as it was not uber-capitalist (no social network, completely privatized health care/the Church works received outright subsidies, free trade etc) The free trade critques of Pat Buchannan or the Presidential campaign of “Average Joe” (Average Joe is probably the most “Catholic” influenced person running for office albeit he has no chance of winning)
Bishop Williamson (no I am not a member of SSPX) made an interesting comment about the Unabomber which was taken out of context (I know I am opening myself up here and thus I will make it clear I condemn the actions of the Unambomber and violence generally) but made a good point about technology. Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstien) had a similiar point. Not from a romantic point of view, but from a philosphical one–a rural agrarian Catholic concept of “guilds” (some labor unions in the past operated in a similiar fashion and were filled with Catholics), work days that encouraged family life, sharing–and certainly concepts against current mechanisms of giant corporate farming–and specifically the current approach to food and even specifically a Walmart economy are very Catholic.
The “neo-con” approach to foreign policy is not Catholic either in principle (Pope John Paul II and than Cardinal Ratzinger both criticized if not condemned the current military action in Iraq) from a Just War theory (a la Aquinas) or culture which is not just US centric but also has a foreign policy and culture which is European and Christian based (from the indigenous Christians in Iraq which many share the same Liturgy as Indians or even ancient ancestory)–whether French, Chaldean, Palestinian, Assyrian etc.
Many Catholics seem to embrace, perhaps from a good principle of patriotism and unity, an imperial military and “nation building” foreign policy.
I may be wrong–which is why our Holy Mother the Church has given us freedom and prudential matters on so many subjects including politics. There are even interpretations of principles as the Just Wage concept which is a clear requirement in Catholic social teaching does not necessarily have to be achieved through Federal legislation (or any state action necessarily) mandating a higher minimum wage (although I would support such an action and the emperical data even in my arguments with U of C PhD candidates has never proven that the higher minimum wage causes unemployment although their theory does–never emperically has unemployment gone up after the minimum wage went up by requirement of law–but again it is not theology nor required) It is certainly Catholic teaching that there should be societal standards of health care even for the indigent and low income–but that also may not be by state action or hospitals but by private sector initiatives, vouchers, more reliance on private charity and religious institutions BUT certain principles should apply and Christian charity (and not Adam Smith or Milton Freidman) should guide the discussion.
Suburban US culture, a cult of Success, neo-Conservativism, supposed free markets, —these are Protestant and unique Anglo-American Protestantism and not a historically cultural or theological Catholic phenomena.
Many people ask Jimmy Akin questions and he has many good answers and has done research and is very intelligent about the Bible, the Church, even Canon law (a relatively obscure subject even for devout Catholics)–but this authority does not translate into foreign policy, economics, criticisms of Mitt Romney (even if justified), or health care. I agree that other topics can be interesting (art, culture, movies, science fiction) but I fear that many Catholic conservatives equate their politics with moral right which is not always true. Politics is not absolute truth even if dealing with important public policy questions. I also think that some Catholic conservatives are guided by non-Catholic or even anti-Catholic thinkers (many of them brilliant and right on points)(John Locke could be considered anti-Catholic) and cede too much to the modern world and the Protestant (especially to an almost Calvinistic sense of success or even farther to Joel Osteen) and even secular with a neo-or-Social Darwinian view of economics and health care and social nets.

Randolph Carter March 11, 2008 at 3:40 am

It is always strange how those in favour of socialistic medical schemes always seem to want governments to pay for the healthcare of the entire nation, yet their arguments in favour of such systems always hinge on how they will be beneficial to those who cannot afford to pay for their own healthcare, or health insurance. So, I have to wonder: why don’t these people argue in favour of a government-run system that only aides those people who can’t afford to pay for their own healthcare, while still making those who can afford to pay with their own money still do so? Why not make those who can afford to pay for their own health insurance do so, thus freeing up more funds to help the poorest of the poor?
It would seem that if one’s concern is really to help the nation’s poor, that this is the sort of system that one would argue for. So, guys, why is that? Why do you want the government to forcibly take complete control of the medical establishment, and pay for everyone’s healthcare costs, as opposed to just paying for the healthcare of those who can’t afford to pay, leaving those who can still afford to pay free to do so?

