“Healthcare is a human right!” said then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, all the while thrusting his index finger in the air to a round of roaring applause from the sorely naive crowd. While the idea of universal healthcare seems swell, the effects and actual implementation are far from it.
Those who demand healthcare for all essentially believe that every human has the right to access respectable healthcare from a doctor. To insist that healthcare is a right, and universal healthcare is the only solution, means that everyone who lives in an area that has implemented a universal healthcare system has the right to storm into a doctor’s office and demand treatment. This same logic was also applied when slavery plagued our nation for so long. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gives us a more precise reasoning.
One might ask, “Most other developed countries have a universal healthcare system, so why can’t we?” Well, those who praise the idea of universal healthcare are misled. While it seems like a great idea to insure every American, the effects and implementation would create more red tape and inefficiency, and less freedom for our citizens. Here are a few reasons why universal healthcare simply won’t work:
- Extended Wait Times
To me, this seems like the most obvious reason. Take an urgent care facility for example. Urgent care is put in place to satisfy quick medical attention. When you need stitches, you go to urgent care, or when you need a quick X-ray, you go to urgent care. While you can get your medical needs satisfied, the wait time can be unbearable. I have been to urgent care many times, and sometimes find myself in the building for two hours.
Emergency rooms aren’t much better either. Those who need emergency care can see wait times exceeding 3-4 hours. If the wait times in the ER are already outrageous, can we begin to quantify the wait times under a single-payer system? Take Canada for example, one of the few countries utilizing a single payer healthcare system. According to a survey by the Fraser Institute, the wait time for a “medically necessary” treatment or procedure was 20 weeks in 2016, up from 18.3 weeks in 2015. To put this in perspective, the wait time for similar treatment was only 9.3 weeks in 1993, a 115% increase. New Brunswick reported the longest wait time at 38.8 weeks, and the wait for a neurosurgeon was 46.9 weeks. For some perspective, the average wait time to see a cardiologist in a major metropolitan area is only 21.1 days, according to a survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins.
Those in favor of a single payer system seem to only see one side of the argument, as increased wait times become almost unbearable for those who need treatment.
- Increase in Taxes
Another painfully obvious reason for the failure of a universal healthcare system. Healthcare is not free, so someone has to pay for it. Forget the shortage of doctors, the increase in taxes would be enormous, especially if it spanned into mental health, dental, or vision. Many of us can also agree that, even after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxes remain too high. Though, in common leftist form, they could argue that taxing the rich and corporations further can negate this side effect.
As we saw with the passage of the TCJA, corporations started to pay out bonuses and award pay increases as the corporate tax rate was lowered from 35% to 21%. This is a shining example of “Reaganomics,” or supply side economics in full effect. When an entity is taxed at a higher rate, they are more financially compromised than those not. When consumers get to keep more of their money from a tax cut, more money is pumped into the economy, stimulating businesses and creating a thriving middle class.
In the United States, we are punished for making more money. Those who make $500,000/year will pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than someone who makes $50,000/year. An inevitable tax increase under a single-payer system will result in Americans getting to keep even less of their money, and suffer excruciating job loss as a result.
- No Competition
If healthcare is guaranteed to every citizen, competition disappears. When competition is present in any field of work, companies are always devising ways to “win” over potential consumers. If no competition exists, an incentive to produce better product is nonexistent. When more people are in possession of something, the demand for that something will drastically decrease. Michael Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg elaborate on this point further, saying:
In a normal market, competition drives relentless improvements in quality and cost. Rapid innovation leads to rapid diffusion of new technologies and better ways of doing things. Excellent competitors prosper and grow, while weaker rivals are restructured or go out of business. Quality-adjusted prices fall, value improves, and the market expands to meet the needs of more consumers.
The idea of universal healthcare seems to be a popular one in the United States. Most who are in favor claim that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Unfortunately for this crowd, none of our founding documents make any mention of healthcare. They claim that the right to healthcare is coupled in with the right to life. While healthcare is strongly encouraged for everyone, you do not technically need it to survive. Healthcare, just like owning a vehicle or buying nice jewelry, is a luxury in many ways, and should always remain a privilege.
Wanting a healthier country is a positive idea, but implementing a universal healthcare system is not the way to implement this.