Socialized medicine is defined as a system of providing medical and hospital care for all at a small cost through government regulation. Britain’s National Health Service is one example of a completely socialized medicine system.
In a socialized medicine system, where, when and how services are provided are controlled and provided by the government – every aspect of health care, put simply. However, citizens can seek care outside the system like in the private sector.
Studies have shown that socialized systems outperform free-market profit-driven systems considering factors such as availability, quality and cost of care. A Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health report revealed that the UK’s socialized medical system performs better than the one in the US in terms of patient-reported perceptions.
A lot of industrialized countries around the world, as well as some developing countries, provide some form of publicly funded health care with universal coverage as the goal. The United States of America, on the other hand, according to the Institute of Medicine and other bodies is the only wealthy, industrialized nation not providing universal health care.
When it comes to socialized medicine, there will always be proponents for it and those against it. To know exactly why they hold differing views, take a look at the following pros and cons:
List of Pros of Socialized Medicine
1. It makes healthcare affordable
According to their official website, the NHS “was set up on the 5th July 1948 to provide healthcare for all citizens, based on need, not the ability to pay.” It was originally conceived as a response to the high number of casualties during the Second World War. To this day the NHS still continues to operate and is continually evolving as well.
Even if you don’t have enough money, are living below the poverty line or even if you belong to a middle class family but can’t shoulder your healthcare costs, you can be provided healthcare through a socialized system. And in ways that won’t break the bank too.
According to Consumer Reports, paying for healthcare is one of the top financial problems in America. A stunning three out of five Americans delay medical checkups just because they don’t have the money to see a doctor or to pay for care. Would this still happen if a publicly financed healthcare system was available? Studies say that 95% of Americans would be able to save money, and that’s despite the increased tax burden.
The most important takeaway here is that a socialized medical system is an attractive option given that it provides services to everyone, regardless of social or economic standing. So in the event that someone with no health insurance falls ill, they don’t have to delay or choose not to seek healthcare because they have no coverage. Put simply, every citizen has the right to receive at least the minimal medical attention needed.
2. It helps keep down the overall costs of providing medical care
Countries that operate with a public healthcare system tend to spend more of their gross national profit on healthcare. On the other hand, a free-market system encourages increased spending on items like administrative costs, and as a result, there will be higher insurance premiums and bigger costs for out-of-pocket expenses for medication after the insurance deductible is met.
With socialized healthcare, the amount of funds assigned for administrative purposes is always within limits. As such, the cost of providing healthcare is kept within acceptable limits as well.
3. It provides healthcare for all
As mentioned earlier, regardless of social or economic standing, you get the care you need in a socialized healthcare system. Even if you don’t have a job at the moment and need to seek medical attention, you can do so with this kind of system in place.
Then again, not all countries with a socialized healthcare system operate on the same level. You will find that certain conditions in one country differ from another.
List of Cons of Socialized Medicine
1. It doesn’t really provide a solution for everyone
The worldwide recession is affecting every sector of government. An article published in Forbes in 2011 highlighted that the UK was the latest to tighten its reigns regarding the budget. For instance, the NHS was being forced to “shave $31 billion from its budget by 2015.” That article was published four years ago, and if you’ve been following news regarding the NHS, articles range from good to bad. There’s also the occasional piece claiming that healthcare services in the UK are generally better than in the US.
Basically, the complaints about a socialized medicine system are almost the same as free-market systems: there are times when you really don’t get the care you need. As the article by Sally Pipes called The Ugly Realities of Socialized Medicine Are Not Going Away puts it: “The British healthcare system may ‘guarantee’ access to care – but that doesn’t men patients actually receive it.”
The article goes on to highlight the story of a farmer called David Evans who is from Cornwall in the southwest of England. He developed a hernia and needed operation, but despite the eighteen weeks required by the government for him to get the treatment he needs, he still hasn’t gotten any. As a result, he was forced to use his own ultrasound equipment – which is intended for his pregnant sheep – to see whether his hernia has gotten worse.
2. It doesn’t provide quality care
Those against socialized medicine say that it’s more about lowering costs rather than providing high-quality medical care.
3. It would require higher tax rates
The issue of paying tax is already a depressing issue for a lot of people. So if a country adopted a socialized medicine system, what would that mean for their already painful tax rates?
An article written by two conservative Republicans in the Wall Street Journal had this to say: “Once a large number of citizens get their health care from the state, it dramatically alters their attachment to government. Every time a tax cut is proposed, the guardians of the new medical-welfare state will argue that tax cuts would come at the expense of health care – an argument that would resonate with middle-class families entirely dependent on the government for access to doctors and hospitals.”