Yep. you’ll get no argument from me on this one. The healthcare system in America has some real problems. What those problems might or might not be are not the subject of this post.
The biggest problem you’ll be HEARING about constantly in this current election year is that people lack access to healthcare and so we need to change to a single payer system so that all will have healthcare coverage and all can live happily ever after.
In any of my dreams or potential realities does a single payer (read “universal healthcare”) system FIX this particular problem as its proponents would have you believe? No way.
You can give all the free healthcare you want to as many people as you want to, but if you don’t make being on the provider end (hospital owners, doctors, nurses, etc.) an attractive proposition, you won’t have people entering the business. If it isn’t attractive, companies and individuals will leave the business or won’t go into the field in the first place and the ultimate result is a lack of providers. Without providers the access to healthcare is diminished. Hospitals are already closing at a good clip for lack of revenue. Doctors are leaving their profession in droves because the reimbursement (the rates for which are set by Medicare, an already abysmally run government healthcare entitlement program) is so lousy that the risk of being a physician often outweighs the rewards. Read THIS about geriatricians and why they are leaving their profession if you don’t believe me.
Proponents of this system would have you believe that by bringing all the uninsured (and underinsured) into the government fold, that this will increase the reimbursement, thus offsetting these losses to hospitals, etc. Hardly. What it WILL do is decrease the reimbursement further. Right now a provider gets paid, let’s say, $100 to see 10 patients, or $10 per patient. Once coverage is “universal”, then that provider will get paid the same $100, but it will be to see 20 patients, or $5 per patient. Yes. A simplistic look at the numbers, but mark my words, this is what the single payer system will bring us. The doctors will leave, and for awhile the government will sell us the bill of goods that Physicians Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners, and Chiropractors are just as good as doctors, until we find out that that particular emperor doesn’t have any clothes either, and then Canada will be freaking out because now where will THEY go for their healthcare in a hurry, and well, it’ll just be a huge mess.
You can’t MAKE people invest their capital and their lives where they don’t want to. Well, I suppose in theory the government COULD, but do any of us want to live in a country where you are forced into running a hospital or becoming a doctor for the good of the masses? Sounds a lot like communism to me.
But I digressed…
So, then, you can increase healthcare COVERAGE all you want. But increasing an individual’s coverage does not automatically translate to an increase in the ACCESS to healthcare that the individual has.
Without providers, there IS NO healthcare.
A single payer system solves the problem of a coverage. But insurance coverage does not does not does NOT equal healthcare access.
What about this continually escapes the universal healthcare crowd??
You can give away free tickets to the circus, but what happens when the circus has already left town?