We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

He [Michael Moore] travels to London to show off the beauty and brilliance of the British National Health Service. He talks to an unstressed doctor who has a four bedroom house in Greenwich and a £100,000 salary from the NHS. He films empty waiting rooms and happy, care-free health workers. He even talks to Tony Benn about how this wonderful marvel came into existence in 1948.

What he hasn’t done is lie in a corridor all night at the Royal Free watching his severed toe disintegrate in a plastic cup of melted ice. I have.

- James Christopher, reviewing Michael Moore’s film Sicko in the Times.

51 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Phil A

    Sounds like Mr Moore is busy constructing a celluloid (or possibly digital video these days) Potemkin village.

  • Empty waiting rooms? WHAT THE FUCK? Last time I went to A&E, I sat there for six fucking hours before someone glued me back together! It took me MONTHS to get a very simple straightforward op! Moore is a filthy stinking liar. Having just emerged a few days ago from the NHS production line, sent home with hopelessly inadequate painkillers after a make up for an inadequate earlier op, incorrect discharge details, not given any advise whatsofuckingever on how to manage my problems and after care etc., I have a great urge to smash Moore fat face in with my fist and then send his battered carcass into the MRSA infested wards of an NHS hospital.

    Yes, I am feeling a little irritable at the moment.

  • J

    Moore teaches us an important lesson – that you do not need to tell lies in order to mislead. Telling partial truths is both more powerful and more legal.

    I thought Bowling for Columbine was a well executed bit of polemic. I thought Fahrenheit 911 was a smug diatribe with far too many cheap shots. We’ll have to see what Sicko is like, although I suspect closer to 911 in style.

    It is a pity that Moore is so ready and willing to sink to the same level as his targets. But his choice of targets ensures that even he can’t sink lower than them.

  • It is a pity that Moore is so ready and willing to sink to the same level as his targets. But his choice of targets ensures that even he can’t sink lower than them.

    I beg to differ.

  • Moore has a very clear and well publicised agenda. He is not a journalist, commentator or documentary maker, despite his claims to the contrary. Rather he produces leftist, statist propaganda which sells well to the unthinking masses of sheeple.

    As much there are things to criticise in the US and UK health care systems and lessons both can learn from each other I doubt that Moore’s penchant for deceptive editing, misrepresentation and illogical arguments will be of any use.

  • But at least we found those Iraqi WMDs…

    Moore is a leftist.. O’Lielly, Limpburgher are rightists and the majority of people never cease to amaze me by their gullibility to believe that which they want to hear. I think J and James are spot on…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I thought Bowling for Columbine was a well executed bit of polemic

    That is about the best that can be said of it. It certainly had a very loose basis in fact.

  • chip

    Moore also lauds the Canadian system, the only truly socialist system in the Western world. When Canadian journalists grilled him on his failure to mention the exceedingly long waiting lists here (my appointment with a rheumatologist is scheduled for September) he explained it as because Canadians live longer than Americans so they put more pressure on the system.

    Moore is for people who can’t think.

  • Rob

    Perry,
    May I recommend going private. I have an insurance policy which covers me and my wife and family of four children for a little over £1,000 per anum. It’s the last ‘luxury’ I would give up.

  • Jacob

    Rather he produces leftist, statist propaganda which sells well to the unthinking masses of sheeple.

    Moore is also an entrepreneur. He has identified a lucrative market and is making a bundle.

  • J

    Moore is for people who can’t think.

    Most of those who take him seriously can think but choose not to, which is worse. Others see him for what he is but find his brand of sophistry entertaining when it coincides with what they already believe.

  • Julian Taylor

    I have yet to see any hospital, even a state-of-the-art private one devoid of queues and full of smiling happy doctors and nurses. Perhaps viewers of Mr Moore’s latest work might want to borrow the same special rose-tinted glasses he views his ideal little world through. I dowonder which Potemkin NHS Trust Hospital was used for Mr Moore’s fantasy care regime though. As for his extolling the virtues of the Cuban NHS I am minded to send him a copy of Annie Nightingale’s memoir on her treatment in a Cuban A&E ward, following her hip being smashed by 2 muggers with a crowbar; basically it involved her lying in agony on a slab for 12 hours until a hospital jet could be given permission to collect her from Havana and travel to a real hospital.

