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"If you drive a car, I'll tax the street ..."

The Politico is reporting that Democrats are looking at additional increases in Federal alcohol and tobacco taxes, as well as new Federal taxes on snack foods, sugary drinks, health care savings accounts, and employee health benefits as possible ways to pay for government health care reform.

Of course we just enacted a 160% tax increase on cigarettes ($0.39 increased to $1.01 per pack) and an 800% increase on cigars ($0.05 increased to $0.40 per stick) in order to pay for the $33 billion expansion of the SCHIP program. But Democrats are now talking about adding an additional $2 per pack for cigarettes, which would make the cost of cigarettes in the US roughly equivalent to what they cost in Canada. And in Canada, 70% of the price of a pack of cigarettes goes toward taxes.

For a long time, conservatives have warned about "Twinkie taxes" and other interferences in the personal lives of Americans that will surely follow a government take-over of health care. Insurance companies and HMO's have already curtailed much of our freedom to make health care decisions, but private health care organizations do not have the power to criminalize certain behaviors or levy taxes. The government does, and once they have appointed themselves caretakers of our nation's health, they will waste no time making "responsible" decisions for all of us.

And if that's not bad enough, look at the health benefit-related taxes that Democrats are also considering:

People who like the tax-free status of their company health benefits could be asked to ante up. Money in the pot: more than $700 billion over 10 years.

Treasure the tax benefits from your health savings account? Some experts say the accounts encourage "excess consumption" of health services -- and committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) agreed they're worth a look. Money in the pot: $60 billion over 10 years.

[...]

Baucus gave one of the clearest signals yet that limiting the tax-free status on employer-based insurance remains a serious option. Obama opposed it during the campaign and repeatedly went after Republican John McCain for making it the centerpiece of his health care plan. Labor unions are also against it.

Yet the idea is attractive because of the money it could generate: $250 billion annually if the deduction was lifted altogether. Baucus insisted a full repeal was not under consideration, but he said lawmakers must look at the deduction.

"I know that there is some controversy around doing so," Baucus said. "But the current tax exclusion is not perfect. It is regressive. It often leads people to buy more health coverage than they need."

Wow. Liberals are usually quick to dismiss any notion of health care rationing under a nationalized health care plan, but when politicians talk about "excess consumption" and "more than they need," what else besides rationing could they be talking about? Obviously Baucus & Company believe that it is wrong for Americans to have a choice regarding the quality of health coverage that is available to them -- presumably because the exact same options are not affordable for everyone. That's like saying that the Mercedes Benz SLR should be outlawed in the United States, because only a handful of people can afford its $495,000 sticker price.

Once again, Democrats have demonstrated their hostility toward the free market. But history tells us that 1) when "fairness" is allowed to trump supply and demand, shortages are the inevitable result, and 2) there is no such thing as true "fairness" -- whatever sector of the economy that the government tries to manage, it will always have its version of the "Friends of Angelo." These tax plans should serve as a sobering example of how a nationalized health care system will really work.


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Comments (60)

Now, hold on there, skippy.... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Now, hold on there, skippy. Unless you're in the filty rich top 95% of all taxpayers, your taxes are not going to go up one penny!

He promised. No further discussion is authorized.

Alcohol and tobacco do crea... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Alcohol and tobacco do create extra health care costs for society that these industries haven't always paid their share of costs for. Some better cost sharing there seems fair. But increased fees in other areas seem less fair to me.

O heck, all they need to do... (Below threshold)
epador:

O heck, all they need to do is legalize pot and tax it like cigarettes. The Federal coffers will be overflowing in no time. ANd people will stop complaining so much about taxes and such:

Hey man, did you hear about the deficit and new jobless numbers?

Yeah, wow, they were far out, man. Hope I get a job back some day.

Hey, enjoy the sunset, man, they haven't figured our how to tax that and rainbows yet.

Wow. Far out. Don't Bogart that joint , my friend. Pass it over to me.

What will the liberal wingn... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

What will the liberal wingnuts do when a large percentage of smokers and drinkers STOP? What will replace all those taxes that aren't being collected?