Uncle Joe March 11, 2008 at 7:12 am

Randolph Carter
I think you are attacking a non-existent target.
Even in the UK NHS, people are still free to pay for private medical insurance, and there are private hospitals. Almost all general practitioners, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are self-employed and under (non-exclusive) contract to provide services to the NHS (the curent NHS dental crisis is because not enough dentists have contracted with the NHS). NHS hospital doctors are employees of the NHS yet are contractually allowed to do some private work, usually in the aforesaid private hospitals. The current Labour government has even paid for NHS patients to have treatment in private hospitals.
Most other European countries have varying mixtures of state-employed and privately-employed medical staff, with the full spectrum between medical services being free at the point of delivery to full or partial reimbursment by the state scheme.
People in Europe value freedom, justice and affordability as much as anyone else, and have established many middle ways between the current US scheme and imagined Stalinist dystopias.
The US spends more of its GDP on healthcare than any other country, yet achieves less for a significant proportion of its population. Nearly a third of US healthcare costs are swallowed up in administration – not surprising with so many health providers and finance providers with different admin systems.
The US insurance companies are the ones who profit most from the present US scheme.

Russ72 March 11, 2008 at 8:54 am

Have we learned anything from whats going on with mortgages & banks these days, or even with personal credit card debt?
As someone pointed out, in general the young can get away without spending much on health care. But as you age the probability you will need a $100,000 worth of heart surgery or $250,000 worth of ongoing medication over the period of 10-20 years keeps going up.
The question is not should but will Americans privately save for this contingency? Of course many many many will not. They bought houses they can’t afford and spend money they don’t have.
Any real health **insurance** plan would involve a lifelong premium payment. Because you never know when the cancer or baby with the birth defect will surprise you. And if you are not in the plan when the bad thing happens, you can’t afford the **insurance** when you are a known high risk.
Jimmy’s post and the article made me think about what to do given we will never let irresponsible people or their kids suffer & die because they are financial dolts. The money has to come from somewhere.
I figure the following will work. Will save the rest of the world tomorrow :)
1. Lowering costs by limiting the amount of cost lawyers add to the system by capping malpractice judgments. For every one sad story of someone who got hurt by a bad doctor or a mistake there may be hundreds or thousands who could get basic care for the giant amounts of money the lawyers suck.
2. You have to get everyone paying in. You have to take their money now when they don’t need health care, because they won’t have it when they need it, and you will take it from someone else then. I would rather be in a fair system now than get robbed in the future (like when I pay for the defaults for all the people who bought houses they can’t afford).
3. All funding should be protected by constitutional amendment from being raided by the most financially irresponsible people in the world, the US Congress.

Russ72 March 11, 2008 at 9:11 am

And one more -
Stop the policy that’s effectively making the US subsidize worldwide prescription drug research. Why should drugs be cheaper in Canada or Belgium than here? Let’s have everyone pay their own way.

Eileen R March 11, 2008 at 9:33 am

Uncle Joe:
I think you are attacking a non-existent target.
Even in the UK NHS, people are still free to pay for private medical insurance, and there are private hospitals.

