If Anyone Tells You “Socialized” Medicine Is Crap …

… here’s what you tell them

Douglas Giles, PhD


A building in the complex of the Fakultní nemocnice Královské Vinohrady (Source: denik.cz)

My spouse fell and had to go to the hospital this week. I happily accompanied her to get her arm checked. A small break, nothing serious, thankfully. She’ll have a cast for five weeks, and I will need to be her second hand for awhile. Hey, for better or worse, in sickness and health. 😃

It was our first experience with a Czech hospital, or, in the Czech language, a nemocnice. It was, shall we say, an interesting experience.


Yes, egad, “socialized” medicine is “socialism.” Growing up in the US, we heard the constant drumbeat of horror stories about healthcare in the rest of the world. Yes, the whole rest of the world has the system of medicine that the US labels “socialized” and “socialism.” And, of course, anything with “socialism” in it is nasty, poor, and brutish, or so we were told.

The Czech Republic has such “socialism.” Or, more correctly stated, it has a nationalized health service, designed to serve all of the people in society — which, to be honest, is the real meaning of “socialism.”

The system is simple. You pay into the national healthcare system, just like you pay into social security, and you get healthcare. In the Czech Republic, we pay 2,722 CZK per month (about $120 a month) and we get healthcare. I’ve been out of the US for a few years, but I suspect US health insurance is a little more expensive.


The most often told horror story about “socialized” medicine is that it is horrifically inefficient, and healthcare is rationed. Long waits in emergency rooms, even longer waits for basic healthcare, horrifically long waits for major procedures and operations. Taking the tram to the Czech hospital, we dreaded the prospect of a crowded waiting room and a five-hour wait to be seen.

As it turned out, the only inefficiency was our ignorance of how the system works. We knew we were looking for a sign that said “urgentní přijetí,” meaning “urgent admission” — the emergency room. Problem was, two signs pointed to urgentní přijetí, one sign with yellow and green squares, one sign with red, yellow, and green squares. We are still unclear what the…



Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://linktr.ee/dgilesphd