November 25, 2003

Socialized Medicine

I have just spent an hour and a half at the Boulder County Drivers License Hell-Torture-Government-Aggravation Establishment. My lovely bride renewed her license (five minutes work, tops). They had the obligatory rude bureaucrat, although the young man that helped my wife was pleasant and professional.

You really want these people taking over the hospitals? It's a cliché -- but it is true! I have intelligent friends who do.

I spent three days in the hospital last month. Yeah, it's expensive but I got an afternoon in the MRI machine at a moment's notice, checked in in about an hour and the staff was superb. All of this was vital to getting a diagnosis and beginning treatment that was very successful. My three nights in the funky robe were pretty fun compared to the Drivers License place.

Don't do it! We're chasing capital out of the pharmaceutical sector with the Medicare bill. Don't sovietize the whole health care system.

End of rant.

Posted by jk at November 25, 2003 07:56 PM

Somehow I doubt you'll have the same opinion when you suddenly find yourself without insurance coverage (perhaps not - but I have seen the transition occur in many former work colleagues).

I'm an American who's lived in the UK for nearly 11 years and I will admit that the NHS isn't perfect. Waiting times are too long for many procedures. Primary care coverage is insufficient in many areas.

However it's universal nature acknowledges that health care is a right and not a privilege. It's about time America recognised that as well. After all the US spends far more per capita on health care than any other country in the world and still manages to have nearly 40 million people outside the system.

Posted by: yankinlondon at November 26, 2003 09:50 AM


I appreciate the comment but disagree. I have been self-employed, unemployed and on and off coverage for much of my life. But I will not trade our system for the NHS. I support subsides for those who truly cannot afford health care but reject nationalization of what is somewhere around 17% of GDP over here.

Speaking of a right to health care, I will ask you right back: "Could I have received 2-3 hours of MRI time?" That was pivotal to my diagnosis. My understanding is that in Canada or the UK, I could have waited for months. As I was unable to walk, I was happy for the quick treatment.

For the record, I was on self-purchased minimal coverage. I will certainly be out of pocket several thousand dollars. I'm not real happy about that but I am glad to be walking!

Thanks again for your input!

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2003 10:27 AM

I reckon we will agree to disagree on this. You're right it is possible that there would have been a wait under the NHS but 2-3 months would be unusual for a diagnostic procedure. You might wait that long or longer for treatment dependent on the severity of the condition.

Do remember that if you hadn't had your minimal insurance, like 15% of the US population, you would never have had an MRI irrespective of the wait. Is that acceptable in a supposedly civilised, progressive society?

And of course we will disagree on the socialisation aspects. The percent of GDP is only so high because of the obscene profit margins of insurance companies, drug companies and hospital management companies. The insurance companies in particular add no value to the economy at all and the administrative process that they provide could be done at a fraction of the cost.

Posted by: yankinlondon at November 26, 2003 03:14 PM

The American system is broke, Yank, I cannot defend the business model. I guess I feel that more competition -- not less -- would improve it. Two quick points:

Arizona made health care available to poor families for $6.00 a month. They had to drop 40,000 from the rolls because they would not pay that. I have no problem asking people to have some personal responsibility. For that reason, I made sure that I had minimal coverage.

The drug companies are not making big profits and their stock is trading at very low multiples. They are not the problem, they are the solution. I am afraid to see further legislation and price controls inflicted on this industry. I am patiently waiting for them to bring out yet another life-enhancing miracle cure, this time for MS.

Lastly -- I am always trying to recruit other voices for this blog. Let me know if you'd like a login...

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2003 10:23 AM

Interesting, I think I've read something like that somewhere in past, will try to find it.

Posted by: Page at January 30, 2004 04:35 AM
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