Sen. Bernie Sanders is an outspoken and totally unashamed socialist, a man who actually lives out his ideology without a bit of fear, refusing to hide his light under a bushel, unlike the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues.
With Bernie, you know where you stand so to speak.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that his worldview and policy positions are as nutty as a bag of walnuts, especially his take on health care reform.
According to Sanders, the U.S. ought to take a cue from our neighbors to the north in Canada and have “free health care” for everyone.
Yeah, there’s just one problem with that. It isn’t really free.
Senator Bernie Sanders visited the University of Toronto in late October. The highlight of Sanders’ trip was a speech where he insisted the United States look to Canada for guidance on how to win those rights from profit-hungry companies. He called our current system a “disgrace” — but fails to realize that Canada’s system isn’t much better.
If healthcare is a right, like Sanders suggests, then Canada’s system seems ideal. But many Americans forget about hidden costs.
Public healthcare systems like Canada’s often offer the illusion of being free. Healthcare is not priceless; professionals receive compensation. In Canada, the payment for most medical expenses is entirely taxpayer-funded. Taxes are prepaid costs, so receiving care presents no additional costs to a Canadian. Even though Canadian healthcare is costly, public funding lets citizens perceive it as free.
When the perceived cost of a service is zero, basic economics — and common sense — dictate that the desire for that service will increase. People prefer more of something when it is free to them. This may take the form of more frequent visits and treatments, but if a treatment is equally available to everyone, the system does not account for the degree to which patients need or desire the treatment. Opportunities for treatment will sometimes be taken by those who need the procedure less than others. For example, because an ACL injury mainly affects lateral movement, an athlete may desire a surgery to repair a torn ACL more than a sedentary person.
While not as grim-looking as Soviet queues, a world of “free” healthcare forces people to wait in line. In fact, Canada suffers from some of the longest healthcare wait times in the developed world. These wait times exist across the board: a third of Canadians wait a minimum of four hours for attention in an emergency department, four weeks for an ultrasound, 10 weeks to transfer specialists, and 11 weeks for an MRI scan. It comes as no surprise that Canadians increasingly seek timely treatment in the United States.
Waiting is more than an inconvenience. Researchers reporting to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) classify Canada among the nations for whom healthcare wait times are a “serious health policy issue.” Postponing treatment forces patients and their families to undergo more suffering. Some procedures lose effectiveness as the gap between injury and treatment widens and extended wait times even correlate with higher mortality rates. Since disabled workers are unable to be productive, one estimate suggests medical wait times cost the Canadian economy nearly two billion dollars — in 2016 alone.
Many folks say the reason the wait times are so atrocious in Canada is because there just aren’t enough doctors.
Well, according to the piece quoted above, that’s not the case at all. The number of medical professionals is actually at an all-time high.
Look, let’s use a little common sense on this issue. Why in the world would you want the same people who run the DMV to be in charge of your health care? It just seems like we’re asking for trouble in such a scenario.
As if that isn’t enough, part of what drives someone to become the best in their field is the incentive to make a lot of money, to be able to have a certain kind of lifestyle and provide a comfortable living for their family.
You take that away, all that’s left is a person’s desire to help others, and while the vast majority of doctors possess such a character trait and passion, that begins to wane over time if you aren’t fairly compensated for your work.
There’s no doubt our health care system is in desperate need of an overhaul. However, the question we really need to ask ourselves is whether or not more government is the answer, or if we should turn to the free market?
The correct answer, of course, is the free market. More competition means better quality services, products, and lower prices.