Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Americans are better off without an NHS

This according to the excellent and wise Toby Harden (friend of my husband's) who puts up this even-handed op-ed in the UK's Telegraph here.
The figure comes from Britain's National Institute for Clinical Evidence, which evaluates treatments in terms of the average increase in life expectancy. If the cost of prolonging someone's life for a year exceeds more than £30,000, then the NHS will not pay for that treatment. In other words, although there are no "death panels", the fundamental point is correct. The NHS does decide that some treatments are too expensive. And if that means you die? Our condolences, says the Government.

Despite the myths from the Left about the American system – that you have to take your credit card to the emergency room and if you can't pay you won't be treated – it is beyond dispute that treatment in the US is better. Diagnosed with prostate cancer and want to survive for the next five years? In Britain you have a 74 per cent chance. In the US, it is 98 per cent. For leukaemia, the American survival rate is close to half, while in Europe it is a third.

I would for the record like to point out that my husband's cousin from the UK who was a doctor before switching to teaching was essentially on one of those "Death Panels" as Sarah Palin put it so precisely. This cousin was truly sickened by the arbitrary life-and-death decisions she was forced to make because the NHS would not invest in the necessary equipment that would have saved lives.

In the interests of privacy I will not go into any more detail but suffice it to say that her speciality is quite common here in the US and I can think of at least three location in a 15 mile radius that provide the services that she could not provide to her patients.

So when someone says Palin's statement is overblown, do not believe them. That is how the NHS works. That is how any and all government run single-payer plans work. And that is how Obamacare would work if allowed to exist here in the United States. Healthcare determined and provided by distant beaurocrats, not doctors.


  1. Is it not true that in the UK malpractice awards are vastly more limited than in the US? Perhaps tort and malpractice reform would be the first way to bring down cost here..

    Also, what is the estimated additional costs in materials and labor of all the official forms required here?

  2. By denying the availability of treatment to lower income groups, you are effectively condemning them to death either way.

    If you call the NHS a system that puts this decision to a panel, the current American system allows the entire electorate to be essentially one massive "death panel" in which it is decided that one's income (which in itself is correlated to factors beyond one's control such as parents' education level) decides whether one can live or not.

    It's just the shifting of responsibility. Therefore, the American system is no different in this respect.

    As for the statistics, numbers can't be simply thrown around without first understanding its basis.

    Start for example, with the fact that illnesses are more likely to be DIAGNOSED in the UK. Therefore survival rates tend to be lower because we know of MORE people who suffer from them.

    Whereas there are more UNDIAGNOSED cases in the US, while those who can AFFORD to be DIAGNOSED can usually AFFORD to be TREATED as well, thus contributing to a higher survival rate.

  3. All health care systems ration. The US system does. How many people are refused care by their Insurance provider? And at least everyone has the right to see a doctor and not only if they can afford it.
    The US spends 17% of it's GDP on health care, twice as much as the UK, and we live longer then you. Sorry about that, we'll stick with our system and you lot can die because there is a profit involved.