Recently international doctors, health economists and others met in Washington at a conference to discuss Lessons From Abroad for Health Reform in the U.S. They detailed the results of nationalized health care in countries that have adopted it.

Via The Foundry, some of their experiences:

Not only do Canadians face extraordinary wait times to get specialized treatments (the average wait time from getting a referral from a general practitioner to receiving a treatment was 17.3 weeks in 2008), but they also have limited access to new drugs, thanks in part to the country’s “comparative effectiveness” body known as the Common Drug Review, says Brett Skinner with the Fraser Institute.

In Switzerland, “compulsory health insurance has moved the objective from being access to health care and quality of care to largely cost containment measures,” says Dr. Alphonse Crespo, an orthopedic surgeon who also runs research for the Institut Constant de Rebecque in Switzerland.

Next door in France, government policies are undermining patients’ choice of care and the private sector’s involvement in health care delivery. “France is on its way to joining the nationalized health care system of the United Kingdom,” says Valentin Petkantchin with the Insitut economique Molinari.

When I hear the word “reform,” I think “change for the better,”  and I think a lot of people do, too.  Earmark reform is a big thing in the news right now, with the President supposedly supporting it, with a plan that “would force any earmark aimed at a private company to be subject to competitive bidding. Earmarks would have to be posted in advance on lawmaker Web sites and publicly aired in hearings before being inserted into spending bills.”  Want to know how that really works?

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, an anti-earmark group, dismissed the significance of the new Obama rules, saying that lawmakers already say their private-sector earmarks are often put up to competitive bidding. They simply draft the legislative language so narrowly that only one company could secure the contract.

He also noted that by exempting nonprofits from such scrutiny, Democrats were creating a loophole. Universities and other nonprofits are often awarded earmarks that are then passed on to private companies that partner with them. “Some of this is just trying to give earmarks the good-housekeeping seal of approval when the same troubling processes will still be in place,” Mr. Ellis said.

The “reform” consists of an ultimately meaningless tweak of the language used to make the rules, since it won’t result in any reduction in earmarks, and has loopholes you could drive a truck through.  But Obama has “reformed” earmarks, the media will jump on the bandwagon and praise his fiscal responsibility, and the status quo is undisturbed.  A win for everyone except taxpayers.

In the case of the healthcare system reforms President Obama is pushing for, though,  it means literally re-forming, or re-shaping, the entire structure of the system into a bureaucratically-controlled rationing board.  By no stretch of the imagination can such a change be considered better for the people affected by it, as the people who’ve lived with similar systems for years can attest.

Big-government types depend on your faulty assumptions.  The next time you hear a politician talk about reforms, don’t automatically assume the change is meant to be a better result for you.  The odds are the result will be better for the politician.

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