For decades, liberal politicians have pushed for a complete government takeover of this nation's healthcare system. However, the general population of Americans and their representative politicians wanted nothing to do with that. They understood that a government run healthcare system would have all the typical problems -- waste, fraud, abuse, and heavy handedness -- relative to every government run system. But, despite the wishes of most Americans, the Democrats and Barack Obama went ahead and passed ObamaCare into law. In 2010, they were punished for such action with a sweeping defeat that reversed their majority rule in the House of Representatives. Now, in 2014, their control of the Senate is in jeopardy again, thanks to ObamaCare. The botched rollout; the cancellations; and, the fact that people were losing their doctors and hospitals while paying higher prices for their insurance re-emphasized why most Americans dreaded any government involvement in their healthcare.
While still trying to distance themselves from ObamaCare and all its problems, several in-jeopardy Senate Democrats find themselves with another reason for their voters to oust them in the Fall. Again, because of healthcare. This time it's the VA hospital wait-list scandal; proving once more how crass and incompetent a government-run system can be. Our veterans have literally died in the process of waiting, but, this wait-time scandal should not be a surprise. It is a common problem wherever the government is controlling healthcare.
In Britain, they have a fully socialized system called the National Health Service (NHS). The Democrats love to point to the NHS as a perfect example because it is universal and because it has been able to control costs. It has the lowest cost-per-capita of any other industrialized country in the world. But, the penalty for such cost control is long wait times and, in some cases, results in death.
The very charter of the NHS legally guarantees that a patient should be able to get advanced care (access to specialists, surgery, hospitalization, or advanced testing) in no less than 18 weeks (nearly 4-1/2 months) after being referred by a primary care physician; access to which is, in itself, an average wait of about one week. The usual wait time for surgery is 15 weeks or just over 3-1/2 months with over 500 patients at any given time waiting longer than a year. If you're injured, the typical wait is 4 hours in the emergency room. Of course, if you are dying and you just can't wait, the NHS says you can always pay out-of-pocket for private access to any healthcare provider. Maybe these are the reasons that Britain trails the rest of the world in cancer survival rates. Now, despite all these problems, the Brits seem to love their NHS. I don't think most Americans would be so forgiving.
Now, you don't actually have to go to Britain to see long wait times as a result of government control. In this country we have the literal blueprint of ObamaCare in the state of Massachusetts. It is something that is informally called RomneyCare. Thanks to that healthcare system, a city like Boston has the longest wait times in the country for both seeing a primary care physician or receiving advanced care:
In the very place that Americans railed against government intervention in their lives in what we know today as the Boston Tea Party, Bostonians now wait, on average, 45.4 days to see a primary care physician and another 66 days for advanced care. Thus as a blueprint for ObamaCare, RomneyCare is also the blueprint for what is happening at the VA and in Britain.
The primary reason for long wait times is because the profit incentive is missing. Healthcare service providers in the NHS are all being paid by the government at a set salary for their particular skill level, and they will always be paid the same; no matter how many patients they see or don't see. The same is true in the VA hospital system. Also, in both systems, physicians and hospitals are themselves shielded from malpractice lawsuits because the government is held responsible. Thus, if someone dies as a result of care being delayed, the doctors and administrators have no liability. Now, this is not to say that there aren't caring and dedicated people in both the NHS or the VA, but the healthcare in these government run facilities can't hold a candle to the average non-government system in this country.
Your rights in the NHS: Guide to NHS waiting times: http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/Waitingtimes/Pages/Guide%20to%20waiting%20times.aspx
NHS waiting lists are at highest for 6 years with 2.8m waiting for surgery or other hospital procedures: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2607418/NHS-waiting-lists-highest-6-years-2-8m-waiting-surgery-hospital-procedures.html
Patients will wait at least a week to see GP in 2014, it is claimed: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/nhs/10537094/Patients-will-wait-at-least-a-week-to-see-GP-in-2014-it-is-claimed.html
NHS delays operations 'as it waits for patients to die or go private': http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8668906/NHS-delays-operations-as-it-waits-for-patients-to-die-or-go-private.html
Britain trails in cancer survival rates: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-125860/Britain-trails-cancer-survival-rates.html
In cities, the average doctor wait-time is 18.5 days: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/29/in-cities-the-average-doctor-wait-time-is-18-5-days/
Malpractice Payouts to U.S. Veterans Reach 12-Year High: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-09/malpractice-payouts-to-u-s-veterans-reach-12-year-high.html