Primum Non Nocere

More trouble on the horizon for The Great Society part deux: After thinking it over, many people are coming around to the notion that the current health care system may not be so bad after all.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 19% rate it as poor.

These figures reflect a significant increase in support for the health care system over the past few months. In May, just 35% of adults nationwide rated the system as good or excellent. A year ago, just 29% of Likely Voters rated the system in such positive terms.

The new polling also shows that 80% of those with insurance rate their own coverage as good or excellent. That’s up from 70% in May.

Bolding mine, and it’s a doozy. President Obama and his Congressional groupies launched into a bold initiative to reform the nation’s health care system under the premise that people wanted… ahem… change. But how much “change” will really be tolerated by people who already find their health care coverage as, at worst, “good”?

The trend lines here are even more telling. Why, pray tell, should people’s satisfaction with their health care be rising at a time when President Obama has launched a media blitz to sell them on a major new health care reform package, but otherwise nothing has changed? Perhaps it’s similar to Churchill’s famous quip regarding democracy: it’s the worst health care system in the world… save for all others that have been tried. The more the public is forced to truly think about their alternatives to the current system, the better the current system appears to be.

Obviously, this reversal of trend is not universal. There are some bitter enders and vive la revolucion! types in the usual places.

There is a huge partisan gap on perceptions of the U.S. health care system. Seven-out-of-10 Republicans rate it as good or excellent, but only one-of-four Democrats agree. Among those not affiliated with either major political party, 53% rate the current system as good or excellent while just 18% say it’s poor.

That’s probably good enough to please the shrill chorus of the far left. Belief that they know what’s best for the rest of us regardless of our opinion is endemic to their way of thinking already. What does it matter whether it’s about health care, the environment, childhood obesity, or putting on a seatbelt? Their efforts already emerge from the premise that most people are too stupid to know what’s really good for them, and that’s why the government must act!

Sadly for them, their cause depends on the fickle support of re-election minded politicians. While fire-breathing Kos-sacks may not care what Joe Lunchbox and Sally Churchgoer may think about health care reform, Congress-critters of any party tend to care pretty deeply. The crack of the partisan whip can usually keep them in line when things break purely along partisan lines, but that 53% of unaffiliated voters pretty happy with the current system is going to grab their attention rather fiercely.

It is with some irony that we should note that President Obama’s health care reform agenda may be running into trouble due to lack of respect for a precept very familiar to those in the medical community: Primum non nocere, or First do no harm. Applied to the practice of medicine, this precept cautions the practitioner to the possibility that their intervention has the potential to make things worse rather than better. As current polling demonstrates, this is a principle any reformers of the health care system itself would do well to heed.

American people likely do support the idea of health care reform in a general sense. There are obvious and frustrating problems with the current system which few people are going to deny. The problem isn’t that there is no support for some kind of change. The problem is with change for its own sake – change without regard for preserving what is good about the status quo.

2 thoughts on “Primum Non Nocere

  1. Hey, BD, haven’t you heard? It’s a crisis of biblical proportions! And is the ONLY thing keeping porkulous from stimulating the harvest mouse!

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