Socialized Medicine

Who wouldn’t love to be able to go to the doctor whenever you want on someone else’s dime? I can understand why people feel this way, especially those who are unable to afford health insurance but make too much money to qualify for medicare or medicaid. But, while some European countries can afford to pay for health care for everyone (at least for a while) their service is slow and the government gets to decide what doctor you can use, or whether you can go to the doctor. Maybe its just me, but I’d rather take my chances with an insurance company. At least I can choose to go elsewhere. With the government, you have no other options. Unless you’re really wealthy and can afford to pay for a private doctor.

Anyway, with the movie Sicko hitting theaters to rave revues, and many comments about how wonderful Castro’s socialized medicine system is in Cuba, I thought I’d do a little picture post courtesy of

Here is a toilet in the emergency room at a Cuban hospital

Here’s the actual emergency room

Here’s where you’d get a blood sample taken

The wash basin in the orthopedic wing

And finally, here’s a picture of one of Cuba’s old folks homes. The brown stuff on the floor… take a guess

Socialized Medicine… I’ll take my chance with the evil capitalists.


21 responses to “Socialized Medicine

  1. yay… Cuba = Europe

    great argument technique… when comparing two systems, pick one elite system (U.S.) for the one you are defending) and pick a crappy system (third world country) for the one you are trying to put down.

    I TOTALLY get it now… socialized medicine stinks because Cuba stinks.

    Now to start thumbing through the list of third-world countries which practice open democracy and promote capitalism…

  2. Cuba’s system is bad, so therefore our current system where 46 million Americans are un-insured and where we have the 26th best infant mortality rate in the world (behind Cuba incidentally) is the way to go?

    Sorry..don’t buy the logic.

  3. have you seen the movie yet? I’ve got it if you want to come over.

    anyway, in the movie, they point out that Cuba is 3 places lower on the “Best Heathcare in the world” list than the US (I think its a UN list, but I’m not positive).

    I will repeat, Michael Moore’s Sicko says that the US heathcare system is better than Cuba. Can we now please end the picture of old dude’s sitting in their own shit? πŸ™‚

    On a side note, now that I’ve heard all the arguments against socialized medicine, I realized that the current system is socialized medicine. Note that I have United Heathcare (UHC), but this works for all. Follow me on this:

    1. Socialized medicine is where the government taxes everyone and then provides either free or subsidized care to everyone. UHC collects premiums (read: taxes) from everyone in the plan (read: citizens of the commercial country of UHC) and provides free or subsidized heathcare to those customer (read: citizens).

    2. In socialized medicine, there are a few who cost a lot of money to keep heathy, and their bills are paid by the many who aren’t as sick. With insurance, the whole concept is to get a bunch of people paying more than they use, with those payment going to pay for the treatment of those few who are really sick.

    3. People complain that with socialized medicine, it sucks because if you know you can get as much heathcare as you want, the issue of moral hazard arises (wake up, econ majors). Moral hazard is the economic concept that people who, due to certain circumstances, have their negative consequences subsidized by others, their actions will tend toward the reckless. Examples: most drive a little crazier in a rental with the damage insurance. Also, Paris Hilton’s life.

    But moral hazard isn’t usually taught in college econ classes as the downside of socialized medicine. It is taught as the downside of heath insurance because it is thought that since people don’t pay the majority of the cost of their actual heathcare, they are slightly more risky in how they live their lives.

    Bottom line for this point: in both socialized medicine and health insurance, the recipient of heathcare doesn’t bear most of the burden of the healthcare (or at least this is how they percieve it).

    There was a time in our country’s history when there were multiple fire department’s for big cities, and you paid dues to whichever fire department you wanted to protect your house. If you didn’t pay anyone, your house would just burn. They had signs to signify who was protecting your house. this is almost identical to our current system.

    Today, we have one fire department in each municipality, and everyone pays for it through our taxes. No one bitches about it, because really, how much efficiency could there be if there was competition among fire departments. Also, there is the big risk that the fire in one house not protected by anyone would spread to other houses that were protected and burn down the whole city.

