The Corner

The Health of the State

Froma Harrop responds to my NR cover story on the Europeanization of America:

The label “socialized medicine” gets glued onto any national health plan. In a true socialized system, all the doctors work for the government. That’s the case in only a few countries.

The more accurate term is “socialized insurance”: The government picks up the bills but doctors work for themselves.

That’s a book-keeping argument. The point is: Can the patient contract with the doctor and receive timely service? As he would, say, if he was going to a restaurant, or ordering a dish washer, or having his roof re-shingled? No. From the patient’s point of view, the entire system is “socialized.” Ms. Harrop adds: 

By the way, socialized insurance has already established a beachhead on our shores. Ever hear of Medicare? And the emerging Obama health care plan, with its heavy reliance on private insurers, happens to be less socialistic than Medicare.

Now, how many of our Republican lawmakers want to dismantle Medicare? Let’s see a show of hands.

Well, for what it’s worth, I do. The “socialized beachhead” has contributed significantly to the distortion of the market and to ballooning costs. If you believe in “free” health care for seniors and other selected demographics, this is not the best way to do it. Aside from anything else, it’s contributed to the massive mischaracterization of the health-care debate, where the problems arising from a bureaucratic, semi-socialized system are routinely attributed to a brutal, merciless, red-meat capitalist system. There’s a lot of that about.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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