Category Archive 'Health Care Policy'
28 Jul 2009
Clifford Asness, a hedge fund manager blogging at StumblingOnTruth, debunks the left’s arguments for socialized health care and has some fun doing it.
Health Care Costs are Soaring
No, they are not. The amount we spend on health care has indeed risen, in absolute terms, after inflation, and as a percentage of our incomes and GDP. That does not mean costs are soaring.
You cannot judge the â€œcostâ€ of something by simply what you spend. You must also judge what you get. Iâ€™m reasonably certain the cost of 1950â€™s level health care has dropped in real terms over the last 60 years (and you can probably have a barber from the year 1500 bleed you for almost nothing nowadays). Of course, with 1950â€™s health care, lots of things will kill you that 2009 health care would prevent. Also, your quality of life, in many instances, would be far worse, but you will have a little bit more change in your pocket as the price will be lower. Want to take the deal? In fact, nobody in the US really wants 1950â€™s health care (or even 1990â€™s health care). They just want to pay 1950 prices for 2009 health care. They want the latest pills, techniques, therapies, general genius discoveries, and highly skilled labor that would make todayâ€™s health care seem like science fiction a few years ago. But alas, successful science fiction is expensive.
In the case of health care, the fact that we spend so much more on it now is largely a positive. The negative part is if some, or a lot, of that spending is wasteful. Of course, that is mostly the governmentâ€™s fault and is not what advocates of government control want you to focus upon. We spend so much more on health care, even relative to other advances, mostly because it is worth so much more to us. Similarly, we spend so much more on computers, compact discs, HDTV, and those wonderful one shot espresso makers that make it like having a barista in your own home. Interestingly, we also spend a ton more on these other items now than we did in 1950 because none of these existed in 1950 (well, you could have hired a skilled Italian man to live with you and make you coffee twice a day, so I guess that existed and the price has in fact come down; my bad, analogy shot). OK, you get the point. Health care today is a combination of stuff that has existed for a while and a set of entirely new things that look like (and really are) miracles from the lens of even a few years ago. We spend more on health care because itâ€™s better. Say it with me again, slowly â€“ this is a good thing, not a bad thing.
By the way, I do not mean that the amount we spend on health care in this country isnâ€™t higher than it needs to be. …
In summary, if one more person cites soaring health care costs as an indictment of the free market, when it is in fact a staggering achievement of the free market, Iâ€™m going to rupture their appendix and send them to a queue in the UK to get it fixed. Last weâ€™ll see of them. …
Socialized Medicine Works In Some Places
…The funny part is socialized medicine has never been truly tested. Those touting socialismâ€™s success have never seen a world without a relatively (for now) free US to make or pay for their new drugs, surgical techniques, and other medical advancements for them. When (and I hope this doesnâ€™t happen) the US joins in the insanity of socialized medicine we will see that when you remove the brain from the body, the engine from a car, the candy from the striper, it just does not work.
So, please, stop pointing to all those â€œsuccessesâ€ that even while living off the US still kill hard-working people who could afford their own health care while they stand in line for the governmentâ€™s version (peopleâ€™s cancers growing while waiting ten weeks for a routine scan, which these people could often afford on their own if allowed, is a human tragedy). Even the successes you gin up for them would not be possible without the last best hope of humankind (the US) on the front lines again making the miracles for the world. …
A Public Option Can Co-Exist with a Private Option
The government does not co-exist or compete fairly with private enterprise, anywhere. It does not play well with others. The regulator cannot be a competitor at the same time. It cannot compete fairly while it owns the armed forces and courts. Finally, it cannot be a fair competitor if when the â€œpublic optionâ€ screws up (canâ€™t pay its bills), the government implicitly or explicitly guarantees its debts. We have seen what happens in that case and donâ€™t need a re-run.
The first thing the government does is underprice the private system. You can easily be forgiven for thinking this is a good thing. Why not, cheaper is better, right? Wrong. They will underprice private enterprise by charging less to the purchaser of health insurance, not by actually creating it cheaper. Who makes up the difference? Well, you and your family do if you pay taxes, or your kids will pay taxes, or their kids will pay taxes. The government can always underprice competition, not through the old fashioned way of doing it better, they never do that, but by robbing Peter to pay for Paul. They are taking money from your left pocket and giving you a small portion of it back in your right pocket. They do it every day before breakfast, and take a victory lap for the small portion they return.
