Is “European Healthcare” Really a Bad Word?

Anytime I argue about health care with someone, I usually try to make a case for a universal healthcare program such as the ones in European countries. There are often very swift replies to my arguments: “Oh, you don’t want the kind of care they have in Europe, do you? Where it takes a month to see a doctor?”

Every single person that says this also tries their best to describe how poor the quality of care is in these countries, with little to no evidence to support it. They don’t live over there. How do they know?

Regardless of the lack of evidence, the former argument that I described can be very convincing if there is no data in front of your face about the true amount of time it takes to be seen in a country that has European healthcare.

First of all, the quality of care in some of these European countries is signifigantly better than what we have in America. According to a study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, America ranks dead last in helathcare compared to ten other civilized countries. View the chart below:

This study was conducted before the Affordable Care Act transformed our health care system to include more people. There would be a drastic change in our ranking if the study was conducted today.

The United States ranks dead last in five categories: cost-related problem, efficiency, equity, healthy lives, and overall care. The US also ranks significantly low in access and safe care. UK, a country with universal care, ranks number one overall. They rank number three overall in timeliness of care, while the US ranks number five. The first place rank for timeliness of care is Switzerland, another country with universal healthcare. Five countries on this list have universal care, and all five of them are ahead of us with flying colors.

As far as health expenditures go, the United States cost is almost three-thousand more dollars than the next highest country. This cost goes towards the healthcare from a country that ranked dead last in healthy lives on this poll. The idea of going back to “the way things were” is inefficient, as you can see from this pre-ACA study. In fact, David Magnus, the Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, said this about our healthcare system in regard to price and accessibility:

“We spend far more per capita than any of our peers on health care, yet health outcomes measures are no better in aggregate. The World Health Organization ranking of health systems rated 36 other countries as having better health systems despite spending far less. The U.S. was right behind Costa Rica (and only two spots ahead of Cuba).”

This fact even shocked me. We are right behind Costa Rica, a place where nearly a quarter of their residents live in terrible poverty.

The best thing to do is try to pick up on what these countries are doing better than us at, which all starts with access to affordable healthcare.

The arguments of poor quality and efficiency across the pond are simply not true. Healthcare for all will greatly benefit our healthcare system, and could possibly make us move up from dead last on this study.

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