Healthcare is expensive, especially for those who can’t afford it. Access to healthcare providers, facilities, and prescription drugs are just some of the existing health sector problems worldwide.
However, some countries have found a way to address these problems. Various nations have employed socialized medicine to provide accessible and affordable healthcare to their citizens.
And today, we’ll be talking about socialized medicine to understand further why it might or might not work for the United States.
If you want to learn more about socialized medicine, continue reading this article.
Understanding Socialized Medicine
Like we’ve mentioned, healthcare can cost you a fortune and give you a ton of medical debt.
This is where socialized medicine comes in.
Socialized medicine is a form of healthcare system where all healthcare aspects are provided for by the government.
It means that the government pays for all care and hires healthcare providers. Additionally, the government oversees and operates all healthcare facilities under this system.
Several countries worldwide have implemented socialized medicine to provide healthcare for their citizens, including Japan and Germany. Moreover, it has long been a debate topic in some countries, including the United States.
However, there are also socialized medicine systems in which the government’s role might be different. In other definitions, the government pays for healthcare but doesn’t hire or operate healthcare facilities.
How Does It Work?
Given that socialized medicine is paid for by the government, people’s taxes provide funds to run the system. The downside is that countries with socialized medicine tax citizens at higher rates than countries without it.
The good thing is that citizens get government-provided healthcare services for free. Also, citizens typically get affordable or even free prescription drugs.
Generally, the only things citizens pay under socialized medicine are elective procedures, like cosmetic surgery and hip replacement.
Countries With Socialized Medicine Programs
As we’ve mentioned, socialized medicine provides free healthcare to a country’s citizens. However, there aren’t many programs in the United States that use the system.
On the contrary, some countries and their citizens have implemented socialized medicine for decades and benefited from it. Below are four nations that use socialized medicine and make it work.
Germany’s healthcare system is known as one of the best in Europe and the world.
Germany employs mandatory system enrollment for its residents and citizens. Generally, citizens’ healthcare enrollment is paid by the citizens, their employers, and the state.
There’s also a social welfare system where the state covers all enrollment expenses. A person can be a social welfare recipient provided that they’ve enrolled in a social welfare program, including unemployment.
While Germany’s healthcare system works, some German citizens choose to acquire private health insurance, especially those who work in the government.
On average, a German citizen has a life expectancy of 81.
Like Germany, Israel mandates its citizens to enroll in its healthcare system. The main difference is that both Israeli citizens and residents are entitled to healthcare enrollment.
In Israel, enrollment in the system is a fundamental right for people to pay affordable healthcare coverage rates. Moreover, the country’s healthcare system is considered one of the most efficient ones in the world.
Not only that, but Israel is also home to the best healthcare providers in the world. As a result, it can provide high-quality healthcare at very low costs.
Additionally, the country’s average life expectancy is 82, one of the world’s highest.
If you don’t already know, Norway is regarded as one of the world’s healthiest countries. That’s not only because of its culture and wellness programs; it’s mainly because Norway’s healthcare system is remarkable.
The government partly funds every healthcare facility in Norway.
Adults pay a certain amount for the annual deductible before receiving an exemption. However, since Norway is a wealthy nation, the majority of Norwegian citizens can afford to pay.
Moreover, Norway has an exceptional social welfare system, which means there are programs dedicated to citizens who can’t afford deductibles.
Aside from socialized medicine, the country also has private health insurance.
Like the countries we’ve already mentioned, Japan also mandates enrollment in its high-quality healthcare system. However, Japan uses a universal healthcare system.
What this means is that there’s a special state committee that sets up healthcare fees annually. Generally, payments are set up based on various factors, including income and province.
Additionally, Japan pays 70% of the co-pay for preventative care and comprehensive healthcare, while citizens pay the other 30%.
The Pros and Cons of Socialized Medicine
There are many benefits that countries can reap from socialized medicine. Not only does it make healthcare more accessible, but it can also help people prevent tons of medical debt.
However, as we’ve mentioned, socialized medicine is a topic for intense debate in the US. And while free, government-provided healthcare is a good thing, there are also reasons why it might not work.
