by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has emerged as the latest justification for “Medicare for all.” This week, Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “When I talk about healthcare being a human right…the coronavirus crisis makes that abundantly clear as to why it should be.” And last week, left-wing wunderkind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said of the COVID-19 outbreak, “It absolutely is an argument for Medicare for All.”
But countries with socialized medicine are ill-prepared for outbreaks — and have responded poorly when they’ve been hit by them.
Take Canada. Patients wait hours to be admitted to the hospital even when there’s not an outbreak raging. A January 2019 report commissioned by the government of Ontario found that patients in the emergency department were waiting 16 hours, on average, for an inpatient hospital bed.
As a result, when disaster strikes, Canada’s healthcare system becomes overwhelmed almost immediately. During the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, 375 people came down with the virus. Forty-four died. Nearly three-quarters of those who contracted the virus did so in a hospital setting. “Our public health and emergency infrastructures were in a sorry state of decay,” concluded the final report from the government of Ontario’s SARS Commission.