Supermajority support universal health care.

A Gallup poll reveals that a supermajority of Americans — 69% — believe that it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide universal health care. Only 28% say that it’s not the government’s job. This is a 17% increase from 2000. Support for social welfare has steadily climbed since the early 1990s, and increased markedly post-Katrina, when it became clear that millions of Americans are one mishap away from third world poverty. I opposed universal health care until a few years ago, when I decided that it is fundamentally wrong to let a child die because she had the misfortune to be born to poor parents, free market be damned.

25 thoughts on “Supermajority support universal health care.”

  1. I wonder how much of this shift has to do with the aging population. As an oldster, I’ve seen the cost of health insurance rise so dramatically that I understand why so many are forced to go without. Heck, right now, I’m facing a doubling of my own insurance premiums.

    I’ve watched too many people save for their old age only to have it eaten up by health care costs. And not just assisted living, although that, too, is outrageous.

    There seems to be no political will to place any limits on increasing health care costs. So I’ve come to believe that universal health care is the about the only answer.

  2. I really think you’re right about that, Vivian. As the boomers require increasing amounts of care, facing the bills that accompany that care, surely they’ll support an increased governmental role in healthcare. Combining that with the climbing participation on elections that accompanies aging will add up to one powerful voting bloc.

  3. Increasingly the arguments for health care coverage make good business sense. The double whammy of losing both employment and health insurance in a job loss is a significant source of tension among the working class (otherwise called the majority) and it discourages many entrepreneurs from creating new value in the marketplace. Besides small business, large businesses have to carry the added weight of health coverage and pensions that foreign counterparts don’t bear.

    If a credible plan comes forward it will get my support, but I’m reasonable to know that a credible plan may mean that some service levels decline in order to make sure that an even level of service is obtainable by all. That is a good trade off in my book and I’ll hold any politician in high regard if he or she is brave enough to tell us that we can’t have it all. Anyone who claims we can do full coverage without compromises seems unlikely to have the will to really make it happen.

  4. Very often in my work I see someone who has been wiped out by medical bills, or is about to be. This is no longer a problem limited to the working class, as someone commented previously. It greatly affects the middle class, and even some fairly affluent individuals. Despite COBRA, health insurance is not really available to many of those who become catastrophically ill, because they cannot afford the premiums — they’re not working! Medicaid is only available if they meet very restrictive income and resource limitatations. Medicare is only available after they have been receiving SS disability for two years, and even then, its coverage is limited. Yes, there are personal savings, but they can be quickly wiped out by the unbelievably high cost of health care.
    This is not just a matter of one’s philosophy of government. The astounding increase in health care premiums and health care costs, along with the increase in those needing care as the population ages, make a so-called “free market” solution unworkable. For many reasons, there really is no free market for health insurance coverage, or health care.
    Health care is a necessity, not a luxury, which is why the percentage of people who believe in universal health care is rapidly rising. We need to join the vast majority of civilized nations that recognize health care as a basic right.

  5. It is not just that boomers have increasing health care costs, the costs of just the premiums increase with age. The real issue is the cost of non-group coverage – the premiums are truly obscene.

    And don’t even talk about COBRA – I had a client come in today who is paying almost $1,500 a month in COBRA coverage for himself and his family (wife, one child)! Most folks can barely afford the group premium costs but when it comes to individual policies, the costs just are completely out of reach.

  6. Poor people already get federally funded healthcare. Furthermore, children of moderately poor but not technically “poor” parents also get virtually free healthcare.
    I would like the federal government to buy my groceries for me. Isn’t that just as important to survival as healthcare?

  7. What drives me crazy is when some Republican (maybe someone other than a Republican, though that’s whom I’ve heard it from) brushes off universal health care as “socialist” or “socialized medicine”. And then what drives me even more batty is when the room erupts in fervent applause, as if we are still living in the Cold War era, or as if they truly understand what socialized medicine would mean to them, and they are thoughtfully rejecting it for the principal of the free market. Such a blatant use of inflammatory language to rile up the thoughtless response of the masses. This was a Virgil Goode/ Virgil’s crowd in a nutshell. It’s this same brain-block that doesn’t allow us to discuss the merits of marijuana as a medicine. The DISCUSSION can’t even take place.

  8. Poor people already get federally funded healthcare.

    You confuse the existence of some level of care with adequate care. Clearly, adequate care does not exist.

    I would like the federal government to buy my groceries for me. Isn’t that just as important to survival as healthcare?

    Let’s conduct a poll of Americans and see what percentage support that proposal. I’m going to guess it’s substantially less than 69%. I’d say something more like 1%.

    The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t enumerate health care as a basic right. (We’re also the only industrialized nation that still has a death penalty.) The question of whether this is a proper role for government was long ago settled by the entirety of humanity, both within (69%) and without the U.S.

  9. Maybe we should adopt more of a European approach not only to health care and the death penalty but a broad range societal issues. Afterall, their way of doing things explains their superior achievements in wealth creation, technology, military prowess and on and on.

  10. “The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t enumerate health care as a basic right.”

    I’m sorry. Were you talking about Myanmar?

  11. I opposed universal health care until a few years ago, when I decided that it is fundamentally wrong to let a child die because she had the misfortune to be born to poor parents,..

    I’m all for universal health care (for citizens). That said, I also think if that’s going to be the case I would like to see some sort of requirements that prospective parents would have to sit through a discouraging amount of classes on subjects like “Can We Afford A/nother New Child?”, “Preparing for Parenthood.” and so on, before their newborns are covered.

  12. I’m quite sure 69% of Americans do believe “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.” A similar majority probably supports world peace. Baseball, mom, and apple pie, too.

