The European Experience: The Pluses and Minuses Of Government-Run Health Care
As President Barack Obama pushes to overhaul health care, many look to Europe for examples of government-run health care.
The Seattle Times/Associated Press reports: "The concept has been enshrined in Europe for generations. Health systems are built so inclusive that even illegal immigrants are entitled to free treatment beyond just emergency care. Europeans have some of the world's best hospitals and have made great strides in fighting problems like obesity and heart disease. But the system is far from perfect." The AP notes: "In Britain, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, public health systems have become political punching bags for opposition parties, costs have skyrocketed and in some cases, patients have needlessly suffered and died."
The AP reports: "Obama has pointedly said he does not want to bring European-style health care to the U.S. and that he intends to introduce a government-run plan to compete with private insurance, not replace it. Critics fear Obama's reforms will lead to more government control over health care and cite problems faced by European health systems as examples of what not to do. Other experts say Americans could learn from countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, especially in the debate on how to reorganize health insurance. ... Private health care is also available in Europe, creating in some instances a two-tier system that critics say defeats the egalitarian impulse on which national systems were built." Critics also complain about the high cost of European health care and that policies are often driven by politics more than science. They also complain that government influence can stifle innovation and bureaucracies are slow to adopt new medical technologies (Cheng, 7/5).