Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Debunking Myths about Public Healthcare - Part 1

I had originally planned for one huge blog post about public healthcare, but have since decided to split it up into a number of smaller posts, owing to me being quite busy this time of year. I think that it is shameful that we are one of the few (if not the only) developed nations that does not have universal healthcare. The majority of the country wants a public healthcare option (75% according to a recent NBC/WSJ poll . . . Google it). These posts are part of my contribution to the public discussion.

Objection: Countries with universal healthcare make people wait in line for services.

This has been used as a scare tactic for many years. Yes, Canada and other countries that have universal healthcare do ration care. If you need to have an elective procedure, you wait in line until your turn come up. This is not really different than in the United States . . . for a routine physical, I need to schedule an appointment with my doctor at least eight months in advance. My dentist requires six months. I've never had to have non-emergency surgery, but I'm sure that I can't just walk into my local hospital and demand to be serviced that day.

We ration care in the United States, but we don't ration it in a way that promotes the overall health of our population; we ration it based on who can pay the most. That means that, if a millionaire wants a nose job, s/he can and will get care before a poor person who needs cancer screening. Under our system, doctors who do elective plastic surgery make more than primary care physicians who work with patients to keep them healthy. I can't imagine any framework in which this makes sense.

Care should be prioritized/rationed based on what is most effective at keeping people healthy. Countries with a public healthcare system can do this because, under a public system, there is no incentive to chase after a profit.

No comments: