This topic was requested sometime ago by Guido of Northern Trip. It's one that we have all heard a lot about, especially since one of its main proponents, Senator Hillary Clinton, is running for President. Thank you, Guido, for your request. I'm sorry it took so long to get to posting it. There's a lot of information I've had to wade through in order to get sourceable, factual information.
The term "universal healthcare" is a dressed-up term for socialized medicine. Those in favor of government healthcare don't like it to be called socialized medicine, and even say that they're not the same thing. The reasoning here is beyond me. Encyclopedia Britannica defines socialism as " a system of social organization in which property and the distribution of income are subject to social control rather than individual determination or market forces." Under so-called universal healthcare, the distribution of healthcare would be subject to social control (the government) rather than "individual determination or market forces." Sounds like socialism to me.
Continuing on, I first want to address the cost of "free" government healthcare. On the surface, it sounds fantastic. No more insurance premiums. No more out-of-pocket expenses that insurance won't pay, which seems to go up constantly. After all, we've been paying taxes for years, so why not let the government take care of our healthcare costs? Let's take a look at it. Socialized medicine is anything but free. It has to be paid for, by somebody. Who pays for it? The best way to answer this question is to look at an example of universal healthcare already in place. In 1994, a version of "Hillarycare" was implemented in Tennessee, called TennCare. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled HillaryCare in Tennessee, The Disaster That Might Have Been for the Whole Country, TennCare consumed up to ONE-THIRD of the state's annual budget. If you go to TennCare's website, right on the front page it states that the annual budget for the program is $7 BILLION. The State of Tennessee's current total annual budget is about $26.5 BILLION. That still works out to nearly a third of the total budget. Want to guess who pays for this extra $7 BILLION? John Q. Taxpayer in the form of higher taxes. The state got into so much financial trouble over TennCare that then Governor Don Sundquist tried to pass a state income tax. The attempt failed, so Tenneseeans don't have a state level income tax. The state derives it's income mainly from its gasoline tax and sales tax. Governor Phil Bredeson wanted to dismantle TennCare totally. In an address to the Tennessee School Board Association, Governor Bredesen said,"It makes no sense for one facet of our responbilities, health care, to be able to come to the table first and eat and drink all it wants, then if there is anything left over, we can consider our other responibilities." That really sums it up. For the record, Governor Bredesen is a Democrat.
The next problem with socialized medicine. Patients have to wait for treatment. I don't mean a few hours at the Emergency Room or a day or two to get in to see a doctor. I mean months. Walter E. Williams, a Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, syndicated columnist and author, wrote an article for TownHall.com in February 2007 entitled, Do We Want Socialized Medicine? He cited a report in London's Observer that said "an unpublished report shows some patients are now having to wait more than EIGHT MONTHS for treatment, during which time many of their cancers become incurable." According to the World Health Organization, about 10,000 British people die unnecessarily each year from cancer. In December 2001, the Observer reported that one in five bowel cases which were curable at the time of diagnosis had become incurable by the time of treatment.
We hear Canada's system touted as the example that the U.S. should follow for government healthcare. The situation there is no better. Dr. Williams continued in his article quoting the Fraser Institute based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Fraser Institute has an annual publication called "Waiting Your Turn". This report gives the average wait times for treatment under Canada's healthcare system. These wait times varied from 4.9 weeks for oncology to 40.3 weeks for orthopedic surgery. The average wait for a CT scan ranged from 4.3 to 9 weeks, MRI 10.3 to 28 weeks, and ultrasound 3.8 to 8 weeks. These wait times obviously prolong patients' suffering and sometimes death is the result. Despite this, Canadian law prohibits private clinics from providing services covered by the Canada Health Act. That is why Canadians have come for years to the U.S. in droves for treatment. I understand this, too, may soon be illegal for them to do so.
This is just a very brief overview of the problems with socialized medicine. The cost is enourmous both in terms of the inevitable major tax increases to pay for it and also human suffering. The government bureaucracy to administer this on a national level would be staggering. Just the anti-fraud section would have to be huge. This system would be way too tempting a target for fraud. Using the TennCare example, a number of pharmacies in middle Tennessee were charging the system for medicines they never delivered. This system involves taking your tax dollars and mine and redistributing it nationally, including to pay for the higher health care cost of those who engage in high health risk activities such as smoking, illegal drug use, alcoholism, etc. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, you would still pay.
I am only able to scratch the surface in one entry, but I hope this gets readers thinking this all the way through. If I have comments contrary to my post, or suggestions for entries covering other aspects of socialized medicine, I will make additional posts.
Please take the time to read the articles I've hyperlinked. The complete articles will give a more complete overall view. It's well worth the time spent to obtain this vital information because it can affect your health, the quality of your health care, the length of time you have to wait for it, and your standard of living.