    Three final notes (sorry this is really long):
    1. Justin, what’s with your mentioning of choice above? Is there anyone with insurance that will cover any doctor? Most insurance has a network that they cover and they cover less of the cost for out-of-network docs. Sounds like less choice to me.
    2. I am a financial auditor. I have audited several enormous companies that you are all quite familiar with, including one heathcare company none of you are familiar with. It would blow your mind how inefficient every company is. Makes the DMV look like a fine-tuned machine. By far the most efficient company I have seen is the heathcare company, and even that company was woefully inefficient. Let’s drop the “companies are more efficient that government” garbage that even I used to believe. It’s rarely true.

    3. I’m not in favor of socialized medicine. I’m in favor of a market based system. I don’t know what it would look like, but our current system doesn’t come close to resembling a market or capitalism.

  4. rogueminister

    Come on Justin, China, France, Canada etc etc all have fine medical care facilities and are they are some version of socialism or communism. I would much rather pay 15 dollars and get the care I need than not be able to afford it. In fact we know people who intentionally flew to China to have their second child becuase the care was great and the price was so cheap. I am a huge fan a socialist medicine because it makes medicine affordable to the masses. Cuba is a poor example because they have much bigger problems that lead to this sort of terrible care. I could choose any capatalistic society in a third world country and find similar results.

    By the way gimme a call, we need to meet up sometime this week.

  5. Justin,

    China, like most communist countries, such as Cuba, has a different health care system for foreigners that pay with hard funds, than they do for their own people.

    France, Canada, England, etc all have socialized medicine… but you have to wait in line for operations, and you’ve got a government official determining whether or not your surgery will be allowed. People come over to the US from Canada all the time to get medical care because they were denied an operation or treatment up north.


    I realize that our system is effed up. I mostly wrote this post responding to some ridiculous comments on the post before this one. I think the best solution would be to eliminate group plans at businesses. The government could give everyone a voucher for individual insurance. With increased demand for these services, the cost would go down because of competition. Also, requiring HSA’s for everyone would be a step in the right direction as well. Reward people for saving for, and paying for, their own care in bad situations.

    You did touch on one thing that I disagree with. When we have health care as it is currently, if you smoke or drink, etc, you pay higher premiums than those that do not engage in those risky behaviors. With government healthcare, the cost increase wouldn’t be seen on those that live the most risky, because most of the people that will benefit from the system hardly pay any taxes to begin with, and the wealthy will continue to pay for their own care and opt out of the government programs in order to get the best service in the most timely manner.

    I’m not saying that our health care system doesn’t need reform. What I am saying is that I’m sick and tired of people making Cuba out to be this wonderful place because everyone can go to the doctor for free. I’d almost rather go into debt to my eyeballs than get treated in any of those hospitals.

    And also, the man sitting in shit will stay. I think its fitting of life in Cuba. And in a sick way, its kinda funny. He seems content enough.

  6. y – a hearty round of applause… good explanation of our current corporately-socialized form of medicine

    also nice to know that the government actually maintains an acceptable (if not better) level of efficiency when compared to many corporations

    justin, your rebuttal?

  7. I think that last picture is a futuristic image of justin succumbing to the insanity of his beliefs…


    Ok, too low…

  8. wow, thanks for the props val. I think that might be the first time someone agreed with something I said (other than justin).

    Justin, I’m not sure which insurance charges more if you drink or smoke, but my insurance at work doesn’t, and my parent’s insurance never had that stipulation. maybe its just for individuals trying to get insurance, but most insurance isn’t like that.

  9. rogueminister

    I guess I will let you know about China when I get back next year. As far as Canada goes, people in the USA got there for cancer treatments etc, so it seems like it goes both ways. In my travels in Europe most people seem to love their health care systems, can that many millions of people be wrong? Ok, so I guess they could be, but hey it seems like more people would be fighting for something different if what the status quo wasnt working for them.

