When we compare our present state of health care with that of countries with socialized medicine, such as Canada and Great Britain, there is one giant difference that is almost never pointed out. It may be alluded to in passing, but it’s almost never addressed directly. I’ll get to it in a few paragraphs, but first, how are the systems similar?
First, some people never get the treatment they need, under both systems. This is undeniable.
Second, some people have access to better health care providers than do others. Often it’s the richer patients who get the better care. Be real. Richer folks always can get better anything. It’s life.
Third, both systems have entrenched networks of doctors and a bureaucracy who have a vested interest in keeping the system in place, and a contrasting network of doctors who say the system is failing.
Fourth, patients might have to wait for treatment under both systems.
Now, for the difference that doesn’t rate a mention in the news, and it’s the reason that our system is the one that patients from other systems fall back on when they run into similarity number one.
Patients in the United States might not get the treatment they need because of its high cost, lack of insurance, or rejection by their insurance carrier. But if they run into this situation, they have recourse. They can borrow money to pay. Friends and neighbors fund-raise for them. Doctors and hospitals reduce their fees, or grant them long repayment schedules. They even take credit cards. Still, some don’t get treated.
Patients in Canada might not get treatment they need because they have to wait so long for it (issue number four) that it’s no longer effective, or they’ve died. But it isn’t because they couldn’t pay for it. It’s because there is no doctor or facility to deliver the care.
Simply put, in the US we might have some patients who get no treatment because they can’t afford it. In Canada, they don’t get treatment because it isn’t available.
Under which of these systems would you rather live? One where you might not be able to afford care, yet there are ways to make it affordable, or one where the care might just be not there at all, one where you can’t get it whether you can afford it or not?
I go with the former.