The government of Finland collapsed Friday due to the rising cost of universal health care and the prime minister’s failure to enact reforms to the system. This collapse happened a month before Finland’s next general election, slated to take place April 14th.
Prime Minister Juha Sipila and the rest of the cabinet resigned after the governing coalition failed to pass reforms in parliament to the country’s regional government and health services, the Wall Street Journal reports. The reforms would cut costs in healthcare spending; among other things, it would cut the number of healthcare management offices by more than half.
Finland faces an aging population, with around 26 percent of its citizens expected to be over 65 by the year 2030, an increase of 5 percent from today. The United States faces the same problem; according to the Census Bureau, by 2030 one in five citizens will be retirement age. This means older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Obviously, older people generally require more healthcare and pharmaceutical products, and there is a growing need for resources to assist them in navigating the system. According to peer research, the level of population change is significant, and pose an enormous challenge on multiple sectors of industry.
Reuters reports that soaring treatment costs and longer life spans have particularly affected Nordic countries.Many European countries have implemented some form of universal healthcare coverage:
“Nordic countries, where comprehensive welfare is the cornerstone of the social model, have been among the most affected,” according to Reuters. “But reform has been controversial and, in Finland, plans to cut costs and boost efficiency have stalled for years.”
Similar problems are bedeviling Sweden and Denmark, two other countries frequently held up as models to follow on health care. Sweden is to gradually raise its retirement age and has opened up parts of the healthcare system to the private sector in a bid to boost efficiency. Denmark will gradually increase the retirement age to 73 – the highest in the world – while cutting taxes and unemployment benefits to encourage people to work more.
Finland’s crisis in particular comes as calls for universal health care have grown louder among Democrats in the United States.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) “Medicare for all” proposal would cost the U.S. over $32 trillion over ten years, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center. It would also require enormous tax increases as “a doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan.”
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), has called for eliminating private health insurance, although a spokesperson suggested she is open to multiple paths to “Medicare for all.”
Self-described democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has also called for “Medicare for all.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 58 percent of Americans oppose “Medicare for all” if told it would eliminate private health insurance plans, and 60 percent oppose it if it requires higher taxes. However, Liberal candidates and politicians continue to insist that a universal healhcare system would benefit the United States, despite its’ resounding failure in the countries who have adopted such policies.