Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Way to Make Me Much More Conservative

Gentle readers--all three of you--I must disclose something: I'm fairly well-off. I'm not struggling. I'm not worried that I won't be able to get health insurance. (I am worried that my kids won't be able to get health insurance, but that's sort of another story.)

Now, I'm a pretty big believer in a progressive tax code. I think that the rich people ought to pay significantly more than their fair share--which we do.

I'm even OK with the government subsidizing health care and mandating guaranteed enrollment. Yes, it will cost more to us upper-end taxpayers. As long as it's not completely out of control, so be it. I think that a minimum standard of health care for all US residents is probably an unfortunate necessity. It'd be lovely if that were cheaper but it isn't.

But then I come across this article, relating a dirty little secret about the British NHS:
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.

“That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.,” Mr. Johnson said.
So apparently the "founding principles of the NHS" don't simply provide a minimum standard. In fact, they force individuals who are willing to pay more for enhanced care to endure the same minimum.

Now, as I said, I'm well-off. I'm OK with paying more to help others get decent care. But if you force me to endure less-than-effective health care just because it's not fair, I'm going to have a problem. I get to do with my money what I want to, OK? If you try to dump a single-payer system with these kinds of restrictions on me, I'll fight you. I'll be very happy to use every polarizing political dirty trick in the book to prevent you from enacting such a system. And if there's no centrists alive at the end of the day, that'll be a shame, but it'll still be worth it.

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