Socialized Medicine

According to a recent Pew poll, support for universal health care, provided and paid for by the federal government, is higher among American millennials than among older generations. (Image source: Mark Dixon/Blue Lens/Flickr)
According to a recent Pew poll, support for universal health care, provided and paid for by the federal government, is higher among American millennials than among older generations. (Image source: Mark Dixon/Blue Lens/Flickr)

According to a recent Pew poll, support for universal health care, provided and paid for by the federal government, is higher among American millennials than among older generations. Young Americans seem to believe that socialized medicine is a “cure-all” for health-care ills in the United States, as it ostensibly is elsewhere, such as Canada and Britain.

Unfortunately, there are facts that would appear to put this fantasy to rest by the facts — for instance, the tragic and untimely death of a 20-year-old British woman in her dorm room last March. Victoria Hills, a first-year student, died of an ear infection, after “postpon[ing] visiting her campus general practitioner because her student loan had not come through and she couldn’t afford the prescription.”

There seems to be a myth that all medical care, procedures and drugs are free under a socialized system. Although Britons do have affordable access to primary-care doctors, and everyone in the UK is covered through high taxes, they are subjected to extensive waiting periods for specialists, surgeries and hospitalization. The fact is that in the West, as the ability of physicians to provide services becomes stretched, many patients die waiting for treatment.

In communist – and former communist — countries, the situation is even worse, as the 2005 award-winning dark comedy, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, tries to illustrate. The film portrays the medical tribulations of an elderly man in Romania, transported by ambulance from hospital to hospital for an entire night, while doctors at each location refuse to treat him and send him away. By the time he is finally admitted to a fourth hospital, he needs surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. In a particularly poignant scene, one doctor comments: “They have saved him so he can die from an incurable liver neoplasm.”

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