No, the target exists. Just not the UK. Randolph’s understanding of such a medical system is obviously based on Canada’s, which does ban private medical insurance and hospitals… for the most part. There are grandfathered institutions in Ontario, and we pay insurance to finance drugs taken at home. But otherwise, the system is pretty much as Randolph describes it.
I never really know what to think about this debate. One hears horror stories from every country about their health care. My own experience with the health care system in Canada has been overwhelmingly positive, but others hasn’t. So I remain a neutral. :-)

Uncle Joe March 11, 2008 at 9:49 am

Why should drugs be cheaper in Canada or Belgium than here?
- probably lots of complicated reasons. But one reason might be that a government buying in bulk for a socialized system has more power to negotiate discounts from multinational drug companies than each (often insurance-subsidized) individual buying separately. Market forces?

paul f March 11, 2008 at 10:22 am

Because any service–whether it’s insurance or otherwise–costs more money on average than you’re going to get out of it. Otherwise the people offering the service wouldn’t be able to stay in business. They have to make money, right?
Just a correction on the economics here: if the cost of something were greater than the benefit derived from its consumption, then it would not be produced and sold. Any product is produced because it can create value that is greater than its cost. Something that uses resources disproportionate to the value it produces should not (and would not under profit-maximization) be produced.

Deusdonat March 11, 2008 at 10:22 am

Joseph, I certainly didn’t misunderstand your comments. And I sympathise. Also, I LOVE the Malabar rite. Are you from Goa? And yes, I also agree with your general assessment of converts vs craddle Catholics regarding politics.
Christopher, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife (buon anima). I know exactly what you mean about Italian hospitals. It can be quite a culture shock.

Russ72 March 11, 2008 at 10:27 am

A number of reasons, but #1 is that we have more money to spend than those people, and #2 is because in the US the drug companies set aside money for the inevitable law suits that will pop up.
Here is an interesting discussion from Canadians no less: http://www.aims.ca/library/MPPI_pharma-revised_.pdf

Randolph Carter March 11, 2008 at 11:21 am

Randolph Carter
I think you are attacking a non-existent target.

Actually, I think I wasn’t attacking anything. I asked a question, a quite simple one: If one’s justification for having the government coerce money from the general population in order to fund a government-run medical care scheme is that such a scheme would be beneficial for poor people who cannot afford to pay for medical care themselves, then why would such a scheme not limit itself to paying only for the medical coverage costs of the poor, who cannot afford health insurance, instead of wasting money covering everyone else, who can? It’s like the difference between the government saying that it’s going to provide free meals for everyone who cannot afford to feed himself, versus the government saying that it’s going to provide free meals for everyone, of every walk of life.
This is a question that you have not deigned to answer, instead propping up a straw-man version of my question and hastily knocking it down with this statement:
Even in the UK NHS, people are still free to pay for private medical insurance, and there are private hospitals.
Yet I wasn’t questioning whether or not there would be independent hospitals under any proposed socialistic medical scheme, I was questioning the wisdom of the government spending money to pay for healthcare for people who already can afford it. Why would you create such a system, funded by money coerced from taxpayers? Why give free stuff to people who can afford to pay for it on their own? Who benefits from that?

Deusdonat March 11, 2008 at 11:31 am

If one’s justification for having the government coerce money from the general population in order to fund a government-run medical care scheme is that such a scheme would be beneficial for poor people who cannot afford to pay for medical care themselves, then why would such a scheme not limit itself to paying only for the medical coverage costs of the poor, who cannot afford health insurance, instead of wasting money covering everyone else, who can?
Well, two things here: 1) what is your definition of people who can afford to pay for healthcare? If they own a home? If they earn over “x” amount per year? Anyone who has suffered through a traumatic heart or brain episode can tell you, the costs for extensive surgery and follow-up care can easily be double that of the average price of a home in the US. Are you recommending that because someone can afford the care, that they should be willing to dispose of their entire income to receive it? And once again, these are people who often times are labeled as “uninsurable”, meaning insurance WILL NOT COVER THEM due to their high risk or pre-existing conditions. So, they are on their own here.
2) Under a socialized medical system, we would be PAYING for medical care through our taxes. It is not free. So, instead of going to insurance companies, it is going to a government run healthcare system. And as has been mentioned several times here, in Europe, there is always the option to get private insurance as well, which offers a higher level care if desired.
I acknowledge the difficulties with this system in that as has also been mentioned, the real problems we need to address are the litigious nature of our society and the high cost of medical care and medicine in general. All are factors which need to be addressed. I don’t think this country can simpy bandage something that broken at this point.

