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Old 06-07-2009, 06:16 AM   #41
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I think the argument is that employer deductability of health insurance distorts the market. It's better to give individuals the deduction, or tax credit, and let them choose the policy that fits their needs, rather than have employers use gold plated health care benefits as a recruiting tool.
That could be, but I don't really see that argument in his statement. It also goes back to my original point, He wants the people who have paid their dues to pay more dues and pay the dues for those who refuse to pay.

I know it's going to sound mean, but I don't care, I'm not exactly the PC type. I think any tool the employers can use to lure a person to work for them is a good thing. What everyone is proposing is to give every worker in a responsible job a huge pay cut. I started with a car, five t-shirts and two pairs of jeans. My "new" clothes were anything I could scrounge out of the garbage. I worked my but off, so I could move up and provide a good standard of living for me and my family. Why should I have to take a huge pay cut because some lazy S.O.B. refuses to go out and make a better life for themselves. I know not everyone who does not have insurance is lazy. Some choose to go without, some find themselves in a position where through no fault of their own they are without a job and insurance, those are not the people I'm talking about. I'm talking about the perfectly capable person who is doing a minimum wage job, despite being in the work force for several years. I'm talking about the person who refused to acknowledge the business they were in was coming to an end and refused to upgrade their job skills. I talking about the person who would rather sit at home and play video games, watching Jerry Springer, and eating Bon Bons than go out and find work. I should not have to pay for those people. I used to work around those people and have to listen to them complain about how bad they had it. When hearing those complaints the only question I would ask is, "What are you doing to better your situation?" The question was always met with blank stares followed by "it's not my fault..."
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:28 PM   #42
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I'm not sure this is necessarily true. Imagine this:
- Anyone who sells health plans in a region must take all who apply (no underwriting--same price for each policy type (see below) for everyone regardless of age, sex, or medical condition)
- Government mandate: Everyone must buy health insurance (therefore, no adverse selection). The poor get a voucher on a sliding scale.
- A fixed number (4? 6?) of government-defined policy types with varying co-pays and features. All have basic preventative care (to reduce overall costs to the system) and an annual cap on co-pays (income based? Asset-based?). All policies have very high limits on coverage. Standardized policy types=more efficient price competition.
This is a scheme that can potentially achieve the same objectives as a single payer system, but the hand of government is so heavy here I'm not sure there is much difference between this and just having the government run everything. It's possible that you get some benefit from competition among insurers but the scope of those benefits will be limited by how much leeway companies are given to compete on things other than price.

It also sounds a lot like what we have here in NJ, where, according to e-health insurance, a family of 4 would pay $18K per year for an HMO type of plan. The least expensive plan offered costs $8,400 per year, but it looks like the coverage for a lot of stuff is capped at $700 per year.

So my guess is we'd still need some subsidies from Uncle Sugar to make this affordable.
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Old 06-07-2009, 05:15 PM   #43
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But you did not address my main question, why would the government have to shell out so much money? I would not think that 'we' would have our costs go down so much that the overall cost of medicine would decline when you consider the estimated cost to the government... and I would think we would get worse medicine...
I can't speak for anybody else. But considering my own experience I don't think it is possible we can get any worse medicine than we have now

I had severe back pain a few years ago. The doctor prescribed a traction chair to help the back get better. Some bureaucrat at the insurance company refused to pay for it, so I could not use it. I still have back pain etc.

A friend of mine have MS. As an MS patient she needs to take a daily injection of a drug. She could not use the medication the doctor prescribed, because the insurance company refused to pay for it. Instead, she had to settle for a cheaper drug the insurance company allowed her to take. The doctor was not happy, but it was this second choice drug or nothing.

Whatever health care reform we get, I doubt it will be worse than what we have today. Furthermore, since this is an early retirement board, health care reform hopefully will also eliminate the issues with pre-existing conditions. It is tough to retire with a pre-existing condition as no insurance company will touch you.
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Old 06-07-2009, 05:24 PM   #44
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I should not have to pay for those people. I used to work around those people and have to listen to them complain about how bad they had it. When hearing those complaints the only question I would ask is, "What are you doing to better your situation?" The question was always met with blank stares followed by "it's not my fault..."
You are asking why you should have to pay for people that didn't take care of themselves. I hear you, but that has always been the case as long as we have taxes. For example, why should someone who was against the Iraq war be required to pay for it? Why should someone in Texas have to pay for the "bridge to nowhere"?

