About That Wonderful Socialized Medicine.

If you ever get into a conversation with people on the subject of healthcare, those who support socialized healthcare will usually bring up several points. The first is that other countries have socialized health care. (Countries like England, for example.) The second point is that the US pays more for health care than other countries with no difference in outcome. (That’s demonstrably false, but that’s not the discussion for today.)

Years ago we heard the theory that while there is not one single cause of the difference in health care costs, (un-needed tests, lawsuits, etc.) one cause is often overlooked: “heath care now.”

Americans are a funny lot sometimes. We want what we want and what we paid for. Often – even in the case of health care – we want it now.

From the Guardian:

The number of A&E patients [Accident and Emergency patients] in England waiting on trolleys for more than four hours to be admitted has risen by over a third to the highest level since records began, prompting warnings that cash pledged by the government will not be enough to relieve the acute pressure on the NHS.

There were 57,694 patients waiting more than four hours from the decision to admit to admission last month, 35% higher than July last year, according to the latest NHS performance statistics, published on Thursday.

The number waiting on a trolley for more than 12 hours almost tripled from 149 to 436.

It is a fair statement to say that people wait in US emergency rooms as well.

The website ProPublica tracks the wait times in US emergencies as reported by law to the Federal Government. Not surprisingly, the wait times are nowhere near what England is experiencing. Yet at the bottom of ProPublica page there is a list of articles talking about how long Emergency Room waiting times are in the US and how they are too long.

Obviously, the authors have never been to England.

Americans want what they want and want it now.

Yet the figure that really caught our eye from the stats from England was this:

  • 4.4 million people waiting for operations in June, a record high.
  • The number and percentage of people waiting more than 18 weeks for planned non-urgent surgery at their highest levels in over a decade.
  • Almost 20,000 cancelled operations in the last quarter.
  • Continued failure to meet cancer treatment and referral targets.

The population of England is about 66 million people. Having 4.4 million people waiting for operations is roughly 1 in 12.

Extrapolating that out for the US, that would be almost 25.8 million people waiting for an operation.

That would be the populations of Florida (21.3 million) and Kentucky (4.47 million) combined.

A friend of ours is an ex-pat living over in the UK. A few years ago, she had an issue with her pacemaker. The doctors there told her the pacemaker would fail within 6 months. She went to schedule a replacement surgery and was told the earliest she could have the surgery was 8 months away. Obviously, that was a problem. She called across the pond to the doctor who had installed the original pacemaker here in the good ol’ USA. Two weeks later she was on a plane to the US where her pacemaker was replaced. She went home to the UK after that and is doing well.

Due to the issues, England is throwing money at the problem, and it is not likely to help the situation as much as one would hope:

Experts and unions acknowledged last month’s record-breaking hot weather contributed. But they said the figures illustrated the £1.8bn pledged this week to upgrade NHS infrastructure and equipment, would not be enough to turn around performance.

In other words, England is going to have to throw more money at the system – money that has to come from somewhere, such as the taxpayers’ pockets.

England has been having problems with the NHS for some time now. Doctors are walking out. Pay is low. Conditions are nowhere close to optimal yet England is a country that those who think socialized medicine works point to as a “success.”

It’s not.

What’s the ol’ saying? You can have it fast, cheap or good. Pick two.”

England is finding out how true that statement is.

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