Second, the government ultimately always cheats when itâ€™s involved in â€œhonestâ€ competition. Try mailing a first class letter through Fed-Ex, or placing an off-track bet on your favorite horse with a bookie, or playing a lottery through a private company. Uh, you canâ€™t, so please stop trying, I donâ€™t want you to hurt yourself. Once the government discovers it cannot win, it changes the rules. You see, the government has the power to legislate, steal, imprison, and even kill. Those are advantages most private firms do not have…
Health Care is A Right
Nope, itâ€™s not. But we are at the nuclear bomb of the discussion. The one guaranteed to get me yelled at or perhaps picketed by a mob waving signs printed up with George Sorosâ€™s money. Those advocating socialized medicine love to scream â€œhealth care is a right.â€ They are loud, they are scary, but they are wrong about rights…
This is more philosophy than economics, and I’m not a philosopher. But, luckily it doesn’t take a superb philosopher to understand that health care simply is not a â€œrightâ€ in the sense we normally use that word. Listing rights generally involves enumerating things you may do without interference (the right to free speech) or may not be done to you without your permission (illegal search and seizure, loud boy-band music in public spaces). They are protections, not gifts of material goods. Material goods and services must be taken from others, or provided by their labor, so if you believe you have an absolute right to them, and others donâ€™t choose to provide it to you, you then have a â€œrightâ€ to steal from them. But what about their far more fundamental right not to be robbed?
In fact, although itâ€™s not the primitive issue, the constant improvement in health care gives another good example of why the â€œrightâ€ to health care makes little sense. Did you have a right to chemotherapy in 1600 AD? You could have protested to Parliament all you wanted, but chemo just didnâ€™t exist. Then, did you have a right to it the moment some genius invented it? You did not pay for the research. You did not make the breakthrough. Where do you get the right? How did it come into existence for you the moment somebody else created these things? Iâ€™m pretty sure you cannot have rights to material goods that donâ€™t exist, and I am pretty certain that the moment some genius (or business, or even government) brings them into the world your â€œrightsâ€ do not improve. …
So why do people scream health care is a â€œrightâ€ if it so obviously is not? If not a right it can still be willingly provided as charity by society. But those screaming â€œhealth care is a rightâ€ worry that this will not work out as well for them. In fact it would work out if all they cared about was good health care for all, and not power, but they do love that power.
Those seeking free health care could admit these are not rights but they simply want other peopleâ€™s stuff, and be honest supplicants, or open thieves. However, they believe that guilt and the false moral high ground work better for them.
Read the whole thing.
23 Jun 2009
Doug Ross sounds the alarm as democrats begin efforts to take control of your health care.
(N)ow the Statist Democrats are launching the most massive attack on the American people in the history of government.
They promise health care for everyone, but they will not — and they can’t possibly — deliver it.
While our health care system is certainly imperfect — because all humans are imperfect, including doctors, nurses, hospitals and insurance companies — they are more perfect, more competent, more informed, more capable than all of the bureaucrats to whom they’ll be forced to report: a bureaucracy that will make all decisions about your health care.
And it is easy to confirm the havoc that socialized medicine will wreak on American society. All you need to do is to look at how Democrats are trying to ram home socialized medicine: they’re doing it as fast as possible with as little debate as possible. For the indigent and the poor, we already have programs like Medicaid and SCHIP and dozens of state programs. Yet we’re told tens of millions of us must give up our private insurance and pay for a government-run program.
Democrats claim it will be more cost-effective and efficient. … The man who’s had the least experience at running anything is going to unleash the most massive federal leviathan in history, nationalizing nearly 20% of the economy.
This has been the dream of the Statist Democrats since FDR: to force each and every one of you, whether you like it or not, into a strait-jacket form of health care. It controls you; the actual being, the person.
Nameless, faceless bureaucrats substituting their decisions for those of your doctor.
Deciding whether you will have an operation or not. Whether you will have an MRI or not. Whether you will receive a life-saving, life-extending drug or not.
And we know this, because this is what occurs in Canada and Britain and other centralized bureaucracies, where you simply can not have access to advanced health care, period.
Where will their new drugs come from, since we produce half of them? Who will invent the new medical technologies for them, since we invent roughly three-fourths of them?