We all pay in to the system, and then we elect representatives to make the best decision possible to spend it. Survey after survey show the same thing, ie we are paying more for our health care, yet we are less healthy than other countries. Something is not working.
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Old 06-07-2009, 05:48 PM   #45
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You are asking why you should have to pay for people that didn't take care of themselves. I hear you, but that has always been the case as long as we have taxes. For example, why should someone who was against the Iraq war be required to pay for it? Why should someone in Texas have to pay for the "bridge to nowhere"?

We all pay in to the system, and then we elect representatives to make the best decision possible to spend it. Survey after survey show the same thing, ie we are paying more for our health care, yet we are less healthy than other countries. Something is not working.
I agree we shouldn't have to pay for a bridge to nowhere. The people in charge who decided to build that bridge would be the same people in charge of your health care. As far as the Iraq war, getting into that discussion would hijack this thread and wind up getting it closed, so I will leave it at that.

I do realize people get sick due to circumstances outside their control. I also understand that the largest killer of people in the US is heart disease. That is one very preventable illness for most people, yet we are still the most obese country in the world. We get the least amount of exercise of any country in the industrialized in the world. Those are two areas we need to address before we throw out the current system for something else.

It doesn't matter what we do with health care, it will get more expensive, period. The baby boomers are getting old and ill. The boomer doctors are retiring. So at this time we have a decreasing number of doctors at the same time as a increased demand for health care. It has no choice but to get more expensive.
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Old 06-07-2009, 05:53 PM   #46
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One of the reasons for high costs is that people without insurance don't get basic care, then end up in the ER when really bad stuff occurs (that probably could have been kept at a low level if they had earlier health care) and the way things are set up the ER has to accept and treat them.

Then the hospital (which has said ER) has to charge more to others to not go broke.

We are already paying for the care of these people, we just don't think about it.
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Old 06-07-2009, 06:08 PM   #47
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I can't speak for anybody else. But considering my own experience I don't think it is possible we can get any worse medicine than we have now

I had severe back pain a few years ago. The doctor prescribed a traction chair to help the back get better. Some bureaucrat at the insurance company refused to pay for it, so I could not use it. I still have back pain etc.
And you believe that a government health-care plan will do a good job of paying for medical devices? Here's a little recent story about their effective system for paying for something as simple as a wheelchair.

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A friend of mine have MS. As an MS patient she needs to take a daily injection of a drug. She could not use the medication the doctor prescribed, because the insurance company refused to pay for it. Instead, she had to settle for a cheaper drug the insurance company allowed her to take. The doctor was not happy, but it was this second choice drug or nothing.
And you believe that the government health care plan will give patients access to expensive new drugs? I wonder how the VA, Medicare, and Medicaid formularies compare to private insurance formularies. I really don't know. I do know that if the government agrees to prescribe new drugs as they are developed, the cost of this program will escalate.

As they say, "If you think medical care is expensive now, just wait until it is free."
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Old 06-07-2009, 06:25 PM   #48
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Khan--I understand your point. Unfortunately most people can afford to go it alone with the routine care they neglect that you describe. They just don't know any better because the media and government wonks keep telling them health care is too expensive. A routine doctor's office visit will cost less than a couple hundred dollars, but people believe it will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more. Many of the people who can't afford health care are eligible for Medicaid or some other form of government health care, but don't apply for the programs.

The area I grew up had a hospital ran by a charitable organization. The bill was issued based on the earnings of the patient. If you made at least 30k you paid full fare, 20k you paid a small percentage, and under 15k your treatment was free. These figures are a bit old and approximate as the last time I went there was in the early 90's.

Care in the ER is more expensive, but I have seen an $8000 ER bill dropped to $2000 and routinely see $5000 ER bills dropped to below $2000. The norm for the hospital bills I see is any where from 1/4 to 1/2 of the original charge. These are charges I have seen from several hospitals in Florida, and Mississippi and one hospital so far in Alabama, but number two is coming up next month.

George--Just wondering what insurance company(ies) were involved? I have found in my case that as long as the doctor can justify why something needs to be done and it is not an experimental procedure/treatment the insurance does not have any problem paying for it.
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Old 06-07-2009, 06:44 PM   #49
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I can't speak for anybody else. But considering my own experience I don't think it is possible we can get any worse medicine than we have now

I had severe back pain a few years ago. The doctor prescribed a traction chair to help the back get better. Some bureaucrat at the insurance company refused to pay for it, so I could not use it. I still have back pain etc.

