The Real Cost of “Free” Healthcare

The healthcare discussion is far from settled. Stalls in Congress make the left feel like they have won, but they misunderstand the stakes. Obamacare will fail if nothing is done. That fate is sealed by its unsustainable economic model.

When it fails, the left hopes strongly that it will be the last straw before we go to a single-payer system. Such a victory for the left would really be a loss for all Americans. Free healthcare isn’t free at all, and even most opponents of the ideology still don’t know the ultimate cost.


There are other prices to pay for single-payer health care, but let’s start with money. The notion is that the out-of-pocket costs are less in these systems because the government has so much bargaining power they can drive down prices. There’s also a weird idea that health care paid by taxes isn’t still paid by the people.

The Fraser Institute tackled these misconceptions with an in-depth study. In Canada, every citizen is liable for a public health insurance tax. It varies by income and many other factors, but the national average for annual insurance costs for a family of 4 is $12,410. That is the total being paid out of pocket. This number is at an all-time high, and the cost of health care in Canada has outpaced rising costs of food, clothing, shelter and income over the last 20 years.

At this point, the entire left will assume that Americans must be paying more than $12,410 a year for their care. They are wrong. The Milliman Inc. Medical Index (MMI) is considered the leading authority on the cost of health care in America. According to the MMI, the total cost of health care for a family of 4 in the U.S. is $10,473. That is a decisively lower number. The MMI also quotes a healthcare cost of $24,671, but this is not the out-of-pocket-price. It’s an inflated number that includes corporate contributions and a number of other factors, but American families are only responsible for 43 percent of that larger number, including taxes and liabilities.


The money argument is already enough to blow wide open the fallacies of single-payer markets, but we aren’t done. Time is the most developed argument against social medicine, and it is a powerful one. Wait times in single-payer systems far exceed what we see in the U.S. In Canada, the average wait time before starting specialist care is up to six months. At home, it’s right around two weeks.

Now, no logical person is surprised that government bureaucracy makes things less efficient, but the true scale is still overwhelming. Waiting six months to start chemotherapy or to get surgery for persistent pain is unacceptable. It’s also as deadly as it sounds. Wait-time fatalities in Canada are at least six times higher than in the U.S.


So, U.S. care is cheaper and faster. It also includes more freedom, despite recent changes. Obama promised that his scheme would allow patients to see any doctor they wanted. That was an outright lie. Still, many Americans have the freedom to choose their healthcare services if they’re willing to pay more money for it. This option does not exist in social systems. Think of the recent example of Charlie Gard. The family was denied the right to pay for specialized treatment out of their own pockets. The bureaucratic delays that ensued when the family tried to fight took long enough to deny the poor child any chance at life. That was a highly publicized instance, but it’s part of the single-payer system.

When you give all of the power to the government, you are stuck with the consequences. Anyone who is willing to entrust the entirety of their healthcare to the government is delusional. They clearly think their political opposition will never be in power. It’s important to remember that election cycles swing back and forth. If you don’t want the other side to have control over it, then you can’t give control to your side either.

We got pretty deep into some of the aspects of health care, so let’s summarize. Annual health care costs more for individuals and families in Canada than the U.S. Those inflated costs come with wait times that are 10 times greater than here. If that wasn’t enough, the slower, more expensive system also restricts freedom to often deadly degrees. It’s no wonder tens of thousands of Canadians cross the border every year to pay for procedures out of pocket. If they didn’t, they would have no options at all.

~American Liberty Report