NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 28, 2005

In a new Cato Institute paper, National Center for Policy Analysis president John C. Goodman says that wherever national health insurance has been tried, it produces results at odds with its proponents' promises of equal access to high-quality medical care.

In national health care systems, "rationing by waiting is pervasive, putting patients at risk and keeping them in pain," Goodman writes. "Access to health care in single-payer systems is far from equitable; in fact, it often correlates with income." For example, Goodman found that:

  • No country with national health insurance has established a right to health care, or equal access to care; the elderly in Canada and the United Kingdom report much more difficulty obtaining care than U.S. seniors, while racial health disparities persist.
  • The quality of medical care in the United States is typically higher than in other nations; the United States has lower breast and prostate cancer mortality rates than New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France and Australia.
  • ?Patients in government-run health care systems do not get more preventive care than Americans do; the amount of preventive care people get under single-payer systems seems to be based more on socio-economic status and education than on whether medical care is "free" or not.?

Advocates of national health insurance would do well to look at how countries like Germany, Sweden and Australia are choosing free-market reforms to alleviate the problems of their national health systems, Goodman concludes. Through painful experience, many countries that once heralded the benefits of government control have learned that the best remedy for their countries' health care crises is not increasing government power, but increasing patient power instead.

Source: John C. Goodman, "Health Care in a Free Society: Rebutting the Myths of National Health Insurance," Policy Analysis no. 532, Cato Institute, January 27, 2005.

For text:


Browse more articles on Health Issues