Healthcare: At What Cost? Left Side

Compassion and common sense - the time for socialized medicine in the U.S. is long overdue

Conservative politicians and commentators are fond of proclaiming that the United States has the best healthcare system in the world. But study after study in recent years has demonstrated that this simply isn’t true.

On the contrary, a 2010 report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation, ranks the United States dead last among seven industrialized nations in both effectiveness and efficiency of its healthcare system. Other studies are even more embarrassing. The World Health Report 2000 ranked the United States’ healthcare system 37th in the world. These and other studies look at a wide variety of criteria. Perhaps the most telling is that while the U.S. healthcare system is the world’s most expensive, we ranked 39th in infant mortality.

It’s possible to quibble with the methodology of any study, of course. But the simple fact is, we can do much better.

The question is, how? What is the wisest approach to healthcare policy?

To my mind, fully socialized medicine— something akin to the Canadian model—is the only answer.

I’m using the word socialized with full intention, knowing that it will set off alarm bells. Socialism, after all, has become a buzzword of the right, used to tarnish any proposal for government-run programs. What these critics fail to acknowledge is that in many respects we have had socialist programs from the very beginning of our nation. A government-funded military is a socialist enterprise; so is the Interstate highway system, which was pushed by a Republican president. The list could go on. But let me just cite one more: We take free public education for granted. Why, then, is the idea of guaranteed universal healthcare regarded by many people as fundamentally un-American?