    I have a private healthcare policy in the UK and am likewise in a state of anger remarkably similar to Perry’s, although certainly not in the same state of pain, since I recently found they had excluded cancer treatment beyond standard NHS from the policy. Discovering that the private policy was therefore in effect just a queue-jumper for the basic NHS treatment I have had to shell out no small amount of cash to pay for a very advanced and specialised course of CD-4 (T-Helper Cells) immunophenotype stabilisation.

  • Brad

    The only difference I can see between either system of healthcare, is whose toe is rotting in the cup. Under one system, it’s the unfortunate bastard who can’t pay, and in the other it’s the next guy in line.

    All an egalatarian forms of health care does is strip off the ability to pay as an argument and makes sure that the misery inflicted by rationed healthcare hits everyone regardless (except the super elite of course).

  • “Under one system, it’s the unfortunate bastard who can’t pay, and in the other it’s the next guy in line.”

    I suppose we should dub that the “lump of healthcare” fallacy.

  • Sigivald

    J: In all I’ve seen, Moore sinks far lower than his targets, who are usually relatively decent people who simply don’t agree with him (CF. especially his abuse and effective slander of Charlton Heston.)

    Dave1: You might find your rants taken more seriously if you didn’t resort to precious name-manipulation. That is, if your goal is more than just self-congratulation and preaching to the choir.

  • Midwesterner

    Robert Scarth, if only it was a fallacy.

    Under both systems there is a violently (like, cops come for people with guns drawn if necessary) enforced monopoly viciously attacking any competition for its customers. If you doubt this, just try hanging out your sign and offering medical services to the public. You’ll be out of commission faster than a scab at a NY Teamsters strike. This is regardless of your education or ability. You could be a world famous researcher who literally ‘wrote the book’ on some particular condition, but without an approved frontman, you are a criminal if you don’t deal through the medical mafia.

    And the medical extortion industry is a lot more clever than mere Teamsters. Medical ‘care’ is enforced by bureaucrats with cops.

    This is a piece of meta-context that desperately needs changing. Doctors know as much about health as lawyers know about justice. All we need for medical regulation is enforcement of truth in advertising. For example, when somebody claims they meet certain conditions, are approved by certain associations, and have a particular track record, it must be true. Anything more than that is grounds for a RICO charge.

  • J,

    Bowling for Columbine was not just a well executed polemic. It used techniqes of lying that one associates with the Soviets. For instance in order to discredit Charlton Heston Moore spliced several separate film clips of him together so that “sentences are assembled in the speaker’s voice, but which were not sentences he uttered.” And which of course, made him look bad.

    See David T Hardy’s expose.

    Returning to Sicko , I wonder how this will play in Britain. Most people, it is true, retain an atavistic tribal loyalty to the NHS command economy. However everyone in Britain either has a waited-five-hours-with-a-broken leg story or has heard one first-hand from a friend or a relative. Unlike the case of Moore’s portrayal of idyllic kite flyers in Saddam’s Iraq there is a large constituency of English-speaking people with direct contradictory experience.

