Socialized Medicine -- Why Not Now?
Updated: Sep 18, 2022
The arguments for and against socialized medicine, a system in which the government pays for all healthcare-related expenses, are clear and have become quite apparent in public discourse. While there are numerous arguments in favor of socialized medicine, it has failed to become widespread since it is heavily politicized. Different groups on the political spectrum have taken different sides -- some in full support, some altogether rejecting it, and some trying not to get involved as they are happy with the current system. But if average Americans were to look at socialized medicine with an open mind, they would find more pros than cons.
Socialized medicine will save lives -- it’s as simple as that! For people who struggle to put food on the table, seeking medical attention is at the bottom of their priority list. Moreover, due to skyrocketing prices, so many of them delay treatments that could help them and their loved ones, especially when their finances force individuals to choose between getting the healthcare they deserve and basic living costs like food and rent. A 2019 Gallup poll found that 25% of Americans were delaying treatment or had a relative that was delaying treatment due to high costs that affect more people as each year passes. Another study done by the American Cancer Society found 56% of adults in America have undergone some medical financial hardship. This recurring theme of financial burdens due to extremely high medical prices will only become more common unless something is done about it. By its very definition, socialized medicine ensures that every person will have access to healthcare without having to worry about paying for it.
A common argument against socialized medicine is that doctors would receive less pay. This may be true, but 66% of physicians that responded to a Med-Scape survey said they would prefer a socialized healthcare plan, disproving any notion that the professionals would feel underappreciated. These doctors say that socialized medicine would relieve much of their stress since they wouldn’t have to scramble to fill out paperwork and get administrative business done as much as they do now. In addition, they wouldn’t have to fight with insurance companies on behalf of their patients to get reimbursed. Ultimately, in the eyes of many of the professionals in the field, doctors are willing to sacrifice some of their salaries if it means relieving stress and improving their work experience.
Another hesitation some have is that socialized medicine is too expensive. It may not be a cheaper upfront investment, but it would save both the government and individual citizens money in the long term. Twenty-two studies published in the PLOS Medicine Journal agree that switching to a single-payer plan would generate net savings over several years. Similarly, the Mercatus Center, a right-wing think tank, estimated that we could save a total of $2 trillion in just ten years by implementing a socialized medicine plan. Statistics show that socialized medicine would have a positive impact on the economy, in addition to saving lives.
Particularly now, as we experience the devastation of a pandemic together as a country, healthcare remains at the forefront of everyone’s lives and minds. If now is not the time to reassess the system currently in place and demand better, when is?
Photo Credit: KHN