The Advantages and Disadvantages of Governments Providing Free Health Care

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Governments providing Free Health Care

Every government provides services for their citizens. One of the key areas governments focus their attention on is public health care. Citizens have the benefit of receiving free health care services whenever they need it. Yet, everything that is provided for free has its drawbacks. There are disadvantages as well as advantages associated with free health care services provided by governments for their citizens.

Firstly, with the anticipation of free health services, there is a high likelihood of poor quality of services. According to the Ministry of Health’s Strategic Plan 2011-2015, Fiji has one of the lowest total health expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) when compared to other Pacific Island countries. As a result of a lack of finances, it can be expected that health services and products may not be of high quality. Moreover, cheaper and less effective medication may be given in place of quality and effective drugs. It should not be expected that citizens have the best quality of health services due to the limited budget and expenditure of the ministry.

Another disadvantage of free health care is the shortage of doctors and nurses. The Minister of Health (Fiji), Dr Neil Sharma said that doctor shortages were a common occurrence in every part of the world and Fiji was no exception (Malo 2011, p.5). For instance, at Rakiraki Hospital one doctor looks after over ten thousand people and only three doctors cater for the twenty-nine thousand population of Tavua (Malo 2011, p.5). From this information it can be seen that the doctor to patient ratio is very low.

Thirdly, free health care services leads to overcrowding in hospitals. With the availability of free medical services, citizens have the opportunity to make the most use of the services provided to them and this in turn leads to overcrowding. It is an all too common site to see long queues and...
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