The threat of socialized medicine in America is coming in two forms:
Full Nationalization of the U.S. Healthcare System
The first, and most radical, path is through a systemic change that would effectively nationalize the U.S. healthcare system similar to the proposed Medicare for All plan supported by ultra-liberal politicians such as U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), as well as other extremists such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and aligned special interests groups.
Under a nationalized, taxpayer-funded government run system like Medicare for All, nearly all medical services and healthcare decisions would be placed under the control of bureaucrats and unelected boards within the federal government. Employer-provided and private insurance for some 250 million Americans, along with federal programs, earned or provided, to Medicare, Medicaid, military TRICARE, VA, children’s health insurance, and other beneficiaries, would be eliminated and instead consolidated into a single, government-run system funded by zeroing out these programs along with massive new federal taxes. For example, the estimated cost of Medicare for All is over $32 trillion.
Incremental Adoption of Socialized Medicine
The second, less visible path is through incremental adoption of individual of public policies that could serve as the needed componentry to achieve a socialized medical system when pieced together down the road. Unfortunately, often these individual policies are considered in the absence of the precedents that they set for future expansion and exploitation, as well as how future policymakers may integrate them into a more centralized command and control structure.
For example, if certain access restrictions to medical treatments, specialists or drugs are applied to one government program to save costs they could later be applied to all programs through regulatory fiat. Similarly, if an unelected government board is tasked with deciding the cost of a medical procedure impacting one defined set of patients, their power could later be expanded to have such decision-making power over all patients. In aggregate, these policies and more could be both expanded and then integrated into a one-size-fits all government run system regardless of their original and individual intent. In short, the U.S. healthcare system could suffer death by a thousand regulatory and legislative cuts.
A one-size-fits all system of medicine in the United States would completely destroy our existing healthcare system, eliminate the doctor-patient relationship, lead to access restriction to life-saving treatments, decrease the quality of care for all Americans, cause massive job losses, and stifle medical innovation. In most countries with socialized medicine, governments are subject to uncontrollable healthcare budget constraints. Accordingly, citizens end up paying extremely high and ever-increasing taxes, and patients experience unbearably long wait times and access restriction for care amid mismanagement and a shortage of doctors and nurses.
In fact, there is not a single country that has adopted a socialized medical system that has seen its healthcare costs go down. Socialized medicine is a failed experiment that would do more harm than good even in view of the problems that currently exist within the U.S. healthcare system.
Medicare for All
Led by liberal politicians like admitted socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and other progressive Democrat presidential candidates, left-wing special interest groups have recently called for nationalizing the U.S. healthcare system to adopt a radical and costly socialized medicine system here in the U.S. “Medicare for All,” as they call it, is an intentionally misleading name to make it sound “free” and senior-friendly. And despite its soft-sounding name, the more people learn about the proposal, the more they are horrified by the prospect of it ever becoming a reality. In fact, Medicare for All would present anything but a soft landing for U.S. patients and families, and especially our nation’s seniors. As with other false promises of the far left, behind its euphemistic name, Medicare for All is a step toward big government socialism that would have disastrous impacts on America’s patients, economy, and taxpayers.
Just to put it in perspective, what Medicare for All would actually result in includes:
- Elimination of all employer-provided and private health insurance that currently covers around 250 million Americans.
- Elimination of Medicare and Medicare supplemental plans like Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, and zeroing out the Medicare Trust Fund.
- Elimination of the U.S. military’s TRICARE health plan for service members and their families.
- Folding all of the above in with Medicaid, the VA, the federal Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP), and much more, into one massive federally administered healthcare system.
Countries that adopt socialized medical systems often employ price controls on medicines made available to patients. The phrase “made available” is key as patients in most of these countries have far less access to the innovative life-saving treatments that are today widely available to American patients for chronic diseases such as various cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and more. The reality is that price controls create barriers to entry in those countries where bureaucrats, not patients and doctors, decide which drugs can be prescribed based on price rather than effectiveness.
Unfortunately, many politicians in the U.S. support imposing price controls set by foreign bureaucrats on American patients. These proposals would set a formulaic average for prescription drug prices based on prices set by bureaucrats in countries like Greece, Italy, the UK, and others whose market sizes and drug per capita spending are significantly smaller than the size and spending of the U.S.
Yet these models cannot average a price of an innovative new drug to treat lung cancer, a rare neurological disease, or other breakthrough medicine if those countries do not even make it available to their own patients. Conversely, nearly 90 percent of prescriptions filled in the U.S. are generic. Yet, in many European countries, generic drugs are both less utilized and often more expensive than in the U.S.
Arbitration is anything but a negotiation. It gives the federal government the power to arbitrarily set drug prices if biopharmaceutical companies don’t agree to a price determined by regulators. As in any industry, the problem remains that if government sets the price there will be little incentive to produce a product. As a result, there will be less of it and certainly fewer new innovations down the line. This is a disruption of the market-oriented healthcare system and one that places government firmly in control of what drugs ultimately will be made available—and which will not—for American patients.
Access Restrictions to Medical Care
In countries with socialized medicine, access restrictions to a host of medical services have become routine as a means to save costs to their health care systems. Many have heard of the painful wait times patients face in many European countries for both routine outpatient treatments as well as more complicated procedures, but few know of the restrictions placed on patients in terms of the limited access they have to medicines widely available in the U.S. For example, in the UK it was recently reported that nearly 20 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients now wait two months or longer to begin treatments even after they get a doctor’s referral.
In an effort to curb costs here at home, politicians and federal bureaucrats are first taking aim at seniors on Medicare through policies and “pilot programs” that will either limit access to certain drugs or require them to first fail on cheaper alternatives.
Ultimately, access restrictions such as these jeopardize quality of care when treatment decisions are made based on price versus what may be best for a Medicare patient.