Who will run the hospitals and what will they look like when the government unions run them? …
They’ve been lying about the number of people without health care. They’ve been lying about whether the public is satisfied with health care. They’ve been lying about every aspect of health care.
They unleashed the slip-and-fall lawyers on the medical system, causing untold higher costs for medical practitioners. They’ve attacked the health care system relentlessly, driving up costs just like they’ve attacked the energy industry and the automakers.
And even when they have complete monopolistic control of a system, like the educational system in America, they want more control. It’s never enough. They want more money, more regulations. More. They need to “invest”. They need to raise taxes. They need to repress. They need to compel.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to the News Junkie.
David B. Rivkin Jr and Lee A. Casey, in the Wall Street Journal, argue that, if the 14th Amendment protects a “central right of privacy” entitling freedom of choice on abortion, wouldn’t the same right protect freedom of choice in health care generally, precluding government confiscation, redistribution, and subsequent rationing of individual health care resources?
The Supreme Court created the right to privacy in the 1960s and used it to strike down a series of state and federal regulations of personal (mostly sexual) conduct. This line of cases began with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 (involving marital birth control), and includes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
The court’s underlying rationale was not abortion-specific. Rather, the justices posited a constitutionally mandated zone of personal privacy that must remain free of government regulation, except in the most exceptional circumstances. As the court explained in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), “these matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life.”
It is, of course, difficult to imagine choices more “central to personal dignity and autonomy” than measures to be taken for the prevention and treatment of disease — measures that may be essential to preserve or extend life itself. Indeed, when the overwhelming moral issues that surround the abortion question are stripped away, what is left is a medical procedure determined to be “necessary” by an expectant mother and her physician.
If the government cannot proscribe — or even “unduly burden,” to use another of the Supreme Court’s analytical frameworks — access to abortion, how can it proscribe access to other medical procedures, including transplants, corrective or restorative surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, or a myriad of other health services that individuals may need or desire?
Read the whole thing.
14 Jun 2009
Mark Steyn notes that the claim that government can deliver a scarce item cheaper to more people resembles promises to sell you a certain well-known bridge.
When President Barack Obama tells you he’s “reforming” health care to “control costs,” the point to remember is that the only way to “control costs” in health care is to have less of it. In a government system, the doctor, the nurse, the janitor and the Assistant Deputy Associate Director of Cost-Control System Management all have to be paid every Friday, so the sole means of “controlling costs” is to restrict the patient’s access to treatment. In the Province of Quebec, patients with severe incontinence â€“ i.e., they’re in the bathroom 12 times a night â€“ wait three years for a simple 30-minute procedure. True, Quebeckers have a year or two on Americans in the life expectancy hit parade, but, if you’re making 12 trips a night to the john 365 times a year for three years, in terms of life-spent-outside-the-bathroom expectancy, an uninsured Vermonter may actually come out ahead.
As Louis XV is said to have predicted, “AprÃ¨s moi, le deluge” â€“ which seems as incisive an observation as any on a world in which freeborn citizens of the wealthiest societies in human history are content to rise from their beds every half-hour every night and traipse to the toilet for yet another flush simply because a government bureaucracy orders them to do so. “Health” is potentially a big-ticket item, but so’s a house and a car, and most folks manage to handle those without a Government Accommodation Plan or a Government Motor Vehicles System â€“ or, at any rate, they did in pre-bailout America. …
[B]y historical standards, we’re loaded: We have TVs and iPods and machines to wash our clothes and our dishes. We’re the first society in which a symptom of poverty is obesity: Every man his own William Howard Taft. Of course we’re “vulnerable”: By definition, we always are. But to demand a government organized on the principle of preemptively “taking care” of potential “vulnerabilities” is to make all of us, in the long run, far more vulnerable. A society of children cannot survive, no matter how all-embracing the government nanny.
When I was young, eons ago, when dinosaurs still walked the earth, doctors didn’t turn people away because they didn’t have health insurance. When Doctor Jones ran into an indigent patient, he simply shrugged, took care of the patent, and figured that it was his turn to do something charitable.
What has changed isn’t human nature, but the intensity of our regulatory environment and our politics. Government tax policy gradually created a health care corporate regime in which people employed by big companies used to get any amount of health services for absolutely nothing.
