Thursday, July 22, 2010


A Never-ending Argument

I have a continuing argument with my conservative friend H and my libertarian friend R. Lately R and I have been having a go about the recently enacted U.S. health care bill and the health care systems in most European countries, such as Denmark. R doesn't agree that the Danish health care system, in which every resident of the country receives health care at no cost, is in any way better than our system in which everyone has to pay, either directly to the medical providers or to an insurance company that pays the providers. I pointed out that our system has the disadvantage that many Americans die each year because they can't afford health care and don't have health insurance. R disputes my claim that anyone dies for lack of ability to pay. Are there not hospital emergency rooms that treat everyone regardless of ability to pay? He also challenged me to cite published information to support my assertion that people in America die because they can't afford health care.

Such information is of course available and easy to find with a computer and internet access. Use the browser to find Google and ask Google to find information about Americans who die because they lack health insurance. Google comes up with a long list of such articles about studies made by reputable institutions, such as the Harvard Medical School.

The point of this story is not to pillory R. Rather it is to provide an illustration of a kind of argument that exists between liberals like me and conservatives like H and R. We argue about what the facts are. Since we can't agree about the facts, the argument never ends.

As to the emergency room argument, the fact is that emergency rooms do not provide continuing long-term medical care. They do not heal or cure. They stabilize a patient who is near death or severely injured. Emergency room health care is the most expensive and least effective kind there is. At best, emergency room medical providers patch you up so that you can last long enough to get to your regular doctor for long-term treatment.


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