Should healthcare be socialized?


Fact Box

  • Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
  • There are 5,723 hospitals in the US, according to the most recent American Hospital Association.
  • In many countries across the world including Canada, Great Britain, Finland, and Spain, socialized medicine is the main form of healthcare access for many of its citizens.
  • The current world population is 7.8 billion.
  • In 2018, the United States spent about $3.6 trillion on healthcare, which averages to about $11,000 per person.
  • The following countries rank the highest in terms of spending on healthcare per capita: the United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, and Austria.

Elizabeth (No)

People argue America's medical system should be 'socialized,' but that would be a mistake. The most obvious reason for this argument is, of course, the cure-all claim of 'healthcare for all.' However, the reality is far from this, and it would be a disaster in the US over the long-term.

Competition undergirds the US economy. Removing the competition removes incentive. Without incentive, there's less innovation and discovery, and in the long run, that vacuum would gut our medical establishment. Current biomedical and pharmaceutical industries could easily dry-up. The US is estimated to receive approximately 800 thousand medical tourists per year due not to price-saving factors but to the innovative, personal care they can receive stateside.

Scandinavian countries, frequently upheld as paragons of socialized medicine, have dramatically different societies than in the US. Sweden, for example, has a smaller population than that of LA County, CA. Additionally, many Swedes opt for private insurance on top of the government system to help alleviate wait-times for a host of procedures.

A well-run government program that doesn't bow under the weight of its own regulations and bloated bureaucracy doesn't exist. This inefficiency would lead to shortages across the medical field, leading to the rationing of medical procedures, such as seen in other countries on a government-run system. This is converse to a freer system in which supply is dictated by demand, and prices adjust according to availability. Though few might argue against the US medical system needing a severe overhaul, socialization is the wrong way to achieve it.

Demi (Yes)

Socialized health care, or Universal healthcare, believes all citizens of a nation or state should have access to high quality and affordable health care—no matter the financial or social status of that citizen. The general application of socialized healthcare usually involves the government mandating regulation through legislation. Universal health care is a concept that has been embraced by most European countries and Asian countries. In the US, a sizable portion of the population does not embrace the idea of 'socialized medicine.' Butting heads with the 'Medicare for all' crowd are those who reason that if health care becomes socialized, the quality and delivery of the service decrease or lose their value. This school of thought, however appealing, is not necessarily true. Several studies have shown that a health care system ran, controlled, or regulated by the government, if appropriately executed, will not lose quality or value.

Another common excuse against a socialized health care system is that it is expensive to run. Though America already spends a significant amount on health care, it could undoubtedly spare to do more, as most countries, including the US, spend an extreme amount on military and defense—a case for misplaced priorities, perhaps.

Health care as a function of society's well-being is too sensitive to be abandoned by capitalism's whims and impulses. Socialism aims for the betterment of every individual while capitalism drives towards profit and growth. A capitalist-driven health care system means many citizens won't be able to afford treatment costs and may lead to high mortality rates. The first needed condition for universal healthcare to become a reality is a collective commitment to achieving it.

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