NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 27, 2005

Socialized medicine is often lauded in countries that have it, but America's health care system is more effective and produces better health outcomes, says John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Socialized medicine, explains Goodman, makes many promises that it does not keep:

  • Health care as a right: Not only do patients have to wait for care, but if they are the hundredth person waiting for an operation they are not entitled to the hundredth surgery.
  • Better quality of care: Due to better access to technology, Americans enjoy two or more times as many procedures per capita -- such as renal dialysis, coronary bypass, and coronary angioplasty -- than their counterparts in Canada and Britain.
  • Better efficiency: Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, only one-fifth die in the United States compared to one-third in France and Germany and almost one-half in Britain; similarly, Americans enjoy significantly better outcomes for prostate cancer.
  • Equal access to health care: While minorities in the United States are underserved, this is also true for native populations in Canada; elderly patients are frequently discriminated against in socialized systems, which prefer to serve younger patients.

Nonetheless, says Goodman, the American system is far from perfect. One of its key shortcomings, he explains, is a lack of market forces: Half the health care spending is done by government and most of the rest is done by bureaucratic institutions.

The cosmetic surgery market, he explains, is about the only market where patients are spending their own money. There, patients get package prices and can compare prices. Over the course of the 1990s, when costly technology was emerging, the average price of cosmetic surgery fell in real terms, notes Goodman.

Source: John Goodman, "Five Myths of Socialized Medicine," Cato's Letter, Vol. 3 No. 1, Cato Institute, Winter 2005.

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