And for those who buy their smokes and booze at the Indian Reservations (tax free), what's Barry going to do. Put ICE on checkpoints?

Garandfan, when a large num... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Garandfan, when a large number of problem drinkers and smokers quit, then government can stop taxing you and I less money for emergency room visits or other services that usually run between hundreds to thousands per visit. A few persons with substance problems can cost taxpayers huge amounts of money. A local newspaper did a story on an unemployed chain-smoker with health problems due to his own lifestyle that has cost state taxpayers $5 million dollars already. In every state, there are a few substance abusers who are in the million dollar club for medical services who are unemployed or skid row types. When some of these people aren't costing the taxpayer a lot for crime they get involved in and court and jail costs, they are costing a lot for medical services. They simply drain society of billions of dollars every year due to their own lifestyle choices. It's a serious problem here.

I'm surprised that Michael doesn't want to see his taxes go down here, by tobacco and alcohol business paying more of their fair share for the problems they create, whether than the average person stuck with the bill.

What will the liberal wingn... (Below threshold)
Clyde5445:

What will the liberal wingnuts do when a large percentage of smokers and drinkers STOP? What will replace all those taxes that aren't being collected?

And for those who buy their smokes and booze at the Indian Reservations (tax free), what's Barry going to do. Put ICE on checkpoints?

4. Posted by GarandFan | May 13, 2009 9:08 PM

Here in NY Indian smokes went form $11.00 a carton to $17.00 a carton. It is the Fed. tax that went up. Now add $2*10 to that. The known brands are about $40-50 a carton. These prices do not include state tax.

"new Federal taxes on s... (Below threshold)
marc:

"new Federal taxes on snack foods, sugary drinks"

The sugar industry is one of the most federally subsidized in the country.

The Agriculture Department operates a complex loan program to guarantee sugar growers certain prices, which it enforces with import barriers and domestic production controls.

Do you see what I see?

What you should see is the fed gov spending billions to prop up the sugar industry on one end and now... on the other end... if they tax "snack foods and sugary drinks" they are partially defeating the billions spent on subsidies.

But us dumb hicks aren't 'sposed to see that.

Excuse me, this dumb hick is going out to stock up on a couple years supply of Capt Crunch and Coke.

"Garandfan, when a large... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Garandfan, when a large number of problem drinkers and smokers quit, then government can stop taxing you and I less money for emergency room visits or other services that usually run between hundreds to thousands per visit."

That won't happen, Paul - and you know it. Those ER visits aren't going to become cheaper, or less numerous. They'll still have to be paid for - and just because the tax money isn't coming in from the booze and cigs doesn't mean it's not going to be needed.

SOMETHING will be taxed. You can bet on it.

Suppose any of our legislat... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

Suppose any of our legislative masters will ever be accused of "overconsumption"? Nope, our new ruling class will just make sure we "eat cake".

Paul: The majority of heal... (Below threshold)
pvd:

Paul: The majority of health related expenses occur in the final six months of life regardless of prior smoking habits. That's been established scientific fact for better than a decade.

You can trot out stories about smokers (a link would be nice, btw) costing millions in costs. I could locate just as many stories of individuals that aren't smokers that generate similar costs. Neither are data; both are anecdotes.

Now, another question based on data: How much money do we save when smokers die 10 years earlier than anerage? In one county, it's 32 cents per pack.

Crud.anerage = ave... (Below threshold)
pvd:

Crud.

anerage = average

I'm an ambidexterous typer - I srew up on both sides of the keyboard

Alcohol, tobacco, snack foo... (Below threshold)
apb:

Alcohol, tobacco, snack foods and sugary drinks? Sounds like staples for, oh, 95% of the nation. The race will be on between increases due to increased taxes, vs. increases due to money-supply-driven inflation.

Will the 95% understand what's about to hit them?

Any politician who uses, or... (Below threshold)

Any politician who uses, or proposes to use, the federal tax code or the power of the law to sculpt "acceptable" behavioral norms should be dragged out of his or her office and flogged in the street.

All this crap sounds great to you liberals, because your man, President Wonderboy is in the White House.

