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Overreach-iness (sigh)

BY BEAU ELLIOT | MARCH 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Supreme Court is about to take up a case involving the health-care reform of a couple years ago (yeah, I know — yawn), so many news-media outlets, including NPR, have produced stories focusing on the country's health-care system (yeah, I know — double yawn).

We'd rather talk about the weather, except that the weather has been so nice, there's nothing to talk about. Welcome to San Diego of the Prairies.

Well, actually, there were some interesting nuggets in, say, NPR's coverage. For instance: We all know that the European model for health care is bad, bad, bad; it's big government overreach at its overreachiest (yes, I know; I made that word up, and no, I'm not proud of myself), and the road to socialist hell is paved with overreachiness (see above).

So the Europeans are bankrupting themselves with their cradle-to-the-grave universal health care, right?

Right.

Um, not exactly. The European nations, NPR cheerily reports (well, it sounded pretty cheery, but perhaps I'm comparing it with a typical Mitt Romney speech), spend around just under 10 percent of GDP on their health-care systems.

The United States (that would be us, such as we can use the word "us" to describe "us" anymore) spends nearly 17 percent of GDP on health care.

And, of course, we have nothing approaching universal health care.

That sounds — well — unhealthy.

But then, I'm a bit biased, having once lived in Germany and having been the beneficiary of the German health-care system (which is excellent).

We Americans, of course, staunchly stick to our private health-care system, because the road to socialist hell is paved, etc.

But here's another interesting health-care nugget from NPR:

Something around 16 percent of Americans have no health insurance. Yeah, most of us knew that.

Another 45 percent, roughly, have some sort of government-provided health insurance. That figure includes the military, federal government employees, state government employees, local government employees, and teachers, police officers, firefighters — well, you get the idea.

So that leaves somewhere around 39 percent of Americans who hold private insurance. Which, you have to admit, doesn't sound very much like a private health-care system.

And when you consider that the 16 percent who are uninsured generally resort to hospital emergency rooms when they need health care, and that they generally wait until they're really, really sick before they go to the ER, and that they generally can't afford to pay for that care, so the taxpayers wind up footing the bill — well, our health-care system, such as it is, doesn't seem very private at all.

Frankly, it seems like a mess.

Or, as the old sheriff in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, after his young deputy said, "This is a real mess, isn't it?" (or words to that effect), put it:

"It'll do until the real mess gets here."

Frankly, I'd rather talk about the weather.

Nice enough for you?

(Double yawn.)

Oh, for the days of Michele Bachmann (remember her? me, neither) regaling us with tales of Obamacare and death panels and Paul Revere riding to Concord, N.H., to warn the patriots that the British were coming to impose socialist health care on the Americans.

I miss those days.

No, really, I do.

Another nice day, huh?


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