    The devil’s in the details. How else to explain Hillarycare falling on its ass without ever even being brought up for a vote? She believed, as some here apparently do, that if you can just get enough smart, young Yale Law grads in a room to hammer out a plan, you can afford to cover everyone with the effeciencies achieved. Well. That’s what I always do when I want to save money. Get a bunch a Yale lawyers to work something up for me.

  13. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t enumerate health care as a basic right.

    I’m sorry. Were you talking about Myanmar?

    I was talking about industrialized nations. Here’s the list of countries that the CIA, IMF and World Bank agree qualify:

    Australia
    Austria
    Belgium
    Canada
    Cyprus
    Denmark
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
    Hong Kong
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Japan
    Liechtenstein
    Luxembourg
    Macau
    Malta
    Netherlands
    New Zealand
    Norway
    Portugal
    Singapore
    Solvenia
    South Korea
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Taiwan
    United Kingdom
    United States

    There’s a lot more there than Europe.

  14. Come on, Waldo. 22/33 ARE European. “Europe” is often synonomous with “industrialized nations” excluding the US. It is understood that this includes Canada, Japan, S. Korea, Australia and a handful of others shown on your list, but I have a hard time believing you were alluding more to Macau and Singapore than France and Germany in your discussion of industrialized nations.

  15. One can allude to nothing with the facts: the U.S. is, in fact, the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee healthcare. No allusion, just fact.

    But let’s return to your premise, the implication that any policy difference between the U.S. and European nations inherently means that the American approach is superior. Do I have that right?

  16. No, I never said that we’re better at everything. I understand they produce some very fine cheeses and chocolates over there.

    However, what I do have a problem with is the fetishization of doing things the “European way” that many on the American left seem to embrace. It’s as if they believe the natural destination of all advanced countries is Scandanavia and we in the US are regretably just a little bit behind other countries in realizing this.

  17. I guarantee you that virtually free health care exists for all children of low income parents in Virginia, and that the health care they receive is 100% identical to that given to kids whose parents have traditional insurance. By virtually free, I mean $5 copays on visits. And that’s all. Period. Available to all children whose parents have low, but not poverty level, income.

    Granted, this is just Virginia I’m talking about, and I have no idea what other states offer that is comparable to FAMIS.

    My children are covered by FAMIS – family of 6, income below $40,000. Their care is identical to the care they received when my whole family was covered by Trigon-BC/BS. Emergency room visits, primary care, specialists, dentists, allergy shots, you name it.

    My wife and I pay for our own insurance. We make choices. We chose health insurance over a new car, cable TV, eating out at restaurants a lot, and so on. Everybody has choices to make.

    I have a problem with somebody who spends their money on things like I listed as well as many other luxuries and then complains that they can’t afford health insurance. Of course that doesn’t describe everyone, but it applies to virtually every person I’ve ever spoken to about it who bemoaned not having insurance. Too many people believe they are entitled to a new car and cable TV and weekly dinner at Outback and daily trips to Starbucks and so on and so on, and if they can’t afford health insurance then somebody else should pay for it.

  18. I guarantee you that virtually free health care exists for all children of low income parents in Virginia, and that the health care they receive is 100% identical to that given to kids whose parents have traditional insurance.

    Jon, I just directed you to a 2,300 word article that I wrote about the availability of indigent dental care in Virginia. To recap, in a single sentence: Health care services are available in the abstract, but enormous swaths of the state have no providers, making those hypothetical services useless.

  19. Smails, are you just inherently unable to respond to anything without reconstructing the original argument? You’re the only one going on about Europeans (and I’m sure you have lots of insight and experience with all things European). Waldo’s touching on something that affects Virginians in a very real way, and there you go again, building up leftist strawmen and defending us from them. Tilting at windmills, one might say. How very . . . European, no?

    ~

    I think Duane hits one of the key shifts (in addition to the general aging of the population) that provide new support for universal healthcare: the realization by big business that they’re bearing costs that few to none of their international competitors do. This is going to make for some strange (but welcome, I think) bedfellows when this renewed push really gets going (and I think it will, soon).

  20. @ MB:

    Really?

    “The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t enumerate health care as a basic right. (We’re also the only industrialized nation that still has a death penalty.) The question of whether this is a proper role for government was long ago settled by the entirety of humanity, both within (69%) and without the U.S.”

    I thought this was a part of what was being discussed.

  21. Health care services are available in the abstract, but enormous swaths of the state have no providers, making those hypothetical services useless.

    That was a great piece. Thanks for the link.

    It isn’t clear to me how government-paid health care for everyone would fix the problem you discussed in that article. Does universal health care somehow force doctors to move out into the boonies?

    You said that you support universal health care because of how poverty affects innocent children. At least in Virginia, every child has a right to the same health care that middle class kids get. If I move today out into the backwoods of the state, my kids will still get medical care paid for by the Commonwealth. I suppose I would have to drive further to access it, but the money to pay for it is there.

    If payment made from Richmond on behalf of patients isn’t 100% adequate, how is payment from Washington on behalf of patients any better?

  22. It strikes me as unlikely that anybody will read this comment anytime soon, as this is now a two-week-old blog entry, but that said…

    Yes, Jon, you’re absolutely right. Merely the provision of coverage in the financial sense will in no way result in the availability of care in geographic areas where it does not exist now. That’s why universal health care, when taken on as a governmental mission, would need to consist of far more than merely covering medical costs. It would have to be a fundamental shift in how we think about health care, pay for health care, and provide health care. When the government says “yes, it is our obligation to ensure that health care is available to everybody,” that comes with the responsibility to make sure that health care isn’t merely available in the abstract, but that everybody can actually receive it.

    In short, it requires a totally different approach to providing health care. I can’t write anything more about this, though, because we’ve hit the limit of my knowledge in this arena. :)

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