The nation of Israel has been a great friend to the United States over the years. Many politicians like to point this out and with justification. Some even mention Israel’s excellent healthcare system. Perhaps we should look at that healthcare system, especially since Israel is celebrating its 17th anniversary of reforms of its system. Interestingly, this is a program that the right side of the U.S. political spectrum would label as “socialist.” That’s because Israel covers all its citizens by way of government-supported HMOs and participation is mandatory. The costs are covered by taxpayers. A 2011 Health Affairs article credited “strong governmental influence” that has “direct operational control over a large population of total health-care expenditures, through a range of mechanisms, including caps on hospital revenue and national contracts with salaried physicians.” That’s most interesting to say the least.
The system in Israel appears to be working very well. Per-capita spending on health care in Israel ($2,200 annually) is far less than in the United States ($8,400). In another comparison, Israel ranks fourth in the world in life expectancy, while the United States comes in down at 38th. Americans can only dream of a health-care system with results like those in Israel. Maybe “Obamacare” isn’t so hard after all. I believe the Obama Administration did the best it could to bring about healthcare reform, considering the strong lobby in Congress against total reform. At least it was a start in the right direction.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, has been subjected to fierce 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. Unfortunately, President Obama failed to sell or even explain the reform and the public never got the real truth. Now at long last, a vigorous defense of a plan that seeks to both cover more Americans and lower health-care costs is being presented to the American people. Maybe we should go another step and adopt the system in place in Israel.
Even though Gov. Romney, while in Israel, slammed Obamacare and bragged on Israel’s healthcare system, he apparently didn’t know anything at all about Israel’s system. Perhaps Romney’s remarks are a subtle shift from the candidate who has disowned his own health-care reforms in Massachusetts in order to appease the Tea Party Republicans. The question remains: Does Romney prefer Israel’s single-payer “socialist” plan to Obama’s more modest reforms? But in his defense, Romney probably has no idea what sort of system Israel has when it comes to healthcare.
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