A friend of mine have MS. As an MS patient she needs to take a daily injection of a drug. She could not use the medication the doctor prescribed, because the insurance company refused to pay for it. Instead, she had to settle for a cheaper drug the insurance company allowed her to take. The doctor was not happy, but it was this second choice drug or nothing.

Whatever health care reform we get, I doubt it will be worse than what we have today. Furthermore, since this is an early retirement board, health care reform hopefully will also eliminate the issues with pre-existing conditions. It is tough to retire with a pre-existing condition as no insurance company will touch you.
The systems out there today works OK for us. We had Medicare and a supplemental policy with Blue Cross/Blue Shield through my former employer, GM. When we lost all our health care coverage with GM on
1-1-09 we had to search out something new. Somebody clued us in that if we kept Medicare and opted for another supplemental secondary, we could be denied because of preexisting conditions of both my wife and myself. However, if we dropped Medicare and bought a Medicare Advantage plan, there are no questions asked. That's what we did. The plan doesn't cost us anymore that our Medicare premium. Medicare still takes the premium, sends it to the Advantage plan provider and that plan covers us. Includes prescription drugs, and minimal dental and vision. It has a maximum out of pocket of $3400 each per year. So far so good.
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:45 PM   #50
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Democrats Weigh Health Mandate as Obama Urges Taxing Wealthy - Bloomberg.com

Where will the government get the money to pay for Universal Health Care and the massive deficits? Oh yes! Tax the rich!. The solution to everything is "Tax the Rich". But even after they take away every last dime from everyone the politicians consider rich, there will still not be enough to go around. It reminds me about the that song by Ten Years After:Tax the rich, feed the poor, until there is no rich no more. (and not there is no poor no more.)

I read somewhere that if we were to take all the world's wealth , national and personal. and divide the whole sum among every one on earth, each person will get about 2 thousand dollars one time, and that will be it.

Politicians invent more and more entitlement programs and hand out goodies after goodies to buy votes for their continuing reelections. There are now more and more takers in the society in proportion to people who are working and forced to support this game. If they hold a person up at knife-point at the ATM, it is a crime. If they use the intermediary of politicians to rob you, it is called Democracy.

If the Health Care system in the US is so bad, you will not have so many people coming to the US from Canada, Asia, South America and the Middle East to get medical care. Perhaps it is not fair because the rich will have it better. They also have better houses, better wardrobes, better cars, better schools, but mostly they work hard in life so they can pay for those advantages. There should be equality of opportunity but equality of outcome should not be society's goal. You want to be rich, work towards that. This doe not appear to be the thinking of a lot of the populace now. Class envy is more and more the norm. The productive segment of the society is not only having the pocket picked, but it is being denigrated as selfish and greedy at the same time. Punishing people through the system, when they are more successful on life than you are, is a good way for a lot of people to deal with the frustration of their own failure. I wonder how long before the "rich" will go John Galt on the system.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:18 PM   #51
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If the Health Care system in the US is so bad, you will not have so many people coming to the US from Canada, Asia, South America and the Middle East to get medical care.
The US has some excellent health care for a price. But its primary care system is suffering and people without good health insurance are suffering.

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Perhaps it is not fair because the rich will have it better. They also have better houses, better wardrobes, better car, better schools, but they work to pay for that.There should be equality of opportunity but equality of outcome should not be society's goal. You want to be rich, work towards that. This doe not appear to be the thinking of a lot of the populace now. Class envy is more and more the norm. The productive segment of the society is not only having the pocket picked, but it is being denigrated as selfish and greedy at the same time. I wonder how long before they go John Galt.
Just because you do not have health insurance does not mean you are not productive. I seriously doubt that the rich are going to Galt on us. The rich are no less inclined than the poor to support social programs. (Sorry, I am not finding my statistics). So it is class envy to want a system of universal health care? I doubt it because the desire is not split down class lines. Equal opportunity in health care? I don't think so. There is discrimination all the time and it is legal. It is called underwriting.