  • I have an American friend who was almost killed by the NHS when studying in Britain. (They failed to diagnose acute appendicitis. His appendix burst. They then had to remove most of his intestines, which made his life unpleasant for a couple of years). He will tell everyone who will listen how much better American healthcare is than British healthcare. He and his family and friends are probably in the middle of the demographic that Michael Moore is aiming at. I rather wonder even how many Americans have heard stories like his about Btritish healthcare, and how they will react on seeing Moore’s film. There are plenty of legitimate things to criticise about American healthcare (it is too expensive, it is overly bureaucratic, too many people indeed do lack access to it, even if the real number probably is a good deal less than Michael Moore claims) but explaining how Britain’s state healthcare system is so much better is testing even the extremely credulous, I suspect

  • David

    Some of the comments betray an amazing ignorance of U.S. health care. Here are a few pieces of information:

    1. Having a toe reattached falls under the emergency care criteria of “Life, Limb or Eye Sight” which is mandated by law for all people. In other words, all emergency rooms or trauma centers will treat for those conditions regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. The downside is a person without insurance will typically wait in line for treatment.

    2. The benefits of having insurance allows a person to:
    a. be treated quickly.
    b. QUICKLY get treatment not available to most humans 50 years ago, such cancer treatments, hip replacements, heart transplants, etc.

    3. People without insurance in the U.S. (50 million) gets NHS level treatment. Those with insurance (250 million) get a far higher level of care.

    4. Those 50 million Americans without health care include both the impoverished, the ignorant and the young and healthy. In other words, how many of those 50 million Americans don’t have health care as a matter of necessity rather than as a personal analysis of the risk they are willing to accept? I sure don’t know and nothing I’ve seen breaks out those statistical categories.

    Finally, a personal anecdote. My four year old daughter fell off our backyard swing set two weeks ago trying to imitate her older brother. My wife and I took her to the local pediatric emergency room. Our town has about 200,000 people. Total time from our arrival to our discharge was two and a half hours. The x-ray technician brought a portable machine to my daughter’s bedside. We left the hospital with a $700 bill and a temp cast (needing to be replaced within a few days after the swelling subsided). The hospital also gave us the three x-rays to allow us to show our selected pediatrian, and a lolipop for my daughter. Two days later, our pediatrician replaced the temp cast with a pink one. Then he made a butterfly out of the spare cloth and put it on her cast. My daughter loves it. By the way, did I mention two and a half hours from arrival to discharge at the dedicated pediatric emergency room? My insurance will pay for the entire visit, but I would have willingly paid the $700 myself and the hospital would have treated her for free, by law, if I had been unable to pay. God bless the American health care system and its pretty pink casts for four year old girls.

  • Perry,

    Only six hours? You lucky bastard. My wife waited twelve hours last time she was in A&E, with life-threateningly bad pneumonia (which in turn had arisen from earlier NHS incompetence in treating pulmonory embolism, which in turn had arisen from earlier NHS incompetence in handling her pregnancy), and that was a pre-arranged admission.

    Hope you’re OK.

  • Midwesterner

    Don’t be fooled by David’s comment.

    I have been insured and I am currently uninsured.

    While insured, I had well over a dozen reconstructive surguries for injuries sustained in an auto accident. I had outstanding care by competent and caring professionals. But David is not telling you something.

    Once a provider finds out that you don’t have insurance, (which they ask before they let you tell them anything else) they have a very strong incentive to not find anything seriously wrong. By US law, they are on the hook for your care and finding anything seriously wrong is bad for them financially. But we all know that no major corporation would ever incentivize their staff to provide different care for different payments, would they?

    Also unmentioned, it can be almost impossible for an uninsured person to purchase diagnostics for cash. Because of the risk they assume when they diagnose an uninsured patient, you might find it easier rent a new Mercedes for cash without an ID. I was once unable to purchase a simple PSA test. Not officially refused. But I requested a routine prostate exam and during the exam he refused to give the standard PSA test. If I had made enough of a threat about it he would have claimed a misunderstanding and offered to schedule another appointment. When I got his bill for the exam, it came out to one dollar for every six seconds he was in the room. I was making minimum wage in a part time job. He had wasted a week or two of my income and it would cost at least that much again to have him do it right. There is not squat you can do about this unless you want to go legal on them. Like you stand a chance!

