In case anyone might be uncertain, Bernie Sanders’ support for socialist health care is made clear by the many banners and signs demanding “Medicare for All” that appear at his rallies. He should hope his staff didn’t burn too much of his campaign budget on the message, though. If the other side plays it smart, one of his signature issues could slip away from him.
“I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart, and I’ve believed this for my whole adult life, that health care is a human right and not a privilege,” Sanders said at a townhall in April, “and the best way to go forward in my view is through a Medicare for All, single-payer program.”
As President Trump’s re-election campaign spokesman Kayleigh McEnany has said, “so-called ‘Medicare for All’ means private insurance for none, kicking 180 million Americans off of their current plans.”
Of course Sanders, Democratic U.S. senator from Vermont, isn’t the sole lawmaker in his party who wants to force Americans into a system many would rather not be a part of. All declared Democratic presidential candidates favor a government takeover over health care, as do most, if not all, Democratic members of Congress. Such a scheme will work, they say. Just look at single-payer health care systems in Scandinavia and behold their success.
Ok, so let’s look at health care in the Nordic states. And what do we find? Those countries are moving toward more private health care.
Despite the “extremely generous programs” found in these nations, some “are seeing a steady growth of private health insurance,” Kevin Pham, a physician and health policy consultant wrote last week in the Daily Signal.
For instance, “between 2006 and 2016, the portion of the population covered by private insurance increased by 4% in Sweden, 7% in Norway, and 22% in Denmark.”
Though the increases in Sweden and Norway are modest, says Pham, they are “noteworthy, considering that most out-of-pocket payments have a relatively low annual limit.”
Underscoring just how inadequate public health care is in the Nordic states is the fact that the private plans in those countries “are mainly designed to supplement the government-run plan.” Private plans “guarantee prompt access to specialists or elective procedures, which the state plans often fail to provide,” says Pham.
Just Landed, a website that helps those relocating to other countries, advises readers moving to Sweden to “consider purchasing private health insurance” “in order to ensure you have all the cover(age) you need and to avoid some growing problems in the public sector.”
Medical care in Scandinavia is top-flight. That’s not in question. But access is.
“Swedes are frustrated over their universal healthcare, one of the main pillars of their cherished welfare state, with long waiting queues due to a shortage of nurses and available doctors in some areas,” Medical X Press reported last fall in a story headlined “Swedes enjoy world-class healthcare — when they get it.”
Pham says the growing interest in Europe in private health insurance is due to the “dissatisfaction with the state-run systems, which often provide poor or incomplete coverage and long wait times.”
“By contrast,” he adds, “private plans offer wider coverage, shorter wait times, access to private facilities, and more flexibility in patient choice.”
Finland isn’t a Scandinavian country, but it, too, is having trouble with its government-operated medical system, which provides care that is considered among the best in the world.
“Failure to reform the national health system has led the government to collapse in one of the most statist governments following the Nordic model,” the Acton Institute said in March. “Prime Minister Juha Sipilä of Finland and his cabinet members have resigned after failing to rein in the nation’s health care costs and provide greater competition. This comes as reports show private citizens in Finland increasingly turning to the free market to meet the shortfalls of the nationalized system.”
President Trump and the National Republican Committee should spend the next 18 months repeatedly talking about the shift toward private health plans in Europe. Voters deserve to know there’s more to this issue than Democrats’ political talking points, signs, and mindless chants.
— Written by J. Frank Bullitt
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