Uncle Joe March 11, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Medicaid provides some government assistance to those on a sufficiently low income.
But do most Americans believe it sufficiently covers those “poor people who cannot afford to pay” or is there a gap until “people who already can afford it”. Perhaps it depends on how “sufficiently poor” is defined.
The advantages of a universal system are obvious to those people who cannot afford it. Yet socialized medicine is popular in most developed countries – even amongst “those who can afford” private cover. Why? I suggest it is because most of those people:
- pay less via tax than via insurance (economies of scale, no cream-off by insurance companies etc.)
- it covers everyone, for life, even for pre-existing conditions, even if they change/lose employer cover.
If there is an option for supplementary private insurance, then those who can afford it can have the best of both worlds.
Why not socialized kitchens for the same reasons? Unlike food costs, medical costs can vary tremendously between individuals (leading to many personal bankruptcies in the US). A proper welfare system gives government money with the aim of allowing food choices.

Randolph Carter March 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm

1) what is your definition of people who can afford to pay for healthcare?
If a person can afford to cover all his medical bills, whether by way of an insurance plan or paying out of pocket, without being put in danger of starvation, destituteness, or bankruptcy, then I consider him a person who can afford to pay for his own healthcare. On the other hand, a person who can afford to pay for most medical procedures, but not for certain rare and costly procedures, which would be beyond his ability to pay for, I would consider someone who cannot afford to pay for his own healthcare — but only in regards to said rare procedures. So, I can see that there would be somewhat of a grey area in this matter, where people suddenly find themselves saddled with a medical bill for an operation or a treatment that they cannot afford to pay, even if they normally have no problem paying for their medical insurance. Giving government aide to such people is not what I am questioning here. I am questioning giving aide to people to cover expenses that they can afford to pay for themselves.
Under a socialized medical system, we would be PAYING for medical care through our taxes.
Actually, the taxes are already being taken from us, by force no less. We are not paying the government for such services; they are taking control of the industry, and directly funding it through money that they have already taken away from us. And unless you are going to give a tax break to someone who chooses to opt out of the socialistic medical scheme, then it certainly bears no resemblance to an insurance company, for with an insurance company we at least have the option of not giving them any money at all, whereas with the government our money gets taken anyway, to be spent at the government’s discretion.
All are factors which need to be addressed. I don’t think this country can simpy bandage something that broken at this point.
Ah, well, in that much we are in agreement, then. ;)

M.Z. Forrest March 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Government programs that work well: Postal Service, IRS, CDC, National Parks, Medicare. I would also have no difficulty coming up with private sector organizations that are open to the criticisms often leveled at government, many of them in the health arena.
Why not a two tiered approach? Probably the biggest factor working against a two-tiered approach is that a lot of the savings available are from monopolization. Another factor is the perception and often reality of one tier subsidizing the other. We actually have a two-tier system in our country presently, and one of the claims is the public tier is inadequately paying for its use of health care resulting in higher charges in the private sector. Conversely there is the claim that the private sector is only interested in insuring the healthy and leaving the unhealthy as a public burden, either direcly through Medicaid or indirectly through uncompensated care given in emergency rooms and what not. Needless to say, there is a degree of complexity in the matter.

Russ72 March 11, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Another thought,
In 2007, total spending was $2.3 TRILLION in 2007, or $7600 per person (from http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml).
In 2006, the median annual household income according to the US Census Bureau was determined to be $48,201.00 (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States).
So in a very poorly calculated way, an average household of 1 would have to dedicate 15% of their present-value earnings every year to come out even with current medical expenses.
Now suppose you don’t pay anything from age 20-50 and stay healthy. How would you ever afford to catch up then? You couldn’t possibly afford it, so would turn to the government for the free stuff when you need it.
And that’s why you can’t just provide health care for the people who can’t afford it.

