Like the Olympic tribute to Britain’s NHS, countries wear nationalized health systems as badges of pride. In those same countries, assertions like “fifty million Americans have no access to care” and “US health care is scandalous” are widespread. Despite their frequency, these denunciations are wholly contradicted by facts.
No charge is repeated more often than this statistic: 16%, almost 50 million Americans, lack health insurance. But ten million were not even US citizens; millions more claimed to have no health insurance but were using insurance; and 13 million adults and 5 million children were already eligible for government insurance, but had not enrolled. Claims about uninsured Americans have been greatly exaggerated.
The truth is that health insurance does not equate with health care access.
Statistics Canada stated “waiting time has been identified as a key measure of access.” Affirming 2005’s Chaoulli v. Quebec
, in which Supreme Court justices famously concluded “access to a waiting list is not access to health care,” countless studies document grave consequences from prolonged waits. A growing list of European countries, including Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have been forced by public outcry and laws to address unacceptable waits for care.
Meanwhile, it is understood that “waiting lists are not a feature in the United States,” as stated in a 2007 study and separately underscored by the OECD (“[the US is] a country where waiting time is not a policy concern”). Indeed, Americans would be stunned to hear the reality of nationalized insurance:
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