Some of the world’s leading countries, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Holland, Spain, and Canada all have implemented a ‘universal healthcare system’, a single payer healthcare system usually paid by the government through inflating their citizens taxes. When candidate Obama made a campaign promise in 2008 that he was going to put a universal healthcare system into effect, he sparked a national debate as to whether or not that would be a good idea.
Let’s clear some misconceptions. Universal health insurance doesn’t mean unlimited and absolute access to your daily health care. In usage, several countries guarantee universal coverage but ration aid and coverage. Along with that, they have remarkably long waiting times for treatment.
For the United Kingdom, the average waiting time, even for an emergency, is four hours for 3.6 million people. The number of people waiting for “18 weeks for routine care will reach 560,000 by March 2019 – a rise of nearly 80,000 compared to current levels”, according to The Express. This is forcing more and more citizens to turn to private services, making the universal system unnecessary for many.
For the Canadians, the median wait time for ER patients is 11.6 hours, according to WRHA data. The 90th percentile wait time for that category, the longest wait for 9 out of 10 patents, is 32.7 hours. Emergency cases waited an average of 48.8 days to see psychiatrist in 2016-17.
For a referral from a specialist appointment to the general practitioner, an appointment was 9.4 weeks. The median wait of 10.6 weeks from specialist to first treatment, the median wait after seeing a doctor to start treatment was 20 weeks or about 4.5 months.
The countries that have single payer regularities or systems gradually weighted to government control are the ones to face waiting times, rationing, restrictions on the option of a physician, and other barriers to care.
However, the countries with these systems that work better, such as France and Switzerland, are successful due to the fact that they input market mechanisms such as competition, reasonable market prices, having the option to choose your consumer, and forgo concentrated government control. Although they do not produce yearly waiting time statistics, it’s certainly a step in the right direction along with centralizing free market.
In France, co-payments operate within 10% and 40%, and physicians can equalize bill over and beyond government reimbursement valuations, something that could benefit the United States’ Medicare system. On average, French patients pay irregularly as much out of pocket as do Americans. The Swiss government pays a smaller percentage of health care spending than does the U.S.
“Rising health care spending is not a uniquely American phenomenon. While other countries spend considerably less than the U.S. on health care both as a percentage of GDP and per capita, it is often because they begin with a lower base of expenditures. But their costs are still rising, leading to budget deficits, tax increases, and/or benefit cuts”, writes the CATO Institute. “In 2004, the last year for which data is available, the average annual increase for per capita health spending in European countries was 5.55 percent, only slightly lower than the United States’ 6.21 percent. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Europeans face steeper medical bills in the future in their cash-strapped governments. In short, there is no free lunch.”
In case you were unaware, it would increase, if not soar your taxes through the roof. The United States already commits around $42B to end-state-renal disease, $34B of which is covered by Medicaid. Not to mention, it already costs the average American nearly $10,000 to cover their Medicare.
Medicaid is costing the U.S $574.2 and Medicare is costing $675B. Right now, the total federal tax revenues amount to $3,973,974.00. That means that the government will need to raise an additional $2.3T to $2.6T to cover those costs. If we add an extra $2.3T to the government’s expenditures, that means the government will need to accumulate roughly 64% more in taxes. Last but not least Americans have the FICA tax, which includes the half of that tax that your employer pays on your behalf.
According to Medicare.gov, Medicare doesn’t pay all of your medical bills. For example, “under Medicare Part B, you must pay 20% of outpatient services costs, after you pay your annual deductible. For this reason, many people who are on Medicare also maintain a Medicare supplement, that pays the costs that Medicare doesn’t. There’s a premium for that as well.”
All in all, when a single payer system, like Canada’s doesn’t even offer cancer screening, you know efficiency is the term you’re missing.
Jorge Velasco is the founder and CEO of theDailyLead.