    Also, if you do claim any emergency service, true, it may be provided. But from that point your assets, if you have any, are at risk. The law says they must treat you, but then you risk losing what little you have. If you don’t pay up for the ‘NHS level’ service that David (above) would have you believe is free, they sell your bill at a discount to a credit collection agency who will do whatever they can to make the collection. And another twist? The insurance companies get big discounts. You don’t. You are paying more than the insurances companies do for that ‘NHS level’ service!

    The best doctor I’ve seen since I lost my insurance was an uninsured doctor in one of the states that allows them to continue practicing. He said most of his business was migrant workers. So if what David says is true, why would the migrants be going to an uninsured doctor with an office off of his dining room when they could be getting ‘real’ medical care from one of those shiny hospitals?

    (I won’t even go into my brother in law’s case. In a nutshell, my sister had to drive him four states back to his approved provider with an extremely serious and permanently disabling fracture. He developed pulmonary embolisms as a result of that trip. The reason for denial of service? He entered without following the very strict procedures and was disqualified for coverage. They would have made him pay for an entire series of operations out of pocket. He looked at his family’s future and they chose to drive it.)

    I suspect David may be a shill.

  • ResidentAlien

    The US healthcare systems stinks because it is not a free market. The NHS stinks for the same reason.

  • Daveon

    I’ve gone to ER in the UK and waited 4 hours, I’ve gone to ER in the UK and been seen for a non-emergency straight away. I’ve gone to ER in the US and been waiting 4 hours, and I’ve been seen straight away (I was having analphatic shock at the time, which probably would have got me into a UK ER pretty quick too).

    Its a bit of a lottery in the UK and US. I’ve friends in the US who feel they’ve been “stung” for tens of thousands of dollars in un-necessary treatments, and people who’ve had long waits for healthcare in the UK.

    OTOH, where my mother lives she got her Gall Blader removed pretty much on demand and her Doctor has told her that when she wants to, he’ll get her in to have a cataract done, on her own timetable. For the Gall Blader (Welwyn Garden City I think), she was out in 24 hours and eating a curry, which amazed me.

    I’ve just experienced my first interaction with a US GP service and I’ll be honest my NHS GP in Ealing was better. Part of the problem is the interaction between the GP and the pharmacy for prescriptions. Basically under our company plan you can’t get more than a month’s supply of any drug because they want a monthly copay, unless that is, you want to pay the entire cost of the drugs yourself.

    For my wife’s alergy meds that’s a pain, for her contraception its meant we’ve decided to alter our contraception methodology.

    On balance, I’d personally rather live under a universal system with private top up cover.

  • Terry Wrist

    So, how are those anger management classes going?

  • Terry Wrist

    So, how are those anger management classes going?

  • llamas

    I will now tell my headache story. Again.

    A few years ago, I was travelling alone in the wildest parts of Wyoming. And I got a headache. A dreadful headache. I thought I was going to die. I could drive for about 10 minutes at a time, then had to stop and sweat it out for a while before driving another 10 minutes. In this manner, I finally made it to the community hospital in Newcastle, WY, a town so minor that it shares its one horse with the next town over. This hospital serves an area of a couple of thousand square miles, and has perhaps 10 beds. I dragged my sorry ass in the front door, slapped my health insurance card on the counter and said ‘fix me, or shoot me, but do it soon, because I want to die.’

    They fixed my immediate problem in exactly 10 minutes, by shooting my ass full of something wonderful called Toradol. This was 20 years ago, but I still recall the name. In 15 minutes, I was ready to wrestle tigers. But, they said, we’re not letting you go. We think you just have altitude sickness, from driving here too fast from the flatlands and going too high in the mountains. But your symptoms were bad enough that it might be something worse, like an aneurysm. You need an MRI.

    I laughed a gay laugh. An MRI machine? In Newcastle, WY? I know for sure you don’t have one of THOSE!

    That’s right, they said, but there’s one in Gillette, which is 90 minutes away. The ambulance will be here in 10 minutes.