If a Republican were to take the top spot there and propose a sodomy ban as a way to lower the country's expenses in treating HIV/AIDS patients, you people will be rioting in the streets over that abuse of power.

And, justifiably so.

This country's going down the toilet and you people DON'T CARE, all because of the letter D next to the President's name.

If the People don't wake up, the People are doomed. God help us.

People who do yoga are ten ... (Below threshold)
syn:

People who do yoga are ten times more likely to tear their body to shreds therefore tax yoga position 110% to pay for all the ER costs.

If Ohmers would stop doing yoga then health care would be lower.

Paul Hooson...see how this works, I can take anything and make it a health care cost.

Now lets talk about the rationing of health care rather rather than the cost.

Paul, when your great tyrannical government decides to ration your health care for whatever reason they choose to whom will you whine and complain?

Think these things through my friend...it will save you a life's worth of health care.

Actually, cigarettes and al... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Actually, cigarettes and alchohol has always had an extra levy, over and above sales tax. There goes Pauls argument.

More healthcare costs go to auto accidents then anything. What is Barry going to do? Stop people from driving?

How about the many millions of dollars used to treat drug addicts and they pay nothing into the system.

This is just another government grab of peoples money to waste. There is nothing altruistic about it. ww

Paul,If the taxes le... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Paul,
If the taxes levied on my cigars and scotch only went to lung and liver disease related issues, or hell, just to medical care, I'd buy your arguement. But they don't.
Like red light cameras, this is about revunue and revenue alone.

More!! More!! More!! Take i... (Below threshold)
wildman:

More!! More!! More!! Take it all. When the day comes that the politicians get the same medical program that the rest of us get, i will be content that fairness has been served. Until that day comes, take a hike. What is the reason that we have some many overlapping areas of government? Education at the fed,state and local levels. Health and human services at the fed,state and local levels. Get rid of overlap and we will have money to fund health care for all.

First off, don't EVER ask H... (Below threshold)

First off, don't EVER ask Hooson for links or sources to whatever he says. He doesn't do that. Ever. I think it's against his religion or something.

Second, let's do a little thought experiment on taxes on tobacco. Hooson says that it is only fair, as smokers incur higher health costs.

There are three possible outcomes to these taxes: the revenue is more than is needed to cover the costs of their health care, it is less than needed, or is just the right amount.

Hooson argues that currently it is less. So smokers are a burden on society. Let's raise the taxes. And since the "just right" target is almost impossible to nail down (it keeps shifting, with all the variables), let's raise it so that it'll cover the costs and a little bit more.

Then some of those smokers quit. The revenues drop. And soon it's below the level to cover smokers again.

We'll have built an entire health care financing structure on a foundation that we are desperately trying to eradicate. Well, what happens when we succeed?

"We taxed the hell out of sin, so people stopped sinning. What are we gonna do for money now?"

If anyone didn't immediately get the right answer -- "invent new sins to tax!" -- then you obviously voted for Obama.

J.

GarandFan/Jay Tea, most peo... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

GarandFan/Jay Tea, most people don't quit smoking when the price of cigarettes go up. They just pay more taxes, or buy cigarettes from Native reservations. A pack of 25 cigs is upwards of $11 CDN in Toronto; there's no smoking indoors in any public establishment; you can't even smoke on covered patios anymore in most cities; and yet those who wish to smoke still do so. The small portion of people who quit are offset by the greater per-pack revenues. The provincial government of Ontario has increased its "sin tax" revenues since cigarettes went from under $5/pack, and beer under $20/24 bottles, to over $10/pack and a minimum of $26.40/case. In good times and in bad, people drink, smoke, and f*ck; and if it costs more, they'll spend less on other things, like clothes or vacations or healthy food. "Sinning" is fun.

epador, you couldn't be more right about pot. My uncle has had AIDS since the 80s and is thus allowed to purchase cannabis from a compassion clinic. I've tried his stuff and it's pretty good--and being an easy crop to grow/harvest at $10/gram, an enormous revenue opportunity. It will be decriminalized in Canada first; and, when hundreds of thousands of kids come here on vacation, not to watch hockey nor to gaze at the nicer side of Niagara Falls, your government might wise up and take advantage of this moneymaking opportunity. And think about how much money it would save the justice and penal systems! Hundreds of thousands of "criminals" would be free to do something other than rot in expensive prisons.

