Socialized Medicine is No Free Lunch
The United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Switzerland are all highly industrialized capitalist economies. However, unlike the other five countries, the U.S. does not have auniversal health care system that is affordable, accessible and comprehensive. How does this superpower fail to deliver even the most basic care to its citizens? The uninsured and underinsured (inadequate coverage for those already insured) have been exploited, intensifying their vulnerability. Creating a universal health care system modeled after Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) programwould decrease: value of services performed, competition between industries thru the single-payers system, and primary care physicians. In effect, increases may be seen in: fraud and crime could though the use of the smart card, length
What if Healthcare is No Longer a Commodity?
After research and development from 1986 to 1993, Taiwan implemented a National Health Insurance (NHI) program inMarch 1995 through the government’s Department of Health. Earlier this year T.R. Reid went to Taiwan to conduct research in his investigation of different universal health care systems in “Sick Around the World.” Taiwan used an interdisciplinary team including but not limited to: public health officials, physicians and economists. Taiwan looked at other health delivery systems in order toimprove models in places including Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and Japan.
In her interview with Reid, Tsung-Mei, L.L.B, M.A., host of the International Forum at Princeton University’s International Center, described Taiwan’s NHI as a “car that was made of different parts imported from overseas but manufactured domestically.” However, Hong Jen Chang, M.D., former CEO and President of theBureau of National Health Insurance, told Reid, “America is not really a system that you can copy, it’s a market, so if you let things happen, it will be like the U.S.” If healthcare is no longer a commodity in the United States then insurance companies, medical practices, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical suppliers risk becoming bankrupt.
According to Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick: TheUntold Story of America's Health Care Crisis - and the People Who Pay for It, the U.S. does not currently have the infrastructure to establish universal health insurance. In order to reform health care, “It’s not enough to simply beat up on the bad guys. We have to overhaul the system that made them bad in the first place” (Cohn E1). He says universal health care in the US can become a realityby reforming American insurance companies.
23 Million Versus 305 Million
Taiwan is small group of islands populated by about 23 million people. The United States is populated by about 305 million people and is third largest country in area (sq. km) in the world. Before establishing its National Health Insurance (NHI) in 1995, 41 percent of Taiwan’s population, or 8.62 million people wereuninsured (Cheng 63). According to the United States Census Bureau, about 15.8 percent of the population, or 47 million people were uninsured in 2006 (18). The United States currently has more than thirteen times the population of Taiwan and more than eight times the number of uninsured people. With a fraction of the population, Taiwan can afford to cover everyone.
Separate but Not EqualTaiwan provides insurance to everyone. The National Health Insurance (NHI) is funded by the Department of Health, which, “resembles the government-run U.S. Medicare program for the elderly and the single payer health insurance programs operated by the Canadian provinces” (Cheng 61). In 2006, 59.7 percent of the population in the United States had health insurance through employment. Lin Zinser,...