Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Trouble with Nationalized Health Care

On Thursday I posted about a report on the deficiencies of the much vaunted Canadian national health system.

To everyone’s shock and surprise, Canadian women who are suffering from ovarian or breast cancer are forced to delay surgery for a dangerously long period of time.

The problem is not unique to Canada. All of the great nationalized health care systems in Europe have dangerously long waiting periods for doctor’s appointments, and for both minor and major surgical procedures.

Universal health insurance does not equate to universal health care. On the contrary the more health care is controlled by government the less care is available.

Still, Europeans are proud of their health care systems. They believe that it shows them to be caring and compassionate peoples.

If caring and compassionate means having health insurance, they are right. If caring and compassionate means receiving high quality health care, they are wrong.

For all the gnashing of teeth about the inequities of American health care, for now, at least, Americans have the best access to timely health care.

Scott Atlas outlines the data in an excellent column. He concludes:

From the facts, Americans enjoy unrivalled access to health care— whether defined by access to screening; wait-times for diagnosis, treatment, or specialists; timeliness of surgery; or availability of technology and drugs. And, gradually, Europeans are circumventing their systems. Half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago. Almost two-thirds of Brits earning more than $78,700 have done the same. But what might really surprise those who assert the excellence of nationalized insurance systems is that throughout Europe, from Britain to Denmark to Sweden, when faced with their inability to deliver timely access, the government’s solution is increasingly to enable access to private health care.

It’s good to be forewarned, even if it’s a little late to be forearmed.

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