socialized medicine

What is socialized medicine?

Socialized medicine is, by definition, a health care system in which the government owns and operates health care facilities and employs the health care professionals, thus also paying for all health care services. Examples abroad include the British National Health Service, and national health systems in countries such as Finland and Spain, but NOT including Canada’s Medicare system (which is publicly funded but which does not own all of the health facilities).

Closer to home, the Veterans Health Administration is, as one author points out, “actually socialized medicine, where the government owns the hospitals and employs the doctors.” Medicare is an example of single-payer (the federal government) system, but it’s not socialized medicine because the doctors and hospitals are privately operated — the government pays them, but does not own or employ them. Medicaid is similar, in that it’s government funded, although the funding comes from both state and federal governments, rather than a single source.

Read more about the difference between a single-payer system and socialized medicine. Learn more about the U.S. Medicare system and its history.

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