Saturday, September 22, 2007

What the Future Holds With Government-Run Healthcare

Just look to Canada:
Tumilty said some of his own patients due to receive hip or knee replacements have been waiting more than 12 months for the surgery.

"They're suffering in pain for over a year," he said. "Their quality of life is diminished considerably and that's just not good enough," he said.

Tumilty said voters — and politicians — should be aware that turnover of physicians is already a serious issue.

About 25 per cent of physicians have indicated retirement plans for the next five to 10 years, he said.
Sounds great, eh?



rlbates said...

You've been tagged.

Anonymous said...

Yes, governments in charge of health-care systems can run things badly. But

a) I may have to wait a few months for an operation under the NHS in the UK but at least I can get the operation in the first place no questions asked. No haggling with an insurance company over whether I'm covered or not. From what I hear, if I was in the US, then I wouldn't even be able to get cover in the first place because one of my personal characteristics would lead to not-even-close-to-affordable insurance costs.

b) A system that covers everyone doesn't have to mean that the government runs health care. You can have the government in charge of the legal bits that makes sure everyone is covered, and leave the actual running of the system to..say... the health profession! And it doesn't mean that you can't have a choice over which insurer or which hospital system you use.

There are lots of different ways of organising health care so that everyone is covered. It's getting rather irritating seeing lots of little snipes in US medical blogs against problems with other countries' systems, which give the impression that the blog-owner supports the current US system. In the US, you have some tens of millions of people with no health insurance! You have so many people going bankrupt because they have the temerity to have a serious illness. THAT is unconscionable.

Someone having to wait a while for an operation is a far better situation to be in that someone not being able to get that operation at all.

DrWes said...

Sharon -

Thanks for your viewpoint.

While I appreciate that it is a shame that we have so many uninsured, I also think that medicine has become ridiculously expensive, in significant part from third party payers and lack of liability reform here in the US. It is the costs that have prohibited so many from being able to afford the very insurance you speak of. Bureaucracy only increases cost and shields individuals from the reality of our present-day system, which I concur, is not ideal.

But having been a military member in our own US government, I have been privy to the inner workings of healthcare in that governmental healthcare system. I was impressed by several findings: (1) the personnel that care for our military are by-and-large committed and well-trained, (2) the facilities are, for the most part, fairly good, but acquiring equipment was a nightmare due to bureaucratic approvals required and usually lagged the efficiency of the civilian sector, (3) personnel were inadequately compensated compared to the private sector, and hence hard to retain [wait times, then, were ridiculous and prioritized by active duty status (retirees often could not be accommodated)] and (4) it was nearly impossible to fire underperformers due to governmental regulations. Given this relatively small microcosm of a health care system relative to a universal system proposed by many of our presidential candidates, excluding the private sector would leave many unsatisfied at the least, and injured or without care at the worst. Should we stand for substandard universal care as the only alternative?

While there is likely to be a safety-net approach to the uninsured here in the US, it would not surprise me if we eventually migrate from the bureaucratic (and expensive) system that exists today to the most common form of healthcare delivery in the world: fee-for-service.