By Pranav Sehgal
Republicans are seeking to dismantle the current health care reforms, criticizing its “socialized” principles. But is “socialized” medicine such a bad thing?
The recent midterm elections have seen an unprecedented number of Republicans retake positions in Congress, with a Republican majority in the House and a greater presence of Republicans in the Senate. GOP leaders such as John Boehner (R-OH) are seeking to stop the current health care reforms from coming to fruition. Republicans spent $200 million on health care ads in congressional swing states during the vote on health care reform.
Republican hostility to “socialized” health care stems from the greater role of government that would result from this health care bill. If this bill were to take root, it would not only threaten the influence of private corporations but also of Republicans, who are often supported by corporate interests.
Although many modern countries such as Canada, England and Germany have adopted “socialized” medicine, the United States has yet to do so. Throughout American history, presidents and politicians have attempted to adopt socialized medicine but have always been attacked for trying to advance a socialist agenda in government or conspiring to force a totalitarian takeover.
It seems as though people equate socialized medicine with radical principles and ideas, even though the most moderate and liberal countries in Europe and Asia have adopted this form of health care. While the Affordable Care Act is not a government takeover of the health care system, it does allow health care to be affordable to most Americans and expands benefits to the poor. This is far from fascism or socialism.
Many people that argue against the merits of “socialized medicine” may not know the great deal of benefits that socialized medicine entails. Their opinions and beliefs are influenced not only by the media but also by politicians who reflect the beliefs of corporations they serve. A 2005 Harvard study revealed that the number-one cause of bankruptcy in America was medical bills.
It may surprise you that the United States ranks 33rd in infant mortality and that we rank 21st and 20th for life expectancy of men and women respectively, while countries like Germany, a user of the multi-payer universal health care system similar to the one President Obama supported, rank much higher than us. The United States is one of the only industrialized nations that does not guarantee full access to health care as a right of citizenship, and while we may have the best trained health care providers and the best medical infrastructure, we still rank poorly compared to other industrialized nations.
The proponents and opponents of a “socialized” health care system have valid reasons to advocate for and against it. Although no solution is perfect, the government must do something to stop health care companies from charging exorbitant rates to their customers. The number of uninsured U.S. residents has grown to over 46 million and health care has become increasingly unaffordable for small businesses.
At the same time, many argue there is not a single government agency that runs efficiently, that such a program would lead to higher taxes and that the health care system will fall prey to corruption, which is already prevalent in other areas of government.
Choosing one side is extremely difficult and that is exactly why the issue is so controversial. If the government is to establish a successful health care system, it must compromise on issues with corporations and corporations must be willing to do the same. It is this healthy relationship between industry and government that will establish a health care system that is just and equitable.