    And it was. Crewed by volunteers (a schoolteacher and a homemaker), and they took me to the Campbell County Hospital in Gillette, WY, and they MRI’d me in 30 minutes, gave me a clean bill of health, and sent me on my way. I took the ambulance crew to dinner on the strength of it. My total time, door-to-door – 5 hours.

    This was in one of the most remote parts of the lower 48, where population densities are measured in fractions of a person per square mile – and yet this level of health care was instantly available. Is it like that in the UK? If I had gotten that sick in Dunvegan, or on Tresco – how long would I have to wait for an MRI?

    Don’t bother to answer. I’ve lived under the NHS – I know the answer. And I’ll take the US system – warts and all – any day. And I’ll bet that if, God forbid, Michael Moore’s wife, or his daughter, gets sick, that he will, too.

    llater,

    llamas

  • On balance, I’d personally rather live under a universal system with private top up cover.

    Fine, I just do not want to have to as well.

    So, how are those anger management classes going?

    Classes? Who needs classes? All I need is painkillers.

  • nicholas gray

    I come to praise Moore, not to bury him. He has proved that you are what you eat. He has been eating the rich alive for years, and now he is RICH!!! I would not want to eat him myself (too fat and sweet), but he is living the American dream/nightmare.
    In some ways he reminds me of Pilger, John Pilger, an Australian ‘documentarian’ who dramatizes things by taking them out of context. About a decade ago, when talking about Aborigines, he mentioned that the new Coalition Government had slashed the budget for Aborigines. He did NOT mention that the Coalition had slashed all budgets as part of an austerity drive (which served us well in the 1997 meltdown in Asia). Moore is a lot like that. As for Moore, less is better!

  • Worrierking

    Those 50 million Americans without health care include both the impoverished, the ignorant and the young and healthy. In other words, how many of those 50 million Americans don’t have health care as a matter of necessity rather than as a personal analysis of the risk they are willing to accept? I sure don’t know and nothing I’ve seen breaks out those statistical categories.

    A substantial number of the 50 million (do you really believe this number or is it exaggerated?) are people who elect to forego coverage, usually temporarily. When a person changes jobs, it is typically 90 days from the date of hire until insurance begins. Many people elect to not pay for their coverage during this time frame. People who lose their jobs and take considerable time finding a new one may be without coverage for a few more months. These are typically young, healthy people who are taking a risk. Usually it’s a good risk to take financially, as they are relatively healthy and the prospect of a financially ruinous medical situation is extremely remote. The 50 million figure incorporates many millions of these people. The 50 million has a high rate of change within it. Many are not permanently uninsured.

  • llamas

    Worrieking wrote:

    ‘A substantial number of the 50 million (do you really believe this number or is it exaggerated?) are people who elect to forego coverage, . . . ‘

    Dam’ straight.

    In the very next cubicle sits a perfect example. 26 years old, 3 years on the job, unmarried, no responsibilities.

    He chose the ‘no coverage’ option in our health-care cafeteria plan. This puts about $550 a month right into his paycheck. He buys his own high-deductible catastrophic-coverage insurance for about $100 a month – this covers him so that a skiing accident or bungee-jumping disaster doesn’t wipe him out. Catastrophic injuries from an auto accident are already covered in his auto insurance. He puts the balance into his 401k and his tax-deductible HSA, which he uses for dental. This gets him to the company-match threshold on his 401k, which earns him more free money in tax-free savings.

    Wouldn’t you? I would. Maybe when he marries and has kids, things will change, but right now, he’d be an idiot to buy ocean-going fur-lined health insurance. The kid can do math and he understands actuarial tables, and this is his smartest move right now.

    He;s not all of that 50 million – or whatever the latest ever-increasing number is – but he’s a part of it. He says that lots of his contemporaries do much-the-same thing, and tax-free provisions like 401k and HSAs are a big reason why.

    llater,

    llamas

  • JWK

    llamas,

    does your coworker really count as “uninsured” (i.e. part of the 50 million statistic) since he has a catastrophic-coverage policy? Does that oft-quoted statistic include only those who have no health insurance whatsoever?

