Written by Cory Pacheco – RIYR Chief of Staff
Last week, Representative Aaron Regunberg, the Providence Democrat running for lieutenant governor sponsored a push for publicly-subsidized health insurance for all Rhode Island residents, paid for by a 10% payroll tax, a 4% increase on the current payroll tax. Although healthcare under the Affordable Care act hasn’t been ideal, universal, government controlled healthcare is a terrible option to improve the care for residents of Rhode Island.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the average wait for an appointment with a doctor for an average American was 20.5 days, which was seen as unacceptable and was the catalyst for President Obama’s healthcare reform. In Canada, a country that has a publicly subsidized healthcare system, the average time waiting for a doctor’s appointment is 9.4 weeks, followed by a 10.6 weeks wait for a specialist and then a 20 weeks wait to begin treatment. In other words, a person could tear their ACL and wait over 4.5 months to begin treatment on the injury.
Elsewhere, publicly subsidized healthcare leaves 362,000 citizens of England waiting for hospital treatment for over 18 weeks, a 64,000-person increase from the preceding year. Perhaps more shockingly, out of the percentage of people in Canada’s single payer system diagnosed for urgent treatment, 19% wait over two months while 17% wait over four months. The expected wait time for neurosurgery in Canada is a staggering 46.9 weeks, while the wait for orthopedic surgery was equated to the same amount of time fertilization to human life takes (38 weeks) according to Scott Atlas of CNN.
Universal healthcare’s massive price tag has caused states like Vermont that tried to implement it to back down because it’s not feasible for a slight tax increase to cover the massive costs of the program. Additionally, the quality of care in the United States will decline due to the decline in compensation for healthcare professionals, a problem that plagues Canada’s healthcare system as well. In Canada, the decline in pay for doctors and nurses lead to a shortage of them, represented by the ratio of 1 doctor to 1000 patients in the Canadian healthcare system in 2017.
It’s no secret healthcare must be worked on in the United States right now, as our nation has the highest costs for healthcare out of any nation, but these costs lie in the pages of regulations of the benefits that the United States require private insurers to cover. Loosening up regulations and required benefits would open up the private insurers to lower prices. Although this would limit coverage of specialties like dental, oral, and retinal care, Canada’s current publicly subsidized system offers at most limited coverage for these areas, along with the costs of prescription drugs, alcoholism and infertility.
Opening up the healthcare market for citizens to be able to purchase interstate policies will create competition and defray the costs of healthcare in America, as well as save the American public money in tax dollars. Rhode Island is one of the least friendly business climates in the United States, and adding another payroll tax is not the answer to move Rhode Island in the right direction.