WAIT TIMES FOR MEDICAL CARE

In the debate over what kind of healthcare we should have, Conservatives bring up wait times for medical procedures in other countries to prove that other healthcare systems are really inferior to ours.

Each country has different wait times. Some are better than others as the charts below will show. Comments are for the largest countries in the study: the U.S.,  the UK, Germany, France and Canada.

Quick appointments

This chart above shows Germany the clear winner.   France and the UK are in the middle. The U.S. and Canada finish the lowest.

Wait times

Here above we see the U.S.and the UK on top.  Germany and France in the middle. Canada is on the bottom again.

Elective Surgery wait times

The shortest waits for elective surgery are for Germany, the U.S. and France with Canada and the UK trailing pretty badly.

These charts show that Canada has wait time problems that need to be addressed. Republican Conservatives often use Canada’s wait problems as blanket proof that all the single payers have them.  This is clearly wrong.

For the bottom third in income, it is better to be on a waiting list than no medical treatment at all. In the U.S. the latest figures show 14% still are without any insurance.  In addition, tens of millions of Americans have insurance plans that have high deductibles.  Bronze plans for Obamacare have $5000 deductibles with a $6,600 out of pocket cap on costs for single and $10,000 with $13,000 out of pocket cost cap  for family of four. About 18% of those signed up on federal exchanges alone have these high deductibles. Millions more have high deductibles in state exchanges and employer plans.

These can be like no insurance at all if policyholders are under the deductible or can’t pay the deductible for larger expenses.  High deductibles reset on January 1st of each new year.  This can cause economic hardship especially for policyholders with chronic illnesses.

The bottom line is that U.S. wait times are among the shortest in the world for those who can afford low deductible insurance. Health insurance companies have nothing to do with this.  There is no reason why switching to a single payer without them should increase wait times. It might even shorten wait times with less paperwork and time waiting for insurance company approvals.  Eliminating health insurance companies would bring a sharp drop in costs that would enable us to cover everyone and still have additional savings.

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