  • Thomas

    I have yet to see any hospital, even a state-of-the-art private one devoid of queues and full of smiling happy doctors and nurses.

    Julian,

    I call your attention to Christiana hospital in Newark DE, USA, where I recently underwent mitral valve repair. The place ran like clockwork, everyone was courteous, prompt and knew what they were about. I arrived at 6AM, was in the waiting room perhaps 20 minutes, they called me, I stepped on the scale, filled out some forms, repeated my name and serial number a few times, and – OK, we’re going! It was off to the OR. Bing, bing. About the post-op care I can truthfully assert that my own mother could not have taken better care of me. I was out in five days.

    The only screw-up came at discharge when it turned out my insurance company – of course – had forgot to add me to their prescription drug database. To avoid delays I paid cash – $25 for a one-month supply of blood pressure medication.

    I don’t remember any queues, anywhere. I hadn’t thought of it before, but the doctors and nurses were pretty much all smiles when they weren’t concentrating on something. I would have been concerned if the nurse had been smiling broadly when injecting the morphine.

    Everyone at the hospital was courteous, kind, considerate, well-informed, prompt, efficient and above all competent. Anyone in the mid-Atlantic region needing heart care should check them out.

    Ditto to what llama said about the 50 million. All that talk about x number of uninsured people is just a rhetorical dodge to remove individual choice from consideration and change the subject from what choices individuals will make for themselves to what choices the state will make for them.

  • My son was having headaches a couple of years ago. The Physicians Assistant at the doctor’s office spotted something hinky in his reactions and recommended a CAT Scan. We went to the hospital, were taken right in, and had the procedure completed and the results within 45 minutes.

    Imagine waiting weeks for your child to get a CAT Scan under the Canadian system? Or under HillaryCare.

  • Paul Marks

    B. of D. was indeed a tissue of lies – but Mr Moore got away with it because the media let him.

    The example of Fox News (the home of Bill O’ Reilly – who is not very “rightwing” by the way, he is anti capital punishement, pro some of the “gun control” stuff, thinks the New Deal was wonderful and is pro J.F.K. and some, although not all, of the 1960′s stuff) is instructive.

    Yes there was some pointing at the trip to Cuba – but the review of “Sicko” on the Fox news website was favourable – all about how good the Cuban medical care was and the horrors that Mr Moore allowed American “victims” to expose about the insurance companies and other such in the United States.

    Not even Fox pointed to the fact that the Cuban medical system is a fraud, that (in reality) if an ordinary person does not pay bribes he has little chance of good treament (and even if he does pay bribes he can not rely on it).

    But the basic problem is that no one on the “mainstream right” will talk about the real reasons that American medical care is expensive.

    These are – subsidies and regulations.

    Subsidies.

    In 1965 Medicare and Medicaid cost (together) 5 billion Dollars – now they cost hundreds of billions of Dollars. These subsidies (and the “free” E.R. rooms and so on) have a knock on effect of forcing up private costs – just as the government subsidies for higher education have the knock on effect of forcing up higher education costs.

    (try “working your way through college” now – the fees have gone up many times more than inflation, BECAUSE OF THE SUBSIDIES).

    Regulations.

    Many decades after the late Milton Friedman expossed the harm that such things as the F.D.A. and doctor licensing do – how they do not “protect the consumer” but (on the contrary) harm the consumer with higher costs and (in some ways) lower quality care, these things are still unattacked.

    And today the insurance companies and H.M.O.s are covered by a vast web of Federal, State and local regulations (all to “protect the consumer”) that force costs through the roof.

    Yet when the left denounce American medical care for being expensive the mainstream Republicans say nothing (other than making the point about tort law costs) or, like Mitt Romney, they actually go along with the left.

    Freedom does not decline because of some evil magic spell – freedom declines because very few people will take any risks to defend or advance it.

