Saturday, August 08, 2009

We just need a sugar daddy!

The most often made point I hear in the health care debate is the comparison with Western Europe. I find this point intriguing because, if you stop to think about it, the US really helped immensely to finance public health care in Europe.

For example, national health care started in France right after World War II. At that time and over the next 50 years, the US both helped to finance France's economy (via the Marshall plan), and provide a huge subsidy to France (and Germany and the UK) via our military umbrella.

Ironically, instead of using US taxpayer money to help finance universal health care in the US, our Government used US taxpayer money to help finance universal health care in Western Europe, by paying so much $$ for the defense of the region!

Nowadays we need to find us a sugar daddy to help finance our social programs, but the cupboard is looking mighty thin.

Maybe Venezuela??


br said...

I would guess that a bigger "subsidy" comes from the US inventing the majority of new medical technologies. The US invents new biotech [ala the profit motive], and Frenchies get to use it without contributing to the high risk ventures that fund the innovations. It's a free contribution to TFP.

anja said...

right the Marshall plan was completely altruistic and the US certainly would have used the money for 'universal' health care.
plus I still don't see why you shouldn't compare the present systems.
Taking a look at the biggest pharma companies shows that 5(sales) respectively 6(revenues) out of 10 are European. It's true, the majority of the top medical device companies still come from the US but living in a town where Siemens Med (7th largest company for medical devices in the world) is a huge employer I would nevertheless doubt the assumption that Europeans are just "freeriders". Furthermore those high risk ventures usually pay out extremely well so no need for pity.

anja said...

ok that sounds too harsh. I do acknowledge and appreciate the fact that the Marshall plan was vital for the European and especially the German economy and society of course! :)

Angus said...

by all means compare systems, I am just saying that it is ironic and weird that we helped to fund for europeans what we haven't been willing to fund for ourselves.

br said...

High risk ventures vary rarely pay out extremely well... that's what makes them high risk.

I'm not suggesting Europeans are complete freeriders, but they (especially Seimens) are definitely benefitting from the closer-to-free-market US health care system. If the US goes to a single payer (ie gov't) health care system, the number of purchasers of Seimen's products would decrease substantially - the bargaining power of the few purchasers (gov'ts) would be huge, and biotech innovation will decrease by an order of magnitude.

david said...

Ed Asner?