At a former job in Arizona, one of my colleagues would regularly hold up as ideal Canada’s medical model where there was healthcare for all. As a veteran’s wife, I have learned both the blessings and limitations of The Veteran’s Administration health care. This experience has often made me want to urge caution regarding universal healthcare.
Over the years, there have been a variety of warnings in world news about socialized medicine. I still recall the 2018 heart-wrenching story of little Alfie Evans. His parents had been offered free medical care for Alfie in Italy. Even the Pope intervened:
“Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.”
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018
But the English courts forbade his parents to pursue this. Indeed, the British courts removed the parents from the equation at all. The court upheld taking little Alfie off of life support, and he died in the hospital with armed guards at his door. The court prohibited taking Alfie elsewhere for care. They even forbade his parents from taking him home to die with his family at his side. The court’s decision was not about money – but about power.
One of the blessings of living in the USA is the right to choose. In America, we can choose to seek treatment with the doctor and hospital of our choice. Cost may be a deciding factor. But the story of Alfie is a story of power. I am not naive about the cost of medical treatments in America. Indeed, I am intimately acquainted with it as I continue to pay off an obscenely high bill for ten hours in the emergency room in 2011 when I had no insurance.
But socialism, and socialized medicine, are about control and power. Years ago, we were warned by a staff member at a VA hospital that all vets have an expiration date. The staffer went on to say that the nearer you got to that date, the less help you would ever receive. No doubt, such cost equations permeate all businesses, including health care.
When my daughter was born, we were blessed to have a wonderful pediatrician in an excellent pediatric practice. A sign stated that vaccines or medicines not covered by insurance might be prescribed if deemed to be in the child’s best interest. So good care trumped cost. But that was a privately run practice whose doctors owned the business.
Like Charlie Gard before him, the case of Alfie Evans demonstrates what happens when the state becomes the supreme force, and parents are barred from the door. The hospital expected Alfie Evans to die within minutes of having life support withdrawn. But that was not the case. The state was wrong. Alfie clung to life, not just for minutes and hours, but for days.
Over the years, my husband was generally pleased with the doctors he saw within the VA. There were a few that were notably bad exceptions. Sometimes the wait time for veterans was obscenely long, and some lived hours from a VA facility. Now living in a small town in Ohio, we once had to drive eighty-plus miles to see a VA doctor. I am not a fan of socialized medicine and am always thankful for improvements and choice within the Veterans Administration.
But I would urge those who seek universal healthcare to think carefully about what that might mean for you and yours.