P. J. O'RourkeP. J. O'Rourke, (1947-2022) US humorist, journalist, & political commentator

P. J. O'Rourke Quote

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.”

P. J. O'RourkeP. J. O'Rourke
~ P. J. O'Rourke

Ratings and Comments

Dave Wilber, St. Louis

We have health care now to insure that we are not healthy in the forms of aspartame, alum, alcohol, alloxan, carageenan, chlorine, caffeine, canola, fluoride, MSG, Splenda, subsidized milk, sugar, tobacco, wars and vaccinations. Not familiar with all of these? Search each one with the word: hazard

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  • Reply
Anon    11/27/08

Good point Dave. Leads me to think making you sick so you need to be healed keeps the health care industry thriving.

jim k, austin

Our politicians have bankrupted social security, caused the mortgage debacle, given us a massive national debt, and now we are supposed to turn health (sick ) care over to this bunch. Go figure.

jim k, austin

Dave has it about right. Check out flu shots before you get one, they contain mercury and anti freeze. Diet drinks contain aspartame, dangerous stuff. Have you noticed the huge number of tv ads pushing all sorts of prescription drugs? You might have this or that so see your doctor about taking this statin drug or whatever. Everything is a disease nowadays and of course you need prescription drugs for everything. Your friendly doctor will be glad to prescribe them for you.

Mike, Norwalk

An astute in the obvious observation.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

A humorist going for a laugh is hardly valid insight. Indeed, TANSTAAFL holds here, single payer health care is not free, but that does not mean that it is wrong, bad, or more expensive than today's mess of a system... and perhaps it would be one way to move the costs from end of life to buy a couple extra months of pain to where it belongs, to bring/maintain health thru out the other 99+% of your life.

John, Kalamazoo

Last Sunday (Nov. 23) the Washington Post ran a very illuminating article entitled: "5 Myths About Our Ailing Health-Care System" . Facts the authors present lay waste to the claim inherent to O'Rourke's quote. Polarized Americans seem to think error and waste in medicine can be successfully laid at the door of such disparate institutions as "free market" or "big government," when in fact the problem is mostly one of morality. Private commercial enterprise exists for one reason only: to exact a profit. Ideally, representative government exists to serve the governed first, not itself. Why would a reasonable person turn over control of money/payments/costs in such a vital area as personal health, to an array of private corporations who exist first to maximize profits, and whose records are private? Government, for all its warts, can at least be held somewhat accountable by a vigilant, self-educated electorate. It just hasn't been. That's precisely why the US is the only democratically governed nation in the developed world (other than South Africa) that doesn't provide basic healthcare for all its people. It shows. The Post article points out they're all doing it much more cheaply than America is, and most of them are providing their citizens with a demonstrably higher level of care too.

E Archer, NYC

We have no right to be 'helped' -- it's a blessing and a gift, to be sure, but not a 'right.' Each one of us will die one day -- there is no obligation of society to keep someone alive. If we wish to pool our resources with others and fund each others' care, that is something we may choose to do, but we cannot obligate anyone to join or coerce them to pay for it. Insurance is a form of gambling, it is a for-profit business based on statistics. It is a gamble and sometimes you lose. Attempting to 'guarantee' good health to all at the expense of all is unrealistic. And as others have pointed out, the government is a poor caretaker -- it is by and large a parasite and promotes parasitic and monopolistic processes. Countries with national health care systems that work, do not as a rule have HUGE military budgets -- also medical service providers make a lot less money in these countries (Canada, Cuba, France). It is because of Medicaid and other programs like it that medical expenses in the US are astronomical -- put government in charge of health care and they will go even higher. It is a con -- and designed to rape the baby boomers one last time before they die (then the funeral home business and death taxes finish off the rest). For better health, stay away from doctors!

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

We now pay for heath care everytime we make a purchase. The better companies who have more successfully cornered their markets have the best health plans for their people. Thus an employee of the Big Three for example may have a top notch plan and the guy at your locao repair shop or a self employed guy may have a lousy plan. Others have no plan at all but get free service at clinics and hospitals and we pay for that also. The dirty little secret is that the 47 million uninsured are getting a free ride and the rest of us are paying for that. Insurance is based on big numbers. The larger the base of participation the lower the premium. The risk is spread. Some claim that with a Universal Plan many of our current premiums will come down. I agree with the man from Kalamazoo it is time for common sense in health care. Ps the guy is funny but this kind of funny is not helpful.

warren, olathe

Perfect. Truth is the basis of all humor. It isn't funny unless it has truth in it. Those who do not see the humor in a joke are either ignorant of the truth or there was no truth in the joke. This "joke" can also be seen as a simple statement of fact.

  • Reply
    Anonymous    3/13/09

    It's not enough to provide free health care... for there to be any point to socialized medicine, the health care provided has to be of high quality.

    Dave Wilber, St. Louis

    Health care from the same government who said their system "works only with credit" that would keep its value "if there were fewer people bidding against each other." is a health scare. In this system that works us slaves only with credit. SEE why they legalized abortion and subsidize milk, sugar and tobacco, ALL KILLERS? The quote is from Keeping Our Money (their credit) Healthy, Library of congress Catalog No. 60-14368 rev. Jan. 1979

    J Carlton, Calgary

    As some of you have realized I live in in Canada. You're going to love the bureaucratic bungling, the scandals, the waiting lists, the overcrowded ER's and hallways, the lack of Doctor's and Nurses, the medical degrees from banana republics, the horror stories from the families of people who died of curable ailments while on a waiting list's. Canadians who can afford it have always gone to the US for immediate and first calss medical care. Others have been going to India and Pakistan for things like kidney replacement. Unless the get socialist maggots get a grip, and soon, you're all going to be witness to a system that will slowly kill America...and it's you who are responsible.

