The loss of a child is one of the most tragic things a parent can experience, and Judy Anderson knows this all too well. Anderson lost two daughters to preventable heart problems because the waiting lists were too long. A retired nurse from Ontario, Canada, her story shows one of the devastating drawbacks to a single-payer universal health coverage system.
Proponents of single-payer systems, such as that instituted in Canada, argue that this will reduce price inequity and increase access to quality health care, removing the obstructions of overpricing within the American healthcare system.
While it is true that such a system would provide health coverage for all citizens, it does not follow that it would ensure quality care. Care is not the same as coverage. Health coverage does not guarantee immediate access to quality health providers. In many cases, extending health coverage and paying artificially low rates for health services—as government-mandated health coverage has a tendency to do—will actually decrease the available services, especially when the demand is higher due to more people being insured. This is why Anderson didn’t receive the life-saving phone call alerting her of an open surgery appointment for her daughter until after her daughter had already died. This is hardly the goal of such a system.
By eliminating private healthcare options and creating more paperwork and regulations to manage while keeping rates artificially low, this type of system decreases flexibility and increases overhead, which naturally leads to less options for a patient to choose from. This actually makes it harder to obtain health care, as stories from countries operating under this type of system all too tragically have shown.
You can listen to Anderson’s story below.