Bernard March 11, 2008 at 3:51 pm

All the arguments against universal health carte are proved wrong by the UK system.
To hear the arguments against universal care the ‘logic’ used is that the morte comprehensive the system is the more it must cost.
Last time I checked the USA system took 14% of GDP.
So the mpore comprehensive UK system should cost even more by your logic. WRONG.
It costs less!!!
It costs 8% of GDP.
So you don’t like the standard of NHS care in the UK? Fine, pay a bit of private insurance.
Private insurance in the UK is 2% of GDP.
Total Health care costs 10% of GDP and everyone gets what they want.
Total Health care costs in the USA 14% and tens of millions are left out.
Come on USA. you have nothing to lose but your neo-liberalism!!!

bill912 March 11, 2008 at 3:59 pm

“…tens of millions are left out.”
No one is denied health care in the USA. There are many free clinics. Also, there are hospital emergency rooms, which are required by law to treat anyone who comes in, regardless of ability to pay.
You’ve got to do better than that.

Deusdonat March 11, 2008 at 4:11 pm

No one is denied health care in the USA.
that is completely false. I don’t know what dream you are in, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are saying that simply walking into an emergency room and seeing a doctor is “healthcare”, then you have a very limited experience on the subject. The horror stories of people suffering from cancer, heart-disease, diabetes, kidney failure etc who were turned away because they either simply did not have money for their treatment or who were not considered “needy” enough (i.e. they owned property) are countless.

Deusdonat March 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm

As a personal anecdote, someone very close to me died of cancer and was refused treatment because the doctor said it was inoperable and would not respond to “traditional” therapy. In Europe. there are other therapies and drugs which are perscribed in such cases which have a substantial effect on this type of cancer. But since the FDA has not included them in their list of acceptably prescribed medicines, the doctor would not prescribe it (although it IS available here in the US). This was back in the mid-90′s and I believe the situation would be the same today.

Claude March 11, 2008 at 4:23 pm

there are hospital emergency rooms, which are required by law to treat anyone who comes in, regardless of ability to pay.
No, they’re only required to treat (stabilize) persons who present with serious emergency conditions, not “anyone who comes in.”

bill912 March 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Wrong, Claude.

JoAnna March 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Bill912, my husband can’t go to the ER and get treatment or medication for his bipolar disorder (his medication, by the way, cost more than we pay in rent per month).
I couldn’t go to the ER for my prenatal care during my last pregnancy.
I can’t bring my daughter and son to the ER for their vaccinations.
My uncle can’t go to the ER and get treatment for his colon cancer.
Saying that the ER is just free health care for the masses is simply not true. There are a lot of things the ER is neither equipped to handle nor designed to treat, and making people wait until their situation is so desperate that their only option is to go to the ER (where the complications of their underlying problem will be treated, but the problem itself will be left alone) is part of what drives up the cost of health care — because the ERs are forced to “eat” many of the bills because people can’t afford to pay them. It’s not a solution at all; it just contributes to the problem.

Randolph Carter March 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Now suppose you don’t pay anything from age 20-50 and stay healthy. How would you ever afford to catch up then? You couldn’t possibly afford it, so would turn to the government for the free stuff when you need it.
And that’s why you can’t just provide health care for the people who can’t afford it.