When you don’t pay for things, you have no incentive to economize, so demand rose and health care costs dramatically escalated. Meanwhile, government went along giving away more and more free health care to the elderly. So a while back, it became a joint interest of government and insurance companies to do something to control costs.
They made a deal. Government would set fixed prices for procedures and services delivered via medicare, and insurance companies would only pay at those same (lesser) medicare rates. Hard cheese for doctors, of course, but hey! cost cutting is important.
We have since experienced a bizarre regime of increasingly reduced health insurance benefits, managed by occult fine print to bamboozle beneficiaries into thinking they have coverage until doctors and hospitals subsequently surprise them by balance billing. The balance is the difference between what insurance companies are willing to pay and what health care providers want to charge.
The current situation featuring constant covert fighting over dollars makes charity its victim, too. If a hospital or physician treats that derelict indigent for free, ahem! the eyeshade-wearing bean-counter in Mega Insurance’s head office contends that was only possible by adding extra unjustified costs to the services Mega is paying for, and Mega wants a refund. That refund, you see, is supposed to come from your uncle and mine in Washington.
Thus, Capitalism is busily greasing the skids as we slide into Socialism.
05 Mar 2009
A lot of Americans were delighted to hear that, once Barack Obama was elected, absolutely everyone would be getting exactly the same kind of health care enjoyed by US senators. If you believed that, you need to talk to me about this bridge I have for sale.
Today’s Daily Mail has a story illustrating how government-provided health services really work: by rationing.
Thousands of patients with terminal cancer were dealt a blow last night after a decision was made to deny them life prolonging drugs.
The Government’s rationing body said two drugs for advanced breast cancer and a rare form of stomach cancer were too expensive for the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is expected to confirm guidance in the next few weeks that will effectively ban their use.
The move comes despite a pledge by Nice to be more flexible in giving life-extending drugs to terminally-ill cancer patients after a public outcry last year over ‘death sentence’ decisions. Leading campaigners last night said Nice had failed the ‘acid test’ of whether it really intended to give new priority to people with just a few months to live.
One drug, Lapatinib, can halve the speed of growth of breast cancer in one in five women with an aggressive form of the disease.
Dr Gillian Leng, Nice deputy chief executive, said ‘The committee concluded that Lapatinib is not a cost-effective use of NHS resources when compared with current treatment.’
Up to 1,500 stomach cancer patients also face a ban on Sutent â€“ the only drug that can extend their lives.
27 Feb 2009
Obama’s election was a self-fueling political-cum-economic catastrophe. Markets began plummeting in early Fall from fear of an Obama victory, and that market decline made investors’ fears an inevitable reality. But, as Dick Morris explain, even after the election, economic turmoil and public panic is still an essential factor in promoting Obama’s radical agenda.
Why does Obama preach gloom and doom? Because he is so anxious to cram through every last spending bill, tax increase on the so-called rich, new government regulation, and expansion of healthcare entitlement that he must preserve the atmosphere of crisis as a political necessity. Only by keeping us in a state of panic can he induce us to vote for trillion-dollar deficits and spending packages that send our national debt soaring.
And then there is the matter of blame. The deeper the mess goes â€” and the further down his rhetoric drives it â€” the more imperative it becomes to lay off the blame on Bush. He must perpetually â€œdiscoverâ€ â€” to his shock â€” how deep the crisis that he inherited runs, stoking global fears in the process.
So, having inherited a recession, his words are creating a depression. He entered office amid a disaster and he is transforming it into a catastrophe, all to pass every last bit of government spending and move us a bit further to the left before his political capital dwindles.
But the jig will be up soon. The crash of the stock market in the days since he took power (indeed, from the moment he won the election) can increasingly be attributed to his own failure to lead us in the right direction, his failed policies in addressing the recession and his own spreading of panic and fear. The market collapse makes it evident that it is Obama who is the problem, where he should, instead, be the solution.
Hat tip to the News Junkie.
31 Jan 2009
Tom Daschle, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is also intended to become Czar in Charge of Nationalizing America’s Health Care, has decided it would be prudent to pay some overdue back taxes.
Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle paid $140,000 in back taxes and interest in recent weeks â€“ much of it due to a car and driver loaned to him for free by a friend and Democratic fundraiser.
That back-tax bill on Friday threw a stumbling block in front of his nomination as Barack Obamaâ€™s health and human services secretary.
