Saturday, July 28, 2012

London Olympics: A Celebration of Socialized Medicine?

Only an idiot or a far left liberal would have inserted Britain's health care system into the Olympic's Opening Ceremony.  But, Danny Boyle, the very liberal producer of that very odd Opening Ceremony, did just that.  Britain's system of socialized medicine is nothing to be proud of.  It literally takes weeks to see a specialist.  Because of that, the death rate for cancer and heart attack victims is the highest in the Western world.   Emergency room waits, following an emergency or accident, can take hours.

Maybe the Brits should think about socialized mortuary and burial services with that kind of record.

Lastly, the Olympics should not be some kind of platform for politics. Didn't the world get enough of that when Nazi Germany hosted the Berlin Olympics of 1936?


A celebration of free healthcare, the trade union struggle, the battle for women's rights and a fleeting lesbian kiss: the Olympics opening ceremony Friday did not shy away from weighty social issues:

UK cancer survival rates 'the worst in the Western world':

Britain, the sick man of Europe: Heart and cancer survival rates among worst in developed world:

NHS waiting lists: how long are patients waiting?  New data journalism shows exactly how much worse NHS waiting times have got:


Sam UK said...

Britain ranks above the U.S. in most health measurements. Its citizens have a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality, and the country has more acute-care hospital beds per capita and fewer deaths related to surgical or medical mishaps. Britain achieves these results while spending proportionally less on health care than the U.S. — about $2,500 per person in Britain, compared with $6,000 in the U.S. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Britain 18th in a global league table of health-care systems (the U.S. was ranked 37th).

Source: Time Magazine

Cranky George said...

This from a previous blog of mine:

much of our lower life expectancy has to do with the fact that, in the U.S., doctor's are better able to deliver nearly twice as many "live" premature babies (on a per capita basis) than in Europe. But, premature babies are at a high risk of death after being born. As a consequence, the U.S. has nearly 3 times the amount of infant deaths than Europe. (Click here to See Story: Premature Births Are Fueling Higher Rates of Infant Mortality in U.S., Report Says ). Additionally, our life expectancy is lower in this country due to the high number of violent deaths; especially for those dying under 30 years of age which greatly skews the statistics. And, lastly, we have an obesity problem in America which leads to many health problems and an increase in premature deaths.

In my opinion, there is only "one" true statistic that proves we have better health care in this country than in Europe; and, that statistic is the cancer survivability rate. For example, in Europe, the overall cancer survival rate for men is 47.3%. But, in the U.S. that rate is 40% higher with a survivability rate of 66.3%. Woman also have higher survivability rates for cancer; but not as significantly. In the U.S., the average woman will survive 62.9% versus only 55.8% in Europe. (Click here to See Story: Cancer Survival Rates Improving Across Europe, But Still Lagging Behind United States)

Sam UK said...

Cranky George,

Your points on infant mortality are interesting and persuasive. But I reject the idea that healthcare can be measured solely in terms of cancer care. This is excessively reductionist.

George - I assume you are a US citizen. I am not - I am British, but I follow affairs in the US very closely. The medical system in the US is clearly excellent, if you can afford insurance. However, I would caution that you shouldn't be misled by some of the ridiculous criticisms which some US commentators make of the NHS. There is a reason the British love the NHS. This is the same country that elected Thatcher three times and rejected most of the socialist policies introduced by Labour in 1946, but the people are hugely supportive of the NHS. The Commonwealth Fund ranks it as the 2nd best in the world (ahead of the US), it is the most efficient in the world, we have more acute beds per capita than the US and more nurses per head. We are a little behind the US in cancer care, but massive improvements have been made in recent years. I vote Conservative and I am generally very pro-American (as are most Brits). In other words, I'm not a Marxist, vegetarian hippie - but I consider the NHS one of the greatest achievements of the wartime generation - that and winning the war (with a little help from our friends.


Cranky George said...

The poor and low income of our country don't need to afford insurance. They are eligible for free care under Medicaid. That's about 50 million Americans. Those over 65 participate in Medicare; another socialized health care program. The premiums are low and affordable. The number participants is 48 million. In addition, no one can be denied healthcare for lack of insurance if they just go to any emergency room. Most of the people who don't have insurance are those who (1) elected not to buy it; usually the health young adults or (2) people in this country illegally and not eligible for Medicaid.

Our problem with high health insurance costs are primarily due to lawsuits; forcing doctors & other healthcare professionals to practice defensive medicine. By that, I mean that doctors will order an outrageous amount of tests or send people to specialists to avoid being sued. The other driver of costs is those 38 million uninsured who receive healthcare and skip paying. Then all the rest of us pay for that.

Lastly, if they can afford it, we get hundreds of patients from all over the world who would prefer to get healthcare here than in their own countries. Many come from just over the border in Canada.

Cranky George said...

One last thing. Accessibility drives costs, too. If I need to see a doctor, today, I will be able to see one. If I need a specialist, I know I would get into see he/she that day. If I need an MRI, today, I will get one. If I have chest pains, I can call 911 and an EMT will show up to either treat me or take me to the hospital.

Sam UK said...

But what about pre-existing conditions and life-time caps? Or do you support Obama's moves towards abolishing these.

Americans also seem to forget that Brits can also obtain private health insurance, to top up the NHS provision. Because the NHS care is so good, private insurance is very cheap. I currently pay approx. $40 per month, and can obtain all the benefits which you list above.

So, why such fear of 'socialized medicine'?

Cranky George said...

Those are both good elements of ObamaCare. But, you don't have to socialize medicine to mandate those benefits. I have had the same private insurance since I was 18 and my policy has no lifetime caps. Caps are usually associated with lower-cost insurance programs.

This is my last comment on this "across the pond" dialogue.

Sam UK said...

Thanks George - have enjoyed the exchange.