On CNN earlier today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rejected the public option as “a non-starter.” He admitted that the current “competition” between “1,300 health insurance companies in America today” is not successfully driving down costs — but insisted that a government plan could never be more cost efficient:
MCCAIN: Look, if we have a government option, then sooner or later it will dramatically increase the cost, it will crowd out private health insurance. And if you’re doing it in the name of competition, we have 1,300 health insurance companies in America today. They’re competing but they’re not getting the kinds of health care costs under control that is necessary.
CNN: Yeah. Do you think that is absolutely necessarily so? That if you have a competing government system, that invariably what will happen is that you will drive some of the private health insurers out of the business?
MCCAIN: I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. Over time you’ll drive them all out, and the idea that somehow the government can administer health care in a more efficient fashion than the private sector I think flies in the face of examples of other countries that have done so.
McCain is simply wrong. The United States ranked last in terms of efficiency among five other nations with universal health care, according to a Common Wealth study. In fact, the purely government-run Great Britain ranked first:
Compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom — the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.
One needn’t even look abroad: The government-run Veterans Administration health care system is the most effective health care system available, not just on results but on cost efficiency as well
Sadly, this is the result of misguided American exceptionalism (and years of convenient Republican gibberish.) Even people who by all rights should be well informed about the issues of the day just simply can't wrap their minds around the fact that our health care system is not only bad by our own measurements but that it is far worse than the systems in other industrialized countries. Foreigners cannot possibly have better health care than America. This is the greatest country the world has ever known or ever will know! It's impossible!
Except it's true.