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Public health and public opinion

By Editor
February 20th, 2015 at 11:58 am | No Comments | Posted in health

Interesting insight into British attitudes to public health policies going into 2015. Here’s a taster…

When asked explicitly whether they believe in personal responsibility or government intervention,  the British public strongly supports personal responsibility over ‘nanny state’ regulation.

70% agreed “Individuals should be responsible for their own lifestyle choices and the government should not interfere”.

Those opposing the ‘regulating and taxing high-calorie food and drink’ outnumber supporters by nearly 2 to 1 and there appears to be little appetite for further intervention in lifestyles. Only 2 in every 10 people thought that “there should be more government regulation to stop people making unhealthy lifestyle choices”.

Tellingly Lib Dem voters were almost always more likely to support government intervention and UKIP voters were almost always the most resistant. Lib Dem voters were consistently most likely to believe that taxes on cigarettes, air travel and all forms of alcohol were too low whereas UKIP voters were consistently the most likely to believe that these taxes were too high.

However, even amongst Lib Dem voters, higher taxes and financial incentives were supported by only a minority. And interestingly, half of all Lib Dem voters actually support the owners of pubs and private members clubs being allowed to have a private room for people to smoke in if they want to.

The findings come from a  ComRes Poll commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The fieldwork for the poll was carried out between 9th and 14th December 2014 with a representative sample of 4,135 adult British residents and provides interesting food for thought as we head toward May 7th… find out more here.

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Why ObamaCare Champions Disgust Me

By Sara Scarlett
October 2nd, 2014 at 4:27 pm | No Comments | Posted in health, US Politics, Welfare State

One of the criticisms that was leveled against me on LDV recently was that I don’t support ObamaCare. No, I do not support ObamaCare. I am ferociously proud of the fact that I do not and have never supported ObamaCare. Here are two very good reasons reasons why:

ObamaCare in no way changed the structural problems inherent in the US Healthcare system. ObamaCare just involved more people in the system through the coercion of others. ObamaCare is legislation that forces people to buy a private product. That is quite possibly the most illiberal legislation that has been passed in recent years. Obama handed consumers to the Insurance Companies on a plate. There is now no escape from this sad, corporatist mess now the option of remaining consciously uninsured has gone.

ObamaCare does not extend health care to everyone. Not even close and we’re talking millions of people. ObamaCare has not meant Universal Coverage. There are now many, many Americans paying higher taxes who still don’t have health care.

The structural problems of the US health care system are still a long way off being dealt with and that’s a shame. A missed opportunity, even. The best health care models are those found on the Continent and that has remained true both before and after ObamaCare was passed.

How to Solve the Obesity Crisis!

By Sara Scarlett
January 9th, 2014 at 4:55 pm | No Comments | Posted in drugs, health, Nannying, UK Politics

Replace sugar with cocaine.

There.

My work here is done…

Seriously, though – the Government has been giving huge amounts of free money to the Sugar Industry and the Corn Industry, which produces High Fructose Corn syrup, for decades. Before any taxes are imposed on people who enjoy their sugar responsibly, perhaps it would be wise to cease subsidising these industries instead.

The Anti-science of the Left & Right

By Sara Scarlett
August 25th, 2013 at 6:14 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in freedom, health

This is a very sad story. This part especially hit home:

Not owned by any company, Golden Rice is being developed by a nonprofit group called the International Rice Research Institute with the aim of providing a new source of vitamin A to people both in the Philippines, where most households get most of their calories from rice, and eventually in many other places in a world where rice is eaten every day by half the population. Lack of the vital nutrient causes blindness in a quarter-million to a half-million children each year. It affects millions of people in Asia and Africa and so weakens the immune system that some two million die each year of diseases they would otherwise survive.

Most GMOs have hitherto been developed for the benefit of farmers e.g. creating plants that are resistant to disease and that give higher yields. This particular GMO has been developed solely for the benefit of the consumer. It is quite clear that both the Left and the Right have dedicated anti-science viewpoints. The Left’s hatred of GMOs is as indefensible as the Right’s creationism, and possibly worse due to its horrendous effects on the poorest people in the world. Technology used in the private sector has rarely been used for evil on the scale that technology used by governments has been evil. Golden rice won’t even be the only choice of consumers – they could still buy the other rice if they wanted to. It is both anti-science and anti-humanist to prevent the use of a technology that can minimize human suffering.

What free-at-the-point-of-use Health Care looks like in a Free-Market

By Sara Scarlett
June 23rd, 2013 at 11:48 am | No Comments | Posted in health, UK Politics

My fear of hospitals has been exacerbated lately with the latest stories of cover-ups and bribes. This behaviour may be shocking but it is typical of all socialist industries. The problems facing the NHS are the problems that always occur in industries structured this way so throwing money at the problems of the NHS is won’t help. No amount of money can cure problems of structure.

