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Why is the USA so hesitant about Universal Healthcare?

Source: Sanjasy

All the other developed nations have universal healthcare and they all love them dearly, the UK, especially with its NHS, apparently being what they are proud of the most, but why is America so apprehensive about universal healthcare?

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While it is true that the For-profit healthcare industry has a large and powerful lobbying arm that has been very successful in the US, answers that rely totally on greed miss the richer and more important debate.

The truth is that regardless of how one sets up a healthcare system, there will always be a rationing mechanism. Right now in the US, that rationing mechanism is price just like in any other private market. However, with other systems that are more socialized, that rationing mechanism is wait times, quality of care, and preventative care (to try to decrease the total demand for healthcare), depending on which area we are talking about. While most agree (along with myself) that healthcare should not be limited by willingness/ability to pay, others disagree. They see it as unjust that if a person is able to pay, they shouldn’t be limited by wait times.

Here is probably the best “summary” of the situation that isn’t from a political/politicized source (it’s from the American Economic Association’s Journal of Economic Perspectives) on the current state of the debate, what the literature says, and what we can learn from it.. If anyone else has relevant research, link it in a reply. If you have trouble accessing the article, let me know.

rationalities

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It’s certainly not the smartest impulse in the world.

I will say, though, that in American culture, the concept of “you can’t have this important, maybe lifesaving thing no matter how much you are willing to pay for it” is kind of both an unfamiliar and scary one.

In the back of our minds, most of us kind of hold onto the notion that if we really, really needed a very large sum of money, we could get it. Sell the house, set up a GoFundMe, rack up credit card debt, whatever — it would be awful, but the mindset a lot of us have is that we could do it if we really had to. If our lives depended on it, let’s say.

So, the concept of that option being taken off the table is a scary one for a lot of Americans, because it’s an option we’ve been raised to believe in and depend on.

Again: I’m not saying this is smart. I’m just saying it’s cultural, since that was the question.

A little off-topic, but I was reading an amazing play this week that had a line to the effect of “to be American is to live constantly with a price on your head, but to find that comforting, because you’ve been raised in a free market economy and believe in the value of a dollar.”

PurpleWeasel

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I think that there is a lot of propaganda in the US about universal healthcare in the developed world outside of the US.

As a Canadian, I have never known anyone to complain about wait times. If you need to see a doctor, you book an appointment. If you need a specialist, your doctor books that. All clinics have walk in options.

We don’t think about healthcare for the most part just like we don’t think about clean tap water until we leave Canada.

english_major

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Australian here, if I don’t care which doctor (general practitioner) I see I can go see someone with a few minutes delay while I wait to be called (there’s a nice bulk-billing walk-in clinic a block from where I work, so all I have to do is show up and let them scan my medicare card) or if I want a specific doctor or timeslot it’s usually possible to get an appointment within a few days.

That’s all free.

For an emergency I can show up at hospital (any hospital, not just one on my insurance’s approved list) , get triaged , and wait times will depend on how busy the hospital is and how urgent my needs are. Show up with a minor wound on a really busy day and it’s a bit of a wait, show up on a normal day with the sort of problem that could get worse if not promptly handled and you’re seeing a doctor in minutes and getting whatever scans/tests/xrays they want really quickly.

I’m not seeing how wait times could be better in any meaningful way under a paid system, unless I had enough money to have my personal doctor on standby.

DrStalker

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