A Critique of Turkey’s Healthcare System

by | Apr 9, 2021

A Critique of Turkey’s Healthcare System

by | Apr 9, 2021

Wiki Commons

I am writing this article upon the death of Aslı Özkısırlar (38) on account of multi-organ failure.1https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2021/gundem/turkiyeyi-yasa-bogan-asli-ozkisirlari-arkadaslari-anlatti-polyannanin-hayat-bulmus-haliydi-6350212/ This painful incident happened because Ms. Özkısırlar couldn’t find a single available bed for 25 days at the nearest state-run hospital, making it impossible for her to get treatment.2https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/asli-ozkisirlar-25-gun-yatak-sirasi-beklerken-yasamini-yitirdi-1825183 I have to remark that my purpose of writing this text is not to vacantly politicize the topic but to offer solutions to the obstacles our citizens are facing when they are making use of the health care service.

I too use the local state-run hospital for health care in my hometown Niğde. Among my reasons for going to the state-run hospital are that there is just one private hospital in Niğde whose services are far worse than the state-run hospital in addition to paying a considerable amount of money for their services. But from time to time I can’t find any available appointment, and even when I find an appointment and go to the doctor, if my doctor refers me to additional services like ultrasound, the nearest appointment date will generally be two weeks later.

I have to say that I find the main reason for these problems to be that the health care services are provided “for free” by the government. Readers, let’s state a really important matter. No service provided by the government is for free. All the costs of these services are paid by the citizens through taxation and some other ways. “Compulsory general health insurance” is also included in those expenses. Besides, I find it against basic human rights that paying into the general health insurance is compulsory, but I hope to write more about that later.

Also, what economics tells us is that if a product/service is sold for a price less than what it’s sold for on the market, the quantity demanded of that product/service will be greater than the quantity it can be supplied. The reason for Ms. Özkısırlar’s death is primarily that. The government makes it impossible for its hospitals not to overflow by not pricing its health care services directly. The appointments I couldn’t find and the long times I am waiting for other services are happening because of the same reason. Similarly, the reason for our dear doctors having to undertake enormous amounts of workload is that the quantity demanded of their services exceeds the quantity that they can supply.

The problem with the long waiting times is very similar in Canada, a country known for its prosperity where the government provides health care services for free. In one of Walter E. Williams’ commentaries on the Cato Institute’s website, it is written that an average Canadian waits 17.7 weeks for treatment after their referral from their general practitioner.3https://www.cato.org/commentary/free-health-care?queryID=2eb953e8f768a3303083c3609f77ca5a In the same commentary, it is stated that the average time of waiting is 30 weeks in Saskatchewan. It can be seen clearly that free health care services, let alone providing for people with low income, prevent everyone from receiving quality health care.

You might ask me why middle-class people are having a hard time reaching decent health care services. As I stated before, the health care services are provided with our money. Readers, it is known that an increase in taxes causes a decrease in production and per capita income, thanks to economics. As for that, a decrease in per capita income results in a decrease in everyone’s income more or less. So, if the government hadn’t spent any money on health care and instead collected fewer taxes, we all would have more money in our pockets as well as our economy growing would increase our per capita income and our prosperity.

I am sure that there will be some claiming that the government would be unjust in not providing free health care for people with low income. Friends, if the government breaks up monopolies and creates an environment where the hospitals and insurance companies are in competition with each other, every one of us regardless of our income could get better and cheaper health care. Apart from that, the government could help people with low income by exempting donations to non-governmental organizations providing free health care from taxation. There are also so many suggestions such as not letting the government require prescriptions4https://www.cato.org/white-paper/drug-reformation-end-governments-power-require-prescriptions and enlarging the power of health care workers other than doctors, but I don’t find it helpful to discuss them right now.

A Turkey that embraced a free market in health care would be well on its way towards a freer and more prosperous future.

Mehmet Aydin is a junior at Kabataş Erkek High School in Istanbul with an interest in classical liberalism.

About Mehmet Aydin

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