Daschle used the Cadillac and driver around Washington while working as a consultant to a New York City private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors. He used the limo 80 percent for personal use â€“ resulting in unreported income of more than $255,000 for the three years, Senate Finance Committee documents show.
InterMedia paid Daschle consulting fees at a rate of $1 million a year â€“ or $83,333 a month. Daschleâ€™s financial disclosure forms put his income from InterMedia at more than $2 million since 2005.
He can afford it, after all, having made $5.3 million in propitiatory payments over the last two years from his intended victims.
Tom Daschle, under fire for not paying taxes, made nearly $5.3 million in the last two years, records released Friday show.
Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who President Obama has tapped to overhaul the nationâ€™s healthcare system, was paid $220,000 to give speeches to outfits that have a vested interest in the result the work he would do once confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Among the companies and groups paying thousands of dollars a pop to book Daschle were some that stand to gain or lose the most depending on the results of Obamaâ€™s efforts to enact universal health.
22 Nov 2008
Socialized medicine is just like heroin: it creates a dependency that’s very difficult to give up. James Pethokoukis explains that Tom Daschle and the democrat party want to be your connection.
As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of “Marxist thought,” puts it: “After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.”
Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: “Blocking Obama’s health plan is key to the GOP’s survival.”
09 Jul 2008
The Anchoress aka Elizabeth Scalia warns that Hillary-care (sans Hillary) is not only back, it’s got bilateral support, and we’ll all find ourselves standing in Canadian-style multi-year health-care queues before much longer if we’re not careful.
Some time after Labor Day, many Americans will start to focus on the November elections, and theyâ€™ll be surprised to learn that while they were at the mall, government-run health care moved from being a vague idea to an essentially â€œdone deal.â€ In just eighteen weeks Americans will, with every vote, submit to the idea of the government â€” that master of mismanagement â€” having a formidable control over their health care. Logic dictates that the common realities of age and illness â€” which come to us all â€” will steadily endow the government with ever-increasing authority over life choices and inevitable intrusions into decisions that should be private.
Once the thing is put into motion, there will be no pulling back. American presidents may peacefully surrender their power, but bureaucrats never do.
It may be too late to wonder â€” at this eleventh hour â€” if the free markets, local communities, and our elected officials have really done all they could to develop creative insurance alternatives to the super-sized government â€œsolutionâ€ that will quickly affect our economy and slowly erode our freedoms. Will we look back and ask, perhaps naively, why citizens lacking work-connected health insurance could not have simply bought into the same or similar plans that covered state employees? If low-income families found the premiums too dear, might they not then have been able to use a tax-credit or deduction to offset that cost?
After taking the intractable step of handing our choices over to lawmakers and legislators who lately get almost nothing right, will we wonder why we did not encourage professionals and organizations to pool their resources and design flexible insurance plans with affordable rates.
Perhaps weâ€™ll look back and realize that our own hobbies or fraternal associations or cottage industries could have organized and crafted insurance policies into which the similarly situated, but under-insured, might have participated. Could NRA members have purchased health insurance through the NRA, Greenpeace members through a shared Greenpeace plan? Why did we not consider a Southern Baptist health insurance plan that members could pay into? Why couldnâ€™t the Masons, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, or even large â€œinternet communitiesâ€ have consulted with insurance companies to create nationwide member health insurance programs and supplementals that were affordable in their spheres?
We cannot say we were not warned.
The liberal holds out to the middle-class voter the happy dream of Bill Gates paying for his gall bladder operation. But that middle-class voter is forgetting the inevitable concomitant feature of the deal: that he gets to pay for all the multitudinous and expensive health care needs of every unemployed person, every citizen of alternative life-style, every wino, every crack whore, every gangbanger, every HIV-infected San Francisco democrat, and that he will get to stand in line with all of them to get his own rationed share of what he is paying for.
State-of-the-art health care is an inevitably scarce and expensive good. It can be allocated in the normal fashion by ability to pay for it, tempered by a certain amount of charity. Or it can be rationed by a government bureaucracy, as was noted back in the 1990s, with all the efficiency of the motor vehicle bureau, all the economy of the Pentagon procurement system, and all the compassion of the IRS.
06 Apr 2008
Socialized health care in Massachusetts produces strained resources. Who would have imagined that? Certainly not the New York Times.
