The Hard Realities of Socialized Medicine

In my previous article, I explained the reasons behind the high cost of medical care in this country. With the Democrat’s Obamacare, and now the Republicans proposed American Health Care Act, America is falling into the same trap that has befallen every other western industrialized country – socialized medicine. Donald Trump and the political “right”, the alleged defenders of freedom have taken another step in their decade’s long capitulation to the political left. Socialized medicine is another example of how the “right” is putting into practice principles upheld by the left. What is the effect going to be?

To answer that, let’s look at medical care in other western nations. As noted in my previous article, when the cost is paid by someone else, demand will skyrocket. Governments that provide “free” medical care will eventually be faced with rising costs which have to be addressed within the larger political context of limited budgets, funding for other social programs, and increasing deficits and total debt. Inevitably, cut-backs in medical spending occur. The result: restrictions on medical treatments allowed, reductions in the number of hospitals, the number of beds, funding for state-of-the-art equipment, and  physician salaries, just to name a few.  With the government’s priority of keeping costs low, quality suffers dramatically.

The Canadian experience is a case in point. In 1984, as part of the continuing transition to a fully socialized system of health care, the Canada Health Act was passed. Among other things, it outlawed co-payments and extra billing by physicians. It also outlawed private health care. Over time, with the taxpayers continually increasing demand for free care, the ever increasing costs led to an emphasis on routine medical care since that is what the majority of health care demands consists of. The result is that adequate care cannot be provided for specialized needs. At least two provincial health plans in Canada (British Columbia and Ontario) found it necessary to permit patients with certain conditions to seek treatment in U.S. facilities. When health care in the U.S. becomes fully socialized, where are the Americans requiring immediate cardiac surgery, for instance, going to go when inadequate facilities have resulted in weeks or months of waiting lists?

The health care schemes in England and Europe are no better. A story back in 2011 revealed the dire straits the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is in. After years of excessive spending relative to income, the NHS was forced to reduce spending by $31 billion dollars by 2015. The results were predicable; a drop in the quality of care. Longer waiting lists, a denial of access to the latest medical treatments leading to “one size fits all” treatments, and the government failing to deliver on its guarantee of access to care, are just some of the results. Government funding of any product or service leads to rationing of that product or service.

Socialized medicine leads to the exact opposite of its alleged purpose. Instead of quality care at affordable prices, it leads to bankrupt health care systems that force bureaucrats to cut costs by reducing quality. Additionally, as costs escalate fewer funds are available for medical research. Most new medical advancements come from countries with freer systems. If America succumbs to socialized medicine, funds for research will diminish to almost nothing.

And it is a myth that it is free. It is paid for with prohibitive tax rates; by healthy individuals who can go for years with little or no need for care. And often, the elderly who paid the high taxes to fund the system in their younger years are then abandoned in their time of need due to cutbacks and restrictions that prevent them from getting required treatment.

Socialized medicine has been an abysmal failure in every country that has tried it. High costs, high taxes, poor quality and a system of health care where bureaucrats ending up dictating what medical treatment patients should receive is the inevitable result. Government funding of healthcare leads to government control of healthcare (as with anything else).

The only solution to the health care problems facing this country is a return to a free market. A free market protects every individual’s right to his own life by banning coercion in human relationships. A free market promotes competition, efficiency, and innovation. It results in higher quality and an ever increasing standard of living.

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