Government Bytes


Lessons from the Soviets: the Truth about Socialized Medicine


With the ruling on President Obama’s health care law rumored to be handed down by the Supreme Court this week, it is worth examining the experiences of our Russian comrades who supplanted market-driven initiatives for government-run programs.

In a detailed article from the Mises Institute, senior fellow Yuri N. Maltsev details the history of the Soviet’s “cradle-to-grave” healthcare model.

Maltsev notes the noble nature with which the Soviet’s gallant mission was launched back in 1918, with high hopes and heavy doses of benevolence:

'The "right to health" became a "constitutional right" of Soviet citizens… attractive and humane goals of universal coverage and low costs. What's not to like?'

However, the Socialized system soon soured, leaving Russian medical innovation at least 100 years behind that of the United States, not to mention the “filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies” which did nothing to endear the pitiable system to the Russian people.

What’s more, it soon became evident to the average citizen that the utopian experiment was only benefitting the Communist Party:

“So, as in all countries with socialized medicine, a two-tier system was created: one for the "gray masses" and the other, with a completely different level of service, for the bureaucrats and their intellectual servants.”

As with most services that are converted from private sector enterprises which rely on voluntary exchange to government-run programs initiated by force and coercion, the rapturous dream of universal coverage was just that---a dream---and the masses were left to pay the price, sometimes with their very lives.

Americans will soon learn whether their government is taking a step toward a system that is reminiscent of the failed Soviet regime.