Sen. Harry Reid commented this morning that the U.S. is the only nation where people must file for bankruptcy because of healthcare costs. This may or may not be true. What he declined to mention is that in other nations most of these people would not have received the healthcare in the first place.
Healthcare is expensive. There are some areas where we can certainly cut healthcare costs but the reality is that if someone needs major surgery it is going to cost at least thousands and likely tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. The costs of the people involved, the equipment, drugs, and hospital facilities are what they are.
No nation can afford to provide full, complete, and unrationed healthcare to all of its citizens. The costs to do so, with today’s technology, would exceed the GDP of any nation.
Some form of rationing is required. There will not be enough to go around. Most countries with socialized medicine use Queuing as their primary method of rationing. You simply wait your turn until whatever you need becomes available. Many surgical procedures, such as a hip replacement, that we consider critical in the U.S. and that are often provided within hours, may involve several month waits in Canada, The UK, and other countries.
Limiting what procedures are available comes next. Many newer or more expensive procedures fairly widely available in the U.S. are not available at all in countries with socialized medicine. Worse, the vast majority of these are developed in the U.S., if we adopt government run healthcare system who will invent even better options?
The final form of rationing is probably best termed Justification. Does this person’s life justify spending limited resources on them? Is it worth spending $20k on a hip replacement to a 90-year-old? How about $40k in chemo therapy for someone with severe mental and physical disabilities?
So yes Harry, some people in the U.S. may go in to debt or even bankruptcy to get medical care . But under the system you want to give us they wouldn’t even have that option.