Socialized medicine, a term which appears to be on the rise of late in Google searches, has been garnering headlines. “Whether you blame socialized medicine or soaring secularization, it’s no secret that European medicine and law hold ever-less respect for life,” writes the New York Post’s editorial board, about a very sick British baby, whose parents want to have treated but the State has said should die painlessly.
Writing in “The momentum for socialized medicine is growing. Where is the GOP’s strategy?” in the Washington Post, former White House staffer under both Reagan and Bush senior, Ed Rogers, notes Democrats’ race to the left and, increasingly, for a single-payer system. “Could it be that Republicans are on the brink of defending Obamacare as the only practical alternative to the Democrats’ march toward socialized medicine?” he asks. “A lot of voters will think that Democrats are trying to give them free health care and that Republicans are against it.”
And yet, an op-ed last November in the Los Angeles Times bears the headline, “I had a health crisis in France. I’m here to tell you that ‘socialized medicine’ is terrific.” The writer, who credits the French healthcare system with saving his life, concludes, “I sometimes wonder how my health crisis would have played out had I returned to America instead of deciding to stay in Paris more than 20 years ago.”
The truth is, writes George Lundberg Medscape’s editor-at-large, the term “socialized medicine” is often misunderstood. Socialized and universal healthcare aren’t necessarily the same thing, he says. In socialized medicine, such as health systems in the UK, Finland, and Spain, the government owns and operates medical facilities, pays the doctors and other professionals, and supports the services. “There are escape valves for those few who wish to pay for private care,” Lundberg writes.
In universal healthcare, “such as has long existed in almost the entire civilized world (except the United States),” there are a variety of ways that countries — including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan — operate and manage their systems. “And they do all of that more effectively and more efficiently than the United States, with proven better outcomes at much lower costs.” he writes.
The countries with universal systems aren’t smarter than we, nor do they work harder than we, and they certainly aren’t richer than we. “They don’t have more or better education than we do. They don’t have better equipment and supplies than we do,” Lundberg writes. “Their health systems are simply framed by a different set of values.”
Those values boil down to the American system transferring “money from the many to the few,” while other nations “provide decent medical care for all of their inhabitants,” he writes.