Why would universal healthcare stop people from still paying for private insurance if they wanted “better” healthcare? (USA)?

Answered Mar 6, 2019

It wouldn’t stop people from buying private insurance.

Here in New Zealand, every citizen and permanent resident can access the public health system. This means that, you can see a specialist, or have procedures, at a public hospital, without paying.

Note that word, “specialist”. If you just go to your regular GP for something minor, or for maintenance medication (blood pressure, etc), there is a fee (although it is subsidised).

One issue that can be either acute or chronic is medications that aren’t fully covered by Pharmac (the NZ government drug subsidy agency). This can include lifetime maintenance medications, with a three-monthly cost that is significantly higher than the basic $5 fee for fully-covered items. And can also include things like astronomically expensive cancer drugs.

Another big problem is waiting lists. Someone with whom I was acquainted had a choice of either paying $290 for a scan the next day privately, or waiting 3 months for “free” examination at a public hospital. Having no money, and no insurance, she waited, and her condition got worse.

Another person with whom I was acquainted spent over a year on a waiting list for a surgery that really improved her life. I suspect that she may have actually been kicked off the waiting list, and been re-added manually by her doctor. The government likes to kick people off, and tell them that they aren’t sick enough, so to make the waiting lists look shorter and more efficient.

There have been cases of, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, where it was necessary for patients to personally start hassling their District Health Board, in order to avoid just being lost in the system.

Some people seem to think this is about having some kind of luxury hotel suite. But this is also about getting serious health problems dealt with in a decent timeframe, before they deteriorate, and threaten the person’s lifespan.

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