"You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick." -Gov. Sarah Palin-

"The media are not above the daily test of any free institution." -Barry M. Goldwater-

"America's first interest must be to punish our enemies, then, if possible, please our friends." -Zell Miller-

"One single object...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." -President Thomas Jefferson-

"Don't get stuck on stupid!" -Lt. Gen. Russel Honore-

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." -Isaiah 5:20-

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Look At Three Socialized Health Care Systems: Dr. Walter Williams Column

As the United States gears up to become the world's newest socialized health care provider, it would be a good idea to look at historical precedent and see how well socialized health care has worked for other countries and what the results were.

Dr. Walter Williams, writing for Town Hall, has come up with some very crisp, clear, concise examples and summarizes them nicely.

First, Great Britain:

A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, "Delay, Denial and Dilution," written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world. The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care. Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash. Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long that there are now "waiting lists" for the waiting list.

And next, Canada:

Canada's government system isn't that different from Britain's. For example, after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks. Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless. Canadians have an option Britainers don't: close proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends over $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country.

And now, Sweden:

Sven R. Larson tells about some of Sweden's problems in "Lesson from Sweden's Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt," published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Spring 2008). Mr. D., a Gothenburg multiple sclerosis patient, was prescribed a new drug. His doctor's request was denied because the drug was 33 percent more expensive than the older medicine. Mr. D. offered to pay for the medicine himself but was prevented from doing so. The bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.

Malmo, with its 280,000 residents, is Sweden's third-largest city. To see a physician, a patient must go to one of two local clinics before they can see a specialist. The clinics have security guards to keep patients from getting unruly as they wait hours to see a doctor. The guards also prevent new patients from entering the clinic when the waiting room is considered full. Uppsala, a city with 200,000 people, has only one specialist in mammography. Sweden's National Cancer Foundation reports that in a few years most Swedish women will not have access to mammography.

Dr. Olle Stendahl, a professor of medicine at Linkoping University, pointed out a side effect of government-run medicine: its impact on innovation. He said, "In our budget-government health care there is no room for curious, young physicians and other professionals to challenge established views. New knowledge is not attractive but typically considered a problem (that brings) increased costs and disturbances in today's slimmed-down health care."

Is this the change you voted for? I certainly didn't. But, with a socialist President and a socialist controlled Congress, it is going to be shoved down our throats whether we like it or not.

You can access the complete column on-line here:

Sweden's Government Health Care
Dr. Walter Williams
March 4, 2009

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