A government-run Health Care System Essay Sample
The high price of health care in the United States is being used as a justification for the implementation of universal health care system. Despite being the most powerful nation on earth, the United States was ranked 37th in terms of overall health system performance among all countries in the world (WHO, 2000). Proponents of socialized or single-payer health care system consider these circumstances as an excuse to adopt a socialized or government-run health care system. They argue that a universal health care system is the solution to the worsening medical problems in the United States. However, advocates of free market hold that the solution being pushed by the proponents of universal health care system would only worsen the problem. Is it the ultimate solution? The answer should be in the negative, because a state-run health care system would be an enormous mistake for the United States.
Supporters of government-backed health care system point to the high insurance costs of health care services as a rationalization for the adoption of universal health care scheme. While it is true that the United States has the highest cost of health care services in the world, they failed to see the reason why the price of medical services continues to escalate. Americans now pay high costs of health care insurance primarily because of government intervention.
Government regulations which supposed to serve the public are the very roots of high costs of medical services in the U.S. For example, with the passage of guaranteed-issue laws, insurance companies cannot decline anyone who wants to apply for health insurance (Brock, 2006, p.96). This socialist policy is one of the reasons why a lot of Americans are being denied of medical services. Since insurers are compelled by law to include individuals with preexisting health problems, this situation raises premiums on every insured member to cover these expenses. This regulation also gives the people an idea to wait until they get ill before they decide apply for health insurance, a situation which increases premiums further.
Another type of guideline with negative consequences is the community rating laws (Swartz, 2006, p.67). With this regulation, everybody who applies for health insurance is obliged to pay a uniform premium for the same benefit package in spite of health condition, age, and gender. Interestingly, community rating only applies to health insurance. As a result, young and healthy individuals who applied for health insurance will be forced to shell out higher premiums to cover the medical expenses of the ailing people. Despite the fact that government regulations caused this health care tragedy, some people are still pushing for the implementation of universal health care system. Logic tells us that a government-run health care system means more regulations and more negative consequences.
It is important to note that free health care is not really free at all, since people still have to pay for medical expenses in terms of more taxes. This could also affect other areas like education, public works and defense. Under socialized or universal health care system, taxpayers are the ones who pay for the medical expenses of the sick population. One good example is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the main agency of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is siphoning billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. For instance, the budget of VA in 1994 was $25 billion (Bauman, 1995, p.10). Also under a government-run health care system, the government would make all decisions on who or what should be benefited, what are covered, how many doctors and hospital staff would be employed, and who would pay for the costs.
With the recent collapse of state-run banks like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the competency and capacity of the government to run a complex health care system is in question. With the economic problems created by government interventionist policies, it only means that the United States government has no capacity to manage this single-payer health care system. There are problems that can make this system worse for all American citizens, and some of which are ineffective bureaucracy, lack of quality services, long lines, and restricted choice. Most of government agencies and departments like Department of Education, Social Security Administration, and Department of Transportation are not managed efficiently. Poor governance and administration proves to be economically disastrous because in the end, the taxpayers would be the ones to carry the burden.
Another negative consequence of universal healthcare is that it would initiate a decline in patient flexibility. Since it is the government through taxpayers’ money that would pay for medical costs, this means that anyone could go to any doctor. However, there is a need to determine what types of health care services would be covered? Can the people compel any physician to conduct elective surgeries like eye surgery, wart removal, breast implants and so forth whenever they wish to?
There are surgeries and operations that usually require high costs in a free market system. In countries that adopt universal health care system, people usually pay high costs for its negative consequences. In Canada most patients and people who wish to avail of health care services complained about long lines or waiting times for major operations and surgery. For example, the Commonwealth Fund (2007) reported that nearly 60 percent of Canadians had to wait four or more weeks to see a surgeon, while one out of four said they had to wait four hours or more in the emergency room. The Canadian experience only means that a socialized health care system will not work for America.
Poor quality of care
Government-run health care system could also lead to poor quality of care. Since physicians and health practitioners would have no incentive and freedom of choice under this system, it is possible that they would choose to leave the country for better prospects in a freer nation. This situation could result in lack of competent medical practitioners.
Deterioration of the quality of health care would follow suit, a situation that is not favorable to poor citizens who could not afford to travel abroad for competent medical treatment. This socialized health care system would also limit the preferences of health care practitioners whose salary would be determined by the government. Since doctors and other medical professionals would have the same amount of salary, those who attract the most number of patients because of their quality service would have to work harder without expecting any additional incentive or reward.
Since the government would be financing all health care programs and services, including medical professionals and staff, it would mean that the government would act as an employer. In case of malpractice lawsuits, the government would be the one to pay for compensations. This would invite lawsuits on the part of patients who received improper medical treatment or poor quality of health care. Another negative consequence of universal health care system is that the government is more likely to pass more regulations or raise the amount of taxes. If the government is the one paying for medical costs, it would also mean that it has the authority to counter these costs by means increasing taxes on such activities as drinking alcohol, smoking, and high-cholesterol foods. The government could also prohibit trans fat, get rid of high fructose syrup, limit substances that can cause diseases, among others.
The implementation of universal or socialized health care system is not only disastrous to the taxpayers; it also has devastating effects on individuals’ rights to privacy, liberty and competent health care services. Government-run health care system is not the solution to health care problems in the United States. The answer is less government regulations, less interference with the health care market, and a freer market system. It is important to understand that it is those government regulations and interventionist policies that caused health care problems. Therefore, the ultimate solution is not more government intervention, but a freer health care market managed by private hospitals and medical practitioners.
Bauman, R.E. (1995, January). Can government run a health care system? USA Today
Magazine, 124,. 10-12
Brock, F. (2006). Health Care on Less than You Think. New York: McMillan
Commonwealth Fund (2007, May 15). Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: An International Update
on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care. The Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2007/May/Mirror–Mirror-on-the-Wall–An-International-Update-on-the-Comparative-Performance-of-American-Healt.aspx
Swartz, K. (2006). Reinsuring Health: Why More Middle-Class People are Uninsured and
What Government Can Do. New York: Russel Sage Foundation
WHO (2000). The World Health Report 2000. World Health Organization. Retrieved 08
March 2009, from http://www.who.int/whr/2000/en/annex01_en.pdf