An increasingly popular argument in favor of socialized medicine goes like this: “If universal health care works for the elderly under Medicare, then why not for the rest of us?” If that’s true, then the Democratic nominee for President should definitely work this one into his or her acceptance speech, starting now.
But there’s a tragic flaw in that argument. Universal care—socialized medicine—for the elderly does NOT “work,” even on its own terms. Many services, such as my own (psychotherapy and mental health care), are only partially covered, if at all, under Medicare. It has to be this way; otherwise the program would be slated for bankruptcy even sooner than it already is. Why do you think Medicare ‘supplemental insurance’ is commonplace, if not essential? Because “universal coverage” guaranteed by political funding is a myth. And if you think it’s a myth now, wait until the baby boomers come of age and Medicare faces certain bankruptcy. And if “universal coverage for all” passes, then the price tag for the U.S. Treasury goes into the billions or trillions of dollars. And you thought the Iraq war was expensive.
None of these dollars-and-cents concerns address the deeper problem with socialized medicine: What it does to the doctor. Although politicians may applaud themselves for “giving” everyone health insurance for free, doctors pay the biggest price by being at the mercy of the bureaucracy and injustice created by this monolithic system. Also, once the private insurance sector (or what’s left of it) is completely out of business, which will be inevitable if not outright mandatory, doctors will have no choice but to follow government dictates. As it stands now, medical reimbursement rates for doctors are spiraling downward, even as tax rates go up. The Governor of California even has the audacity to try and make doctors foot some of the bill for socialized medicine in that state.
Doctors, under universal coverage, won’t enjoy the freedom to charge patients fee-for-service, and patients likewise will not enjoy the freedom of paying their doctors fee-for-service to get better quality care. This is what “universal coverage” truly means, whether it’s written into the legislation or not. And the reason is simple: Socialized medicine, no matter what you call it, makes the private practice of medicine obsolete, just as it has severely undercut the practice of medicine under Medicare. Does anyone know an elderly person who is actually happy with his or her doctors, by and large, under Medicare? Are any of you who already are elderly happy with the treatment you receive under Medicare? As doctors get increasingly frustrated, and the lines and the waiting times get longer, and the paperwork piles higher and the visits get shorter, doctors will no longer work directly for the patient. Many will see no need to strive for excellence, because under these programs they get patients whether they’re good doctors or not. It’s the only game in town. ‘Universal Care’ will drive a permanent wedge between the patient and the doctor. Imagine if the government took control over YOUR chosen profession, career or job and dictated your every move, including exactly what you could earn in that job—whether you do it well or not.
Remember that Medicare is only a slice of socialized medicine. Calls for universal coverage are the real thing. Under what’s being proposed now, we’re going to get more of the same—only a LOT more of it.
The person who claims that “universal care worked for the elderly, so why not the rest of us?” had better check out the facts. The Government pays about fifty percent of all medical expenses today. It pays more every year. People are less and less happy with their doctors and the whole financial aspect of medicine. Gee, do you think maybe government is creating more problems rather than solving them?
Wake up people!