Fatal Wait Times: How Socialized Medicine Kills

You have undoubtedly heard the argument for socialized medicine. The idea is that a single-payer system is more fair and effective. Anyone can get treatment any time that they need it, and the overall health of the nation improves as a result.

Does that sound like too-good-to-be-true propaganda?

It is. Single-payer healthcare does have some benefits for a society. For the most part, it improves emergency and triage care. When people are less afraid of the bill, they are less stubborn about seeking help for medical emergencies, and this is mostly a good thing.

What the single-payer supporters are either ignoring or hiding is how virtually every other aspect of healthcare declines. The biggest problem is an obvious result of bureaucracy: wait times. We’ll compare the wait times and their effects between Canada, Sweden and the United States.

How Canada Stacks Up

Canada is often heralded as the shining example of how to do government health systems correctly. Everyone gets access to the same treatment and everything is great. We’re going to ignore how income generates worse inequality for healthcare in Canada than the U.S. and focus on the worse underlying problem.

The Canadian government spends heavily on researching the merits of their health system, and they have found very conclusively that non-emergency care in the country has stifling wait times. In fact, the average time between scheduling a visit and starting specialist care is 18.2 weeks across the country. That means the average cancer patient waits eight months to start treatment! If this sounds dangerous, that’s because it is. Mortality rates have been closely linked to these wait times, and some of the results may surprise you.

The first shock is that females are twice as likely to die from wait times than males. So much for equality. It’s the sheer numbers that will surprise you. Roughly 2.5% of all female deaths in Canada are a direct result of long wait times for healthcare. Every year, between 2,500 and 3,000 women are dying from the inevitable bureaucratic slowdowns. In other words, the “superior” single-payer system is killing thousands of citizens who weren’t dying before the switch.

Sweden’s Lead in Europe

If you’ve ever discussed healthcare with a leftist, they brought Sweden into the talk. That’s because Sweden is far and away the leader in successful single-payer healthcare in Europe.

Like Canada, they have invested heavily in making sure their system works. They commissioned an independent study to see how their wait times compare, and they left the rest of Europe in the dust.

Their average wait times were months better than the other countries investigated. Just how good are wait times in Sweden? The average wait time to receive specialist care is just over six months. That’s right. The best socialized healthcare in Europe is almost a clean two months slower on average than Canada.

How does that impact mortality?

Sweden has not released mortality findings like Canada has, so we have no official data to use. If we extrapolate numbers based on what we know of Canada and the U.S., we can expect 3.33 percent of all female deaths in Sweden to be the direct result of waiting too long for care. Now, this number is very suspect because we don’t have access to reliable data, but in reality this is probably a low estimate.

Wait times in Sweden are 75 percent longer than Canada, so a direct relationship predicts the 3.33 percent mortality, but because mortality rates rise quickly as wait times increase, we can expect them to grow more than the 75 percent estimated here. It’s likely that far more people are dying across Europe, solely because they can’t access their “free” healthcare fast enough.

Looking at the USA

It’s only fair to analyze the U.S. in this debate. The average weight time for specialized treatments in America is less than four weeks. In some parts of the country, like Boston, shortages have caused times to get as high as eight weeks, but in better regions, like Texas, the waits average less than two weeks.

In fact, in most of the country, wait times are so little that they have a negligible effect on mortality rates. In almost every case, Americans who die on wait lists are waiting for a treatment that is completely unavailable, such as a replacement organ.

While many leftists will argue for the superiority of socialized medicine, the wait times are literally killing people. Research done by the implementers of these systems provide irrefutable evidence that specialized care in inaccessible for long periods of time, and thousands of people die in each country every year as a result.

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