The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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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

American healthcare isn’t what it’s touted to be

I made a trip to the emergency room on Super Bowl Sunday. While the injury was not critical — depending on how you classify a mild concussion and 13 stitches — my trip was a frustrating one.

For decades, politicians, policymakers and social scientists have debated about healthcare, asking questions about the correct provider for healthcare service. Should healthcare be nationalized? Should healthcare be privatized? Should the government subsidize healthcare for certain segments of the population? Should the rich pay healthcare for the poor?

The arguments for healthcare are based around rather simple concepts: cost of care, quality of care and access to care.

Quality of care is perhaps the most important in a post-industrial society that has already normalized its cost and access to care.

There are certainly a plethora of problems with healthcare in America, but politicians on the left and right — but mostly from the right — stress that the quality of American healthcare is the highest in the world.

The argument goes that if healthcare costs are completely subsidized by the government—like in socialist England and Scandinavia — people will overburden the system.

Horror stories are often used for rhetoric purposes: five-week wait times for critical surgery, visits to the ER for minor cuts and coordinated family trips to the hospital.

But, my question is: for all the privatization in the American healthcare system, are we that much better off?

While I was bleeding and groggy, a secretary told me to fill out a patient form. After a wait, I was pushed into a small room.

I passed a sigh of relief as I thought a nurse was going to give me stitches and stop my bleeding. When they sent me back to the waiting room after just checking my vitals, I realized I had jumped the gun.

After two more hours of more forms and more diagnostics by four different people — a secretary, a nurse, a physician’s assistant and a doctor — I finally received my stitches and a CT scan.

It wasn’t a busy day on Sunday. There were 10 other people in the ER waiting room. And yet, I had to go through hoops and hurdles to be treated for a non-critical issue.

What if I had a critical injury that did not have apparent symptoms? It’s hard to point the finger at anyone. It’s an institutional problem. Frivolous lawsuits by attorneys caused hospitals to be extra careful. Doctors afraid of malpractice claims regulated every part of the emergency room process.

But I do know one thing: don’t buy an American politician at his word, especially on the greatness of the American healthcare system.

Rahfin is the news editor. He is a freshman majoring in economics, math and public policy.


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