Americans may not agree on much between now and November, but we have reached a consensus about the importance of at least one issue: health care.
In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of registered voters said that health care was very important to their vote. Democrats ranked health care their most important issue; Independents slotted it as their second most important issue. Republicans, meanwhile, positioned health care as more important than social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.
This public concern has prompted political action—or at least political posturing. It seems every politician has a plan to solve our health care woes. For Democrats, the silver bullet remains universal, government-funded coverage. Both Senators Obama and Clinton have proposed regulation and tax-heavy programs to offer cradle-to-grave health care for Americans.
Ironically, these proposals come at a time when some of our other entitlements—Social Security and Medicare—stand on the brink of collapse. For example, most experts agree that Social Security will be entirely bankrupt by 2041, and that the system will show serious financial strain as early as 2017. If a business faced such dire financial straits it would cut costs, but the government continues its perpetual spending spree.
Before we allow the government to burden us with another mammoth entitlement program, however, we might well consider the plight of countries currently employing socialized medicine. And we need not look very far for an example. Since the 1960s, Canada has operated a system of socialized medicine, while also forbidding the private sector from insuring medically necessary care.
The verdict: Canadians pay more for their health care and get less. That’s according to the Fraser Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Fraser’s recently released study, “Paying More, Getting Less: Measuring the Sustainability of Government Health Spending in Canada” calls our attention to the painful realities of government-funded health care.
How, exactly, do Canadians pay more for their health care? Taxes, naturally—and higher and higher ones at that, for there is no other way to maintain such an enormous entitlement. Consider that by 2035, six of 10 Canadian provinces will spend half of their taxpayer-generated revenue on health-related expenses.
In slow economic times, health spending tends to exceed revenue. The government responds by raising existing taxes or creating new ones; to do otherwise would lead to the neglect of other government programs like schools and roads.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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