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Nadworny: Health care reform

08/05/09 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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(HOST) With the Health Care debate raging in Washington, commentator Rich Nadworny shares his experience of a single payer system that works.

(NADWORNY) There's a lot of talk these days about a public option in the health care debate. Opponents say they have good reasons against the option. But many of these reasons seem to be at best myths and at worst - well, they'd blip me off the air for saying it.

I lived in Sweden for 14 years, and I got a very good look at one of the best public health plans in the world. I used it, and I also made videos about it. I saw first-hand how that system works. And when I compare it to what we have here - well, I find the protests a little odd.

One objection is that a public option will put private insurers out of business. That didn't happen in Sweden. They have some big and profitable insurance companies - some of the biggest companies in the country, actually - and they've adapted to provide supplemental health insurance to those who feel they need it. I'm sure the successful insurance companies here would adapt and prosper in the same way, while those who couldn't might go under. Hey, wait a second; isn't that capitalism?

Here's another argument: If doctors don't make big salaries, they won't be as good. Well, Sweden has a lot of great doctors - just like here. While they don't make huge sums of money, they do make a very good living and enjoy high status. It's still an attractive occupation.

But my favorite objection is that a public option would mean shabbier health facilities. Seriously, you can be in the smallest town in Sweden, and the local health facility is clean, modern and efficient. I've seen far more shabbiness in the U.S., in everything from buildings to equipment. Sweden's public system had actually superior facilities.

That's not to say that the Swedish health system is without its problems. They've had to make some big changes over the last 20 years to keep costs down. You do have to wait somewhat longer for operations, but not if it's life threatening. Doctors aren't so willing to write you out a prescription just because you've seen something on TV. Instead, the Swedes have a lot more preventative care - for both old and young. The best health care is to stay healthy, and there are systems for that, too.

And if you asked them, probably 99% percent of Swedes would absolutely refuse to trade their health care system for ours.

And yes, it does cost. But, personally, I run my own business, and I pay about $15,000/year for proper health coverage for my family. That's right: $15,000 just for my family. If the politicians in Washington came up with a good public plan that raised my taxes by a whopping $1,000 a month, I'd actually come out ahead over the course of a year by about $3,000. That's just crazy!

But what's really crazy is to think that the U.S. can't muster the political courage to take care of all its citizens at least as well as other smart countries around the world take care of theirs.
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