Stossel’s "Sick in America": Blogosphere reaction

Kudos to John Stossel last night on 20/20, providing some much-needed balance to the health care debate. Fantastic piece. Here is some blogosphere reaction.

Scott Whitlock:
“ABC and ’20/20′ should certainly be applauded for airing a non-liberal take on universal health care. In the special, Stossel will make points rarely heard on network television, such as noting that Canadians wait an average of 17 weeks for treatment, that one town in that country has “a lottery just to get an appointment with a family doctor.” However, it would also be nice if John Stossel wasn’t such a lonely voice in providing a different perspective on this (and other subjects).

Perhaps conservatives shouldn’t be too optimistic about such a change. On Friday, Cuomo teased the contrarian segment by wondering, “Is free health care really the best health care?” As John Stossel will demonstrate on Friday night, calling it “free” health care, doesn’t make it so.”

Copious Dissent:
“John Stossel explained that the solution is to remove third-parties from the equation. Without third-party insurance companies, or the government, individuals make their own healthcare decisions. This creates great incentives to take care of oneself and to shop for the best price.

Stossel used a very helpful example to explain why this works. He said, “What if car insurance paid for gas?” You would not care about price when you went to the station because someone else was paying for it. Before we knew it, gas would cost $20 a gallon. If there was grocery insurance, you would just buy everything in the store at any price. Analogously, when you go to the doctor, nobody cares about cost, so the price rises.”

Weekend Pundit:
“Stossel talks with Michael Moore about his movie, Sicko, and how it gives the false impression that the health care systems in other countries are so much better (they’re not).

Even Canadian doctors slam the national health care system in Canada, saying “Sure it’s free, but you’ll have to wait 6 months to get treatment.” The artificial shortage has created a demand for black market for-profit clinics, which are now popping up all over Canada. Even the head of the Canadian Medical Association has one of those for-profit clinics because he got tired of not being able to treat patients needing care now, not six months from now.”

“Another thing that I really had never thought of is that there are people out there who are mad at insurance companies and (this one really threw me) doctors for wanting to make a profit. Helping sick people, the inane argument goes, should be a higher calling that suffices without the need for them to make a buck. Excuse me but if I saw my doctor pull into the lot driving an’85 Yugo I would turn and run as fast as I could.”

The World Around Us:
“Britain, France, Canada and Cuba are looked at by Michael Moore and others as examples because they have free health care, but because it is free to all, it is substandard. People have to wait for months to see a specialist, even for life-threatening conditions. Emergency room waits are longer than ours here, if you can believe it. The wealthy and well-connected might be able to get better care, as Michael Moore was able to in his movie, but ordinary people are going to hospitals where they try to save money by washing the sheets every other day… one suggestion to save money was to flip the sheets over and reuse them.”

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  • Dr. Val

    I really enjoyed Stossel’s piece. I know that he’s been criticized repeatedly and accused for “not understanding the issues” but I personally feel that consumer empowerment and removing the middle man is the best way to go. Transparency, reduced red tape, IT efficiency, personal responsibility, assistance for the poor, and convenient access to affordable basic care services are the way forward. At least, I hope that’s what we choose as a country.

  • Anonymous

    “People have to wait for months to see a specialist, even for life-threatening conditions.”


  • Mike

    anon 1:00

    I assume that’s sarcasm?

  • doublebonus

    Kaiser is the best of both worlds. I get to pay monthly premiums AND get to wait months to see a doctor.

  • Anonymous

    “I assume that’s sarcasm?”

    Not in the least. Do people have a right to see specialists in any particular time period?

  • Brooke Lorren

    People don’t have a right to anything, really. The problem is that they have no choice but to wait, sometimes dying in the process. It is illegal for any doctor to operate outside of the substandard system that is in place, so people have no choice but to wait, or go across the border to the United States.

    On the other hand, dogs and cats can be seen right away. Something is wrong in a society when animals get better health care than humans.

  • Zagreus Ammon

    I liked the show. It was thoughtful and well-researched and only just a little manipulative.

    People die, in various places, for various reasons and is not a good enough reason to explain or justify a health system.

    There is no such thing as free care. Even unreimbursed carte to uninsured individuals costs a heap somewhere in the value chain. The end of that chain is quality of life. The question should be quality of life and quality of care. Nobody ever told me they would judge my physician’s care by the kind of car I drove or how much money I made. I would have become a cardiologoist instead of settle for the tougher job of primary care.

    If money were the final arbiter, then all health systems are substandard, since the US spends the most.

    I have some thoughts on the Canadian system…

  • Anonymous

    Wake up! Don’t fall for Stossel’s libertarian propaganda. Canadians used to have a U.S. style private system. Virtually none of them want to go back to it. Canada has a significantly higher life expectancy than the U.S.. Also, Canadian patients, nurses, and doctors consistently approve of their system in public opinion polls. The same is true in the U.K. where virtually no one wants a U.S. style system. Yes, there is waiting for some non-emergency services, but you do get excellent care and you don’t go bankrupt in the process. In the U.S. the first question out of the doctor’s mouth is “what kind of insurance do you have?” while in Canada, U.K., and other developed countries the doctor can focus on taking care of you. Well, I will be surprised if my comment makes it through but it’s worth a try.

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