So what you are saying is that you are a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth ideologue who has surrendered any semblance of reason to a blind totalitarian ideology that forces you to construct such idiotic “arguments” such as this in order to justify it.
As has been previously stated, any and all Marxist medical schemes that are funded by our governments are paid for by taxes that are going to get collected whether or not they are actually used to pay for anyone’s medical benefits. I have asked for a reason that the state must shell out forcibly-taken monies to pay for medical treatments for those who can already afford them. You have not provided such a reason. You have essentially said: Well, people later on in life might not be able to afford to pay for their own healthcare, and so the system must cover even people who can! This is not a logical argument. It is not even rational. It is the very height of unreason, though rather typical of what I would expect from someone who dwells in America (that fabled land of neoconservatism, socialism, corporatism, democracy and other assorted idiocies) or Europe (see America, minus the neoconservatism and plus the statistical death — though that is actually a problem in some parts of America, too).
What you seek is a justification for a forcibly imposed state run monopoly on the medical industry. If reason cannot supply such a justification, then your ideology dictates that unreason must suffice. And seeing that you, and every other Marxist hereabouts, has already shown your consummate inability to be reasonable on this matter, and has instead subsisted in calling everyone who disagrees with their bizarre and irrational schemes “neoconservatives” and “neo-liberals”, while hand-waving away the flaws in their own preferred medical systems, I don’t imagine that I will be posting in this thread again. In fact, I wonder why I even post in these threads to begin with; all we get are dueling anecdotes about how such-and-such a medical system is just dandy, while such-and-such another medical system is just horrid. I suppose I make an error in looking for intelligent conversation on the internet, of all places.
Enjoy your power-worshipping ideologies. Sincerly yours, the very, very tired Randolph Carter.

Claude March 11, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Bill, Federal law mandates emergency care only for serious emergency conditions. Under that law (EMTALA), if you’re not having an emergency, then the hospital emergency room does not have to treat you. Instead, the hospital can direct you to your own doctor or to a less-intensive-care setting, such as a community health clinic. Or they can tell you to go fly a kite.
State laws vary and may provide you with some additional rights.

Anon March 11, 2008 at 6:31 pm

This Bill912 is really a master of one liners without much substance, citation or aprobation. Maybe he is off his meds.

remilla March 12, 2008 at 5:58 am

What do you think about Socialize medicine it seems to work for the europeans

labrialumn March 12, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I don’t know what the answer is. I wish that there was one.
If the US gets government health care, it will be as efficient as the postal service, and as kindly as the IRS, and as inexpensive as the military. Access to care will be based upon actuarial tables based upon your likely future contributions to the government in the form of taxes. In England already, there is a 30,000 dollar per annum cap on health care.
If the Catholic Church would have kept its hospitals, and kept the belief that medical care was a -ministry- of the Church, -that- is how things can be made better (but not perfect).
Litigeny is also a huge problem driving costs up dramatically. Whether barratry laws can be applied, I do not know. But surely there is some reasonable zone between absurdly high rewards for minor temporary things, and not enough to live on for those who are seriously damaged by the doctors.
Socialism forgets that power tends to corrupt. Giving that power to the State forgets the doctrine of the Fall, and the results of giving that kind of power to fallen human beings. Socialism works better when it is voluntary, say in the Church, rather than in the hands of bureaucrats, whose purpose is to keep the bureaucracy funded and growing. I prefer Chesterton and Jefferson’s distributism or microcapitalism as I prefer to call it. Private property is upheld in the 10 commandments, and the family is a mediating institution, and having the family *own* the means of production produces far greater liberty than having the government or the board of directors owning the means of production.
Bill912, emergency rooms are full and in triage mode locally. If you go to the Salvation Army, you can expect to wait at least two to three hours to see a doctor for 3 minutes. Most health care options are -not- available. You have to settle for third class care. And hospitals do turn people away if they owe money.
One has to do without preventative care or early intervention. One has to stay sick for many weeks longer than would otherwise be the case. One has to face long-term harm due to not getting the kind of care that is available to the better off, such as yourself.
In this State, there is very very limited healthcare available IF you have no means of transportation. But if you have no means of transportation, you cannot get to a job, or to apply to a job, or get to the medical care. The assumptions are based upon an urban area with an advanced public transportation system, which isn’t actually present. The care available is only available for two hours, twice a week.

Uncle Joe March 13, 2008 at 9:23 am

In England already, there is a 30,000 dollar per annum cap on health care.
seems unlikely – source please.