Most all other democratic countries provide national health care. The benefit of a society is that as a whole we can do so much to better everyone's lives. Road. Sewers. Police. Schools. I am not at all saying that everyone should end up with the same standard of living or that efforts should not be rewarded. But I do think that a society is stronger if we educate our population and do what is reasonable to keep it healthy. I also believe that it is the moral and right thing to do and we can afford it.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:44 PM   #52
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If the Health Care system in the US is so bad, you will not have so many people coming to the US from Canada, Asia, South America and the Middle East to get medical care.
If you are implying that the quality is uniformly better here, the outcomes for almost every comparable procedure or specific illness care are as good in most developed countries as it is here. There is no advantage in going to Mayo (other than for said rare conditions) than a legitimate hospital in Buenos Aires, Paris, Toronto, or Tokyo.

I'm very proud of the technical quality of care here, but we don't have a monopoly. Those who can afford to come here wil get very good care, as would you if you got sick in Barcelona or Oslo.

The only difference is that the other locations often do a better job of getting that care to a larger percentage of their populations through non-employment-related health care delivery systems.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:53 PM   #53
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Perhaps it is not fair because the rich will have it better. They also have better houses, better wardrobes, better cars, better schools, but mostly they work hard in life so they can pay for those advantages.
I hear ya. I'm all for rich people being able to have things that others can't afford . . . nice houses, fancy cars, private planes, country clubs, etc. etc.

But I'd draw the line at telling the guy with cancer, "Sorry buddy, you should have worked harder."
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:36 PM   #54
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The systems out there today works OK for us. . . . However, if we dropped Medicare and bought a Medicare Advantage plan, there are no questions asked. That's what we did. The plan doesn't cost us anymore that our Medicare premium. Medicare still takes the premium, sends it to the Advantage plan provider and that plan covers us. Includes prescription drugs, and minimal dental and vision. It has a maximum out of pocket of $3400 each per year. So far so good.
President Obama is a vigorous opponent of Medicare Advantage.
CATO Institute Article
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In addition, insurers and health care providers are lobbying strenuously against cuts in their Medicare payments that would produce savings of the type they profess to want. Insurers are fighting Mr. Obama’s proposal to cut payments to their private Medicare Advantage plans by a total of $176 billion over 10 years.
The program has many enemies in Congress, who see it as wasteful. Anyway, not to worry. The central planners will provide something for you, and for all of us.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:21 PM   #55
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My rant was taken out of context. I am not against Health Care Reform to provide for basic as well as catastrophic medical care, I was reacting to the simplistic approach of the politicians to raise taxes on the " rich" as a solution to everything. They have massively underestimated the cost and will stick the future generations with massive burdens.And there will be a continuing mission creep of governmental programs, but fiscal restraint had never been raised as an integral part of the solution, as well as being a responsibility of the government.

National Health Care system in Canada has not been a panacea. The government regulates everything on top of reimbursement of fee, and includes where a doctor can practice medicine, how much should they earn in a year (I was talking to people from Canada in the late 1990's: if a doctor makes over the allowed annual limit, he would be paid at a very substantially reduced rate. The amount of work was the same. The malpractice risk was the same. So many doctors just took very frequent and prolonged vacations when they got close to the billable limits. Often it amounted close to 3 months a year). The government also decided on how many slots there should be in a medical school. In the 1990's the health planners thought that there were too many doctors. Not that they based that on doctors/patients ratio , they were projecting more doctors means more the government had to pay out in cost. So the government instituted a sizeable cut in medical school classes nationally. That, together with many Canadian physicians who chose to vote with their feet and moved to the US, created currently a physician shortage (same for nurses) in Canada.

As it stands, health care costs eat up a major portion of the government budgets. Canada has a very high income tax rate. They have a VAT. They also have a 12 to 13% national and provincial sale tax. It still ran a record high government deficit last year The basic health care is provided for, but people have a hard time getting a primary care doctor, because they are not accepting new patients. They have long wait for diagnostic procedures and "elective surgery".

Outcome statistics can be fudged, and depend on a lot of factors including population homogenity, lifestyle, diet (in the US, dietary indiscretion) And statistics can be distorted to serve political purposes. I remember reading the old Soviet Union, boasted the lowest newborn mortality rate before the Iron Curtain came down, . That was because they counted babies then born before twenty eight as miscarriages and not counted. Their medical capacity did not allow them to sustain those premature babies. Those babies are routinely and often successfully cared for in the west. The newborn mortality rate is higher in the west because they are trying to save babies born even at 23 , 24 weeks. You can buy the Michael Moore's line about Cuba having one of the world's best medical care system. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The US and Canada have many fewer primary care physicians, because the system emphasized the role and prestige of medical specialists. Just because there will be national health care insurance reform may not change the career preferences of the North American medical students.


