Saturday, August 8, 2009

Medical Care: Part I

This is the first in a series of posts about American medical care and the government’s attempts to meddle in it. Posts about other topics may appear between them.

Poll after poll is showing that the American people are not buying what Obama & Co. are peddling under the guise of “health care reform.” Reports say that calls to congressional offices are running 15-to-1 against the pending pieces of legislation collectively known as Obamacare. Doctors are coming out in full force to oppose it. When it comes to the legislations’ faults and the president’s misrepresentations of them, even the MSM is being forthright (well, more than usual) in covering some of them.

In this environment, I have not felt as compelled to write about Obamacare as I did a few weeks ago. But at the same time, I know the fight is far from over, and I know it is foolish to trust people called “Blue Dog Democrats” or “moderate Republicans” to follow their consciences when it comes time to vote. And I know that many people are still susceptible to magic phrases like “universal health care” and “single-payer system.” So, into the water I wade.

When it comes to critiquing the legislation, the main problem is that there is so much to criticize it takes forever to figure out where to start and what angle to take. Therefore, the most logical thing to do is go back to the beginning and ask: Is involving the federal government in our medical care necessary in the first place, and if so, why? Which is important, because so far no answer has been established to either part of that question.

Sure, we hear that health insurance is expensive, but we never hear actual numbers. We also hear that many Americans don’t have health insurance, but the numbers we hear are usually false. Does anybody honestly believe that government is more capable than the free market when it comes to delivering care in an effective and timely manner? And that it can reduce costs in the process? Even diehard leftists know this is not possible.

Almost always, the folks who want to do away with our medical marketplace and replace it with a “system” believe we should do things the way they are done in Canada and Europe. And the European country they most often cite is the U.K. So don’t you think we should compare what we have to what people in those places have before we start remaking ourselves in their image? Here are some things to consider:

The overall cancer survival rate, which is widely considered the most important measure of medical care quality, is 16% higher here than it is in Canada.

When it comes to Europe, a study published by the BBC shows the overall cancer survival rate in the U.S. is higher by an average of 25% than it is in every one of the 20 European countries studied -- and the U.K.’s rate was the fourth worst of those 20.

Along the same lines, 40% of cancer patients in the U.K. never even get to see an oncologist.

In Canada, 27% of the people who need surgery wait more than four months before receiving it. In the U.K., that figure is 36%. In the U.S., it is just 5%.

In both Canada and the U.K., the number of MRI machines per person is four times fewer than it is here. In Canada, the number of CT scans per person is half what it is here, and in the U.K. it is four times fewer than here.

The average wait time for an MRI in Canada, just to find out what is wrong with you, is 10 weeks. When it comes to the U.K., I could not find a clear answer as to the wait time; however, that country’s Department of Health has stated that the average wait for the 15 most common diagnostic tests (of which MRI is one) is seven weeks.

Though I have not seen an official statistic on wait times in the U.S., I know from examining people’s medical records (which I do every day in my occupation) and from my own and others’ personal experiences that the wait is typically days, not weeks.

So before we go further, I ask: Why should we abandon our system and follow theirs?


In addition to the BBC and U.K. Department of Health, information used in this post was obtained from www.healthcare-economist.com, the Tampa Tribune, and the writings of Thomas Sowell.

1 comment:

Roblimo said...

A lot of people, including me, want something simple and low-cost along the lines of V.A. medical care or Army sick call. That's all we can afford. And if I need to deal with government people instead of the Blue Double Cross nasties, so be it.

When you're in your 50s, unemployed or self-employed, with pre-existing conditions, your only "choice" in today's health insurance market is between horrid and horrible -- and at insane prices that don't take into account the decades during which we had health insurance coverage but barely used it.

Believe me, I have no intention of taking your gold-plated medical plan away from you. If you want to pay a doctor to come to your mansion every time you mash a finger while working out with your private trainer, that's fine with me.

I say again: all I need or want is very basic health care at a price I can afford. If that's socialism or Obamacare or whatever you want to call it, fine with me.