Socialized Medicine Has a Good Side

Most Americans have heard horror stories of long waits for health-care services in other countries. But according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, Americans wait longer to see primary-care physicians than patients in Britain, Germany, Australia, or New Zealandall countries with strong public-health systems. Nearly one quarter of Americans reported waiting six days or more for an appointment with their doctor. New Zealand scored best, with just 3 percent waiting that long, followed by Australia (10 percent), Germany (13 percent), and Britain (15 percent). Canada rounded out the bottom, with more than a third waiting six days or more. Similarly, America shares with its northern neighbor the dubious honor of being ranked last in terms of patients' ability to make same-day appointments. Only 26 percent of Americans and Canadians reported being able see their doctor on the day they called, compared with 60 percent in the Netherlands and 48 percent in Britain. Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, says America ranks last overall in the fund's comparative studies, which consider access, equity, cost, quality, and efficiency measures across select developed countries. "Where we do well is on …selective surgery," she says. Only 8 percent of Americans have to wait four months or more for an elective procedure, and 62 percent wait less than a month. In Britain, 41 percent of patients have to wait four months or more. The disparity between primary and elective care, says Davis, is mostly due to a shortage of primary-care docs in the U.S.; we produce more specialists because specialists earn a lot more.

Socialized Medicine Has a Good Side | News