"Friends of Angelo?" Why su... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

"Friends of Angelo?" Why surely you're not suggesting that Teddy Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi might wind up with better government health care coverage than Joe Doaks?

I would like to see a Fat T... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

I would like to see a Fat Tax. The morbid obesity of Americans is the biggest source of health issues. I guess living longer is not an incentive for people to cut their fat intake, so you have to apply a discentive. Taxing fatty foods would force people to make some healthy diet changes. The tax increases on cigarettes have helped some people stop smoking.

Hyper, we don't have casual... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Hyper, we don't have casual pot users in prisons. We have dealers, distributors and growers.

Although I am for legalizing pot and other drugs, it is not for the purpose of government to raise money to waste. ww

Hyper, you just touched on ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Hyper, you just touched on Smith. Taxing a real or perceived necessity suppresses wages, and the hardest hit are those at the lowest rungs on the ladder. This is what the passage you quoted some time ago meant, not that government should provide people with necessities.

I think you're on to someth... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

I think you're on to something Jeff, RICECAKES FOR EVERYONE!!!!!

No, Willie, people go to ja... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

No, Willie, people go to jail for possession.

Publicly funded health care is not as wasteful as your current system. Decriminalized marijuana would make this much more feasible--as in, no need to raise income taxes on the middle class to pay for it.

And since I hit submit too ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

And since I hit submit too soon...
Smith's message was such taxes were a bad thing, not a win-win that you seem to be presenting (some people quit, good. More money for govt, good)

SCSI: I'm unconvinced that ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

SCSI: I'm unconvinced that Smith didn't think that government ought to provide people with bare necessities; however, I agree that taxing commodities like snacks, booze, and cigarettes is regressive, and should be done carefully, not punitively.

Again, decriminalizing marijuana would offset any requisite increases to the other taxable "sins".

Hyper, tobacco taxes in the... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Hyper, tobacco taxes in the US are largely justified by the burden smokers put on public health. But most of the money raised by said taxes fund things other than healthcare. Even much of the money that supposedly goes to healthcare is really going to NGOs like the Lung Assoc and to advocacy groups set up by folks like Rob Reiner.

So why would legalizing and taxing weed be any different?

Go and read Smith. Then qu... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Go and read Smith. Then quote where he ever says the government should provide food, clothing or shelter.
The last study you cited didn't say any such thing either, but good luck.

Politico article:<bl... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Politico article:

People who like the tax-free status of their company health benefits could be asked to ante up.
[em added]

The statement is a inaccurate. When the government enacts some law or regulation, it doesn't ask for compliance. It requires compliance (under the threat of force)... which is not in and of itself bad. However, 'asking' implies that there's a choice involved that doesn't involve coercion.

The statement should read

People who like the tax-free status of their company health benefits could be forced to ante up.

Pay taxes as I say, not as ... (Below threshold)
914:

Pay taxes as I say, not as Me or My administration do.

I left my copy of Wealth... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

I left my copy of Wealth of Nations at home, but I will take your word for it. Still, I don't think any conversation about economics has to begin and end with Adam Smith--I mentioned the guy because I read that particular passage as supporting a minimally progressive view of government. Wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if, in the full context, Smith made the opposite argument.

That's not to say that very good arguments to the contrary of Smith's fundamental ideas haven't been made by people other than Smith.

Our healthcare in the US is... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Our healthcare in the US is first rate and it costs. Not because of mismanagement,but just the opposite. Every healthcare institution has to be accredited by JCAHO. To pass this accredidation, standards have to be met, measured and pass scrutiny. The standards are also expensive to meet. If an institution does not apply for accredidation and pass, medicare,medicaid and some major insurance carriers will not cover expenses incurred in the facility.

The benefits of the system of accredidation is less infection, lower medication errors, lower operating errors, lower mortality rates, etc.

Besides the JCAHO (mandated by congress) each state has it's own standards as well.

So, to nationalize our healthcare system, we would have to lower our standards and expectations to even come close in achieving this.