    J Carlton, Calgary

    I just re-read my post. Some bad spelling there. It's just too early! :)

    jim k, Austin

    Reston and Waffler, I suggest you read J Carlton, a man who lives under Canadian government health care. Ask yourself, do you really want the folk who run the post office running your health care ?

    cal, lewisville, tx

    There is no such thing as HIGH QUALITY SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. It will never exist.

    Waffler, Smith

    Jim K I am RVing and have in the past year or two with many Canadians. Just this past week several have told me that they have never paid a medical bill. One whose wife had cancer needed a special medication and he paid out of pocket $35,000 for it. His provincial goverment plan later reimbursed him the full cost. None of these folk complained to me about the quality or deliverance of medical services in Canada. Some of these comments above are old. My post today is March 26, 2010. Now nothing is free and these folks readily admit than they pay for this "benefit" through their taxes. It is simply a matter of ones value system. Do you think it is more valuable to as a people but men on the moon or mars or as a people save the life of someone through kidney dialysis for example. Some may say let 'em die, lets go to the moon, another may say save 'em. Value systems of course vary.

    E Archer, NYC

    I have relatives in Canada, and they have for the most part excellent medical services. They have never had to pay for having their babies in the hospital -- even Caesareans, unless they wanted a private room which was $100/day extra. Canadians pay 7% provincial sales tax and 8% (or so) federal sales tax. They typically pay income taxes at about 35-45% for middle class incomes BUT they are not required by law to pay for health insurance (they are automatically insured through their Province) -- BIG difference from the proposed US health care takeover. Medical costs in Canada are cheaper than in the States because the insurance business is more heavily regulated and thus less profitable. People can however purchase extra insurance for premium care, and life insurance, and these are usually provided via their employers. I think the Canadian health care system is superior to the US private and proposed public systems. But beware all medical service providers because they are mostly drug pushers with high risk of damaging health. The medical profession in general has become a drug cartel that spends billions to get governments to REQUIRE the drugging of EVERY citizen from day one to the last day. These guys will pull out a needle and jam it into you without a second thought. They will cut off both your breasts if there is a 'chance' that you may have a tumor in one of them. They will give you disease through their treatments. They vilify those that shed light upon their practices, and it is all funded by insurance companies. Now if you want that sort of thing, then climb on board, BUT in America, we are supposed to be able to chose for ourselves and take our own risks. The idea that we can guarantee to every human being a healthy life and sound health care is impossible and smacks of an egotism that equates man with being a god -- in particular, doctors and politicians. Good health does not come in a bottle!

    J Carlton, Calgary

    Folks, the story on Canadian Health care is not "all bad". But there are enough horror stories swept under the carpet that I am still a firm believer in personal choice. I believe that genuine "free" enterprise with no government involvement would lead to excellent service at competetive rates as opposed to the expense involved with corporate cronyism and unionized bureaucratic wait in line service.

    Bette, Newport

    I read some of these comments and weep for liberty. I cry for freedom. I see how this country has ended up with an inexperienced prex dead set on destroying the very fabric of this country. I am so sad for my children and grandchildren. I am old, this will matter to me little...I want them to know it was not I that left this legacy of shackles, for I was working to water the tree of liberty...that it was freedom that was the legacy I tried to leave them....

    warren, olathe

    Well timed post.

    Mick, Manchester

    The Canadian and UK National Health Service systems ensure that care is free at the point of delivery without prejudice. This type of collective universal system respects the clinician/patient relationship and keeps the question of money out of the treatment room. The person assessing your medical need should not be thinking about how much money they can make from the interaction or alternatively if the person they are treating can pay for it. In terms of overall costs of respective systems just take a look at the % of GDP spent on health care or the cost per capita. By any measure, the US spends about twice as much as the UK and Canada and still manages to marginalise significant numbers of its populace in terms of non or underinsurance.

    Robert, Somewhere in the USA

    P.s. Wake-up - Health care has never been free.....

    E Archer, NYC

    Health care has and always will be the responsibility of individuals -- they must take care of their health. If you don't, you may go to a doctor to fix you. But all a doctor can do is tell you what behaviors to change, then either cut, poison or burn the symptoms. I would NEVER willingly admit myself to a hospital, even if the care were free. I'd rather set my own broken bones, than be subject to that. Of course, I am not a woman, and having a baby on your own is rough. So obviously there is a need for real 'care' from others who are experienced and knowledgeable -- and I am more than happy to pay for those professional services.

    Ronw13, Oregon

    The shortest distance between two points. Common sense Patient Doctor relationships. Specialist should avoid being isolated by government whether internal or external. "O care" is flooded with an abusive growth of middle, micro management, and second guessing. Disregard to pull patient files, perpetuating a process rather than care. There is a quiet hush among the RNs around the country. Flooded with non-licence foreign doctors, as main care providers with a weak staff of tight lips. Pushing people through like cattle passing out the pills for mental instability. If you want to dumb down a society just put enough of that crap on the streets, which has been done. Now there will be a natural knee jerk of epic proportion. bringing chaos, undue suffering because of over management and weak minded staff of no use in the health care business. Stupidity is catching when government breeds it. Yet the main leadership in staff know and talk.

    Mick, Manchester

    Hilarious!!! "Free at the point of delivery" does not mean free of cost but that health care or more accurately, treatment for illness or injury, is pre funded by specific or general taxation.

    I'm also wondering, after Mr Archer cuts off his nose to spite his face, who will stitch it back on for him? I'm also sure that the female readers of this post are comforted to know his views on unsupported childbirth.

    Health care is a shared responsibility between government and the individual. Undoubtedly the individual has the responsibility to maintain their own health but similarly the state has a responsibility to provide services and sustain environments that promote health generally and treat illness and injury specifically.


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