Deusdonat March 13, 2008 at 10:08 am

In England already, there is a 30,000 dollar per annum cap on health care.
Um…no. I don’t know where you came up with this (or made it up), but it is completely false. $30,000 or 15,000 GBP is over the average cost for a coronary bypass (not including the hospital stay/recovery). There is no basis for your statement.

labrialumn March 13, 2008 at 11:50 am

I had a reliable source. Some weeks to months ago. I didn’t make it up. I don’t much care for such allegations from Deusdonat or Uncle Joe Stalin.
What is your proof that I misremember? Sources, please.

Uncle Joe March 13, 2008 at 12:40 pm

labrialumn
You made the shocking claim about the $30k cap, it seems reasonable that you should provide some evidence for it. If it is true it would be a good argument in your case.
I didn’t accuse you of anything. You could have easily refuted any allegation that you made it up by giving your “reliable source” or saying why you thought they were reliable, but you replied by comparing me with Stalin.
If your “reliable source” is a conversation, then it is not available for examination/discussion in the way that an Act of Parliament or some other official UK government/NHS document which sets the alleged $30k/£15k cap. Does such a document exist?
BTW my favorite uncle figure is “Uncle Joe Ratzinger” (members of my family affectionately started called him “Uncle Joe” after we saw his gentle demeanor in an interview before he became Pope). B16 is very aware of the effects of the Fall, and said:
In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.
see my post (of Mar10,2008 12:48:44PM) for source.

Deusdonat March 13, 2008 at 12:41 pm

And I don’t much care for misinformation. I didn’t say you made it up specifically, I merely presented it as an option because the thought of it is so outlandish. I guess the lessons here are a) your “reliable” source is not very reliable when it comes to the topic of medicine in the UK and b) in our information age, it really doesn’t require all that much effort to check ones facts. The National Health Service (NHS) information line is UK +011 44 0845 4647 and can be easily gathered from their website http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/homepage.aspx
I sprang for the call to verify this was indeed not the case. You’re welcome : )

NaturalCatholicMama March 14, 2008 at 4:21 am

Whoa, lots of comments, haven’t read ‘em, but I’m thrilled to see Jimmy talking about this. I have long said that we do NOT have medical insurance in this country (or others), we have pre-paid medical. There isn’t even an option for medical insurance that I”m aware of. I’m searching and searching for a plan that will cover only disasters, but can’t find one where I’m not still paying enormous monthly premiums for my family. Even if I could, individuals pay vastly different prices than insurance plans.
A family member recently went to the ER one night for odd chest pains, and was billed $10,000 for the MRIs, CAT scans, and chest Xrays. The insurance company paid $600 and the hospital wrote off the rest.
My dream world solution is that rates go back to reasonable & most people have only catastrophic coverage. That’s true insurance. (Imagine if our car insurance had to cover every fill-up, oil change, and brake job?)

Steve S. March 14, 2008 at 9:01 am

Uncle Joe,
Per your comment on March 13, 12:40:39 P.M. and Pope Benedicts address “In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness. ”
In the first part of that statement “In many respects” it does not necessarily mean that there aren’t many other aspects of democratic socialism that are undesirable for a variety of reasons, including Catholic social doctrine. Also, something can have made a “remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness” and still be undesirable for a variety of reasons (including Catholic ones.)
In Part V section 48 of the encyclical “Centesimus annus” (link here) Pope John Paul II does mention that the State can also exercise a substitute function is social sectors or business systems. He also adds “Such supplementary interventions, which are justified by urgent reasons touching the common good, must be as brief as possible, so as to avoid removing permanently from society and business systems the functions which are properly theirs, and so as to avoid enlarging excessively the sphere of State intervention to the detriment of both economic and civil freedom.”
In addition, in the last paragraph, Pope John Paul II adds “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”
I would argue that most of the universal health care insurance proposals being floated are not intended to be a temporary intervention, and that they further more would lead to the deleterious effects of the Social Assistance State mentioned above with respect to medical care.
Sincerely,
Steve S.

labrialumn March 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

Is not “Uncle Joe” a reference to Josef ‘Stalin’ Tishkashvili? I thought it was.
I’ve never heard B16 called “Uncle Joe” in synonomy with Stalin. I have heard him often called Pappa Ratsi.
As I WROTE, I don’t recall my source. I wish I did. I can’t come up with what I don’t remember. I would like it for you to be right that somehow the British NHS does not have a per annum cap on care per person, and have miraculously been able to provide top-knotch, state of the art medical care for all. But I don’t believe that to be the case. I know an older man in England who never got therapy for his stroke, and so remains unimproved, after several years. That would not happen in this country.

