Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Libz backs Voight on NZ’s socialised medicine

I”m very pleased to see my colleague and health professional Dr Richard McGrath come out in support of Jon Voight’s excoriation of New Zealand’s die-while-you-wait health system.

JonVoight_220x147     “Voight, [the father of Angelina Jolie and star of] dozens of movies including Midnight Cowboy, Catch 22 and Deliverance, took to the streets beneath Capitol Hill with thousands of other activists.
They were protesting President Barack Obama's plans to restructure the American healthcare system.
    “The 70-year-old Oscar-winner addressed the crowd shouting, "We would be no better off than the European countries and Canada and New Zealand who suffer greatly from a poor healthcare system. Their rationing system creates many deaths."

Says Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath, a Masterton GP:

Libz Back Hollywood Star's Denunciation of Socialised Medicine
The Libertarianz Party has endorsed recent comments from actor Jon Voight condemning socialised health care.
    Party leader, medical doctor Richard McGrath said: "Mr Voight is quite correct in his denunciation of the health systems in countries such as Canada and New Zealand. While attempting to provide universal cover to entire populations regardless of individual ability to pay, such systems undermine choice and provide rationed care, with no guarantee of timely treatment. Unfortunately, lots of people end up dying needlessly on public hospital waiting lists."
    "In socialised health care with funding collected through taxation, a person cannot withdraw from the government scheme. There is no portability in the system. People are locked in, even if there are alternatives out there that better suit them and their families."
    "The Libertarianz Party believes New Zealanders should be able to use their own money to purchase health insurance, or contribute to health plans based around voluntary co-operatives."
    "There should be no facility whereby Kiwis can help themselves to other people's money to treat conditions often brought on by poor lifestyle choices. This is unjust, and provides disincentive for people to take ownership of their health problems."
    "Health care need not be expensive if insurance cover for unexpected and catastrophic illness could be purchased by way of a tax break for all income earners, and people could nominate what level of surcharge they were prepared to pay for their care."
    "Just as not all of us can afford to drive a Rolls-Royce, not all of us can afford premium quality health care. If we accept that, then there is motivation for people to work harder and reprioritise their spending so they can more easily afford a higher level of care."
    "Health care is not a gift from heaven; it is a service provided by skilled professionals and support workers who have often made sacrifices to spend years in training, and who expect an income commensurate with the service they provide."
    "There is no innate right to receive subsidised health care, for this would have to be paid for by someone else who is given no choice in the matter. A right to health care enslaves doctors, nurses and others in the health industry. It is incompatible with the capitalist system of limited government, voluntary interaction, free trade and protection of individual rights."
    "I applaud the response to Mr Voight's comments by Sir Roger Douglas. As he suggests, in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, vast and increasing amounts of money have poured into the public health infrastructure with the aim of increasing affordability, reducing waste and increasing the quality and quantity of services. The diminishing returns on this investment are symptomatic of the failure of all socialist economies to allocate resources efficiently and justly through flexible pricing structures."
    "My party believes New Zealanders should be left free to organise their own health care. This would, for many, involve spreading financial risk by forming large co-operative groups or enrolling with insurers, so that catastrophic health situations can be managed."
    "The critical difference between this and the current system of taxpayer-funded public hospitals and subsidised primary care is that individuals can opt out when the service is unsatisfactory and take their money elsewhere."
    "Socialised medicine is a form of enslavement where people lose control of how their money is spent, and where health providers are so over-regulated that they become trapped, with private alternatives to the government-run system made near-impossible."
    "My party believes control of health care should be devolved gradually from politicians back to individuals, families and iwi. Our policies are consistent with this, and we will continue to push for privatisation of the health industry - in contrast to the National Party, who aim for continued nationalisation."


  1. Well, in New Zealand we have better health stats while spending roughly 7% of GDP on health compared to the 16% that the US spends.

    And, if you have the money, you can still choose to spend as much as you like above the state system to jump queues, purchase better treatment, etc.

    There may be an argument for taking a more libertarian approach to healthcare in New Zealand, but you'd be pretty foolish to use the highly regulated, expensive and dysfunctional US system as an example.

  2. Thomas, you said, "you'd be pretty foolish to use the highly regulated, expensive and dysfunctional US system as an example."

