I am writing to you all from a place considered by many to be one of the most terrifying locales in the known world, a land plagued by the diabolical beast known as…
Run! Hide! Cower in fear.
Alright, you can come out now.
One day we in America will have socialized medicine. It’s inevitable. It’s what prosperous first world nations just sort of do. To demonstrate why you should not fear this natural transition to a form of modernity embraced and enjoyed by most of the rest of the first world, I’d like to describe my experiences with it.
I’ve lived in both England and America. I’ve been sick in both countries. I now have a child with pediatricians in both countries. Here’s how it works.
America: I pay over $700 per month to get bare bones health insurance for my family. When any of us goes to the doctor (which is mercifully rare), we pay a hefty co-pay, plus the full price of prescriptions. Then a few months later, we get a bill from our doctor because our insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) routinely denies all claims. Usually, after re-submitting the claims two or three times, Blue Cross Blue Shield pays. Sometimes it doesn’t. I have exhausted my supply of frustration on the subject, so I just pay the difference. If any of us ever gets truly ill, we’re basically screwed, as are the thousands upon thousands of people with health insurance who are bankrupted every year by deductibles, co-pays, and flat out denials of payment.
England: I pay $0 per month. When any of us is sick, we go to the nearest doctor and get treated within a half hour. We then pay about $5 for prescriptions. If any member of my family ever gets truly ill, we’ll get treated. End of story.
Now I know full well that there is not some medicine-dispensing fairy in England. I know that the taxes I pay in England fund the National Health Service. I also know that the English people pay something on the order of $1 for every $5 Americans pay for health care and that the World Health Organization rates English medicine superior to America’s. I also know that the English live longer.
Health care is not “rationed” in England. Nor are there any “death panels.” These are flat out lies spread by the insurance industry and healthcare providers whose only goal is to protect their lucrative business models. But these business models don’t work for the rest of us. What you and I need is reliable health care, health care that sticks around when we’re laid off, health care that doesn’t discriminate against those of us with “pre-existing conditions.” But it’s simply not in the interests of an insurance company to provide that for us. Rather it’s in their interest to charge as much as possible while delivering as little as possible. There’s no great evil at play here. That’s simply how market forces work. But, as brilliant as a free market is in delivering certain types of products and services, it’s utter crap at providing things like health care. Health care is one of those human essentials that is best organized collectively.
Fear not. You are already living with socialism. Your roads are socialized. Your natural resources are largely socialized. Public education is socialized. Social Security is socialized. Medicare is socialized. National defense and homeland security are socialized. Air traffic control is socialized. The water supply is socialized. And on. And on. A great many things we all live with and take for granted in this country are organized according to the socialist model. It has not turned us into a bunch of pinko commies, now, has it?
Of course not. And the reason is simple. Modern society is a matrix of different organizing principles. This is why we can have free markets, public utilities, socialism, and even aristocracy, all working side by side in one culture.
The question, therefore, is not should we allow socialism in this country? The question is which of the many organizing principles at work in this great nation of ours is the most efficient when it comes to delivering health care to the people? If you honestly believe the free market is doing a good job of it now, then you must be one of the lucky ones. But luck is a heck of a thing to rest your health on.