Under Britain’s socialized medicine, a cancer diagnosis meets a 3-year waitlist
For decades, American leftists have been insisting that the way to beat America’s soaring health costs is through socialized medicine. England, Europe, and even Cuba, they assure us, are the models we should look to when it comes to bringing affordable healthcare to everything. However, healthcare in these countries isn’t looking so healthy lately. In England, for example, a 61-year-old man with a cancer diagnosis was just told that he must wait three years (not a typo) to be seen at a hospital.
When it comes to socialized medicine, there are myriad factors involved, all of which dovetail to say that socialized medicine is awful and that the free market—which we’ve never tried in modern America—is the way to go.
When England instituted socialized medicine in 1948, medicine was simple. The doctor had only a few weapons in his arsenal: physical examination, x-rays, biopsies (for diagnosis), newly discovered antibiotics, and fairly simple surgeries (no organ or joint replacements or “gender reassignments”). Under this system, the ability to see a doctor, something poor people couldn’t previously afford, wasn’t too costly.
The system wasn’t meant to deal with what eventually happened: medicine became more sophisticated. Today’s doctor’s examination is mostly a pathway to fancy tests that require costly equipment, followed by treatments with insanely expensive pharmaceutical supplies or sophisticated surgery. The outcomes are much, much better, as reflected in the greater longevity we had right up until COVID madness began. But the costs…wow!
Image: Empty hospital bed by DC Studio.
The European systems chugged along for a while, even as medical care got more complicated, only because Americans paid for it by absorbing their defense costs during the Cold War.
In a socialized system, especially when the good times of the Cold War end, these rising costs must be accommodated. The only accommodation is rationing, and socialized systems eventually can afford only to provide only enough care to maintain those workers who pay into the system. If you’re old and sick (i.e., no longer funding the system), you are out of luck. That’s what happened to 61-year-old Andrew Jones:
A cancer-battling granddad has been left flabbergasted after being told he must wait three years for a hospital appointment. Andrew Jones, 61, won't be allowed to attend the medical facility until it's almost time for the next World Cup in North America.
Mr Jones thought there was a mistake on the letter he received on Saturday but was horrified to discover his appointment is correct, leaving him with nearly 1,000 days to wait.
His confirmation arrived days after a 16-year-old boy was told he wouldn't been seen for 950-days for his “urgent” NHS appointment for a urology-related problem.
The same article says that the NHS has 6 million people waiting for surgeries for non-life-threatening issues—or 9% of the United Kingdom’s population. If that 6 million number refers only to England’s NHS (as opposed to Scotland’s or Wale’s), then 10.6% of the population is on a healthcare waitlist.
By the way, America's insurance system is no better because it’s not a free market system either. In our case, employers, to circumvent WWII wage freezes, began providing health insurance as part of their employees’ payment packages. Again, the insurer back then wasn’t on the hook for that much. The real benefit of the system was simply that poor people weren’t destroyed by a medical emergency.
Over the years, though, insurance went from a system to cover emergencies to a purely cost-shifting system. This meant that it destroyed a genuine healthcare marketplace. In a real marketplace, the customer would be seeking the best quality for the lowest fees while the provider would be trying to maximize profit, control costs, and provide quality care. These concerns, plus genuine marketplace competition, would see price-conscience shopping and innovation.
The insurer, however, is not part of either these concerns or that negotiation. An insured consumer doesn’t shop around for a balance of quality and price, and the provider is forced to take whatever the insurance company pays. It’s the opposite of a free market. It drives prices because medical providers eventually charge more and more to offset the constantly lower percentages insurers are willing to pay.
The Democrat solution to this problem is to socialize American medicine, but that will only fling us from the insurance frying pan into the infinitely worse socialist fireplace. The answer to this mess at home and abroad is to let the free market work. Our insurance system, especially thanks to Obamacare, perverts the market, drastically increasing prices, while socialized medicine, as Mr. Jones discovered, simply lets people die.