Bernie Sanders, call your office. One of your much-loved models for government-run health care, Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), is “falling apart.”
Senator Sanders (I-VT) now serves as the chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. He has long been one of the country’s most vocal advocates for a government-run, single-payer health care system. His favorite proposed legislation is his Medicare for All plan, which would create a government-run health care system.
Sanders likes to claim that the United States spends more on health care than other countries (true), but outcomes are much worse than single-payer systems (false).
He contends that if only we would embrace the single-payer model, we would have better access to higher-quality care at a fraction of what we now spend. So how are those single-payer systems working?
CNN ran with this headline last January: “Why is Britain’s health service, a much-loved national treasure, falling apart?” Good question.
CNN reporter Christian Edwards writes, “Scenes that would until recently have been unthinkable have now become commonplace.”
- Many patients don’t get treated in wards, but in the back of ambulances or in corridors, waiting rooms and cupboards—or not at all.
- In December, 54,000 people in England had to wait more than 12 hours for an emergency admission.
- The average wait time for an ambulance to attend a “category 2” condition—like a stroke or heart attack—exceeded 90 minutes. The target is 18 minutes.
- There were 1,474 (20%) more excess deaths in the week ending December 30 than the 5-year average.
Hey, nothing like waiting 90 minutes for an ambulance when you’re having a heart attack!
In addition, ambulance drivers and nurses have been staging strikes over low pay and working conditions.
And it’s not just the NHS. Doctors in France and Spain have been staging walkouts and strikes.
Sanders and his single-payer echo chamber like to boast that health care is free at the point of service. Of course, it isn’t free to taxpayers.
And that’s the challenge. Governments face multiple demands for funding: education, pensions, defense, infrastructure, health care and welfare, to name a few. Plus, there’s a limit as to how big of a tax burden voters will accept before they vote the rascals out.
So, yes, single-payer countries spend less than the U.S. on health care, but that’s because the government determines how much it will spend. While it may be better some years and worse in others, no single-payer system appropriates enough money to meet all the demands.
To be sure, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the NHS’s challenges, but it did that for every country’s health care system.
Sanders wants you to think that the NHS and other single-payer systems do health care right. It would be better to listen to those who have to live with and under the system. They’re complaining that the NHS doesn’t do health care at all.