Socialized medicine and quality of health care





Socialized medicine and quality of health care

Socialized medicine describes a system where the government controls and regulates the cost of healthcare through policies and subsidies. This system ensures that basic health care is affordable to everyone and is practiced by countries like Canada and the United Kingdom. The government takes up part of the cost of healthcare so that it becomes very affordable to everyone. It is also known as the universal health care system since most people can afford it compared to the privatized one which is more expensive. Characteristics of socialized health care include cheaper consultation fees, cheaper drugs and associated treatments.

In the United States, the Veterans Health Administration and the U.S Army Medical department operate under the socialized medicine system. However, health care is predominantly provided by private institutions, where market dynamics determine the cost of healthcare and there is general aversion to tax increases (Shi & Singh 112).

Under socialized care, treatments for illnesses such as diabetes and cancer become cheaper for the patient. Medicaid and Medicare are two socialized health programs charged with providing affordable health care to financially needy populations by the federal government in the US but administered differently in each state. According to the HYPERLINK “,3746,en_2649_37407_2085200_1_1_1_37407,00.html” Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US spends a lot of money on health care compared to other countries such as Canada, UK, Germany, Norway and many others.  The amount spent on health care is close to 70% of the total. 

As with any other issue that affects the nation as a whole, there are those who are for and against socialized medicine. There are issues concerning the quality of health care if the government adopts socialized medicine structure as well as the feeling that it would give the government more control in the lives of Americans. Socialized medicine is also viewed to be an expensive venture and it increases the tax burden on the citizen as the government spends more on health care. These are some of the issues against socialized health care (Wilson). On the other hand, there those who feel that moving to socialized medicine is a good strategy as it would allow even those with little income to access health care at a more affordable rate. In this paper, we look at the pros and cons of socialized medicine and its effect on the quality of health care.

According to Goodman, in Socialized health care, the doctors have to attend to more patients compared to the privatized system. This is mostly due to the fact that there are more people waiting to be attended to. This leads to the practitioner being unable to spend enough time with each time so as to understand their symptoms and give them the right prescription. This in turn affects the quality of health care given. In Britain where socialized medicine is the practiced, the average doctor sees 50 percent more than one in America (Goodman).

Another issue of quality health care associated with socialized medicine is people having to wait in line to get treatment. Due to its nature of being cheap and affordable, most people who cannot afford the more expensive healthcare will use the national health insurance especially in these harsh economic times. This will lead to a crowding in hospitals and people will have to wait before they are attended to. Waiting in line leads to delays for the patients and as a result of this, one may get worse as the wait to be attended to. In the privatized system, one does not have to wait for long as people have more choices on where they can receive healthcare and the system is more efficient. There also cases where patients requiring specialized treatment such as surgery have wait for a long time before receiving treatment. This leads to the situation becoming worse and sometimes such people opt to go to more expensive options in order to get the treatment in time (Wilson).

Socialized health care may also lead to less physicians being available to provide health care. A government controlled health care system will mean less money as the institutions are restricted on the costs that are charged to the patients (Wilson). On the other hand, in the privatized system, the institutions follow market dynamics to decide on the cost of delivering the service thereby getting more. This allows them to charge higher prices according to the demand and supply as well as economic factors that affect the medical field.

In the event that this happens, there are going to be fewer physicians and specialists available to provide treatment to patients under the national health plan. Due to this, the patients may experience incidences where they cannot access healthcare due to shortage of physicians. Shortage of physicians is in itself a sign of poor health care. According to Goodman, governments of countries with national health insurance tend to limit demand for medical services by having fewer physicians. Competent and well trained physicians may also not be available in the hospitals.

Medical institutions that provide health care under the national health care are also not able to acquire all the equipment required as they rely on a budget provided by the government. They may also have the equipment but not in numbers sufficient to cater for all their patients. This affects the provision of medical services as they would have to refer the patients to private medical facilities or make do with the few they have. The patients may not be able to pay for the move to privatized medical care as they are mostly from vulnerable populations. Lack of proper and/ or adequate medical equipment may put the lives of the patients affected in jeopardy. Affluent individuals are able to access better services from the private sector that is not controlled by the government (Cummings et al, 411).

There are also delays in treatment where one has to wait for those who were there before them to access treatment before they can. This is a cause for concern especially during emergencies where the condition of the patient may become worse. In private medical institutions, there is reduced delay and an individual’s needs are addressed in time due to adequate number of physicians.

In addition to these issues of quality health care, there is the general feeling that people will neglect their health as they know they can receive cheap medical services compared to those who use private coverage. Most people try to maintain good health by eating the right foods and taking good care of their bodies. They do this to increase their immunity and ensure they are not vulnerable to diseases as health care is expensive. The high cost of health care acts as an incentive to take preventive measures. However, people may not take as good care of themselves if the treatment is cheaper.