Nowhere in my post did I suggest that those without health insurance are being irresponsible or unproductive . Nor did I say that the poor should not get medical care if they cannot pay for it. As a matter of fact, the poor (and those people who learned to game the system), are in all sorts of government programs that gave them a check each month, and pay for food, housing AND medical coverage for medications and doctor and hospital fees. It is the working class who are not in high paying jobs who have to struggle constantly to pay for daily cost of living, health insurance, copayment etc for themselves and their family. They still have to reach in their pockets to support the increasing number people who are dependent on the government ( meaning, actually, other members of the society) It would be naive to deny that there are people gaming the system, and the government has become an enabler and get some people stuck and accept governemental programs as a way of life
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:01 AM   #56
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My rant was taken out of context. I am not against Health Care Reform to provide for basic as well as catastrophic medical care, I was reacting to the simplistic approach of the politicians to raise taxes on the " rich" as a solution to everything.
It's certainly true that there's a temptation to go to that well so often that it eventually runs dry. Or put another way, there's only so many golden eggs you can ask the goose to lay before you kill it.

I think one of the trickiest things about health care reform -- assuming it eventually takes *some* form of universal coverage -- is figuring out the specific mechanism to pay for it. Some have suggested primarily funding it with payroll taxes (like SS and Medicare). As a prospective early retiree that sounds great to me -- let those working pay for it all! -- but it does seem like that would be a grossly regressive way to pay for the tax in that it would seem to produce a massive financial incentive to retire early and let the working stiffs with lesser means pay for it. Having said that, like any other social program there will be *some* degree of redistribution going on -- but where that happens it should be as fair as possible, the costs spread out relatively equitably, and avoid being too much of a burden on the poor and middle class while also not "soaking the rich" to the point of damaging economic growth.

In examining all the world's health care systems, when all is said and done I suspect we'll most closely follow the German model. And as for paying for it, it's possible there will be a payroll tax, but if there is we'd probably need another line on the tax forms where people who didn't have earned income would have to pay their share -- sort of like how self-employment tax is handled today.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:49 AM   #57
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The fact that we're paying twice as much as the rest of the developed nations and 47 millions american are without healthcare speaks for itself. The current system is not sustainable.

Can we all have the same type of universal coverage and pay for the same basic coverage at the same rate the French, the German and the Brit are paying (which about half what we are paying now) and let the wealthy americans purchase additional coverage if they so desire.

What is wrong with this idea?
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:57 AM   #58
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Can we all have the same type of universal coverage and pay for the same basic coverage at the same rate the French, the German and the Brit are paying (which about half what we are paying now) and let the wealthy americans purchase additional coverage if they so desire.
My understanding is that this is illegal in some countries with universal health care. Apparently wanting to seem egalitarian and not allowing "the rich" to have better (or more timely) health care, some nations have banned the practice of letting people buy "better" or "more comprehensive" coverage with their own money. I think that's anathema to the current American mindset that "it's my money and I can do what I want with it."
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Old 06-08-2009, 11:13 AM   #59
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National Health Care system in Canada has not been a panacea. The government regulates everything on top of reimbursement of fee, and includes where a doctor can practice medicine, how much should they earn in a year (I was talking to people from Canada in the late 1990's: if a doctor makes over the allowed annual limit, he would be paid at a very substantially reduced rate. The amount of work was the same. The malpractice risk was the same. So many doctors just took very frequent and prolonged vacations when they got close to the billable limits. Often it amounted close to 3 months a year). The government also decided on how many slots there should be in a medical school. In the 1990's the health planners thought that there were too many doctors. Not that they based that on doctors/patients ratio , they were projecting more doctors means more the government had to pay out in cost. So the government instituted a sizeable cut in medical school classes nationally. That, together with many Canadian physicians who chose to vote with their feet and moved to the US, created currently a physician shortage (same for nurses) in Canada.
You may want to check the accuracy of the 'red' statements with meadbh.

