How Effective Is Universal Healthcare?
It is no secret that liberals envy Europe’s state run healthcare system. They seem to be under the impression that getting sick in Europe is like getting sick in some wonderful utopia—you get instant, free treatment, regardless of your ability to pay. In this world, there are no poor laborers who’ve been laid off at the mill yearning for an expensive treatment for their five-year-old that is priced out of their meager allowance. Instead, the poor are guaranteed healing, which the generous state provides for. Liberals see only the greed of conservatives standing in the way of this wonderful reality.
Conservatives all too often respond to this dream by pointing out some embarrassing anecdote from a country with state run healthcare. These stories are often incredible—Great Britain is considering withholding treatment for smokers because of a lack of available physicians; a British boy deaf for years because of a botched operation; a Canadian mother flown into the United States because there were no open maternity wards in Canada—but are also usually anecdotal. Anecdotal evidence isn’t really evidence—and there are certainly more than enough horror stories that could be told about the American system.
The healthcare debate is best served by looking at the statistics. Life expectancy is probably the best method of gauging a healthcare system’s effectiveness—after all, healthcare is all about keeping people alive for as long as possible. The United States does not have universal healthcare—each person is responsible for his own care. The European Union does—the state pays for everything. Liberals routinely assert that the European model is much better than the American one—it provides doctoring for everyone, not just the privileged few. Therefore, life expectancy should be much higher
Average life expectancy in the United States is 78.14, which places it 47th internationally. Life expectancy in the European Union? It—and remember that this is a big selling point for advocates of universal healthcare—is…78.51(42nd). That is a difference of about five months.
Is five months enough to justify a complete overhaul of our healthcare system? No, unless you are a slave to the idea of meaningless equality. Many liberals are, which probably explains their passionate lobbying for universal healthcare. A look at the statistics shows that universal healthcare is not all that much better than the healthcare which we enjoy in America—the only reason to endorse it is to ensure that all Americans get the same mediocre treatment.
Unfortunately, that dream won’t work, even assuming that the U.S. goes over to a universal system. In most European countries, there is still a private healthcare system—it just works exclusively for the rich—and it works a lot better than the public system. Liberals complain that our healthcare system is weighted towards the privileged wealthy—imagine their reaction when the poor folk are forced to go to the government health clinic staffed by the same people now working at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, while the rich waft themselves over to the private doctor in the Gulfstream Five.
Liberals have made universal healthcare one of their signature issues. Unfortunately, they haven’t thought the matter through very well, and most of their arguments for it are lazy in the extreme. It is quite possible that they will eventually enact some version of it here. But if and when they do, universal healthcare won’t work in the way liberals hope. Instead, it will lead to a larger, debt-ridden government, chaos, and a system that—at best—would be no better than the one we have now.