The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Not what the doctor ordered

Why America doesn’t need a universal health care system

One of the hot-button issues in this election year has been the perceived inefficiency of America’s health care system. One of Hillary Clinton’s main platform proposals has been a reformed health care system that would give much more control to the federal government, and Barack Obama’s plan, while different than Hillary’s, also allows for more government control. In recent years many on the left have argued that a universal health care system is a necessity in the United States, and that attempts to keep the system privatized are elitist and inhumane. While our health care system today is certainly in need of reform, a socialized program that gives more control to the government is not the answer.

Advocates of universal health care have often pointed to Canada and Europe as examples of what the United States’ health care program could be. In Michael Moore’s 2007 movie “Sicko,” he also lauded the systems in Canada, Great Britain and even Cuba. However, these countries’ systems are not as perfect as they are portrayed. In 2005, the Cato Institute published a report entitled “Five Myths of Socialized Medicine,” which exposed the problems of both the Canadian and British systems. For example, physicians in both Canada and Britain see, on average, 50 percent more patients than American doctors do, giving them far less time to care for each person. And while Great Britain was the country that invented the CAT Scan decades ago, there now exists twice as many CAT Scan systems in the United States per capita than in Britain. Because our health care system is not entirely funded by the federal government, we as Americans enjoy exponentially greater access to most high tech medical procedures than do Britons or Canadians.

Another argument presented in support of universal healthcare is that it provides equal access for all citizens, regardless of their economic situation. While there is some validity to this point, many fail to realize that, in most cases, equal access for all translates into equally bad access. An October 2007 Fox News article pointed out that many mothers in the western Canadian province of British Columbia were traveling to the United States to deliver their babies, as there was no room available in the Canadian government run hospitals. A spokesman for the Cato Institute noted that one in seven Canadian doctors each year sends a patient south to the United States for treatment.

This problem exists in Great Britain as well. A June 2007 article in The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that one in eight hospital patients in the government-run system waited over a year for treatment. One month later, the BBC reported that the NHS (Britain’s national healthcare agency) had rejected the use of Sutent, a life prolonging cancer drug, for its patients in Scotland because the medication was too expensive. James Whale, a prominent British broadcaster and cancer survivor, called the government’s decision a “death sentence” for those living with kidney cancer in Scotland.

The problems with socialized medicine are numerous and widely documented. If such challenges exist in smaller countries such as Canada and Great Britain, how can we possibly expect a universal health care system to work in the United States without drastic tax increases that would cripple our economy? Why would anyone want to be a doctor in a system in which they are underpaid by the government and constrained by its policies and regulations?

While our market-based health care system is by no means perfect and in need of some reforms, it is still among the most technologically advanced and efficient systems in the world. Conservative commentator P.J. O’Rourke once remarked, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.” Socialized medicine in America would produce a watered-down system that would ultimately benefit no one. With health care being one of the most crucial issues during this election cycle, we must ask ourselves an important question: If everyone has equal access to a health care system that sucks, have we really made any progress?

Joseph Goddard is a junior political science major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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