The Coronavirus, the pandemic that originated out of China and is now sweeping the world, making many people sick, killing a few people, and wreaking havoc on the financial markets, has caused a depressing amount of political bickering. Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who for some reason is still running for president, is using the pandemic as an excuse to advance one of his favorite issues, that being Medicare for All. Breitbart quotes the elderly “democratic socialist.”
“And just look at the insanity dealing with this coronavirus. This very serious problem that we are dealing with in America and dealing with all over the world. Think about the insanity of a system where today somebody wakes up and maybe they think they have the symptoms of coronavirus. Yet they cannot afford to go to a doctor. What does that mean? So, they’re going to go to work and make a serious epidemic even worse.”
Therefore, Bernie concluded in a recent speech, healthcare should be considered a “human right” for every man, woman, and child. Certainly, the coronavirus vaccine should be made available free for all and would be if Sanders would be elected president. After all, countries like Canada guarantee healthcare for all, why not the United States.
It’s a beguiling argument, even if it has not been enough for Bernie Sanders to prevail over former Vice President Joe Biden. The senator from Vermont’s argument, on close examination, is also fallacious. It turns out that countries with government healthcare are ill-equipped to handle the pandemic.
Writing for the Washington Examiner, Sally Pipes offers a reality check for Bernie’s assertion that a Medicare for All system would have the coronavirus pandemic well in hand,
“Take Canada. Patients wait for hours to be admitted to the hospital even when there’s not an outbreak raging. A January 2019 report commissioned by the government of Ontario found that patients in the emergency department were waiting 16 hours, on average, for an inpatient hospital bed.”
The way that Canada tries to make its government-run healthcare system work is to limit availability to services and treatments that Americans have access to as a matter of course. Hence, the long wait periods where Canadians have to endure what ails them for lengthy periods of time.
During a pandemic, like the coronavirus, and like the SARS outbreak earlier this century, this feature can be catastrophic. During the SARS pandemic, 475 Canadians came down with the disease, of which 44 died. According to the American Lung Association, just 29 Americans came down with SARS with zero deaths.
What about Great Britain, whose National Health Service is also cited by advocates of Medicare for All as an example to be followed?
“Or look at the United Kingdom, whose National Health Service was over capacity before the coronavirus hit. Last year, 4.6 million people were on waiting lists for hospital care — the highest number ever. More than 15% of them had been on those lists for more than 18 weeks. Despite population growth of 6% and elderly population growth of 19%, the number of available hospital beds fell 10% between 2010 and 2018.”
Just eight of the 1600 of the Doctors Association UK surveyed felt that Great Britain is ready for the coronavirus pandemic. Inadequate resources, bureaucracy, and a tendency to ration healthcare as a cost-containment measure combine to make the National Health Service ill-equipped to handle any kind of outbreak.
Politicians such as Bernie Sanders like to decry the American healthcare system, a mélange of private and public organizations, as expensive and cumbersome. Surely a one size fits all system, paid for by tax dollars, would make things more efficient and less costly?
However, as the Pipes article points out, real-world experience suggests that Bernie Sanders and his fellow socialists are in error. The experience of the United States and Canada during the SARS outbreak is a case in point.
Many analysts suggest that America’s diverse, decentralized healthcare system is actually more responsive to crises such as the coronavirus pandemic than the government-centric systems in Canada and the UK. State and local governments do not have to wait for instructions from on high to take measures, such as canceling sporting and other events, to tamp down on the spread of the disease.
Private companies are already working on a vaccine and other treatments for the coronavirus while the federal government makes moves to insure these as well as tests become available at little or no cost. The internet and social media become ways to dispense information on how to deal with the pandemic, including social distancing and basic hygiene.
In short, going to Medicare for All is the last thing we want to do in order to deal with the coronavirus.