The Nightmare of Socialized Medicine

The Soviet Example

Vladimir Lenin enacted universal, "cradle-to-grave" health coverage in the Soviet Union in 1918. The "right to health" was made one of the constitutional rights of all Soviet citizens; it ranked alongside the "right" to vacation, free dental care, housing, and a clean and safe environment. As in other fields, all services were to be planned and administered by a special ministry. The Ministry of Health, through its regional Directorates of Health, would administer medical and sanitary services to the entire population. The "official" vision of socialists was clean, clear, and simple—all needed services would be provided on an equal basis to everyone by the state-owned and state-managed health industry. The cost of all medical services was socialized through the central budget. Advocates of this system said that fully socialized health care would eliminate "waste" due to "unnecessary duplication and parallelism" (Marxist jargon for competition) and provide full cradle-to-grave health coverage nationwide.

Today, advocates of socialized medicine in the United States believe America is spending too much—about 14 percent of its GDP—on medical care. Russia, with its system of central planning basically intact, spends only 4.7 percent of its GDP on health care but over 25 percent on defense and 21 percent on running its highly inefficient government. By diminishing...

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