So, those counties like Canada and France that tout their free healthcare system doesn't mention that they have much lower standards. ww


When cigarette tax revenues... (Below threshold)
hermie:

When cigarette tax revenues went down because of fewer people smoking, they paniced because the revenue generated wasn't as much so as to fund their projects. Like the tobacco co settlement, the money was diverted away from the supposed purpose and went to things non-remotely related to health.

These taxes are cash cows, pure and simple. To claim that these will pay for smokers' heath problems later is bogus.

What the government wants to do is to take as much money as possible to fund bike trails, state workers' pensions, and other things that they spent more than they should have (or should never have funded in the first place). How many smokers, beer drinkers, potato chip eaters, will be needed to fund the trillions required for Obama's nationalized 'Rationcare'?

Watch for taxes on your 401Ks, after all we greedy 'speculators' took advantage of the tax system and didn't let the government keep a portion of our salaries to pay for the poor and disadvantaged who didn't have a 401K.


WW: Once we have the 'Ratio... (Below threshold)
hermie:

WW: Once we have the 'Rationcare' system in place, then all the C minus med students will be given a special license to practice along with a membership in the SEIC. With it comes automatic absolution if they make a mistake and injure or kill someone.

About damn time if you ask ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

About damn time if you ask me. Everyone knows it's the fat cat rich who use tobacco, sugar and snack foods. No one in the bottom 95% I know smokes, or eats bad food, or drinks soda. No sireee, it's just them rich people....

--I mentioned the ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:
--I mentioned the guy because I read that particular passage as supporting a minimally progressive view of government.

Govt. obligated to provide food, clothing and shelter is not minimally progressive. It is wholly socialist.

And yes, he did say the exact opposite.

"So, those counties like Ca... (Below threshold)
Rance:

"So, those counties like Canada and France that tout their free healthcare system doesn't mention that they have much lower standards." -ww

Before we all take that statement as axiom, could you give us some examples of where the Canadian standards are lower that those of the U.S.?

Willie will not be able to ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Willie will not be able to provide any such examples, Rance, because he's making shit up.

Perhaps he could explain why Sweden--with its ghastly socialized medicine--has a much lower mortality rate in its public hospitals than the United States does in its for-profit hospitals?

No, wait, he can't explain that.

SCSI: Smith did say that it's reasonable for the wealthy to bear a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. I'm not saying that the guy was a socialist--only that the most important capitalist thinker in history wasn't as categorically conservatarian as, say, Ayn Rand.

You are right as usual WW. ... (Below threshold)
914:

You are right as usual WW. Keep up the good work.

"Smith did say that it's... (Below threshold)
apb:

"Smith did say that it's reasonable for the wealthy to bear a disproportionate amount of the tax burden"

And the bottom 40% of "taxpayers" in the US are not taxpayers - they're net recipients - at the federal and state levels. So the wealthy are already bearing that burden.

I suspect that the Won and his cash-addict whores in Congress know where they need to up their fixes - they'll clobber the middle class again based on volume. Funny thing is, the 52% that gave us this mess are too stupid to understand they've been had.

401k funds are already liab... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

401k funds are already liable to taxation on withdrawl, Hermie. It's the Roth IRAs that aren't, since they're funded with after-tax money.

I fully expect THAT to change, however...

Didn't say they weren't alr... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Didn't say they weren't already bearing the burden, apb--only that Smith himself suggested that it's not a bad thing from a capitalist's perspective for the underclass to bear a relatively small (perhaps even non-existent!) portion of the tax burden, as is the case in present-day United States.

42:What I meant to... (Below threshold)
hermie:

42:

What I meant to say was that your income from those 401Ks will be taxed as regular income and you'll have to include it on your tax forms every year. There will be 'withholding' and taxes on 'capital gains' etc.; until you basically have zilch when you are eligible to withdraw.

You extreme lefty trolls ca... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

You extreme lefty trolls can look up jcaho.org and start there.

Also, our mortality rate is low because of the influx of illegal immigrants we get across our borders some of which arrive with serious and/or neglected health issues.

