Free universal healthcare. It sounds like a nice idea, doesn’t it? Based on the name, one could assume it would be available to everyone for free. That sounds like a win-win.
Unfortunately, free universal healthcare may accomplish exactly the opposite of what its name suggests. Take Canada, for example, a country that prides itself on its universal healthcare system. As of 2020, Canadians had to pay 51% more in taxes to support this healthcare system. Even with the added taxes, their out-of-pocket medical costs were similar to those of Americans. A system that promised to be free now costs the average Canadian thousands of dollars.
The idea of “universal” is also being called into question in Canada.
“Government rationing has left Canadians with months-long waiting lists for urgent care, endemic staff shortages, substandard equipment and outdated drugs,” according to the Heritage Foundation.
These are conditions that would be deemed unacceptable by current U.S. standards. Yet if we embrace the theory of free universal healthcare, this is precisely the future that lies ahead of us.
Canada is not the only country struggling with its universal healthcare system. With waiting periods of more than three months, the United Kingdom is experiencing a national shortage of healthcare workers. In 2022, the U.K. reported a shortage of over 12,000 doctors and 50,000 nurses, according to the Heritage Foundation. This is a direct result of the decreased wages in countries with universal healthcare.
To spend less money, governments will cut the salaries of their healthcare workers. The average doctor in the U.S. makes $381,000 a year, according to MedScape. In the U.K., the average doctor makes only $138,000 a year. Similar salaries are seen in all countries supporting free universal healthcare.
With medical school averaging over $200,000 and years of additional training, many people have reconsidered the path to becoming a physician, creating an alarming shortage.This shortage creates the most disturbing problem associated with universal healthcare: a degradation in the quality of service.
Under universal healthcare, it becomes extremely difficult to access necessary services. When pursuing additional healthcare services, one would have to seek government approval and be able to prove the service is necessary. The government may also place cost limitations, preventing patients from accessing specific procedures or expensive tests.
“Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to healthcare,” said John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. “Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what healthcare treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them.”
The healthcare system in the U.S. is not perfect. There is always room for improvement, but utilizing a universal healthcare system would bring far more harm than good.