British drunks have just given us another reason to oppose socialized medicine.
As the BBC reports, the head of England's public health service, Simon Stevens, has announced that so-called "drunk tanks" might become permanent fixtures of British towns and cities. Drunk tanks are mobile medical facilities that provide for intoxicated morons who render themselves incapable on a night out.
The government's concern is that this winter season will put huge burdens on emergency departments that are already overcrowded. They hope that drunk tanks will reduce pressure by reducing the 70 percent of alcohol-related Friday and Saturday evening hospital visits!
Yet the real philosophical issue here isn't whether drunk tanks are a good idea or not (I think they are positive in reducing costs), but rather why so many Britons put such pressure on the health service.
It's socialism, stupid.
Ultimately, because Britons know that they will face no out-of-pocket costs for using a hospital bed or drunk tank, many have very few qualms about getting annihilated on alcohol. And while Stevens laments this "selfish" attitude, words won't change anything.
On the contrary, the only way the drunks would stop wasting health resources is if they were fined for each alcohol-induced medical visit. That would raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year to put back into the health service, but it would also balance personal responsibility considerations against reflexive idiocy.
There's a broader relevance here for the United States.
As the left continues to push for socialized medicine, we must pay heed to examples like this one in the warnings they offer. After all, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and co. claim that we can have a medical utopia at lower costs and immediate service delivery, but examples like this one prove otherwise. Do you really think Americans would be more responsible in a socialized medical system?
Forget it. As Doctors Finkelstein, Taubman, Allen, Wright, and Baicker showed in their landmark October 2016 paper, Medicaid expansion has led to a significant increase in emergency room usage. The chart below from the study indicates just how significant, and expensive, that usage is.
The evidence is clear: By removing the personal cost considerations from healthcare consumption, individuals utilize the easiest and most efficient option for care. Put simply, if you can visit an emergency department for free and see a doctor within a couple of hours, why would you wait a week for an appointment with a primary care doctor?
Albeit in a different way, we're seeing that same principle play out in Britain. Regardless, the sustaining lesson is the same: the only people who benefit from socialism are the elites and the freeloaders.