What would happen if health care was free?
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The only way to have “free” healthcare would be for doctors and nurses to work for free, for hospitals to charge nothing, and for the drug companies to give away their products. In this model, there would be no healthcare as we know it today because none of these things could happen. Doctors, nurses, hospitals and drug companies all somehow expect to be paid for their labor.
If what the question really means is “what would happen if healthcare was paid for by taxpayers”, then that’s a different story. There are countless ways we can divide up healthcare spending across the individual, employers and taxpayers – it’s really just a political shell game in that regard.
The bigger question is to what extent government would use its monopoly power to fix prices, crush competition and otherwise control the healthcare market. This is anyone’s guess, but the most likely long-term impact would be that government would directly or indirectly set physician wages, hospital rates and so forth, and that would lead to declines in service quality, long wait times and locally higher prices.
Taxes would go up — a lot. Healthcare costs would go down — a lot. Best estimates are that taxes would go up by about 30 trillion dollars over ten years and healthcare costs would go down by about 50 trillion over the same time. Those are just estimates though, and there is a lot of variability there. For example, a lot more people would be receiving health care, so taxes could go up even more.
Americans would be a lot more healthy. There would be a lot less misery. Many many fewer people would go bankrupt because they got sick. Fewer people would be homeless. Rich people would have less money in their pockets because of the higher taxes. Poor and middle class people would have more money because they weren’t spending so much on insurance and out-of-pocket expenses. More people who had previously been working just for the health care would finally be able to retire, freeing up jobs and reducing unemployment (Obamacare saw three million people retire for this reason). Businesses would have less control over their employees who were no longer terrified of losing their insurance. But they’d also save a lot of money. Folks living in other first world countries would feel a little less sorry for us. Fox news and people who get rich in the health insurance industry would flip the fuck out.
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Free to whom?
If you’re suggesting that corporations could not charge money for medical innovations, then they would stop producing and distributing them. Healthcare providers would stop providing medicine and choose other careers to support themselves. There would be no medicine and the mortality rate would escalate.
If you’re suggesting that medicine continued to be sold for some non-zero value, but consumers just didn’t have to pay for it, then some other payer would have to foot the bill. In a scenario where there was no cost consumers, the risk of moral hazard would be high. The payer would incur massive expenses that it would have to recoup somehow in order to continue to pay. Ultimately, consumers would have to pay in some form or another (taxes, premiums, etc) or the entire payor system would collapse.
If you consider the opportunity cost of the patients’ time, I would say that there is no such thing as “free health care”. Even if there is no payments required at the point of service, patients always incur some costs. Those are the opportunity cost of their time spent to receive care (going to the office, waiting time, the time spent for the visit or test, etc.). That type of costs is not irrelevant and affects considerably the demand for health care because they are the reasons that people underutilize the health ssystem even though they may have full coverage.
So the notion that health care costs will skyrocket if populations will have universal coverage is false.
That is the demand side of health care. The supply side is another story. Still the notion of free care is inaccurate because there will never be free health care supply because providers must be paid for services they provide.
Pharmas, hospitals, doctors wiuld all go bankrupt, other medical staff would lose their jobs. The whole healthcare system would cease to exists as very few people do something for nothing.
Or do you mean free at the point of delivery? In that case it depends on the system used. There are numerous systems in place across the world.
The biggest take homes would be:
- No medical bankruptcy
- No concerns over treatment affordability
- No super yachts for insurance company bosses
- Better overall outcomes (because people wouldn’t delay treatment because of point 2)
- Lower overall costs.
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Your country would be bcome more civilised. There would also be a smaller insurance industry and more money for other things.
It really is a no brainer, but you need to understand that community is as important as economy. As long as you live in an economy it will be difficult to have free health care.
The downside to free healthcare is that sometimes there is a wait list. This is usually for elective procedures. This can be circumvented by paying cash, then you can be seen tomorrow.
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Im not sure what country you are in , but many countries have a free health system or one that charges very little.
The money comes from taxes , I guess you could say it was a pre-paid system. I also think in some Arab countries with big oil fields their hospitals and health system is totally free.. One would have a stress less health care in relation to the american system being run by businesses.
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