Deusdonat March 14, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Labrias, no disrespect but you didn’t write that you don’t recall your source in your previous post (take a look). Now that you have said you don’t recall, you might seriously think about making such statements if you have no recourse to back them up as it damages your credibility in future discussions.
I’m happy you “would like it for you to be right that somehow the British NHS does not have a per annum cap”. and it must be your lucky day, because there IS NO PER ANNUM CAP on healtcare, let alone at a piddly $30K. (Now maybe you can use your powers and wish for gas prices to fall and see how that goes). As for the QUALITY of care, that is another issue entirely.
Incidentally, giving you the benefit of the doubt here, what you MAY have heard was in reference to discussions on case workers looking into people who have had what might be deemed as “excessive” care. That is, essentially people who a) do not work and b) display signs of essentially hypochondria. But this is on a case-by-case basis, and is in no way a “cap” of any sort. Definitely not on the whole population.

Marion (Mael Muire) March 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

The notion that the socialist ideal of coverage for all is compatible with the Catholic faith sounds wonderful in theory, but in practice, with our academically- and governmentally-entrenched leftist elites . . . I’m not so sure. So many on the left are devoted to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic and genetic experimentation, and various other horrors. As it is, God help the Catholic physician, nurse, pharmacist who refuses to go along with the requirements of the culture of death. Many have been sued, fired, reprimanded, or forced out. The left has tried to force Catholic medical schools to teach abortion (Congress passed a law putting a stop to that.) The left has tried to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. And in some states, pharmacists are required by law to provide abortifacient drugs on request.
A socialist health system that permits Catholic to observe Church teachings on life issues? Sounds wonderful. But not likely. More likely is a socialist health system that incorporates and mandates the further implementation of the culture of death, putting faithful Catholics between a rock and a hard place.
The less power, influence, and control the culture-of-death-loving government has in my life, the better.

bal April 1, 2008 at 1:19 am

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Please link to this site.
http://www.geocities.jp/bom_2_08/

Sleeping Beastly April 1, 2008 at 11:00 am

NaturalCatholicMama demonstrates why the gambling analogy is flawed. When healthcare costs are inflated for individuals (and only reasonable for insurance companies) then buying insurance isn’t a gamble so much as the only way to avoid unreasonable costs. You’re not gambling; you’re buying into a club that gives you healthcare at a different price than you would spend as an individual.
I think any examination of healthcare should look at the situation realistically. A society is not morally obligated to provide healthcare for all its members. However, if the members of a society collectively decide to pool their resources to provide it universally, there’s nothing inherently wrong or “socialist” about it. A democratic nation can legitimately decide to establish universal healthcare without becoming a totalitarian state.
Personally, I think government-provided healthcare could be a good, efficient way to provide health services, provided it were well-run. I don’t trust my government to run such a program well, but then I don’t think our current system is any better. It seems to me that healthcare is a mess, and Russ72′s suggestions are better than any solutions I’ve heard proposed to date. They’re not perfect, and don’t address everything that’s wrong, but they’re an improvement on what we have, and better than what we would probably wind up with if we went single-payer right now.
What scares me is that the candidates talking about national healthcare plans are getting some pretty tasty contributions from health insurance companies, which leads me to believe that their solutions are going to be a sort of mishmash of capitalism and socialism- most likely the worst of both worlds. We can look at Massachusetts and San Francisco to see how this “government-mandated insurance” scheme usually plays out. I’m not hopeful.

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