July 31, 2012

Gov. Romney Praises Socialized Medicine

The Washington Post's Wonkblog reports that at a fundraiser in Israel, presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this:
When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.
What's the problem, you might ask?  I'll let the Wonkblog continue:
Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.
Uh-oh.  But perhaps the Wonkblog has it wrong.  Here's what the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes the health care system over there:
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the development of health policy, operation of the nation's public health services and management of the governmental health care budget. The government also owns and operates many of the nation's larger hospitals. It licenses the medical and paramedical professions and initiates and oversees implementation of all health-related legislation passed by the Knesset. Medical services are provided through four health insurance companies, known as sick funds: Kupat Holim Clalit, Kupat Holim Maccabi, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit. Kupat Holim Clalit (General Sick Fund), the largest organization and the first health insurance institution, was founded in 1911 by a small group of agricultural workers and taken over by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) in 1920.
Even though health insurance was not mandatory in Israel until 1995, 96% of the population were insured before the National Health Insurance Law came into effect.
And then finally:
The law provides that:

Every resident must register as a member with one of the four sick funds.

The sick funds may not bar applicants on any grounds, including age and state of health.
Hmmm. The state caps prices, and citizens are required to participate.

Mitt Romney praises socialized medicine.

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