A common discussion in politics today is the condition of the American healthcare system, and one idea popularized by left-leaning candidates is single-payer healthcare. The system is already in use in several European countries, and proponents believe the system could lower costs and improve care for Americans. However, some physicians and health care advocacy groups disagree and believe a government-run system could harm health care in the United States. Here are a few arguments against government-based health care.
1. Keeping costs down may reduce the standard of care
One of the problems opponents see with single-payer healthcare is the control of services by the government and the likelihood that budget restraints would reduce individual choice in health care decisions. Opponents believe free-market health care ensures a balance of supply and demand of services, and government control of healthcare would limit how and when people could go to the doctor when needed.
2. Lack of competition within the health care industry
One of the largest complaints regarding the health care industry in today’s free market environment has been the gradual erosion of competition due to consolidation of various health care entities like insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Opponents of single payer health care suggest the lack of competition would get even worse with a government-run system. Free market health care would virtually disappear, and patients would enjoy far fewer choices when it came to their health care needs. Many Americans would consider it invasive or restrictive for the government to be in charge of making healthcare decisions.
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3. Government-run health care means waiting lists
One of the complaints free-market advocates have with single payer healthcare is the existence of waiting lists for certain procedures. For example, Canadians sometimes have to wait to obtain certain healthcare procedures because of the government’s focus on keeping costs down for all taxpayers. Evidence suggests some Canadians come to the United States to obtain certain procedures because they don’t want to wait to receive care. While Americans often head to Canada to receive prescription drugs at lower prices, Canadians do have problems with the national healthcare system in Canada.
4. Citizens may need to buy private insurance anyway
A national health care system is supposed to reduce costs and ensure everyone is covered for health care, but the national health care service in Britain still has some citizens buying private healthcare. Around 10 percent of citizens in Britain have private insurance, which allows them to access private facilities that aren’t associated with the government. Those citizens not only pay taxes for the national healthcare system, but they also pay private insurance costs. Many people would consider it unfair to ask some people to pay twice for health insurance, even if the additional insurance offered access to additional healthcare facilities.
5. The Department of Veterans Affairs is an example of a failed system
The closest system in the United States to nationalized health care is the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is commonly referred to as the VA. There are around 150 hospitals run by the VA, as well as around 1,400 outpatient clinics. Unfortunately, the system was beset by scandal and controversy in 2014, and The Washington Post reported that year that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would resign because of the revelation about long wait times experienced by many veterans around the country. Opponents of single payer suggest a nationwide version of government healthcare could experience even bigger scandals because of its massive size.
The desire to change the nation’s healthcare system into something that’s more efficient and provides better care for Americans is something shared by millions of citizens, as well as by both major political parties. Single-payer may provide some benefits like increasing the number of people with healthcare coverage, but there are a variety of likely costs and problems that may occur during implementation of a national healthcare system.