Doctors in the U.S. are better off without national health

Physicians for a National Health Programme and other groups in the U.S. advocate a single-payer health care system as a way to improve health care quality and access, and reduce the frustrations of managed care. However, critics argue that national health care would make matters worse.

American doctors complain they spend too little time with patients, however:

  • Physicians in the U.S. actually spent an average of 18 to 20 minutes with each patient in 1998, one to two minutes MORE than 10 years earlier.

  • They spend more time with patients than doctors in other countries (see figure

  • Physicians in Canada and Britain see an average of about 40 percent more patients annually.

    U.S. doctors complain that insurance paperwork reduces their ability to practice medicine – but their frustration is nothing compared with the dissatisfaction in the British National Health Service, where a recent survey found eight out of 10 family doctors would quit the NHS if they could.

    American physicians believe they're expected to do more for less compensation, but doctors working for national health or single-payers systems make out much worse. On average, doctors in Canada and Germany earn about half what their U.S. counterparts do. In Austria, France and Britain it's less than one-third, and in Finland, Norway and Sweden just one-fourth.

    The quality of care also suffers under national health or single payer systems, due to rationing. One in five British physicians knows someone who has been harmed by delays in receiving treatment.

  • Approximately two-thirds of Canadian and Australian physicians sampled – and more than three-quarters of British and New Zealand doctors – believe delays are a problem.

  • But only seven percent of American physicians say delayed treatment is a problem.

    Source: Devon Herrick (NCPA research manager), Would National Health Insurance Benefit Physicians? NCPA Brief Analysis No. 370, August 31, 2001, National Center for Policy Analysis.

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    FMF/11 September 2001
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