Currently, there are many people in the U. S. who are uninsured, and many people see universal health care as a solution. The problem is that the concept is not as simple as it sounds. There are many flaws and sacrifices that come along with the system, and that is what most Americans are unaware about. Universal health care is defective because of the government’s inability to pay excess costs, the poorer quality and tardiness of health care services, and the doctors’ limited access to cutting edge technology and modern medicine due to government cost control.
Since the government must pay for everyone’s health care, expenses can be overwhelming, and the government must cut down funding on other programs and raise taxes. With these high expenditures, the medical procedures and access to modern technology and medicine must be strictly controlled to only adequate health services. Since universal health care covers everyone’s health services in the nation, costs are too astronomical for the government to control without raising taxes and reducing funding for other programs. Canada is an example of a country that embraces universal health care, but currently deals with some issues in the system.
“What matters, however, is that federal support for health, postsecondary education, and social services has been steadily reduced as successive governments have struggled with deficit financing and massive national indebtedness” (Naylor 4). In Canada, the provincial governments’ support for many programs is deteriorating and is causing national indebtedness. Universal health care is a major contributor to the massive debts and as a result, the government must curb their expenses for most of its agencies or divisions.
With the cost of universal health care covering everyone’s insurance, support for other programs must decrease. Not only do other programs weaken, the universal health care system also bleeds support. In Canada, health care spending on doctors and hospitals has steadily decreased from 1987 to 1997. Naylor states, “Moreover, the wave of hospital closures and cutbacks has been profoundly disturbing to the public [? ] Politicians and bureaucrats point to rising expenditures on drugs and home care as the logical offsets to this downsizing of the institutional sector, but the public remains unsettled.
” According to politicians and bureaucrats, the increasing expenses on drugs and home care have diminished spending on doctors and hospitals, shrinking the hospital sector. The closures have been disturbing to the public and damaging local economies. This is an example of how the government must decrease funding for one institution to increase funding for another area in a universal health care system. All institutions cannot excel when cost is an issue. These reductions are hurting health care by limiting and restricting access to doctors, medical tools, and procedures.
“The institute compared health care systems in the industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and found Canada currently spends the most, yet ranks among the lowest on such indicators as access to physicians, quality of medical equipment, and key health outcomes” (Cihak 1). The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute’s comparison of health care systems of industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that Canada’s expenditures on health care are among the highest.
Although Canada spends the most, its health care is among the lowest quality. The price of universal healthcare surpasses the government’s budget, and therefore, the government cannot control such an expensive program without limiting health care itself. Therefore, universal health care outputs too many expenses and “steals” money from other programs. Canada’s inefficient system displays the poor quality of health care in exchange for the high price of free insurance. With expenses out of hand, the government must find other ways to control and alleviate the outburst of debts that universal health care causes.
To help lower costs, procedures and services are kept to a minimal sufficiency. This leads to poorer quality of health care and longer waiting times. Canada’s limited health care and extensive queues are an example of the effects of universal health care due to the shortage of services. Huntoon states, “Their government rations access to health care and thus attempts to control costs by making MRI scans, radiation oncology, bypass surgeries and many other health services largely unavailable to their own people.
” In Canada, the government must control the costs of insurance by reducing expensive procedures such as MRI scans and bypass surgeries. The limited access to such procedures contributes to the poor quality of health care from universal coverage that is given to patients. That is why Canadians cross into the United States to receive the health care they need that is not available in their own country. They also come to the U. S. because of the waiting lines that plagues their health care system. “[? ] a Canadian health care patient, on average, must wait 17.
7 weeks for hospital treatment [? ]” (Cihak 1). The period of 17. 7 weeks to wait for any procedure is an unreasonably long period that can be stressful and confusing to patients. Moreover, people in critical condition cannot wait that long for a procedure, and people that have a serious illness or condition may worsen and be inflicted with irreversible damage. Because of limited services, patients must endure long queues to obtain procedures, and as a result, some people die. This contributes to the poor services of universal health care.
