A SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN CALIFORNIA?
June 26, 2006
Californians will pay too great a price in return for the small monetary benefits of a state government-run health-care system according to the new report by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). Researchers examine the consequences of the California Health Insurance Reliability Act (SB-840), a bill that imposes a Canadian-style government health care monopoly in California.
According to the author John R. Graham, the 4 percent savings in current health spending that would result from a government-run health care system is a trifling sum when one considers the consequences of such a program:
- The number of physicians would drop by 23,000, from about 94,000 to 71,000.
- Californians would suffer lengthy waiting times for medical treatment -- time worth about $1 billion annually.
- About $9 billion dollars of "free" health care would be wasted by people who did not need it.
- Access to medical technology would be significantly diminished.
- Hospital stays for senior citizens would lengthen from an average of four or five days (depending on the procedure) to about 14 days -- about three times what they are now.
- Life spans will shorten by about two months if the government imposes restrictions on the prescription medicines available, as the Department of Veterans Affairs has.
These calculations were based on Canadian and British experience under single-payer systems.
In June 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court recognized that government monopoly health care is a violation of basic human rights, based on the fact that it is harmful to patients' health. Graham believes that SB-840 erects a system of government control even more complete than Canada's because it includes prescription drugs and dental services in the government monopoly, which is not the case in Canada.
Source: "Deadly Solution: SB-840 and the Government Takeover of California Health Care," Pacific Research Institute, June 12, 2006.
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