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For or Against State Health Insurance

Written by Louis Even on Thursday, 01 March 1956. Posted in Societal debates

The two words "health" and "insurance", joined by a hyphen, seem to exercise a magical influence on some minds, above all with the wide publicity that they are receiving as a result of the demands of socializers and labor unions. Health-insurance: some people see therein a world where their health is insured, and how they would bless a government that could accomplish this miracle!

Others, who think themselves less naive when they are as much so, imagine that once health-insurance is established, sickness will no longer cost them anything; neither will hospitals and doctors. It is the government that will pay, and the paying government can be anything, anybody, but not themselves — they will be nothing but beneficiaries! Hurrah, then, for government health-insurance!

Demands of Syndicates

The labor paper "Le Travail" of the 16th of December, in an article headed by a four column, double-line title, announces:

THE CTCC ASKS FOR HEALTH-INSURANCE

The CTCC is the Federation of Catholic Workers of Canada (in French: Confédération des Travailleurs Catholiques du Canada). If the spokesman for the group is really expressing the opinion of the members, the Federation of Catholic Workers' syndicates are asking for State health-insurance.

The article is, however, brief on the subject. It is evidently summarizing:

"In its annual brief to the federal government, the CTCC asks for the completing of the present social security system by the establishment of health-insurance in Canada. On this subject it believes that the setting up of a health-insurance programme should be carried out jointly by the federal and the provincial governments and that the administration of the system should be left to the provinces."

The same journal, however, in its issue of Nov. 11th, published an article by Gerard Pelletier, giving the reasons advanced by labor syndicates to prove the necessity of State Health-Insurance. More on that article further. But first let us present the Social Crediters' view on the matter.

Social Credit Attitude

Social Crediters favour the idea of medical care for sick people, just as strongly as others favour it. They desire, moreover, more specifically than anyone else, that a standard of living which permits of a set-up favouring the maintenance of good health, be made accessible to all.

Social Crediters admit the advantages that the various insurance companies offer to individuals, if they so desire, in furnishing means of pooling health and accident risks in organizations of their own choosing.

But Social Crediters are strongly opposed to State Health-Insurance for several reasons. Among them:

1. Because such a system would constitute an added obligation, and compulsion is opposed to the principles of Social Credit;

2. Because it would mean added taxation, and taxes are also obligatory, imposed on all, even on those who do not care to associate themselves with such a plan;

3. Because it would furnish an added channel for compiling dossiers on citizens, related, in this case, to information that is of a more personal and intimate nature.

4. Because it would capitalize on financial incapacity, of which a large number complain, to regiment a whole population instead of remedying the financial incapacity.

This latter brings us to the principal factor supporting the demand for State Helth-insurance by the Federation of Catholic Workers of Canada:

Financial Incapacity

In his article of Nov. 11th, Gerard Pelletier quotes this excerpt from a previous memorandum of the CTCC at the Tremblay Commission:

"The heaviest burden of expenses relating to health, rests on families with small incomes though not necessarily indigent, and on large families.

"Actual private insurance plans, with preliminary payments, even if they absorb a certain amount of expense connected with ill-health, are not used by large families nor by families in the small income bracket, on whom descend the heaviest burdens of expense for ill-health.

"The province of Quebec, which has the largest proportion of these categories of families, has the smallest proportion of people who are protected by insurance plans of the type mentioned above. The burden of direct expenses is heavier here than anywhere else in Canada."

As we see, it is a question of financial incapacity. In particular, of financial incapacity in large families, whose revenue is way out of proportion with the number of members in the family. Whence:

The difficulty experienced by these families in procuring food, lodging, hygienic facilities, comfort, favourable to the upkeep of good health. The difficulty of meeting hospital and doctors' bills for cases of sickness, which, mathematically, occur more frequently in large families.

All this is very true. But are these financial conditions of divine origin? What hinders us from having an economic set-up in which revenue would increase with increase in family membership? Hasn't the principle been already · accepted, though applied in a miserly and limited manner, in family allowances?

Instead of using the inadequacy of family revenue as the basis of one's claim to State Health-insurance, to which one must contribute and subscribe, why not ask for a financial system which attaches a revenue to each and every family, and to every member of the family, over and above what the daily wages bring in?