I know, you want to say "greedy hospitals", "greedy doctors", "greedy insurance",etc., but what I stated is the facts. I have been involved directly in healthcare for 28 years in Texas. I don't know it all,but I certainly know more then you two. ww

Ayn Rand was not a conserva... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Ayn Rand was not a conservative, Hyper.

No, Hyper, Smith made the ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

No, Hyper, Smith made the point that taxes were more of a burden on the poor than the rich, but every tax put a burden on society as a whole.
As for the present day US, your logic would suggest that 50% of the US are rightly categorized as the "underclass"...
Class warfare... one of the lefts' most shopworn tools. Lot of ink spent on that subject, and how exploiting it was a good tactic, in the works of Mao, Marx, Hitler, Mussolini, Wilson etc.

Fine, SCSI: she was a glibe... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Fine, SCSI: she was a glibertarian, in that her libertarianism was glib and poorly argued. She was no Robert Nozick or Jan Narveson, and certainly no John Locke.

And you're right, we shouldn't speak of class. There's no such thing as cyclical poverty; no such thing as entitled people born with nearly unlimited opportunity while far more are statistically doomed to repeat the economic failings of their parents and their parents' parents. So let's not call it class. Let's make up a word that means the exact same thing so as to not tread upon the delicate sensibilities of those who would confuse progressivism with fascism and/or communism. Let's spell it "cuhlass", and pronounce it like "class" but with an aspirated 'c', as though we're Koreans.

Willie: are you attempting to explain away Scandinavia's quantitative superiority in terms of health care by virtue of the fact that there are a lot of illegal immigrants in the United States? Lou Dobbs might buy it, but I don't. How about this: can you think of one state with better mortality (infant, maternal) rates than Sweden? (The problem isn't illegal immigrants--it's poor people in general. There are a lot less of those in Scandinavian countries per capita than in the United States.)

Admitting that your country's health care system is a huge pile of shit isn't unpatriotic. It's actually the opposite of that.

Hyper, it is the best in th... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Hyper, it is the best in the world and I don't care what you "buy". ww

Hypergirlie,How qu... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Hypergirlie,

How quickly you try to forget Natasha Richardson. Probably killed due to the lower standards of heath care available in Canada.

If her skiing accident happened in the US, she'd probably still be alive.

But continue spewing your ignorant crap around. It's what we've come to expect from you.

Hyper,So you do thin... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Hyper,
So you do think 50% of America is the underclass. Very telling.

Before we all take that ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Before we all take that statement as axiom, could you give us some examples of where the Canadian standards are lower that those of the U.S.?

Sure:
http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/20/health/main681801.shtml?cmp=EM8705

http://www.canadianmedicinenews.com/2007/12/ontarios-top-five-healthcare-problems.html

Perhaps he could explain wh... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Perhaps he could explain why Sweden--with its ghastly socialized medicine--has a much lower mortality rate in its public hospitals than the United States does in its for-profit hospitals?

Are you talking about death rates in general or IMR?

Infant mortality rates have much to do with the health and lifestyle of the mother, for one. On average, Swedish women take better care of themselves during ante-natal periods.

However, things aren't so rosy after infancy in Sweden:
http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA555_Sweden_Health_Care.html

Some choice quotes (with footnotes in the article to various Swedish studies):

Unfortunately, waiting lists began to increase in 1994 and in late 1996 the Patient Choice and Guarantee was abandoned.15 By the early part of this decade, most counties once again faced a problem with waiting lists.(16)

Another problem was that although patients were free to choose which hospital in which they could get treatment, there were few penalties on providers that failed to attract patients. For example, in Stockholm, the county council did not permit any emergency hospital - public or private - from shutting down. Additionally, market-reform initiatives were vulnerable to the whims of politicians. In 2004, the left-leaning Social Democratic coalition, which controlled parliament, banned the privatization of hospitals and forbad the practice of private patients buying their way past waiting lists.19

One of the underpinnings of any successful market is that entities that do not adequately satisfy consumers eventually go out off business. The greatest failing of the market- oriented reform of the Swedish health care system is that they did not permit private providers to, in essence, "fail." As a result, one of the hallmarks of single-payer systems, waiting lists, are again plaguing the Swedish patients.