Most people are also opposed to socialized medicine due to the added expense to the tax payer. A lot of money is used by the government in doing this and the effect is being felt by the tax payer due to increases and such moves to generate more revenue. While considering that national health care is aimed at about 4% of the total population who are considered to be vulnerable population, it seems like a very expensive venture.

On the other hand, there are those who view socialized care as a beneficial system that will lead to better health care provision to all. The availability of national health insurance program such as Medicaid and Medicare ensures that all citizens can access medical services. Medicare covers those over 65 and others who have permanent disability while Medicaid covers those with low income including the above group (Wilson). This represents a group of people who are not very productive and hence cannot be able to get as much income compared to before especially if they do not have their families taking care of them. The national health insurance plan ensures they can access health care as it is affordable. The availability of this health plans allows them to access the basic medical services (Miller, 35).

Apart from increasing access to health care, socialized medicine also leads to reduced costs. The government takes up part of the cost of health care and an individual is only required to pay a small amount or nothing to receive treatment under this plan. It enables people with degenerative illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, kidney infections among others are able to get treatment at a relatively low price compared to those under private plans. Such treatments are normally more expensive and this is a welcome relief to those who cannot afford them. The availability of the national health plan enables them to have a fighting chance instead of otherwise not being able to. The national health plan also provides subsidies on prescription drugs making them more affordable even with the rise in cost of living.

Under the national health insurance policy, children are also able to receive cheap health care. This mostly consists of Medicaid. Medical care is a very large determinant of the health of children (Miller, 34). Lack of access in children is normally more serious in children. Children are more susceptible to common infections especially those spread easily such as flu, measles among others due to their associations in school and play grounds. They require more frequent medical attention compared to older people. A comprehensive medical cover is therefore provided to children to allow them to receive their immunizations and get treatment from any other ailments affecting them without a problem. An example of a public health care program that has ensured this is the Medicaid program and State Children’s Health Insurance Program in California (Cummings et al, 412). They have ensured heights of health care access similar to those achieved by children with year-round private coverage (Cummings et al, 412).

In conclusion, the introduction of socialized medicine is a very noble idea. Its aim is to minimize the number of persons who cannot access health care and deaths that occur as a result of this. It allows those who have low income and are financially needy to access health care where they would otherwise not have been able to. It provides basic care to them and reduces the number of people who lose their lives because of lack of access. It improves the lives of individuals who need it. It is therefore beneficial to this group of people.

Individuals who can afford private health care are allowed to use it since national health care is only an option for those with low income and are financially needy. In the event where socialized medicine becomes available to everyone, it may cause such individuals to feel cheated as they pay for it through the taxes but have to use other services.

To address the concerns of those who oppose socialized medicine, several measures should be taken. Physicians in medical institutions that provide such care should be well trained, efficient and competent to reduce malpractices. It also ensures that those who receive their services are not at risk of receiving poor services. It also ensures that correct treatment and prescriptions are given to the patients. There should be enough physicians per hospital depending on the capacity and number of patients seen to reduce unnecessary delays and waiting time before an individual sees a doctor. According to Lawrence, adverse drug effects and medical errors account for some 669,000 deaths, making drug medicine the leading cause of death in America and hence measures should be done to ensure this does not happen.

Equipment in such institutions should also be up to date for efficiency. There should be a high degree of accountability to ensure that money meant for health care is used there and due diligence should also be carried out to ensure the best deals for equipment are made. Choice is also an important aspect that is not to be addressed by the national health programs and this causes people to prefer other plans that are more flexible for them and they can move according to their needs.

Most of the concerns are about socialized care and quality of care can be addressed by regularly monitoring of the providers on national health care and ensuring they follow the guidelines set. Quality care should not be compromised in the quest for a national health system as it may lead to worse consequences on the people. It is easier for private health care providers to provide better health care as they can pass off some of the cost to their clients.

Works Cited

Goodman, John. Five Myths of Socialized Medicine From the Web, 10 April 2012. < HYPERLINK “”>

Wilson, Lawrence. America’s Socialized Healthcare Freedom Daily, March, 2005. Web. April 20, 2012. <>

Miller, C.A. “Health Care of Children and Youth in America.” American Journal of Public Health Vol. 101 No. 1 (2011) 34-36.

Shi, L. and Singh, D.A. Delivering Health Care in America: A Systems Approach. Jones & Bartlett Learning: Sudbury, MA ,2011

Cummings JR, Lavarreda SA, Rice T & Brown ER. The effects of varying periods of uninsurance on children’s access to health care. Pediatrics. 2009 Mar;123(3):e411-8.

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