One of the major concerns in Canada is the high number of fatalities among patients waiting for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). CABG is a surgery recommended to patients with critical narrowings or multiple blockages of heart arteries. Szalai states, “Ontario data show that about 1 in 250 patients scheduled for CABG die preoperatively [? ] although postoperative deaths from CABG occur about 5 times as often preoperative deaths [? ]. ” One in 250 patients die while waiting receive surgery. The mortality rate of patients in line in Ontario is an example of the negative effects that come along with free health care.
Preoperative deaths are not the only problems with Canada’s health care. Five times as many deaths also occur after surgery. With the government being extremely tight with their money, hospitals are rarely equipped with modern medicine and technology leading to Canada’s high postoperative fatalities. These adverse issues display the poor health services and lengthy waits that universal health care produces. The immense costs not only just affect the longer waiting times, they reduce the availability of modern medicine and technology and impede its development.
“Advanced medical technology is far more available in the United States than in any other nation” (Tanner 2). With the competitive private insurance companies in the United States, accessibility to advanced medicine and technology is more available. On the other hand, national health care systems do not have the competition to maintain high-quality health care, and cannot provide the most up-to-date therapies. This is major problem within Europe in regard to their medical drugs. In Europe, many countries have also adopted the universal health care system and their innovation on drugs is minimal.
The price of drugs in Europe is lower than the U. S. , but Europe must pay the cost of not having the most up-to-date medicine available. “Europe’s cash-strapped national health-care systems rely on cheaper, older, and often less effective drugs. Access to new and potentially lifesaving medicines is delayed, and frequently restricted” (Capell 1). The drugs may be cheap, but they don’t always serve their purpose as well as the more modern drugs supplied in the U. S. The less effective drugs are one of the solutions to help curtail their expenses from their health care system.
The availability of modern and lifesaving drugs are very limited in these countries, and patients must receive poorer medication as a negative consequence of universal health care. The latest drugs don’t even become available to the public until national governments debate over it and its price. They must negotiate with manufacturers, who are under pressure, to allow deep discounts. This process can take several years and, even when the drugs are validated, very few patients are blessed with treatments.
Capell states, “Another knock against price controls for drugs: They reduce the incentives for drugmakers to undertake huge investments for the discovery of breakthrough medicines. It takes an average of 10 years and $802 million to develop a new drug. ” Another problem with the government being thrifty with their money is that the price control they issue on drugs is deterring drug companies from creating new drugs. Since profits are lowered to fit the government’s demand, the research and development of new medicines are delayed because there is no profit to make from an expensive and time-consuming investment.
Even when drugs are supplied, the availability is restricted. For example, beta interferon is one of the few effective treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that concerns the central nervous system with symptoms such as visual problems, muscle weakness, overheating, and pain. “As many as 60,000 people in France have MS, and an estimated 2,000 new cases are reported each year. Yet less than half of the French patients diagnosed with MS are treated with beta interferon” (Capell 2).
Beta interferon costs $17,000 per patient annually which is why the government controls the amount allotted. Only less than half of these patients receive therapy, and with the population of French people diagnosed with MS growing, treatment is substandard. The absence of private insurance companies results in these fewer treatments such as beta interferon, and therefore citizens’ health depends on the government’s poor and limited services. The low supply of medications to the public demonstrates how universal health care results in poorer health therapies and medicine.
Universal health care is a great concept from an ideology stand-point, however, it is too difficult to achieve in realistic society. The foremost problem with the universal health care system is that it is too expensive. To pay for everyone’s health services is a duty the government cannot manage efficiently. All other problems of universal health care stem from the high expenses. The reduction of funding for other programs, longer lines, unavailable medicine, and decaying technological growth are ways for the government to control the costs of the system resulting in poor health care.
In the United States, the government manages a program called Medicare to pay for health insurance of senior citizens. The medicare program in the U. S. is already causing financial issues. David Walker, the nation’s top accountant, states, “Eight trillion dollars added to what was already a 15 to $20 trillion under-funding. We’re not being realistic. We can’t afford the promises we’ve already made, much less to be able, piling on top of ’em. ” If we cannot afford the expenses of senior citizens’ health insurance, how can we afford the health care of the entire nation?