What would a government-run health system look like if it were adopted in the United States? Leading experts who live under government-dominated systems in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Canada share their "on-the-ground" perspective in this report.
The report, "The Dangers of Undermining Patient Choice: Lessons from Europe and Canada," is a collection of essays by top Canadian and European health policy experts offering first-hand reports on their national health systems. They cut through the glamour of universal health care to offer clear perspectives of trade-offs and compromises.
"Some Americans want to see the U.S. follow in the steps of Canada or England and other European countries by adopting a single-payer or government-run health care system," said Dr. Merrill Matthews, IPI Resident Scholar and health policy expert. "But these systems have serious problems, including fiscal shortages and limiting people?s access to medicines and care. The authors of this paper wave a red flag in front of those who want to push us in that direction."
The paper's authors expose governments often obsessed with micromanaging their health care systems. The result? Price controls, limited access, less research and development, and little patient choice.
Not everything about other countries' health care systems is bad, of course. European systems often are hailed for having universal coverage and keeping expenditures lower than in the U.S. But the report shows that citizens in those countries also get less. Their access to new medicines and technologies is limited, many face long waiting lines to get treatment, and those who have the greatest health needs often find their access to care restricted.
"The United States is criticized both at home and abroad for the failings of its health care system," said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a think tank specializing in health policy. "But all developed nations are facing similar challenges: How to provide quality health care at an affordable price in an era of consumerism. What we have learned from our European colleagues is that centralized control is not the answer."
The report, released at a Washington, DC briefing, is being jointly published by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), the Galen Institute, and the International Policy Network.
The report is available online at the IPI website.
For copies of the study, visit www.ipi.org or contact Sonia Blumstein at (205) 620-2087 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The authors in this paper are available to the media for interview. The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is a public-policy think tank based in Dallas, TX.