by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) once again argued during Sunday night’s presidential primary debate that America is less equipped to handle the coronavirus pandemic because it does not have a single-payer health care system. …
… The talking point—that America’s patchwork health care system leaves the country at greater risk in a pandemic—was part of Sanders’s messaging throughout the preceding week. At a speech in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, Sanders claimed “the United States is at a severe disadvantage, because, unlike every other major country on earth, we do not guarantee health care as a human right.” …
… While essentially no health care system has the capacity for a large-scale pandemic, experts tell the Washington Free Beacon that Americans are in fact slightly better prepared than others, thanks in large part to our higher rates of health care spending. By contrast, single-payer systems like those in Italy and Spain appear unequipped to face the current crisis. A similar system in the United States runs the risk of making disaster preparedness worse, not better.
Americans spend a lot of money on health care—the most in the OECD, a group of the world’s economically developed countries. Christopher Pope, a health care policy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told the Free Beacon this added cost is driven in part by higher wage rates for skilled labor, in part by higher rates of obesity, but most of all by the fact that American demand for health care is generally greater.
“Part of the higher spending is that we simply get more—we’re not operating close to capacity or tightly rationing health care services at normal times,” Pope said.