The promise of free government health care from Obama and Hillary is a tempting proposal. But before we jump on board let's take a look at how our cousins across the pond are doing. They've had "free" health care in England since 1948, and it seems they still haven't worked all the bugs out of the system. Here are some excerpts from an illuminating article in the left wing newspaper The Guardian:
A big variation in the performance of NHS trusts across England is revealed today in the health inspectorate's annual survey of patients' experiences.
In some hospitals more than three-quarters of inpatients said the standard of care was excellent, compared with less than one quarter in others.
In the best trusts, staff almost invariably helped frail patients to eat, but in the worst nearly half the people who needed assistance at mealtimes said they did not get it.
There was also a wide variation between hospitals in the quality of food, cleanliness, responsiveness to call buttons and the proportion of patients expected to share bathrooms and toilets with members of the opposite sex.
The level of quality care seems uneven at best. A hospital in West London had an approval rating of only 24%, almost as bad as Congress! Here is a ground breaking idea they just instituted:
"Since last month people have had the right to choose between any NHS hospital in England and any private clinic meeting the Department of Health's standards on quality and cost."
Imagine, you can now go to any hospital. Maybe we should try that.
Unfortunately effective infection control and good basic hygiene have gotten worse:
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "These results will make worrying reading for a government that claims to be committed to infection control and patient dignity. The key indicators of effective infection control - good basic hygiene - have got worse rather than better."
The Department of Health responded by publishing research from last year showing patients were more concerned about hospital cleanliness than single-sex accommodation. A Mori poll showed 58% of patients thought staying clean in hospital was most important, compared with 17% who wanted single-sex wards.
When you get a toothache in Great Britain the quality of care you'll be receiving is not your main concern, it's just hoping you can find a dentist. The conservative Telegraph has this story:
People who cannot get an NHS dentist are pulling their teeth out with pliers and using Superglue to put caps back.
So declared Mike Penning, from the Tory front bench, in a bid to destroy the "complacent" picture of dentistry painted by Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary.
Let us leave the glue on one side, or beneath whatever caps it may be holding in place: what worried some of us was the thought of the pliers.
Canada is also having a few problems with their nationalized health care system as reported in this article from the Canadian Medical Association:
It is well known that Canada is facing a shortage of maternity care providers in a trend that has been developing over the past two decades. This shortage is being felt most acutely in rural and remote communities. For years, maternity care has been provided in these communities by family physicians with the assistance of registered general nurses. Increasing numbers of family physicians are deciding not to provide intrapartum care. Rural hospitals are finding it equally difficult to attract nurses with maternity care experience.
In many cases, women and their families are leaving their home communities up to 4 weeks prior to their due dates and residing in hotels or with relatives until the birth of their baby. In the most remote communities, women are usually flown out alone, and accommodated in hostels located in large cities, completely unfamiliar to the expectant mothers. The emotional, social, and financial costs to these women and their families are immense.
It looks as though in order to get free health care we may have to give up a few perks such as "infection control" and "patient dignity." And we may have to become more adept at home dentistry.
Maybe this is why the Democrats never give any examples of other countries where nationalized health care is a success worth emulating, because they can't find any.