    Who is? Certainty not I. And not Richard. And not Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh, who, in this article,

    "survey the history of government interference in health insurance and medicine in America, specifying the rights violations and economic problems caused thereby; enumerates the failed attempts to solve those economic problems by means of further government interference; and shows that the only viable solution to the debacle at hand is to gradually and systematically transition to a rights-respecting, fully free market in these industries."

  3. But even give that error on your part, Thomas, in which world is it exactly in which New Zealand has "better health stats" than the US?

    Please provide all your working.

  4. Thomas - I agree with your comments re the US health system. What a mess that is!

    I read recently that half the words in U.S. federal law involve regulation of the health sector.

    Medical treatment is absurdly expensive there for several reasons: firstly, because of over-regulation as mentioned above.

    Secondly, because of tort laws where juries can award damages without reference to objective harm done.

    Thirdly, because of the historic third-party cover by employers (which came into being because of disortions in tax laws because of state-imposed wage ceilings in the private sector after WW2), which blocks portability of cover when someone loses or leaves their job.

    The regulations often mandate cover for all sorts of conditions regardless of whether the consumer actually wants them or not, making insurance more expensive.

    The laws often forbid insurers from one state from entering the market in another state.

    Thomas, I agree the U.S. system would be a poor model to use in place of our socialised health industry.

    A free market in health care is what's needed.

  5. Didn't Pitt & Jolie do a paper on
    New Zealand has better health stats than the US?

  6. what are NZ's cancer survival rates compared to the US? Also how much medical innovation does NZ produce compared to the US ?

  7. what are NZ's cancer survival rates compared to the US?

    Much much worse. NZ's cancer rates are worse than places like Brasil - NZ has a third-world health care system.

    Also how much medical innovation does NZ produce compared to the US ?

    NZ produces nothing. It really is that simple.

    Only bludgers have better "health outcomes" in NZ - and while it's better for them, it is far far worse for the rest of us. NZ's bludgers are a huge drain on the productive members of society and healthcare prevents viral Darwinian mechanisms from removing them from the population.

    AS a result, the US breeds winners while NZ breeds bennies.

  8. Should a healthcare system be based on moral principles or moral outcomes?

  9. Two common measurements of health care:

    Life expectancy USA - 78 years.
    Life expectancy NZ - 80 years.

    Child mortality USA - 7.6/1000 before 5 years.
    Child mortality NZ - 5.8/1000 before 5 years.

    (Source: World Bank 2007)

    I like our numbers better.

    And the reason I was comparing our health system to the US one is that that is what John Voight, the man quoted in the article, was doing.

    He seemed to think that the US health care system was better.

  10. What is ignored is that half of US spending on healthcare is in the state sector. Medicare and Medicaid have effectively limitless budgets to spend on what they do, in that Congress has precious little oversight or discipline upon what is a "we need this, please hand us a cheque book" approach.

    In short, there are big shortcomings on the private side in the US, but on the public side the idea of any sort of discipline on spending is fanciful. Those who claim the US is some free market privatised system are either ignorant or wilfully blind.

  11. Although many grumble at the current health system few seem all that keen to change to a private system. When defects in the current system are revealed the Libz response is to chant privatize privatize privatize without presenting a compelling case proving that the average person will be better off with a fully privatized system, or for that matter how a fully privatized system will be implemented.

  12. Thomas,
    By all accounts high numbers of US citizens make poor lifestyle decisions. They eat heaps of crap and don't exercise as can be seen in the levels of obesity. Yet they still have a life expectancy of 78 with their currently dysfunctional health systems! The items PC mentioned are mostly better indications if an inadequate health system despite the fact that we spend nearly half our income on tax and other levies like ACC.

    I have worked in the Auckland hospital for nearly 30 years. I have burned out several times because it is too hard and frustrating to work with poor staffing and resource levels. I've cut my hours down to 2 days a week and have other part time work to preserve my sanity. Things would be a lot worse if it was not for the fact that most staff much of the time work at levels above and beyond the call. It sounds like Atlas is Shrugging in Wellington.

    In the US they spend 16% of their income on health services. Maybe many New Zealanders would like to spend that much if they can afford it. They probably don't need to spend that much if their health budget was spent more efficiently. However most seem to think that Nanny State can do a better job of managing the most important aspects of their budget.

    Mark, you ask how a fully privatized system will be implemented. There would not be a single model that we can decribe to you. The whole point is that Libz politicians would not implement the health system; They would gradually let various competing private models of funding and service implementation take over while vastly reducing tax so people can afford to spend 10% of their income or what ever amount they prefer on their health budget.


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