Once they discover that she is Dr. Kate, the supplicants line up to approach at dinner parties and ballet recitals. Surely, they suggest to Dr. Katherine J. Atkinson, a family physician here, she might find a way to move them up her lengthy waiting list for new patients.
Those fortunate enough to make it soon learn they face another long wait: Dr. Atkinsonâ€™s next opening for a physical is not until early May â€” of 2009.
In pockets of the United States, rural and urban, a confluence of market and medical forces has been widening the gap between the supply of primary care physicians and the demand for their services. Modest pay, medical school debt, an aging population and the prevalence of chronic disease have each played a role.
Now in Massachusetts, in an unintended consequence of universal coverage, the imbalance is being exacerbated by the stateâ€™s new law requiring residents to have health insurance.
Since last year, when the landmark law took effect, about 340,000 of Massachusettsâ€™ estimated 600,000 uninsured have gained coverage. Many are now searching for doctors and scheduling appointments for long-deferred care.
Here in western Massachusetts, Dr. Atkinsonâ€™s bustling 3,000-patient practice, which was closed to new patients for several years, has taken on 50 newcomers since she hired a part-time nurse practitioner in November. About a third were newly insured, Dr. Atkinson said. Just north of here in Athol, the doctors at North Quabbin Family Physicians are now seeing four to six new patients a day, up from one or two a year ago.
Dr. Patricia A. Sereno, state president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said an influx of the newly insured to her practice in Malden, just north of Boston, had stretched her daily caseload to as many as 22 to 25 patients, from 18 to 20 a year ago. To fit them in, Dr. Sereno limits the number of 45-minute physicals she schedules each day, thereby doubling the wait for an exam to three months.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get the government to force those rich investment bankers and hedge fund managers to pay for your health care? Unfortunately, as the late Ayn Rand pointed out, that inevitably means then that you have to pay for health care for every unemployed wino and heroin addict yourself, and you get to stand behind them in line the next time you’re sick.
21 Feb 2008
A New York Times story discusses the fundamental problem with universal health care supplied by the state.
Created 60 years ago as a cornerstone of the British welfare state, the National Health Service is devoted to the principle of free medical care for everyone. But recently it has been wrestling with a problem its founders never anticipated: how to handle patients with complex illnesses who want to pay for parts of their treatment while receiving the rest free from the health service.
Although the government is reluctant to discuss the issue, hopscotching back and forth between private and public care has long been standard here for those who can afford it. But a few recent cases have exposed fundamental contradictions between policy and practice in the system, and tested its founding philosophy to its very limits.
One such case was Debbie Hirstâ€™s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologistâ€™s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.
By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.
â€œHe looked at me and said: â€˜Iâ€™m so sorry, Debbie. Iâ€™ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,â€™ â€ Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.
â€œI said, â€˜Where does that leave me?â€™ He said, â€˜If you pay for Avastin, youâ€™ll have to pay for everythingâ€™ â€ â€” in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.
Patients â€œcannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,â€ the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.
â€œThat way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.,â€ Mr. Johnson said.
Government simply will never be able to afford to deliver state-of-the-art health care to everyone, but it also won’t feel that it can afford to let you pay for your own. That wouldn’t be equal. So, go home and die! the government is going to wind up telling people. You can’t have the health care that you can afford to pay for yourself, because everybody else can’t have it.
Somehow I don’t think Hillary or Obama are going to mention that little detail.
27 Jan 2008
Socialized health care British-style transfers costs from individuals to the government, and sooner-or-later government starts wondering if it ought to be paying for some people’s sinful ways or for people who are already too old.
Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.
Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.
06 Jun 2007
The Scottish Daily Record reports:
Poor NHS treatment has led to almost half a million Scots dying in the last 30 years, a new study has revealed.
Doctors at Glasgow University found that between 1974 and 2003, a total of 462,000 people died in Scotland as a result of health service failings.
It means Scotland has one of the highest avoidable death rates in western Europe.
The study examined the number of deaths caused by a lack of “timely and effective health care”.
The vast majority of people – around 250,000 – who died due to inadequate or delayed treatment were heart or stroke patients.
Another 7300 had cancer and slightly more than 2000 were pneumonia patients.
The study revealed that avoidable deaths among men in Scotland over the time period was 176 for every 100,000 people.
This compared with 159 in Portugal, 129 in Austria and 100 in Italy.
Rates for women were 123 per 100,000, also higher than every other European country investigated.
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