We are often told that we have a healthcare crisis. Told that we have a healthcare crisis because medical costs are climbing and the quality of medical care is not. Told that we have a healthcare crisis because drug corporations and health insurers are greedy and driving sick people to bankruptcy. And at the end of it all, we are told that government will solve the crisis.

Often times, those most concerned about this “health care crisis” are the same people who ignore the countries that have tried their route before and ended up with actual health care crises. 

Perhaps the greatest complaint the American medical care system receives is the high cost of treatment. Part of the reason for this is because we are paying for better care.

The United States has the lowest death rate from cancer of the stomach, cervix, and uterus of any country in the world [1]. We also enjoy the second lowest death rate for breast cancer and heart attacks in the world [2].

Often championed for their healthcare system, Canada’s prostate cancer mortality rate is 184 percent higher, and their breast cancer mortality 9 percent higher, than in the United States [3]. With one of the oldest government-run healthcare systems, Britain lags behind the U.S. in survival rates for common cancers [4], with a 604 percent gap in prostate cancer mortality as one example.

The other explanation for the high cost of treatment is due to third party payment. Because the patient is no longer the main force in control of their medical decisions, medical costs have skyrocketed [5]. 

Because most of my medical expenses are covered by the government, I have a greater incentive to go to the doctor for my minor ailment, thus taking up more of the doctors time and forcing those with major ailments to wait. Perhaps this explains why wait times are significantly worse in these other developed countries.

In Britain, for example, more than half of all patients wait four and a half months or more to receive care every year, compared to just five percent of Americans. Nearly a quarter of all people in Canada, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand reported having to wait over four months for elective surgery, compared to just five percent of Americans [6].

Every country rations care in one way or another. But longer waiting for necessary medical care is ruinous, insofar as conditions that were initially not severe can worsen as people wait months for surgery. A case in Britain comes to mind [8].

People often complain that we are the only developed country that doesn’t offer a national universal or single payer system to its citizens. Often times, these are the same people only concerned with a small handful of statistics from countries that followed the route they admire.

The push for socialized medicine is simply old wine in a new bottle, insofar as these ideas have been tried before and they have failed. Policies with bad results do not become policies with good results when we wish for them to work. 




[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21262/full

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/concord-2.htm

[3] http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba649

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18639491

[5] https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa211.pdf

[6] https://www.fraserinstitute.org/categories/health-care-wait-times




2 thoughts on “The Health Care Crisis

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