California is proposing to effectively end private insurance in the state, and implement a single-payer health care system. We should cheer them on. Here’s why.
Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the left and Democrats have pushed hard for nationalized, single-payer healthcare in America. Critics and skeptics argue such a healthcare system would be fiscally unsustainable and lead to poorer quality, highly rationed health care. In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders ran on a platform of giving all Americans access to Medicare, and the ACA has greatly increased Medicaid enrollment for states that opted to expand those services.
Now the state of California has issued plans to introduce single-payer healthcare in the already cash-strapped state. The legislation, introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), notes that insurance is still too expensive and that the ACA doesn’t cover immigrants in the country illegally. Under Ricardo’s proposal, taxes and the state’s other health funding (including Medicare and Medicaid), would be pooled and administered by a single state agency.
Further details, as outlined by The LA Times, were released at the end of March:
Under the proposal, which was announced in February, the state would cover all medical expenses for every resident regardless of their income or immigration status, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency services, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care.
Insurers would be prohibited from offering benefits that cover the same services as the state.
The program would eliminate co-pays and deductibles, and patients would not need to get referrals to see eligible providers. The system would be administered by an unpaid nine-person board appointed by the governor and the Legislature.
Let’s break this down a little more:
All medical expenses will be covered by the state, regardless of a person’s income or immigration status. This would, logically, drive up health care costs quickly and exorbitantly. Everything – from nursing home care (which can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars monthly to eye exams – would be covered under this proposal. This is proven by the fact that there would be no co-pays, deductibles, and no required referrals.
The second point is probably the most alarming: insurers would be prohibited from offering benefits that cover the same services as the state. Seeing as the state covers inpatient, outpatient, emergency services, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care…there’s not much left for insurers to cover. California lawmakers are proposing outlawing private insurance. There’s no other way to interpret this provision of the bill. There are no services left for private health insurers to cover, as the state is handling them all. Californians would essentially be prohibited from having private health insurance.
And last, but not least, the system would be administered by an unelected ersatz legislative body that would decide where and when Californians would receive healthcare. Nine men and/or women, some presumably without medical degrees, would be making health care administration decisions for a state with nearly forty million people.
Now, the California Democrats have their sights on making this plan a national plan. But this plan will fail, and we can look to our neighbor to the north to see why.
In 2016, California’s population was 39.2 million people, and Canada’s was 36.3 million, so – purely from a population numbers standpoint, the states are similar but California has three million more people than Canada.
Wait times in Canada for “medically necessary” services were an average of 20 weeks, according to a study by the Frasier Institute. New Brunswick had the highest at 38.8 weeks (the better part of a year), and Ontario the lowest at 15.6 (nearly four months). For specialized services, oncology had a 3.7 week wait time and neurosurgery a wait of 46.9 weeks.
Dr. Brian Day, a former president of the Canadian Medical Association, said that the monopoly government has on insuring medically necessary care: the same proposal now being made in California. Dr. Day noted that Canadian spending for health care is some of the highest in the world, but that it’s down at the “bottom in both access and quality.” (For a great piece on Canada’s health care flaws, read this by David Gratzer).
Wait times are linked to poorer patient outcomes, and often Canadians facing months-long waits for medical treatment come to the United States to get the care they need. There was a 25% jump in Canadians coming south for non-emergency medical treatment in 2015 – 52,513 Canadians to be exact, up from 41,838 in 2014. And Canada’s health care laws don’t go as far as the one California is considering: dental care, for example, has to be paid out of pocket or are covered through public programs and private insurance (something the California health care law would prohibit).
If Canada’s health care system can’t work with a population smaller than California’s, how will California’s work? It won’t. But all the protestations in the world will likely not stop the Democrat-controlled state from plowing ahead with this proposal, consequences be damned. The beauty of the American political landscape is the states have a great deal of leeway in what they can and cannot do when it comes to legislation on a state level. In Massachusetts, a bill that was the model for the ACA was passed in 2006. California has every right to pass this health care law, disastrous as it will be, and to live with the consequences.
In fact, we should encourage California to fulfill the left’s dream of single payer health care, before we try it on the federal level. Then sit back and watch as the state goes bankrupt, as health care facilities become overcrowded, underfunded, and less sanitary, as Californians diagnosed with life threatening illnesses go to Arizona, or Utah, or New Mexico for treatment because they can’t afford to wait weeks or months for necessary care. As competent doctors and nurses leave the state in the wake of salary cuts and intolerable working conditions. Then we can maybe put the final nail in the coffin of socialized medicine in America before Washington DC gets any more bright ideas.