When talking about different health care systems everyone always says to me ‘Oh, but the American system is so much worse…’ (as if the NHS and the American system are the only two health care systems on Earth…) The answer to this is obviously – yes! The American health care system should be used in the ‘what not to do’ section of every public policy handbook. It is a 50% government funded mess of regulation, red tape and bizarre diktats left over from WWII meaning health care is tied to employment and other such nonsense. That said, individuals who have health care in America generally have better health care than individuals in the UK. A large amount of Americans do not have health insurance, however, and the difference between not having health insurance and having the NHS is a lot bigger than that between having the NHS and having American health insurance.

People seem to think that since the American system is capitalist it is free-market. This is obviously false. People also seems to think that the NHS is the only version of free-at-the-point-of-use health care. Tellingly, when the Soviet Union fell, none of the former Soviet states, or anyone else is Europe for that matter, chose to structure their health care like the NHS.

So, in light of all this, it was put to me that a lot of people struggle with visualising what health care in a free-market would look like. I’ve written this piece so that some of those who do not get how free-market health care would work can visualise the system.

USING FISCAL TOOLS CORRECTLY

First of all split health insurance and health coverage. These are two different sets of fiscal tools. Insurance is a fiscal tool used to pay for things that happen infrequently and, if you’re lucky, not at all. I think health insurance should be mandatory but every adult picks which private provider they insure with, just like car insurance (it doesn’t have to be mandatory but I think this would more pragmatic – depends if you want to go full voluntaryist or not). Ambulance and A&E services would be paid for with these funds.

Health coverage is the fiscal tool you use for paying for health care costs you know you are going to need at some point in the future e.g. general GP visits, minor operations. In a free-market you could rely on the following means to fund your coverage; individually, with a health coverage company, with a Health Savings Account (HSAs), by joining a friendly society, by private charity and I wouldn’t be opposed to government vouchers in certain circumstances but they probably wouldn’t be necessary.

All health care providers would be privately owned and compete with each other in terms of quality, price and the nature of their care. They could be non-profits or for profits; share-held, cooperatively held or run by charities.

WHY IS THIS BETTER THAN SINGLE PAYER?

Right now, our ‘Lords and Masters’ manage funds allocated for health care and if we don’t like how they are managed we can vote some of them out at the next election (or try to) apart from the Civil Servants that we cannot. In a free-market, were a greater number of us to join friendly societies, we would have direct democratic control over who manages our collective funds and the option to leave if we felt they were being mismanaged.​ A greater plurality of ways to fund health care means all of those ways get better and you would spend a lot less on health insurance and coverage than you currently do on taxes to pay for your health care.

Friendly societies self-police. Why? Because you have a closer relationship with the individuals who are responsible for your health care and who’s health care, in turn, you are responsible for. You would have a greater incentive not to waste those resources since you are more connected to your money and who spends it. You would have multilateral relationships with other human beings and not a unilateral relationship with the state.

Drugs will become higher quality and less expensive. Monopsolies are a bad idea if you want cheaper drugs. In order to drive down their own costs health care providers would now have an incentive to bargain and negotiate for cheaper drugs. Pharmaceutical companies would have more of an incentive to create better, cheaper drugs. With a monopsoly, there’s nothing stopping drug companies cooperating with each other to charge higher prices.

Health care will go up in quality and down in price. There is only one sector of the health care market that operates closest to a freer-market and that is the plastic surgery sector. Quality in the plastic surgery sector has gone up consistently and prices have gone down consistently in the last thirty years.

Health tourism, as a problem, would disappear altogether. Non-UK citizens would be billed just like everyone else.

SO HOW DOES THIS FIT TOGETHER?

You get sick. You go to a private GP/hospital. They send your bill to you, your private coverage provider, your HSA manager, your friendly society or a charity after.​

You get in a car crash. The ambulance you’ve already paid for through your catastrophic health insurance takes you to A&E. They stabilise you. You are transferred to a hospital. The hospital sends your bill to you, your private coverage provider, your HSA manager, your friendly society or a charity after.

I wouldn’t rule out the use of government health vouchers for people who genuinely lose the health lottery, like kids who get cancer, for example. They distort the market less than other forms of government funding.

So there you have it! Health care in a free-market system. This is unfortunately one of those posts where I simply don’t have the time or energy to have the comments turned on because of the crazy it attracts. So much crazy… This post is essentially thought crime… but f*ck it, that’s my specialty.