Berg: Socialized health care won’t work in U.S.

By By Heather Berg

By Heather Berg

If there is one thing I learned while being in pre-med classes for two and a half years, it’s that I can’t stand it when politicians run around thinking they know what’s best about our health care. What about the doctors?

Politicians aren’t in the hospitals every day taking care of patients, they don’t generally know the system firsthand, and they don’t have any real experience in the field. If they claim to know how to reform our health care system, we should not be satisfied until they demonstrate how many thousands of doctors they’ve spoken to and how many conferences they’ve held with them. Health care isn’t something we can just take our best whack at.

Socialized health care has worked pretty well in Sweden. However, their taxes are astronomical-two to three times that of the United States’. Canada and Britain, on the other hand, have socialized health care that struggles.

Not only is the United States the most democratic country in the world, but our population is something to consider when we discuss a socialized system. Britain, Canada and Sweden are small compared to the United States. California’s population is greater than all of Canada’s by 3 million. Although some fiscal studies found it could be possible with greater numbers, many still harbor doubts that it is too close for comfort. If this is something we are going to pull off, we need to be able to do it by a long shot.

Mary Suchyta, a critical care doctor at Intermountain Healthcare said, “My biggest concern is that the American public is not ready. Americans are so used to being able to go to a doctor and tell them exactly what they want. If they don’t get what they want, they sue. They won’t be able to do that anymore.”

Canada’s and Britain’s socialized health care programs weren’t exactly successful. As a result, many Canadians come to the United States for superior care. According to a 2003 Fraser Institute calculation, the average Canadian waited more than four months for treatment by a specialist once the referral was made by a general practitioner. The shortest median wait was 6.1 weeks for oncology treatment without radiation, and in some provinces, neurosurgery patients waited more than a year. A simple MRI requires, on average, a three-month wait in Canada.

After launching socialized health care there are chances that the U.S. public won’t agree with it, even after all its current fanfare. When we discuss “free” health care we don’t often consider the taxes and reduced options necessary to keeping the system afloat. Suchyta explained that politics are too corrupt to simply allow politicians to decide amongst themselves what’s best for our health.

Aside from the individual convenience costs U.S. citizens might face, doctors and other health professionals might be discouraged in their current path. This is especially significant considering that, according to a 2006 report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the average medical student graduates with a debt of $119,000. The debt for private school graduates has increased to nearly $150,000.

Stacie Florea, a Salt Lake Community College nursing student whose program works through the U said, “Socialized health care is based on humanitarian thought, which is great. It could be brilliant but the fact is, it wouldn’t work in the United States. If the federal government is put in charge of health care, they will only pay doctors and nurses what they can get away with or afford. We have families too. We also have the most important jobs, saving people’s lives. If I will not be able to make sufficient money off my career choice, there isn’t a point in pursuing my nursing degree anymore.”

The United States being the free enterprise it is, operating socialized health care within that system could have some negative effects. Really good, wealthy doctors who refuse to take a drastic cut in pay will simply open their own private practices. The best doctors will basically operate on a system of their own that only the rich would be able to afford. The poor and middle class would be left to the mediocre doctors-further widening the gap between the rich and the poor. You get what you get. Mediocre doctor or no doctor.

We need to be careful to approach this realistically. One form of control always leads to the next, and eventually actions like this could be detrimental to our freedom. Our health care system is far from perfect, and some reforms would be welcome. But instead of handing health care completely over to the government, we should take a whip to the health insurance companies. We need to enforce stricter regulations on the insurance companies and come up with another system or alternatives, not adopt full-blown socialized health care.

Universal health care for every U.S. citizen would be great, but a form of socialism in the most democratic country in the world is like a one-legged table that will not be able to survive without adding other forms of socialism to support it, especially considering our population. Our government is already big enough. We shouldn’t allow them to control yet another aspect of our lives, and such a large aspect at that.

Editor’s Note: Heather Berg is the Chairwoman of the College Republicans.

Heather Berg