published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

'Free' health care

You may have seen a funny -- though painfully true -- bumper sticker that reads, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait till it's free."

Of course, the point is that health care -- like any other benefit -- is not free. It must be paid for, by somebody.

Doctors and nurses must spend years gaining the education they need to provide high-quality medical care. Hospital buildings and doctors' offices certainly don't build themselves. And somebody has to perform complicated research to develop the high-tech equipment and medicines that save or at least lengthen and improve the lives of millions.

None of that is inexpensive -- much less free -- and talking about "free" benefits is just a way of disguising the fact that those benefits must be paid for by someone else.

That is a lesson that Great Britain is painfully learning.

A recent headline on an Associated Press article read, "U.K.'s free health care under threat." The story noted the growing waits that British patients are having to endure before they can obtain necessary medical services. In some cases, patients with non-lethal conditions have been left in severe pain so attention can be devoted to the most urgent cases.

But troubles with Britain's supposedly "free" medical system have been multiplying over the years, with poor care and rising wait times raising alarm among doctors, nurses and patients alike. So Britain's current difficulties in delivering care are really not very surprising.

The long and short of the problem is that Britain doesn't have the money to sustain its more than six-decade-old socialized health system. As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once noted during a TV interview, "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money."

Well, modern Britain is finally "running out of other people's money" to finance its big-government medical system.

It appears "free" health care has a steep price.

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conservative said...

"It appears "free" health care has a steep price"

Yes it does. Medicare here in our country already has a steep price and if Obamination care goes into effect it will be worse. Medicare is heavily subsidized by taxpayers who are not eligible for the program because of their age. When everyone becomes eligible under Obamination care, cost will skyrocket. We have yet to print enough money to cover the cost of the increased demand. Rationing will have to occur to keep cost down. The elderly will suffer most, with needed operations replaced by a "pill" for their pain as the mortician Obamination once revealed during one of his campaigns. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

December 23, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.

The current tax costs to English citizes for their health service is about two thousand pounds per person. How does that compare to the United States? The average health care premium in the US is a good bit higher, and people still have deductibles.

Are the services in the US better? Not as such. Emergency care is roughly the same, and waiting periods are perfectly normal for non-priority care everywhere.

As for the elderly, you can say invasive heart surgery is needed for somebody who is at the end of their life for a host of reasons if you want, but I cannot agree with your pyramid building when we need some flood control.

December 23, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.
dabbscr said...


December 24, 2011 at 5 a.m.
EaTn said...

Certain things the rich are justified in purchasing over the less fortunate--fine cars, jewelry, big houses..but life saving health care is not one of them, any more than the air we breathe.

December 24, 2011 at 7:47 a.m.
talkthetalk911 said...

Happy with the stories i read about people coming to the U.S. from a nation with national health care area false? the people i have talked to from those nations who talk about the long waits are liars? i hear and read about alot of poeple coming to the United States for health care, job oportunities and freedom. What i do not here are droves of people eager to go to the government ran health care countries to seek better care. They come here! Just ask the Veteran who died waiting nine weeks to see the V.A. Doc on a stomach tumor.(government ran and a government wait). Nothing against the ones who work at the V.A. they are doing the best they can to provide the best care they can.My question...if all these other countries are so great about providing for "their" citizens why arent Americans leaving the U.S. by the droves? We all cant be that dumb as to see the greatness of socialism.

December 24, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
Plato said...

There is no such thing as a perfect health care system. Even the French system which is the best in the world is not perfect.

Revoking the Affordable Care Act AKA Obama Care will put 40 Million people back to fending for themselves without access to health care. They ultimately wind up in ERs the most expensive form of health care delivery and the bills get shoved back to those of us that pay for insurance. So that isn't a solution either.

The key to attacking the problem of costly health care is to go to the source - the health of the people. The fact is we are a sick, obsess nation the spends twice per capita than most western European countries on health care. Obesity leads to numerous other diseases - heart disease, stroke, dimension, even cancer. If we could eliminate obesity in this country we could reduce the cost of health care delivery by 50%

December 24, 2011 at 1 p.m.
rolando said...

So Plato, it sounds like you propose or support mandatory government-supervised diet control and rationed foods for the obese.

You ignore those young who do not want expensive health insurance [by whatever name] and instead go to Emergency Rooms for their Emergency medical care. Therefor you support mandatory health insurance for all with extreme penalties for non-complicance, no doubt.

In short, you are a socialist...which is your right [since you live in America and not some foreign country].

The number of those "fending for themselves" is a darn sight higher than the paltry 40 million you forget about the number of jobs that have disappeared from our shores in the last 3 years, and the insurance that went with them. That's even more people no longer paying into the system.

So you would propose printing more money, perhaps? Borrowing more from China? How about from NoKorea or Iran? Russia, perhaps...although they are too smart to lend us anything.

December 24, 2011 at 7:53 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Although Americans by their nature would not tolerate it, Plato has a point: reducing obesity and smoking would save our citizens a lot of money. We that are insured pay for our fellow clients and for those without insurance. We spend far more on conditions resulting from poor lifestyle choices than on preventing those conditions in the first place.

