The idea that things like food and shelter should be a universal right for every human being may be noble and true. However, there is a need to dismantle the illusion that anything is truly free. That includes healthcare.
More often than not, people debate this topic in the comment sections on social media platforms. Left-leaning, especially socialist-oriented Americans, idolize it. Interestingly, many people from countries with free healthcare criticize it.
This is often the case with things related to socialist and communist regimes. Why is it that people who live or have fled from those countries will never support things like socialized healthcare?
The full truth about socialized health care is seldom told.
What is free healthcare
It is important to understand the difference between free and universal healthcare.
Skuad offers a good explanation: “Free healthcare means that healthcare is provided to every citizen in a country for free or at a subsidized rate compared to other countries. Universal healthcare, on the other hand, implies that the country has a healthcare system that is accessible by at least 90% of the citizens.”
Using these definitions, Brazil is the only country in the world with universal healthcare for all, including foreigners and tourists. Their medical care is also funded by taxes.
The money that is used to fund government-sponsored medical services comes almost exclusively from taxes. Unsurprisingly, countries with free healthcare have the highest tax rates in the world. Croatia, for instance, has 25 different taxes. It used to be a communist country when it was a part of Yugoslavia, but after the War for Independence in the 90s, Croatia became a democratic socialist country. The combined communist and socialist ethos of the nation prevails to this day, and it is evident in the tumultuous relationship between the government and the people.
High taxes in countries with free medical care
Countries with free healthcare typically have high taxes. For example, in Denmark, the top tax rate is 55%. In Sweden, it is 57%, and in Finland, it is 51%. In Croatia, it is between 38 and 48%, while the average monthly salary is less than $700.
Additionally, Value Added Tax (VAT) in Croatia is 25%, and in the rest of the EU it hovers around 20%. In comparison, there is no VAT in America. Instead, states have sales that vary between 2.9% and 7.25%.
Someone with an average or above average income can count on half or more of their income going towards some kind of tax. That doesn’t include the above-mentioned VAT. The cost of funding medical care with taxes takes a toll on the regular citizen who works hard to earn a living.
A dad with a few kids who are about to go to college might consider paying 50% of taxes because, in the end, it would cost him less for his kids to have free college and healthcare for all. Essentially, you’re trading a monthly insurance bill for a higher tax bill, but the latter is often far more expensive.
A single young person in good health who went to vocational or trade school is not incentivized to do this, especially if they don’t plan on having kids.
People should have the choice to allocate their financial contributions rather than being obligated to pay taxes for services or items they don’t use or need.
Why do some countries offer free healthcare and some, like The United States do not?
There are many reasons why some countries have implemented universal healthcare while others haven’t. Some factors include the country’s political ideology, economic development, and medical care needs.
For example, countries with strong welfare states, such as Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc.), have implemented universal healthcare as part of their social welfare policies.
These countries typically have strong medical services systems, with high funding levels, well-trained medical care professionals, and comprehensive coverage of healthcare services. But, as previously noted, they have very high tax rates.
Some developing countries have implemented universal healthcare to address the high rates of infectious diseases and other health challenges. However, their medical service standards are very low.
America doesn’t offer free healthcare for several reasons, ranging from high costs and political and cultural divisions. The American government already spends more on medical care than any other country in the world, and providing free healthcare would add trillions of dollars to the national debt.
The healthcare industry’s lobbying power, fragmented insurance landscape, and political differences will further complicate any move toward a universal system. Not to mention the fact that Americans tend to value individual responsibility and limited government intervention.
While some advocate for a single-payer system funded by taxes, others propose a mix of public and private options. It is, and will be, nonetheless, a hot topic in the coming elections.
Look for Part 2 on 10/5/2023!