About That Single-Payer Health Service

Not that I need to belabor the point, but any “free” government health service is going to cost you.  In almost every such case, it’s when Gummint decides that you’ve had enough.  Here’s one from Britain’s NHS:

A hero RAF rear gunner who evaded capture by the Nazis in 1942 after being shot down over Belgium has been told to sell his house to pay medical bills as he has ‘survived too long’.

(I have to warn you that if you read that whole story, you ought to remove all throwable objects and guns out of reach — and even more so for the next one.)

Over in oh-so caring Europe comes this horrifying story:

Dutch authorities are prosecuting a doctor for euthanising an elderly woman with dementia in the first case of its kind since the practice was legalised in 2002.
The doctor, who was not named, has been charged with secretly drugging the woman’s coffee with Dormicum to make her drowsy and asking her family to hold her down as she was lethally injected in a care home in The Hague in 2016.
Whilst the 74-year-old patient was receiving the lethal injection she woke up and began fighting the doctor.

(I should also point out that the Dutch doctor was a woman, which somehow just makes it worse.)

I know, I know:  “Oh, that could never happen over here in the U.S.” — until it does.  When to comes to money, every government will eventually resort to violence;  try to find someone who has ever dealt with the I.R.S. over an unpaid tax liability, and not felt threatened by the experience.  You won’t.

8 comments

  1. In IT I have often talked about the “iron triangle” when discussing new projects with clients. That triangle has “fast”, “good”, and “cheap” in the three corners. I would tell the client that they got to choose no more than two. In other words, “fast” and “good” wouldn’t be “cheap”, “fast” and “cheap” wouldn’t be “good”, and “good” and “cheap wouldn’t be “fast”.

    Healthcare seems to run on a similar fashion. There is “quality”, “affordability”, and “universality” and you get to pick two. (IIRC, I heard this from Ben Shapiro)

  2. I dunno, Kim. “Argument by horror story” might be effective when preaching to the choir but in an open debate all it does is prompt the people on the other side of the issue to trot out THEIR horror stories, and there are plenty of them (people forced into bankruptcy or forced to sell the family home to pay medical bills, people who die because preventive care was denied and by the time they showed symptoms it was too late to do anything, people who commit suicide so as to save their families from ruinous medical expenses, etc.)

    In truth, I think this argument’s already been lost. Obamacare created, in the minds of most Americans, the notion that guaranteeing health care is one of the responsibilities of the government (and IMO that is EXACTLY what it was intended to do.)

    Once you get people to buy into that, the ultimate destination is universal/socialized medicine, every time because there simply is no way to universally provide health care for everyone without it.

    We may not take EXACTLY the same path as Great Britain or Canada (in fact, we probably won’t) but we’ll get there, sooner or later.

  3. “Not that I need to belabor the point, but any “free” government health service is going to cost you. In almost every such case, it’s when Gummint decides that you’ve had enough.”

    I’m not one to defend the NHS, but the current systems in the UK are pretty clear. Note the Daily Mail article is incorrect, he is not being charged for medical care, but for nursing home fees. Mr Frost was determined by doctors to be end of life, and thus was able to get a short term funded place in a nursing home for palliative care (I think the funding is for 6 weeks). Having recovered against medical predictions, but still requiring residential nursing care he is expected to pay for this care if he has savings. Why should he be given free care at vast expense when he has the means to pay for it.

    While this may seem cruel, and is certainly unfair in that the feckless with no savings get free care, and creates unintended consequences (people get rid of money/assets as they get older to avoid paying) the situation here is that we have an elderly man who wants someone else to pay for his care, despite having the assets to do so himself. I don’t have much sympathy. One of the many problems with the NHS is that it has created an attitude amongst the British where they think that anything expensive should be paid for by the state rather than with their own money.

    Disclaimer: I work for the NHS in a clinical role. Given the chance I would abolish it immediately.

    1. “One of the many problems with the NHS is that it has created an attitude amongst the British where they think that anything expensive should be paid for by the state rather than with their own money.”

      As an American, all[1] I ever hear about NHS is about how great the free health care is. Why *shouldn’t* British people feel like the state should be paying for it?

      [1] except, obviously, the occasional story like this, or the one a few years ago about how NHS wasn’t going to pay for a fairly-expensive anti-macular degeneration drug until a person had already gone blind in one eye.

  4. The Dutch case is not because of there being euthenasia (it’s there, and it is often used on request of the patient, rather than having them suffer needlessly for another few days or weeks before they die badly.

    I’m glad it was there when my father requested it. He had always said he didn’t want to live in the condition they’d kept him in for 8 months before they finally consented to his desire to die.

    Then again sometimes it’s abused. This case is about whether it was abused or not. The patient had not long ago declared her wish to die, several times, but had a history of that and later retracting it.
    That’s the reason for this lawsuit.

    There was no lawsuit though when my mother was, the day after a diagnosis of terminal cancer, scheduled by the hospital for a consult with an “end of life councelor’, a person we discovered when investigating her (nobody’d told us what the consult was for) was a staunch advocate of killing anyone with a terminal condition and a psychologist specialising in talking people into accepting this.
    We canceled the consult on the spot and filed a complaint (which was ignored) against the hospital.

    1. “The patient had not long ago declared her wish to die, several times, but had a history of that and later retracting it.”

      It seems like the only equitable thing (or “least wrong”, if you prefer) would be to note that such a person should never be given the option of euthanasia.

      1. A written statement of your desire to be euthanised if specific conditions are met is typically required if the patient is determined to not be “of sound mind” to make a decision during consultations with his or her doctors (who will typically involve a psycholigist and/or psychiatrist to make that decision rather than do it themselves).

        I’m not sure if in this case such a statement existed. If it didn’t, protocol was broken.
        Which is the main reason they didn’t perform it on my father when he had a stroke and became pretty much a vegetable, the doctors on the scene didn’t think he was (with his damaged brain) capable of making the decision (despite him reiterating it several times a day for several weeks) and we couldn’t find the written statement we knew he had made up by an attorney several years prior just for that scenario but had failed to file with the hospital for some reason (probably forgot).

        So yes, typically they’re pretty careful about it and tend to err on the side of keeping a patient alive.

        This lawsuit is triggered by those procedures NOT being followed, casting doubt on the motivations of the next of kin and the professional behaviour of the doctor (a single doctor deciding this on her own is another thing that’s highly unusual, usually it’s brought up with several others who know the patient).

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