Monday, July 30, 2012

Romney and Israeli Health Care

Mitt Romney praised Israeli health care yesterday, saying:
Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the G.D.P. in Israel? Eight percent. You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.
Lots of people are pointing out the problem with a Republican Presidential candidate doing this, which is  that the Israeli system has all of the features Republicans claim to hate about Obamacare and then some. Israelis are required to have coverage (a mandate), most of the money comes from a payroll tax, insurance companies are required to cover a set basket of services, many prices are fixed by the government, and many treatments and drugs are not covered at all.

Even the less socialistic system in Singapore, also much praised by American conservatives, includes mandatory coverage, mandatory payments into health care savings accounts, and government cost controls.

It is simply a fantasy to think that we could achieve a system that both covers most Americans and controls costs without massive government interference. I understand the squeamishness about systems like Obamacare, with their thousands of pages of regulations and so on, but there just is no simple, free-market way to deliver health care to millions of people.

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