Friday, August 07, 2009

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
Part 4: Government run health care

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

I guess I should first state that I think health care needs some work. But not the way it is being discussed in DC. This is a few thoughts on what is wrong - not too many thoughts on what to do. (But I know this - the problem isn't mostly insurance.) This is followed by some stories - mostly from the UK - about government run health care. Not only is there a "single payer" system in the UK, but the NHS owns virtually all of the hospitals.

Things that need to change:

Too many kids are on psychoactive drugs, like Ritalin, and its ilk. Is this for the kids, or to make it easier for the adults? What is the test for ADHD? Adults find kids inattentive, fidgety, and restless. Remember that a lot of schools have eliminated recess for the younger grades - too much insurance liability if they scrape their little knees, don't you know. How many of you would have been restless and inattentive at 7, with no break?

The problem of excess psychoactive drugs isn't limited to children. Sometimes I feel like I am living the "Brave New World" universe. Do you know what Soma is?

Sexual "dysfunction" in elderly men isn't a disease, or a condition, it is a fact of life. Why is the government paying for Viagra? (If you don't want to grow old gracefully, you should have died young and left a good-looking corpse.) It isn't the only example. Why not pay for face-lifts, hair transplants, and hair coloring under the same "But I don't want to grow old" mentality? (Remember - this is my opinion. YMMV)

Government run health care.
Government run health care sounds like a good idea to some. And the UK and Canada are often pointed to as shining examples of what government health care is like. If that's true, I would hate to see the bad examples.

The UK seems to have a few more problems than Michael Moore intimated.

Hospitals: Keeping hospitals clean costs money. (This isn't an anecdote - this is a tale of systematic problems) (this is an anecdote) (Not even a peer of the realm can get good care.)
[Lord Mancroft] added: "I can only tell you that it is a miracle that I am still alive. The wards were filthy. Underneath the bed where I was, there lay a piece of dirty cotton wool and it remained there for several days. The ward was never cleaned."
It is nice to know that the powers that be in the UK are trapped in the same health care system as the hoi palloi. Not like the Congress critters are proposing - they keep their separate system.

C. Diff (short for some long-name of a superbug) is killing people in UK and Canadian hospitals.
It comes just a week after Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals Trust was found to be responsible for a litany of failures that led to the biggest outbreak of the superbug Clostridium difficile the NHS has seen. More than 1,000 patients contracted the bug, which killed 90 people and contributed to a further 255 deaths.

How about mortality rates for various diseases in the US and the UK? Is the UK better than the US?

Comparison of Cancer Survival Rate at 5 yearsIf the US has such dismal health care, things like 5-year-survival rates for cancer should be much better in Europe.
Check this out

Tell me again how we don't have good health care.

Some of the most prevalent cancers have VERY different survival rates, though the link I had to the comparison study is broken. If anyone has that info - (US v. UK on Breast cancer, on Prostate cancer, lung cancer, etc.) - I would be interested.

Private and Semi-private rooms on the government's dime? Not hardly. who needs privacy.

Never mind that rape occurs with some regularity.

Canada also has its share of problems. (a view of Canadian medicine from a Canadian doctor.) (If you don't pay them enough, even doctors will quit)
A 2005 survey found that just 23 per cent of Canadians were able to see a physician the same day they needed one - placing this country last among the six studied, including the U.S., Britain and Australia. Canada's doctor-patient ratio is among the worst of any industrialized nation: with just 2.2 physicians per thousand people, it ranks 24th out of 28 OECD countries (well below the average of three). And among the G8 countries, Canada ranks dead last when it comes to physician supply.
Costs of running a practice go up, but reimbursement is set by the government. Not hard to do the math.
The situation is critical in the boom town of Calgary, where escalating overhead costs are driving doctors out of business. In the last year, as thousands of new residents flooded into the city, at least 41 family physicians abandoned their practices. Dr. Linda Slocombe is one of them - she closed up in December 2006. "The only way you can fight increasing overhead is to increase the number of patients you see," says Slocombe, 52, president-elect of the Calgary and Area Physician's Association. "It was too stressful. I didn't want to have to keep seeing more patients, faster, in a day."
Family or general practice docs are supposed to lead the way to the high-quality, low-cost medical-promised-land. But not if they are stressed out. Out of business that is.

Lack of dental care is also an issue... (6 percent of Britons doing their own dental care. What is this, "Castaway?")
The survey of 5,200 patients for an NHS feedback body found 20% had refused treatment because of high cost and 6% had treated themselves at some point.
High cost of NHS dentistry? Guess it isn't free. And some of that self-treatment has included pulling teeth at home with pliers. (Dental abscess nearly results in death.)
Peter Owen, 19, was in agony for a week as he tried SIX times to have a tooth out. He was eventually rushed to hospital after an abcess on the tooth swelled so much that it blocked his windpipe.Peter had an emergency tracheotomy where a breathing tube is inserted through a hole in the throat and was on life support for two days. Mum Wynn, 47, said last night: “Peter nearly died because there is a shortage of dentists.
Some folks don't like The Sun. Here is the BBC story. (The BBC isn't usually considered part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I could be mistaken.)

People may become doctors because they are altruistic, but most dentists become dentists to make money. It is pretty much impossible to make money as an NHS dentist in the UK. Since people can't see a dentist, they have reverted to doing their own dental care - or being rushed to emergency surgery.

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