In practice, the political notion of "equal access" actually means "restricted access." Swedes who do not have private insurance must wait, often for months, for treatment. For all Swedes who needed an operation in 2003, slightly more than half waited more than three months (see Figure 2).22 The situation continues. Moreover, patients often wait in great pain and distress.

A recent study that examined over 5,800 Swedish patients on a wait list for heart surgery found that the long wait has consequences far worse than pain, anxiety or monetary cost.29 In this study, the median wait time was found to be 55 days. While on the waiting list, 77 patients died. The authors' statistical analysis led them to conclude that the "risk of death increases significantly with waiting time."30 Another study found a mean wait time of 55 days for heart surgery in Sweden and a similar rate of mortality for those on the waiting list.31 Finally, a study in the Swedish medical journal Lakartidningen found that reducing waiting times reduced the heart surgery mortality rate from seven percent to just under three percent.32

Not exactly the panacea it's all cracked up to be.

How about this: can you ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

How about this: can you think of one state with better mortality (infant, maternal) rates than Sweden?

Singapore.
http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=sw&v=29

Looking at the top 5 lowest infant mortality rates, I noticed these are countries where diet probably plays a significant factor.

Furthermore, while the US c... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Furthermore, while the US counts ALL live births if they show ANY sign of life, some countries, such as Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless.
And some countries don't reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country.

http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/060924/2healy.htm

So, hyper, to conclude...th... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

So, hyper, to conclude...the mortality rates are affected by the criteria used to define "infant mortality" plus health and care of the mother antenatal.

Do call again if you need another strawman knocked down.

James: so Scandinavians are... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

James: so Scandinavians are healthier in spite of their demonstrably inferior health care system?

Do Japanese live longer despite the fact that they have a national health care program? Would they live even longer if they only had to pay some benevolent HMO to treat their illnesses?

Despite the length of your posts, you're doing the same thing you accused me of: oversimplifying.

Hey Kenny, you apparently missed the week-long conversation where it was shown that all of Canada--except Quebec--has access to medical helicopters; and her husband Liam Neeson could have paid $3,000 for her to be airlifted to one of the best hospitals in Canada. Instead, she sat there for hours refusing treatment. So you can blame Karl Marx for her premature demise, but everybody else has come to accept that in that particular instance it was her and her husband's own pig-headedness that was responsible for her death.

Hyper, Unless you kn... (Below threshold)

Hyper,
Unless you know for a fact it was Mr.Neesoms'
ahd his wifes' pigheadedness that caused her
death, you need to aware of making an
irresponsible comment.
It's plausible at the time she nor her husband
truly believed she was fatally injured. Maybe
she didn't show dangerous symptoms until later.
Until all of the details are known, don't
assume or judge.

James: so Scandinavians ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

James: so Scandinavians are healthier in spite of their demonstrably inferior health care system?

Do Japanese live longer despite the fact that they have a national health care program? Would they live even longer if they only had to pay some benevolent HMO to treat their illnesses?

Despite the length of your posts, you're doing the same thing you accused me of: oversimplifying.

1. Since when is IMR an indicator of "healthier" population in whole? A mother who takes care of herself is more likely to produce a healthy baby.

2. Yes, the Japanese DO live longer despite their healthcare system, primarily because of their diet (which is high in seafood, kelp, seaweed, etc). Though their life expectancies have decreased over the past 30 years due to changes in diet and the stress of the Japanese Corporate culture.

3. My posts were designed to counter your notion that just because Sweden has a very low IMR, it has little to do with the healthcare system as a whole, since the majority of those who would burden they system are going to be the elderly/aged.

The power to tax is the po... (Below threshold)

The power to tax is the power to destroy. As retail sales fall, state revenue will also decline and jobs will be lost. In fact, the last time alcohol taxes were raised at the federal level, approximately 98,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in wages were lost in the industry, while states paid out more than $150 million in unemployment benefits.
Most of these lost jobs will be in the ailing hospitality industry, which has already been hit hard enough by this recession. Let your leaders know that taxes on beer, wine and spirits would be bad for this country by visiting www.axetaxesnotjobs.com.




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