Currently, healthcare is a hot topic in the United States. We have been tackling the issue for nearly a decade with little to no results. It seems simple enough, get a plan that can cover everyone and do it affordably. The most frustrating thing about the healthcare situation in America is the rest of the developed world figured out how to accomplish these goals years ago.
In the U.S., we do not have a single payer healthcare system. We have Medicare for the Elderly, but unless you are 65 this is not an option. Instead, people under 65 must receive insurance through their employers, that they have to pay for, or purchase a plan themselves. In the U.S. healthcare spending makes up 17% of our GDP, roughly 2.8 trillion dollars. This is about 9 percent more than what most developed countries spend on healthcare as a percentage of GDP. Furthermore, over 10% of the U.S. population does not have insurance coverage.
Let’s compare the U.S. healthcare system with that of Sweden. In Sweden, there is universal coverage for all of its citizens. Also, health care spending in Sweden makes us 9% of their total GDP. So the Swedish government is able to insure more citizens and to do so cheaper than we can in the U.S. Also, in Sweden, life expectancy is 81 years, in the U.S. life expectancy is 78.
So the comparison seems rather compelling, Sweden is able to cover more of its citizens, the citizens live longer, and they are able to do all of this more affordably than in the U.S. So why does the rest of the developed world offer a single payer system that covers all of its citizens while the U.S. does not? The answer is, because it is called Socialized Healthcare.
The problem in the U.S. is that anything with the word socialized or socialist is connected with being oppressive and ultimately communist. There is a lack of distinction within our society between socialism being applied to a single market or public good, and it being applied to all markets and politics. The countries with socialized healthcare still are free market capitalist economies, the socialism applies only to safety nets.
Ultimately, socialized healthcare is no more socialist than social security. Furthermore, socialized healthcare could benefit the population in an even greater way than social security has in the past century. So when it comes to the U.S., we should try to learn from the rest of the world when they have programs that work better than the ones we currently use.
In conclusion, we could chose to advocate for a healthcare system that not only, covers more people and allows people to live longer, but also does all of this more affordably than the current system. Will we ever get on board with the rest of the developed world when it comes to healthcare? Probably not.
– Mason Boyd