In the United States there are several barriers to care that we struggle with. Out of pocket expenses and co-pays can add up quickly. Many people will let their health deteriorate to avoid payment which, in the end, can wind up costing them more. Under a socialized system there are many benefits that individuals can receive. Some of these benefits include:
- Decreased prices: Patients aren’t denied the care they need because they don’t have coverage. Out of pocket expenses are drastically decreased. Whether the patient has a sore throat or has to go in for surgery, they’ll pay little to nothing for their treatment.
- Fewer prescriptions: Doctors in a socialized healthcare system are paid per person, not per treatment. Doctors are less likely to over-provide because they receive no financial benefit from doing so. In the United States, there’s a greater incentive for doctors to prescribe unnecessary medication because they’re paid per treatment.
- Better hours: Nationalized healthcare often makes it easier for the patient to see their provider on nights and weekends.
Socialized medicine is a concept that has been very popular in European countries and it’s an idea that’s gaining popularity in the United States. However, it does have its critics. Socialized medicine comes with many consequences for the public. These consequences include:
- Higher taxes and spending cuts: While a doctor visit may be inexpensive, government provided healthcare isn’t. The costs for socialized medicine have to be paid through higher taxes or spending cuts in others areas. This may include cutting costs from education, defense, or medical research.
- Less medical advancement: Socialized medicine can greatly hinder the potential for new medical breakthroughs. Cost cutting and government involvement can drastically decrease profits for these formerly private companies. If there’s no profit to be made, then there’s no reason to invest in it. Without competition between companies, the economy can start to crumble.
- Less control: Decisions shouldn’t be influenced by government orders, but instead on an informed evaluation by patients and their providers about the value of the services they’re being given.
- Longer waiting periods: There are often much longer waiting periods in countries with socialized medicine. In Great Britain, current guidelines state that the patient must be seen within 18 weeks of a referral. For many people, this wait may be entirely too long and can have dangerous consequences.
In countries with socialized medicine, there’s often the mindset that the patient needs to wait until they’re “really sick” before seeing a doctor. Prescriptions are written less often and preventative exams are performed less frequently. While some people see this as a money-saving strategy, others may be uncomfortable with the idea. Both the pros and cons of socialized medicine need be studied before an informed decision by a government and its people can be made.
Author: Lauren Daniels