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Page 2: Who should an insurance buyer vote for?

Where do they stand?

For now, however, the question of whether health care is a right is better to ignore.  Whether or not Americans have a right to health care, we still want it of course, and of course every politician is trying to come up with the most enticing plan to give it to us, wrapping the package in whatever terminology will catch the voter’s eye and interest.  That’s what politicians are for after all, isn’t it?

Hillary Clinton, who leads the polls on the Democratic side, is a proponent of universal health care.  Her plan, which she defines as a continuing crusade from her days as First Lady through her service in the Senate, is a compilation of “baby steps,” as she calls them, and is the most complicated of any of the candidates.  Clinton has worked hard to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program and favors subsidization of teaching hospitals.  She is also one of those who links the term “universal health care” with a mindset of preventative medicine, especially in cases of preexisting medical conditions.  Hillary Clinton claims that by the end of her second term of office as President, the goal of universal health care, in large part funded by the federal government, could be achieved.

On this count, the man who currently runs second to Clinton trumps her claim with his own: Barack Obama promises that under his health care plan, America can achieve universal coverage by the end of his first term.  Obama frames this claim, however, with an interesting distinction: his plan does not include making health insurance mandatory, which means that people are free to choose whether or not to purchase it.  In the famous YouTube debate in July, Obama said, “I think that the problem is not that people are trying to avoid getting health care coverage. It is folks… who are desperately in desire of it, but they can can't afford it.”  According to Obama’s plan, the realization of universal health care therefore depends on the insurance being cheap enough and easy enough to obtain that everyone will want to buy it.  This seems a tenuous leap to some critics.

This is in contrast to the plan of John Edwards, who is the truest advocate of socialized medicine, although that term won’t often escape his lips.  His plan includes mandating that every American purchase health insurance, and bolsters the finances with extensive federal funding.  Every one of the “universal coverage,” “socialized medicine,” and “single payer” plans is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $100 billion to implement.

On the Republican side, the health plans tend to be more rudimentary.  Rudy Giuliani, the leader in most polls, cites the value of freedom of choice for the insured and the power of “free-market principles” to maintain viable price and availability.  The former New York mayor described the problem as follows: “The problem with our health insurance is it's government- and employer-dominated. People don't make individual choices. It's your health; you should own your health insurance.”  Giuliani’s plan also includes $15,000 tax deductions for families in the form of a medical savings account to be used toward the cost of health insurance.

Fred Thompson, who currently runs second after recently joining the race, takes an even more conservative approach to the health care issue, advocating the free market, competition and personal responsibility.  He is against the medical savings accounts and vouchers that Giuliani favors, trusting in unassisted economics to work out issues of who is covered and who is not.

Is universal health care actually possible?http://www.insure.com/articles/disabilityinsurance/index.html

Well, we know that universal health care is not a right.  We know it will cost a lot of money.  But some Americans still believe it's the best option.   So we have to ask: is universal health care really possible?  Let’s go back to the beginning.

Michael Moore gathered a lot of attention to the possibility of universal health care.  It turned out, however, that the standing ovation he received at Cannes Film Festival didn’t include doctors from France, the U.K. and Canada, who criticized Moore afterwards for grossly mischaracterizing the nature of the public health systems in those countries.

In point of fact, the health systems are riddled with inefficiency and error, and the waiting lists for treatments and services are exponentially longer abroad than here in the U.S..  And as for the story of receiving immediate and free medical treatment in Cuba… suffice it to say that when Fidel Castro himself is worried about his health, he brings in experts from other countries who have expertise and resources that are simply unavailable in Cuba’s socialized system.  When Castro flew in surgeon Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, the episode was well catalogued, including a piece by Fred Thompson himself in the National Review.

The real question

It would seem evident that socialized medicine is ineffective, and that perhaps despite our best efforts, sometimes people will die who might have been saved.  And the free market has similar problems.  There are people in this country who cannot afford health insurance.  That is a simple fact.  If there is no universal health care plan in place, those people will not have the immediate financial support of the government.  There are other sources of health treatment, many operated by charities.  In general, they offer fewer resources than a fully equipped hospital.  But then again, a fully equipped hospital is still no Mayo Clinic.

No system is perfect.  We know free-market health care is flawed, and we have seen the gross flaws of socialized medicine, and the errors in the plan of universal health care.  The question is then whether you would trust your fellow citizens with much less resources or the federal government with much more, to treat those who are without insurance.  The question is less government intervention or more government intervention—less government help or more government help—less government or more government.  But that’s politics.

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