People who are opposed to single-payer healthcare always tout stories of supposed long lines, and wait-times, for getting medical care in countries with national health care. They would have you believe that if we did what these countries did, we’d be dying in the streets because of how long it takes to see a doctor. Well, I have news for those people, we have wait times here in the good ‘ol USA.
I took today off of work to attend an appointment with a family member with a specialist. This appointment was booked a month ago. Two and a half hours before the scheduled appointment time I get a call informing me that the doctor that we were seeing called in sick and that we would have to reschedule. The next open appointment time? A month and a half from now. This is after I took the day off of work to attend, and at this point it was too late in the day to go into work.
The issue of long wait times isn’t a factor of single-payer healthcare. It’s a condition of a medical system that costs too much, isn’t run efficiently, and doesn’t have nearly enough people going into various specialties. In fact I would even speculate that it is the competitive system that makes it all worse. Clinics need to keep their costs low, and so they staff only as much as they absolutely need to. There’s no gaps in any doctor’s schedule, and there’s no backup if a doctor is sick. The bottom line is the only line that matters, and if it costs too much, free-market healthcare won’t do it.
I’m not saying that there aren’t lines in single-payer healthcare, but let’s stop kidding ourselves that it doesn’t already exist here. We need to address different issues in healthcare, and fix the problems that already exist, no matter how it gets paid for.