Here’s an Argument for Not Nationalizing Health Care

hospital_MLNational Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health have released findings of a February survey titled “Patients’ Perspectives on Health Care in the United States.”

As with many such surveys, it does not send a very coherent signal about whether the people are largely satisfied or dissatisfied. Nevertheless, it has a lot of interesting insights. Most importantly:

Even though most (55%) Americans reflect positively on their state’s health care system, saying it is excellent or good, few give their state top marks. Just one in six (17%) say the health care system in their state is excellent, while more than two in five (42%) adults in the U.S. say it is fair or poor.

Americans are much more negative about the nation’s health care system than they are about the health care system in the state where they live. Only 38 percent of adults in the U.S. had positive things to say about the country’s health care system, and fewer than one in ten (9%) gave it top marks. In contrast, more than three in five (61%) U.S. adults say the nation’s health care system is fair or poor.

Almost half the people who believe their own state’s health care is excellent deny that it is excellent elsewhere! Now, this survey covered only seven states. So, maybe the respondents believe health care in the other 43 states is lacking. However, there is a more likely explanation: People are largely satisfied with the health care they or their friends and family experience, but form their opinions about “American health care” from national media, politicians, and activist groups which agitate for their own issues.

This is one reason why American health care should not be put under even more control by national politicians: Citizens are poorly informed about what actions should be taken nationally, and incapable of giving coherent signals to politicians. It is likely that politicians will over react, because people think things are worse than they really are.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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