  • Sigivald,

    Valid point, although I generally try to let intellectual masterbation remain the domain of those with hairy palms and neurons. As for my examples, I don’t know if you live in the states of but those two I refered to are prime examples of todays corporate driven infotainment and yellow journalism. I really hate them as icons of the state run media we’ve been experiencing here for the last 6 years.

  • Worrierking

    does your coworker really count as “uninsured” (i.e. part of the 50 million statistic) since he has a catastrophic-coverage policy? Does that oft-quoted statistic include only those who have no health insurance whatsoever?

    He probably does not count. Others who elect not to have any coverage are counted. About ten years ago my wife changed jobs and elected not to take the COBRA coverage during the three-month waiting period for her coverage to kick in at the new job. Somehow, the word got out in the government and in advocacy groups that she was uninsured, as we received numerous calls and letters from different agencies, both private and public, offering to help and doing surveys about her status as being “uninsured.” It was kind of creepy. It didn’t happen in any of the other occasions when we have changed jobs and elected to forego COBRA coverage.

  • Midwesterner

    According to this study, published in the journal Health Affairs, and reviewed in the WSJ, hospitals are only collecting 39% of what they bill to uninsured patients. Wow! We uninsured are ripping you insured people off, aren’t we?

    Not exactly. We, the uninsured are being billed at 2 1/2 times the price of you insured people, and at over 3 times what Medicare pays!

    That means that even at the 39% payment rate, hospitals are successfully collecting 97.5% of the amounts they collect from insurance companies and almost 20% more from the uninsured than they collect from Medicare. This is including the people that don’t pay anything!

    Anderson found that hospitals have been raising their list prices an average of 10.7% a year since the mid-1980s; Medicare rates – a proxy for actual costs – have gone up more slowly, at about 6.3%.

    So, something that cost 100 dollars in 1986 now costs Medicare ~320 dollars. But it costs uninsured customers ~763 dollars. And we were already being overcharged back then.

  • Fred Thompson, who is set to join the race for the Rep. nomination, recently wrote on the Cuban health care system. Michael More wrote him an open letter challenging him to a debate. Here is Fred’s response, priceless.

  • Sunfish

    Once upon a time, Mrs. Sunfish was diagnosed with a recurrence of Stage III melanoma established in her lymphatic system. The treatment was a combination of drugs and surgery.

    From the time she found the lump to the biopsy that conclusively id’ed the lump as melanoma was about two weeks. Identification to the beginning of treatment was about two weeks.

    The treatment consisted of an aggressive drug combination, followed by surgery, followed by the same drugs again. Based upon my internet research, the UK NHS doesn’t offer two of those drugs at all under any circumstances, and two are available but not for melanoma, and NONE of the treatment would have happened within six months of finding the lump. Patients die in six months without treatment. And for what it’s worth, at least one of the drugs is also not available on the private market either, as far as I can find.

    So maybe our system costs too much and not everygone gets what he needs. It still beats the crap out of nobody at all getting what they need because someone can’t afford it. I’d like to have the entire world get everything they need. I’d also like to weigh 20# less, be rich, and have sex with Halle Berry twice a day. I think we all know the odds.

    Michael Moore would sentence Mrs. Sunfish to death to advance his wet dream. I can’t help but share Perry’s assessment of that contemptible prick.

  • Sunfish

    I meant to say that the drug was not available on the UK private market. Obviously (and thankfully) all five were readily available in the USA.

  • Daveon

    Fine, I just do not want to have to as well.

    What interests me is these discussions often devolve into the US v. UK (with a side order of Canadian) – the German, French, Japanese and other industrial nation’s healthcare systems rarely get mentioned at all.

  • Wil Cruz

    Midwestern
    I am currently working in a medium sized hospital in Chi-town as a RN and while I agree in what you had posted , it’s not a complete picture . The problem with american health care right now is not insurance( it never was to begin with) , it’s a bunch of problems like over the top lawsuits , government and insurance bureaucracies as well as regulations , politics and the lack of competition among hospital providers created the atmosphere of covering your ass attitude as well as the situation you had described above ,overcharging the patients , insurance and government to recoup the losses the hospitals accrued in doing business and somehow make a profit .

