Socialized medicine is a form of benefit or welfare. In simple words, it is subsidized medicine. It is an integral part of the universal healthcare or right to healthcare policy. Everyone, not just in a country but across the world, has the right to get medicines that they need or basic healthcare. But everyone does not have that access due to financial constraints. Not everyone can afford the drugs that they are prescribed to take. Some drugs or medicines are particularly expensive and the normal folks can seldom afford the same without breaking the bank or without any financial assistance.
Socialized medicine is a government initiative that makes drugs or medicines affordable for all citizens. Prices of drugs are slashed and the difference is borne by the government from taxpayers’ dollars. The primary and the only objective of socialized medicine, is to ensure universal healthcare and not to have healthcare available to only those who can afford it.
Ever since the concept of socialized medicine has been propagated, there have been contrarian views. Some are heavily in favor of it while some are skeptic of the eventual impact. Here are some socialized medicine pros and cons that have been consistently debated in recent years.
The Many Pros of Socialized Medicine
1. Socialized medicine makes healthcare affordable. Those who don’t have enough spare money, those living below the poverty line or even the middle class families that cannot always bear the healthcare costs without causing a dent in their wallet can buy subsidized medicines. Offering subsidized medicine doesn’t just ensure that everyone finds it affordable but it can actually reduce mortality.
2. In many cases, patients are unable to purchase their medicines on a timely basis or in the numbers or quantum that is recommended by the doctors. Even if the medicine or drug in question is affordable, the quantum or numbers may make it difficult for someone to purchase them. This can affect the course and would certainly have a less effective impact on the patient’s health. Socialized medicine takes care of this. Even if people are buying some medicines in large quantities, relatively, the subsidized rates are still applicable.
3. Socialized medicine also offers insurance to the patients which protect them from any exorbitant expense that would be necessary should a medical procedure become unavoidable. In other words, patients don’t have to worry about expensive medicines or unaffordable expenses for medical procedures.
The Many Cons of Socialized Medicine
1. Socialized medicine is not a very old practice. It is still evolving and although many countries have this in place, there isn’t enough data to show the true impacts, positive or negative. Thus, there could be more shortcomings of socialized medicine than what is obvious right now. For whatever amount of time socialized medicine has been around and to whichever extent, there are already questions pertaining to the quality of the healthcare service offered using this medical system. Subsidized medicine or subsidized healthcare is under the complete control of the government. Public healthcare has always been criticized and that is why many people opt for private healthcare facilities because they are so much better. With socialized medicine, it is not yet clear how effective it is. Also, since the government will be controlling everything, one doesn’t have any say unless there is legislation to make amends.
2. There can be an unhealthy competition among healthcare institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies will find it increasingly difficult to sell their drugs unless it is within the ambit of socialized medicine. Private healthcare facilities will have to endorse socialized medicine else they would stand to lose patients who would otherwise prefer to opt for subsidized healthcare. This can have a positive impact and would reduce prices of drugs and healthcare services. Or, it can have a negative impact and make the private institutions more predatory. The quality of drugs and healthcare services may take a nosedive if there is a struggle for survival.
3. Delivery of services is not always the forte of any government. That is one reason why privatization had become imperative long time back. As it is the government that would be dealing with every facet of socialized medicine, it is possible that there would be delays, the quality of delivery may suffer and one may experience discontinuity in the supply of drugs or healthcare services.
The Bottom Line
Socialized medicine is a serious subject and it cannot be left hanging without a consensus or a word on whether it should be around. The simple truth is that socialized medicine is necessary in any society. As long as there are stark contrasts among the various echelons of society and there are people who cannot afford specialized or basic healthcare, there has to be subsidies from the government to aid the citizens. This is the right thing to do, morally, economically, socially, medically and humanitarianly.