If you want a peek at the direction Barack Obama will take health care, or at least where he would like to take it, check out this moment from an otherwise dull, dreary “virtual town hall”. Obama extols the virtues of single-payer systems in Europe and Canada while lamenting the “legacy” that keeps America from its nationalized destiny:
Obama’s right about the “historical accident” of employer based care, from which Obama obviously drew the wrong lesson. Government intervention in markets — in this case, the labor market — produces strange and sometimes problematic results. This was the very issue that John McCain wanted to address in his plans to make employer-financed health insurance taxable income while providing a balancing refundable that would have disconnected insurance from employment and created a new market for individual — and portable — plans. Obama and the Democrats misrepresented McCain’s plans, and then turned around this month and suggested they might co-opt the McCain approach now.
As for his description of Canada and “England” as places where one just walks in and gets treatment, perhaps Obama should talk to more Canadians and “English”. Most have to wait months for tests and treatments. The British have a chronic lack of dentists and transplant surgeons, just to name two specialties, because of the lack of compensation for specializations. Both have a healthy “health tourism” outflow of patients to countries that allow for free-market health care. Most people in the systems that Obama hails would laugh outright at the notion that they get health care on demand.
Maybe Obama should do more research on Canada and “England”.