Isn't this what Social Credit suggests? Isn't this what would be accomplished by a periodic dividend payable to each individual as a birthright, proceeding from his right to life, from his title of member of a society enriched by generations of progress in its capacity for production?

Physical Possibilities

Note that never have the memoranda of the CTCC, nor of any other associations, mentioned any doubt about the capacity of the country to supply what is necessary for the health requirements of the people. If this capacity did not exist, it would be useless to establish health insurance of any kind whatsoever.

From the viewpoint of physical possibilities, or medical, or any others, the province of Quebec is no worse off than the others. And the last paragraph of the above quotation would lose all its content if the capacity to pay out were in proportion with the capacity to produce. Nobody will believe that the province of Quebec is behind any of the other province in its capacity to produce, either actual or potential, even in the domain of medicine, in what concerns the well-being of families, no matter what their size.

The capacity to produce is based upon realities: natural resources, science, machines, technical procedures, work, industrious and intelligent people, etc.

The ability to pay stems from the possession and good distribution of figures. In fact money consists in numbers engraved on metal, printed on paper or inscribed in a bank book (according to the late Mackenzie King himself).

Social Credit would have the capacity of paying correlated with the capacity of producing, which is great; and Social Credit would distribute this capacity of paying in such a way that family revenue would increase with the size of the family, as has just been stated.

Why then does the CTCC chime in with the socializers in stipulating procedures that would further submit the person to State plans and bureaucrats' decisions, instead of uniting with the Social Crediters who demand the subserviance of money to persons, to human lives.

Quebec, Rich or Poor?

In its Tremblay Commission memorandum, (the said Commission was appointed by the Quebec Government) the CTCC says again, in the chapter on comparisons with the rest of Canada.

"It always holds that economic inferiority accompanies inferior hygienic conditions and high mortality rates. As long as Quebec province, for example, remains inferior to Ontario and to the rest of Canada from the viewpoint of wages and employment, it is reasonable to foresee that she will also be inferior from the viewpoint of health."

That means stating that the province of Quebec is poorer than Ontario and than the rest of Canada in general. This certainly does not conform with the truth, if riches consist in the realities named above, in the productive capacity of the province.

But the memorandum leans on the argument which suggests the futility of all workmen's claims when it defines this economic inferiority: "inferiority from the point of view of salaries and employment."

There it is. As long as family income depends uniquely upon wages and hiring, we can never mention integral family revenue since the more children there are in a family the lower is the relative family income. And the wage system can never reach a level where there is stable revenue, security for the morrow, in a world of progress where technology aims at eliminating, more and more, the need for human labour in programs of production.

The Effective Solution

The province of Quebec is a rich province. The fact that its riches are not placed at the disposal of families is the result of an inept financial system of distribution and allocation. This is true in any Province of Canada. And this indicates where a change should be made instead of calling for more taxes, more bureaucracy, more stateism.

It is false, moreover, to imagine that health insurance will move the burden from less fortunate families to those whose pokets are better filled. Increases in taxes which are to be paid from the wages of labor are felt directly in the buying power of the family. And increases in taxes paid by companies that possess the means of production, soon find their way into the structure of costs. When prices go up as a result of tax increases, it is the large families that suffer most.

You will never get out of this dilemma as long as you are under the present financial system. You will not get out even by socializing the means of production: when there would be no longer anyone except the state as employer, taxes would necessarily have to be all supported by the employees.

There is only one solution for all these problems of finance, whether they be related to health, or to costs, or to property, or to public corporations, and this solution is Social Credit. For the simple reason that under Social Credit there would no longer be any purely financial problems. There would be no problems except those of production — and the latter are so easily solved nowadays.

No. Certainly not State Health-insurance, with its taxes and coercive approach. But Social Credit with the purchasing power geared to the productive possibilities of the country. Social Credit with periodic dividends for all, distributing part of the total purchasing power on a pro rata basis according to the number of persons in each family. Every person, every family could look after their own needs, health included, by themselves or in free association with others.

This would mean greater conformity with reality and with each individual's liberty of choice.

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