  10. A big problem with this debate, whether it be on this blog or anywhere else, is that this is a war of anecdotes. It’s “people wait years in Europe to get treatment” vs “There are people in Europe who love their heathcare”. Who’s right? Let me put it differently to highlight how dumb this debate is using anecdotes (me included): “In America, people have to pay so much for heathcare” vs. “I know a lot of people in the US who love their heathcare.”

    Is either statement about the US wrong? If both are true, has the debate moved at all?

    Justin, I challenge you to restrict future blogs on this topic to facts and statistics, and I will restrict my comments to facts and statistics.

  11. “China, France, Canada etc etc all have fine medical care facilities”

    Bahahahahahahahaha!!!! Have you used those systems? I have. Sure, they are not as bad as Cuba however they pale…PALE in comparison to what the US has.

    Anyway, I’m still trying to find the clause in the constitution that states that Govco pay for health care. Maybe one of you can point it out to me….

  12. The closest you’ll find roland is “promote the general welfare”

    Y, what is a fact? And what makes a statistic true? You want a certain number of sources per statement?

    Sorry to get a little postmodern, but sometimes I wonder if we can ever come to a conclusion about anything. Nothing can be proven 100%. I mean, I’m sitting at my couch right now. There is a huge chance that in 30 seconds I will still be doing that, but the only thing I can say conclusively is what is happening at any given instance.

  13. “…their service is slow and the government gets to decide what doctor you can use, or whether you can go to the doctor.”

    AND this doesn’t happen in the U.S.?? I call my doctor – and incidentally, I have government BC/BS, which is far better than most insurance – and have to wait, usually months to get an appointment. With my insurance, I don’t usually have to have a referral to go to another doctor. But my daughter does. She works in retail management. She has to have some doctor listed as “primary.” Before the insurance will pay anything, she has to be referred, thus more waiting time. Then, before any of us can have surgery, it has to be approved. To add insult to injury, this costs me $$, not to mention the healthy premiums I’m required to pay. Oh, sure, we do have the option of choosing our own doctor – it’s just the little fact that our insurance can also refuse to cover it. Universal health care is THE way to go! We’re currently the only civilized nation without it – but it’s because we’re so priviledged?? Give me a break! Life looks really good when you’re young and healthy and live in that perfect world . . . let’s see how you feel in about 20 yrs.

  14. rogueminister

    Roland, I have used the medical care in Canada, and I will be moving to China soon, so maybe I can let you know. I have also had to use medical care in Ukraine and it was also just fine.

  15. Justin, facts: drugs cost about $10 per fill in UK. The US constitution doesn’t provide anyone guaranteed heathcare.

    Statistics: the US has the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world.

    Anecdote: I knew someone from Canada. He said healthcare there sucked.

    There is a difference there in the quality of the debate, postmodernism notwithstanding.

  16. Fact: Walmart and some Targets are now selling generic presciption drugs for 4 dollars.

    Interesting Link: I know its the weekly standard, but a good read.


    -One-fourth of Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it.

    -Less than one-fifth of American men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it.

    -900,000 Canadian patients are on the waiting list to get into hospitals at any one time.

    Anecdote: Michelle Birch told me on Facebook that her Grandfather almost died waiting to have surgery from government healthcare in the UK

  17. All I can say is that we have to do something about the healthcare in this country. I work for an insurance company and I have insurance, Thank God ! One of the reasons, that our healthcare system is so expensive is because people are always trying to sue the doctors and malpractice insurance is factor in the cost of doing business. If we take some of the malpractice cost out, perhaps we can have some form of basic health care. Also, you can only purchase private insurance if you have nothing wrong with you. IF you keep living, you will eventually have a diagnosis, and you will not be able to purchase insurance.

  18. Pingback: Cuba-blog « Trei | 18

  19. wow…..that is really powerful I completely agree. People need to realize just how much socialized health care could effect our nation…

  20. Hi everyone …..just returned to canada from a trip from hell in cuba….. while we were on vacation one of my 10 year old boys walked through a glass window huge cuts to face and legs…..near death..had to go to a cuban hospital…it was the worest experance of our lives…doctors were ok .hospital was full of shit and filth. never to return.

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