A dichotomy is a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different (The New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998). A false dichotomy is a dichotomy, which does not accord with truth or fact.
An economist, Uwe E. Reinhardt, an economics professor at Princeton, defines socialized medicine as a health system in which the government owns and operates both the financing of health care and its delivery. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/what-is-socialized-medicine-a-taxonomy-of-health-care-systems/ He cites the American V. A. health system as the purest form of socialized medicine. The British NHS, which we saw being touted in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic Games, is another example of socialized medicine. What is the counterpart or alternative to socialized medicine? What is its name? Is it private, but non-profit; private, and commercial; some mixture of these two? What do we call it? The above reference from Professor Reinhardt explains the answer and is well worth reading and studying.
For those of us who are not trained economists and who just want a healthcare system, which really works for us, what is the practical (every-day-functional) difference between systems which are labeled or thought of as socialized or non-socialized? The answer depends on the context of the question, i.e., on which end goal of the healthcare system we are talking about. http://equalhealthcare.org/2012/07/the-hierarchy-of-ends-in-our-american-healthcare-system/ If the end goal is your individual health care, i.e., the effected work of a sound, ongoing, non-conflicted, spontaneously functioning doctor patient relationship, then there is no difference between the two systems at all. If you and your doctor are functioning in a manner consistent with the priorities which I describe http://equalhealthcare.org/2012/07/the-doctor-patient-relationship/ then you will receive good medical care regardless of which type of system operates in your country, as long as all the other parts of your healthcare system operate in dedicated, non-conflicted service to the doctor patient relationship. If the end goal is $$$$, dollar profit and political gain (under the smokescreen of reducing healthcare spending), being viewed as more important than the non-conflicted functioning of the doctor patient relationship, then the practical difference between socialized and non-socialized systems depends on the amount of interference which the 3rd party payer and other healthcare businesses press onto that non-conflicted functioning. All 3rd party payers (private or public) and some other healthcare businesses directly interfere with the doctor patient relationship. What determines the amount of this interference? At least four factors and maybe more:
- The nature of functioning of the 3rd party payer,
- The power of the 3rd party payer,
- The courage of doctors and others to stand up to these payers by working without allowing conflicts of interest to intervene,
- The cleverness of 3rd party payers’, politicians’, drug companies’, and others’ manipulative rhetoric and how easily we are duped by it.
- The absolute demand for clear and equal access to sound, ongoing, non-conflicted, spontaneously functioning doctor patient relationships for everyone at a reasonable price,
- A central payer, which negotiates transparently and repeatedly with all necessary healthcare businesses regarding payments for their services and products; which is composed of people with extensive experience in the various healthcare business disciplines such that negotiations take place between knowledgeable people from both the payer and the business; whose negotiators have long term appointments and remain free from the influences of the private or public sector (like the Supreme Court); and which has two major goals in the following order of importance for the payments which it administers: First, the existence of doctor patient relationships as described above; Second, the recognition and absolute support of the Profit Motive for necessary healthcare businesses to a level short of greed.