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Originally Posted by atlas888 View Post
As it stands, health care costs eat up a major portion of the government budgets. Canada has a very high income tax rate. They have a VAT. They also have a 12 to 13% national and provincial sale tax. It still ran a record high government deficit last year
Yes, health care is a major government expense.
Combined federal and provincial top marginal rates vary from province to province but average about 45%, average rates for a $50K income would be about $10-12K.
Canada has a VAT, 5%. Some provinces have sales taxes ranging from 0% to 8% with various exemptions. The TOTAL sales tax varies from 5% to 13% depending on province.
Canada ran a deficit of ~$2B last year, hardly a record. For the previous 12 years they ran a surplus.
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Old 06-08-2009, 01:12 PM   #60
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When a new graduate or when a doctor wants to move to and ,say, work in Vancouver, he/she has to get a billing number from the province. The province had routinely been denying those numbers in places where they deem there is an oversupply of doctors. You can get a billing number without difficulty if you want to go and work as a doctor in the Northern parts of any province, where it is extremely cold, underpopulated and underserviced, but you will have a hard time if you want to work in your profession in Vancouver,Toronto, Montreal and so on. Physicians in Canada may be the only group that have no choice as to where they want to work and raise a family.

Doctors are seeing fewer patients because of imposed billing limit

Marginal Revolution: French health care

In Critical Condition: Health Care In America Canada's Way What a universal health care system delivers, good and bad

Under the Radar: Stealth Development of Two-Tier Healthcare in Canada

When Doctors Opt Out - WSJ.com

FCPP Publications :: Canada’s Doctor Shortage

Where Have All the Doctors Gone? By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan - A Research Guide

The Doctor is Out: Physician Participation in the Rationed Access Day Work Stoppage in British Columbia, 1998/99 :: Vol. 1 No. 1 2002 :: Longwoods Review :: Longwoods Publishing

I just randomly pull up some articles. The first and the last were addressing the annual billing limits the government imposed ( can you say Pay Czar, the latest scheme the US government is thinking of ?) Reactions from physicians included rotating strikes in British Columbia, and doctors closing the office and taking long vacations. Another article talks about the time a doctor spent in filling out government forms for billing,(they took more time than seeing a patient) and at the end of day he got $C 20 for the patient's visit. From that amount he had to pay office rent, staff, supply, all the support services and Tax.

The average salary of a French Physician in 2003 is $50,000 as noted in one of those articles. It alluded to the tainted outcome comparison between nations taht people touted. If you want to have doctors who operate on your eyes or brain , who have to work long hours, spent years in training, to make the same or less money than a US postal or auto worker, by all means. You might still get the best and brightest to go into the profession, and then again you may not.

When I say the malpractice risk is the same, I mean that just because you saw a patient and the government pays you only 33c instead of a dollar because you are over the billing limits, the malpractice risk did not decrease by a corresponding 2/3. I was not comparing the malpractice insurance rate between Canada and the US.

American has the fantasy that the Canadian system is the panacea. That may be so from afar. You may not see all the worms in the system
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So you think an average combined rate of 45% for federal and top provincial tax is fine. That is half a person's income he tolled for. On top of that you have the 13% GST and PST, used to be 13$ in Quebec. That GST and PST applies to home purchase and other large items. ( I was struck by having to pay the 13% GST and PST when I bought stamps to mail postcards to friends when I was on vacation in Montreal.) Before 2000, the top federal rate of 29% kicked in at $ 60000 and it was only recently that the top rate applies to income over $100000. There is no mortgage deduction in Canada. At the end of the day. you still pay for the "free" Canadian health care if you are a Canadian.
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I do not know where your rosy number of 2 billion dollars in Canadian government deficit came from ( you said last year). For 2008 it is $50 billion and it was a record. Health care cost accounted for 40% of the federal budget.
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Federal deficit headed toward record territory

France 24 | Canada on course for record budget deficit | France 24


I am too lazy to research and link the article now. What it said was: the national debt of the US is 1x the GDP. ( I do not know whether the calculation takes into account the current spending rate), but the national debt of the European nations like France and Germany we so admire is 1.5x the GDP. They do not have a large defense budget, so most of the deficits stemmed from social spending. That ratio of debt to GDP is even higher in smaller economies like Italy and Greece.

P.S. I think I 'll will stop kicking around this discussion now, before the moderator cut us off. This is getting to be something that should be posted in the Political Discussion section
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