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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hawaii Mandates Employer Health Coverage, Health Care System Outperforms Mainland

Government-mandated health insurance means a disaster, right? Higher costs, rationing, Grandmas under buses, etc., the GOP has told us all along.

Well, if the GOP had been paying attention to something other than their talking points, they could have tested their hypotheses against reality at the site of their big Republican National Committee meeting in Hawaii. Our 50th state has had a health plan in place that does just what the Republicans say will destroy America: the state has required employers to extend really good health benefits to every employee working more than 20 hours a week.

Hawaii has had this system in place for 35 years. The results are far from Soviet-style tyranny or collapse. Compared to the rest of America, Hawaii has...
  1. among the lowest health insurance premiums;
  2. the lowest Medicare costs per beneficiary;
  3. the highest life expectancy;
  4. the highest incidence of breat cancer but lowest death rate from it;
  5. faster adoption rates for electronic medical records (health care providers have more money available to innvoate!);
  6. lower use of emergency rooms.
Read that all in Gardiner Harris, "In Hawaii's Health System, Lessons for Lawmakers," New York Times, 2009.10.16. (And hat tip to eager reader Tony!)

Now you can certainly argue that other factors keep Hawaiians healthier and out of hospitals, thus reducing demand and keeping costs down. But the Republicans tell us that government mandates in health care will lead to disaster... when the very state that hosted their fancy RNC gathering is a health care paradise relative to the mainland. Hawaii is a great counterexample to the fallacious arguments the GOP has used to justify its obstructionism on health care reform.

Here's the video from The Daily Show on the topic. Nobody denies reality better than Republicans:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Apparent Trap
Daily Show
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