How so? Well, Israel covers all its citizens via government-supported HMOs. Participation is mandatory. The costs are covered by taxpayers.
As was recently pointed out in a Washington Post blog post, a 2011 Health Affairs article credited “strong government influence” that has “direct operational control over a large proportion of total health-care expenditures, through a range of mechanisms, including caps on hospital revenue and national contracts with salaried physicians.”
How’s it working out? Per-capita spending on health care in Israel ($2,200 annually) is far less than in the United States ($8,400). Another comparison: Israel ranks fourth in the world in life expectancy; the United States comes in 38th.
Americans calling for reform of the U.S.’s dog-eat-dog health-care system dream of results like those in Israel. The Obama administration, with its watered-down version of health reform, should be so lucky as to have similar numbers 15 years from now.
Yet, as has been demonstrated numerous times over the past three years, Republican politicians want nothing to do with the sort of common-sense reforms Israel has undertaken to control health-care costs.
Why, then, did a big-time Republican recently say nice things about Israel’s system?
“Our health-care costs are completely out of control,” the politician said. “Do you realize what health-care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? Eight percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. Ten percentage points more.”
The speaker was, wait for it, Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate who will face Barack Obama this fall.
Speaking during a recent visit to Israel, Romney went on, “We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health-care costs.”
Why, yes we do, Mr. Romney.
President Obama campaigned on doing just that four years ago. Once in office, he pushed for Congress to deliver reforms he could sign into law.
If style points were awarded for turning a bill into law, Obama would have probably received a zero for this episode. His bolder ideas for reform died as he set out to win over reluctant lawmakers. In the end, it took some fancy legislative footwork to just barely pass the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Throughout that process as well as the aftermath, Obamacare, as it is known to detractors, was subjected to withering attacks from the right. Opponents hit it with vicious smears, outrageous lies and all the demagoguery they could muster. Most neglected to mention that major portions of the law were lifted from reforms adopted in Massachusetts by then-Gov. Romney.
All the while, Obama sat virtually mute, seemingly unable to muster a vigorous defense of a plan that seeks to (a.) cover more Americans, and (b.) lower health-care costs.
Republicans, the loyal opposition to Obama’s Democratic Party, found it convenient to rally against the law. Republican politicians stood in lockstep opposition to Obamacare, while never presenting a serious alternative.
Perhaps Romney’s remarks in Israel are a subtle shift from the candidate who has virtually disowned his own health-care reforms in order to please Republican voters. Does Romney prefer Israel’s single-payer “socialist” plan to Obama’s more modest reforms? Nah, we didn’t think so, either.