Here are some of the pros and cons of socialized medicine.
The Pros of Socialized Medicine
Here are the pros of socialized medicine:
1. Socialized medicine is equitable.
Because healthcare is more accessible and affordable under socialized medicine, it’s more equitable. This is because the healthcare citizens receive isn’t dependent on their ability to pay.
2. The system can save lives.
Like we’ve said, healthcare is expensive. Under a socialized medicine system, healthcare services wouldn’t be delayed because of affordability.
Also, patients wouldn’t forgo treatment because services are highly affordable.
3. Socialized medicine promotes better public health.
Given that healthcare will be highly accessible under socialized medicine, public health will improve. And, as a result, employee sick days will decrease, and workplace productivity will improve.
4. It helps save money.
Like we’ve mentioned, socialized medicine provides free and government-provided healthcare services. Because of this, citizens can save money.
Also, the costs of providing healthcare are reduced because facilities operate on a government-set budget.
The Cons of Socialized Medicine
Here are the cons of socialized medicine:
1. It can cause rationing of healthcare.
As we’ve mentioned, healthcare under socialized medicine is funded by the government. Once funding becomes low for the health sector, there might be a possibility of healthcare being rationed.
This means that those who need healthcare might not be able to receive it.
2. Socialized medicine will eliminate healthcare competition.
Competition in healthcare is quite essential because it ensures that citizens receive high-quality care.
If this competition gets eliminated, the quality of care might be compromised, and there might not be innovation.
3. People pay higher taxes.
Like we’ve said, countries that run under a socialized medicine system tax their citizens at higher rates.
Many people oppose socialized medicine mainly because some opponents think it’s unfair to pay for other people’s healthcare.
Universal Healthcare vs. Socialized Medicine
While you might think that universal healthcare and socialized medicine are the same, they really aren’t. This is because they represent very political and economic perspectives to providing healthcare.
Universal Health Care
In simple words, universal health care means that everyone has the ability to afford healthcare services. Under this system, it doesn’t mean that the government is the sole entity that pays for healthcare.
What this means is that both public and private institutions collaborate to provide healthcare coverage. Also, in most instances where there’s universal healthcare, countries use private healthcare providers and facilities.
Socialized medicine is a form of the single-payer healthcare program. Like we’ve mentioned, healthcare under socialized medicine can be government-run and government-delivered.
This means that the government provides all healthcare services from providers to its citizens. The government also pays for these services.
However, as we’ve said, some definitions allow for privately-owned healthcare providers and facilities, but it’s unusual. Typically, private healthcare is disallowed under a socialized medicine system.
Socialized Medicine in the United States
Like we’ve said many times, socialized medicine in the United States is a hot topic of debate. However, what you might not know is that there are existing socialized medicine programs in the country.
If you don’t know yet, we’ll be discussing one of the renowned socialized medicine programs that the United States employs.
The Veteran’s Administration Healthcare System
The Veteran’s Administration Healthcare system is one example of a socialized medicine program in the US. It’s a fully socialized medicine program in which veterans acquire healthcare assistance at VA facilities.
Under this system, veterans incur affordable healthcare rates, and often, they pay no cost. However, the rates a veteran pays depends on their eligibility and income.
Moreover, under this healthcare system, the VA hires healthcare providers. Typically, healthcare providers, like doctors, work under the VA as federal employees.
Aside from hiring providers, the VA also operates facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
The VA healthcare system is operated specifically by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Affairs Secretary.
Given that the VA health care system is socialized medicine, many have questioned how the VA provides healthcare assistance. However, it’s a way for the VA to show the public that they’re accountable.
Employing socialized medicine has benefited other countries and their citizens because it provides accessible and affordable healthcare to the public. However, while it may have worked for them, it might not be the case for the United States.
Like we’ve mentioned, healthcare is expensive. But is it the best option for the US?
If you find this article helpful, also read the ones below to learn more about your healthcare options:
- Why A Medicare Advantage Plan Isn’t For You
- Guide To Medical Insurance Deductible, Copays, and Coinsurance
- Health Insurance Penalty: A Guide Of What It Involves And How To Avoid It
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