    I think the first thing the government should do to stymie and reverse the rising cost of health care it this , let the free market take the lead in making it not only cheaper , but also the quality that the health care industry provides will improve year after year . The second important thing congress needs to do is reform tort laws so hospitals and medical centers won’t be paying an ungodly premium on malpractice insurance . It would also significantly reduce the cost of malpractice insurance that doctors pay every year to insurance companies . The third one should be , do away with inane government regulations that hampers the health care industry . People who work in hospitals , pharmaceutical firms , medical manufacturers and Nursing homes know what they are . Fourth , encourage hospitals to make an honest to goodness profit instead of gouging customers , the government and insurance companies for ways to earn a dollar to their bottom line .
    And the most important thing of all , politicians and their politics should stay out of health care because they are the ones who cause problems on the first place by creating feel good laws and regulations that have mostly nothing to do with health care , but only with their political status .

  • Somebody mentioned a £1000 pa health insurance policy;
    I have a cheap policy from an American provider, which isn’t so much medical as ‘disaster’ cover.
    For £12 pm I am entitled to £100000 for serious illness.
    I started when I was a (worried) smoker, on the basis that if I contracted a terminal disease, I would blow the money of travel to America, fast cars and sperm donation.

  • Others have already said it, but I’ll repeat if for good effect: NHS or no NHS, medicine will always be expensive and in short supply whilst the Doctors maintain their state-enforced monopoly. This is true in the UK and the US and almost everywhere else.

    By artificially restricting the supply of medical care and relief, the medical closed shop has caused far more misery in the last century than the most militant unions ever did. It is an immoral abomination.

  • Yup, it does bear repeating Charles. Until there is a real free market in medical care, one should not be surprised that is is both expensive and less effective than it should be at our level of technology.

  • Worrierking

    Apparently Wal Mart and some of the major drug-store chains in the US are trying to establish clinics to provide some basic health care in their stores. Predictably, the big health care lobby is fighting it and seeking greater regulation by the government:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5b301a64-093c-11dc-a349-000b5df10621.html

    This seems to me to be an excellent first step in some market reforms of the US system.

  • Worrierking: thanks for the link – excellent news. The money quote (not the only one):

    Dr Rodney Osborn, president of the Illinois State Medical Society, said: “This is a brand new animal. That’s why we believe legislation is important to guarantee patient safety … They’re not putting these things in to provide healthcare; these people are businessmen.”

    Ouch, the Big Bad B word!

  • ian

    In view of some of the comments above, this (Link)from teh LA Times seems apposite.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes ian – government hospitals are at least as bad in the United States as they are here.

    However, that is not the conculsion that the L.A. Times of Mr Moore are likely to draw.

    They are more likely to say that the hospital should have its “Federal funding” restored (no matter how many blunders it makes) and should have yet more local and State funding.

    And (of course) Mr Moore would say that there should not be any non government hospitals at all (certianly no for profit ones).

    So everyone would end up in a hospital like this.

  • Perry –

    Last time I went to A&E, I sat there for six fucking hours before someone glued me back together! It took me MONTHS to get a very simple straightforward op!

    Really? Is that true? I’m suprised.

    When I accidentally stabbed myself between two fingers, severing a nerve, I was admitted straight into hospital for an immediate operation involving a general anaesthetic and nerve reattachment. That was followed by a few months of physio. My fingers are fine now, as I wish you could see from my gesticulation.

    So does my experience cancel out yours?

  • So does my experience cancel out yours?

    Why should it? I have better A&E treatment in Croatia, hardly most people’s idea of a first world nation. Perhaps you might like to crawl over Squander Two’s blog and read about his experiences with the NHS… I suspect he would quite like to offer you a nice Hundred Years War era gesture too.