Our newly elected president continues to tout his love for creating a nationalized healthcare system. The motivation and politics behind this is providing medical care for those who do not have any insurance. This sounds great – on paper. So did communism.
Upon the creation of the national healthcare system, we will eventually take away the need for insurance companies. All your current healthcare contributions will essentially still be deducted from your paycheck (so the net result will be very little change in your take-home pay), but now you will be sharing your doctor with many other people – those who previously did not go to that doctor.
How will this sort of program be managed? Well, the government will take care of it (naturally?) – which means part of the money that is going to healthcare will be paying for the government to manage your healthcare. Yes – this does happen now – but the difference is, they will be managing the healthcare for 300 million subscribers, rather than your private company’s current clientele.
With doctors now being responsible for managing the medical needs of everyone that walks into their office, they will have more and more patients. If we need more doctors to cover more patients, there will be two options: pay them less, or raise taxes. You never get elected campaigning on higher taxes, so the politicians, in order to fill campaign promises, will start to quietly lobby from the inside to increase the number of doctors while creatively lowering the salaries they are paying to the doctors. With lower salaries and more patients, we will see a decline in the quality of doctors we have. Further, take a look at another nationalized – or at least another government-run profession — education. Teachers are managed by elected officials and locally-run school boards, and whenever anybody talks about paying teachers higher salaries, it’s fought hard and teachers are considered to be babysitters. Do you think doctors would want to continue to work in a system that treats professionals as such?
A national healthcare system will quickly erode the desire of young Americans to want to enter into the medical profession. In the current system, doctors can choose how large they want their practices to be and the quality of their work is directly related to the fees they can charge. The only difference is how insurance companies will pay back those fees.
Many of the politicians that have campaigned on national healthcare have talked about still maintaining insurance companies to provide coverage for services above and beyond basic healthcare requirements. I can see this creating two classes of doctors and healthcare – those who take peanuts for a paycheck to take care of “everyone” and doctors that get paid what they are really worth to take care of only the highest class of patients. I can also see this creating something like the legal system’s pro bono work and public defender positions. Doctors that put in “charity” time with clinics to take care of “the common man,” when in reality, they will concern themselves with the “paying” customers.
I heard an anecdote from a Canadian man on the radio a few weeks ago. He needed an MRI for a knee injury (in Alberta, if that’s important to the story). He had to wait 10 weeks and drive 3 hours in order to get to the closest facility that had availability. When I had my own knee injury, I used my private insurance and got an appointment a few days after I called and drove 20 minutes to get there. What will happen to people in rural parts of the county? In the midwest? In the Rocky Mountain region? How long will they have to drive to get this kind of care, since the government is going to regulate it?
I also take into consideration my own paycheck and how my tax dollars are spent. A chunk of tax dollars comes out and goes to pay for social welfare programs, which includes the basic healthcare in Medicare/Medicaid that comes with a welfare check. I also pay for my insurance. I am fortunate, being a teacher – my insurance is less expensive than some people in private industries. But – in a national system, the money I pay to health insurance won’t be taken out, but the cost of my healthcare will be, for all intents in purposes, the same as somebody who collects a welfare check. Instead of that one bit of pay that goes to welfare, now that will increase, because those people get the same allotment of healthcare that I do – but they aren’t doing anything to contribute to the system. That doesn’t give me much incentive to hold a job or work. I could quick my job, live off the system and have no worries. Maybe socialized medicine is a good idea after all.