Stossel on Moore

by Don Boudreaux on September 13, 2007

in Health, The Profit Motive

John Stossel of ABC News is a seasoned reporter with a keen nose for the facts.  In this op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Stossel reveals some important facts that Michael Moore missed in the docu-ganda movie "Sicko."

Here are some key passages from Stossel’s excellent essay:

Mr. Moore claims that because private insurance
companies are driven by profit, they will always deny care to deserving
patients. For this reason, he argues, profit-making health-insurance
companies should be abolished, our health- care dollars turned over to
the government, and the U.S. should institute a health-care system like
the ones in Canada, Britain or France. But does Mr. Moore think, even
for a second, that any of the government systems he touts in his movie
would have provided a bone-marrow transplant to Ms. Pierce’s husband?
Fat chance.

When government is in charge of health care, the
result is not that everyone gets access to experimental treatments, but
that people get less of the care that is absolutely necessary. At any
given time, just under a million Canadians are on waiting lists to
receive care, and one in eight British patients must wait more than a
year for hospital treatment. Canadian Karen Jepp, who gave birth to
quadruplets last month, had to fly to Montana for the delivery:
neonatal units in her own country had no room.

Rationing in Britain is so severe that one hospital
recently tried saving money by not changing bed-sheets between
patients. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just
turn them over, British papers report. The wait for an appointment with
a dentist is so long that people are using pliers to pull out their own
rotting teeth.

Patients in countries with government-run health care
can’t get timely access to many basic medical treatments, never mind
experimental treatments. That’s why, if you suffer from cancer, you’re
better off in the U.S., which is home to the newest treatments and
where patients have access to the best diagnostic equipment. People
diagnosed with cancer in America have a better chance of living a full
life than people in countries with socialized systems. Among women
diagnosed with breast cancer, only one-quarter die in the U.S.,
compared to one-third in France and nearly half in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Moore thinks that profit is the enemy and
government is the answer. The opposite is true. Profit is what has
created the amazing scientific innovations that the U.S. offers to the
world. If government takes over, innovation slows, health care is
rationed, and spending is controlled by politicians more influenced by
the sob story of the moment than by medical science.

And be sure to watch Stossel’s special on health care, to be aired this Friday on ABC, at 10:00pm EDT.


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