As a non-smoking, physically fit female past reproductive age I need very little medical attention (except for injuries, and I am doing my best to avoid those). Yet my costs reflect those that suffer from the effects of their poor choices. Is that fair? Not really, but it is un-American to micromanage citizens the way the British do. If we put more emphasis on prevention we might lower our costs. However, no one, it seems, wants to be told not to over eat or smoke or use drugs or sit on their arses and eat fatty foods.

December 24, 2011 at 9:04 p.m.
rolando said...

This is still America, lkeithlu, and we really don't need someone telling/ordering us what to do, especially if that "someone" is the government or anyone else who thinks they know better than we do about what we want/need. Doctors, etc excepted, of course -- they DO know what is good for us.] If you worry about the cost to pay for those obese/in danger folks now, wait until ObamaCare kicks in. Today, you at least have a choice whether or not to have insurance. Tomorrow, you won' will pay for everyone.

The idea behind ObamaCare is forced compliance...except the illegals who will somehow be covered, [we will know what is in the bill after it takes effect...]

Those obese you speak of [and the other self=abusers], will find themselves involuntarily rationed out of health care or put on waiting lists...which goes against the entire concept of universal health care. So will the high-maintenance handicapped and the elderly. The older you get, the worse it gets.

What ObamaCare [and foreign clones] really mean is universal care for those who don't need it or are injured...and, of course, the elite class rulers. The chronically ill peasant will rot on a shelf like an abortion survivor.

To put it in the vernacular, "Screw that."

December 24, 2011 at 10:36 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

You are just confirming my point rolando. We require more care than we can pay for because we emphasize cure over prevention. Because of our uniquely American resistance to being told what to do, we put ourselves in this position. Now, if we could make it so that our poor choices cost us more and our good habits save money, then we would have a chance.

December 24, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.

Talk(something or other):

Let me try to answer your questions one by one...I don't know what stories you read about people coming to the US, so I don't know from what nation or for what reasons they might be coming. But did you know Sarah Palin went to Canada for medical care? That is a verifiable story. Did you know Angelina Jolie went to Namibia for the birth of her children? That made the news as well. Travel to obtain medical care can occur for numerous reasons, none of which reflect directly upon the quality of overall care in a given nation. But a look at a study showed me that somewhere around a million US citizens went abroad for medical care, while less than 100,000 came to the US. US abroadAnd more

Care to relate anything specific about your stories, so they can be examined?

As for wait times, I don't know that they are liars, again, you have provided almost no information to us to consider, just a bare complaint, with your only factual claim being about something in the US. What does that mean? Not much, when you consider that you would probably not talk to those who have no reason to gripe. If you want to look up actual comparisons though, I can provide another link. comparisons of wait times

In regards the stomach tumor issue, who was the patient? How old were they? What concerns did they bring to their doctor? You are expecting us to believe it was a terrible tragedy directly attributed to the VA and its conduct. But why? People die of cancer. There are times it cannot be treated or cured, or when a person just does not want to go through with the bother. Or when a patient doesn't explain to the doctor the extent of their problems. If you want to complain about the VA, then why don't you explain why it has a satisfaction rate higher than the private sector? announcement of their performance Don't just give us a story that is incomplete at best, and at worst, an outright and deliberate fraud. And even then, you'll have to consider the many instances of private medical mistakes that you can see advertised about on television.

As for why people in the US don't emigrate, some actually do, when it suits them. Just like some people come to the US. Which is not a complete unmitigated hellhole despite the best efforts of certain persons who want us all to suffer in the muck since that's apparently character building. And of course, people do emigrate from third-world countries to places in Europe as well, or to Australia. You may think of that what you will.

December 25, 2011 at 9:46 a.m.

Rolando, you're confused about something. The young people are not going to the emergency rooms for emergency care. They go for what is generally non-emergency care, but instead rather routine treatment.

Or when they do go, it's for costly and invasive emergency care that could have been prevented had they accessed medical care before it became too large to ignore. This is especially true when it comes to premature births, and while you might be able to callously declare an adult should suffer their fate without qualm, I do not think you will find much support were you to apply that to an infant child.

By the way, if you want to save some money, you might try the French records system, which eliminates a lot of wasted paper to put things up electronically. A sufficiently developed system might even work to solve the purported problem with voter fraud in a more cost effective way since the identification system would involve biometrics as well.

December 25, 2011 at 9:59 a.m.
AliceSmith said...

The NHS is by far the most egalitarian institution in the country. And as with most things that are free at point of access, so many now take it for granted and treat it with such contempt that one fears for its future. The dangerous push by politicians and vested interest to turn healthcare into a consumer product will trivialise demand to such an extent that it may become unsustainable as a public funded service. Its longterm future requires a certain level of responsibilty on the part of its users and by implication society at large. As an illustration, there are now more and more people becoming overweight because of poor diet and lack of physical activity who then apply for payday loans and go to NHS for expensive drugs or surgery to reduce weight often with less satisfactory outcome. The cost of catering for these lifestyle related maladies is what will eventually bankrupt the NHS if there in no comparative push to demand 'healthy lifestyle' as a responsibility for the right to use the service. While people are entitled to seek perfection, it is not realistic or desirable that every imperfection must be treated because it is collectively paid for.

March 6, 2012 at 2:40 a.m.
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