When Will We Ever Learn
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
When will President Obama ever learn?
His ideology blinds him to the facts. I vividly remember him telling John Kerry and Barney Frank not to worry about not having a Public Option.
Barney Frank said we need a Public Option for the Affordable Care Act to work. The only way Obamacare could work is by ending up with a single-payer system.
President Obama had a clandestine “Public Option” built into Obamacare.
Progressives believe deeply in their ideology. They do not consider past history, present reality or facts.
All progressives have to do is look at what is happening to socialized medicine all over the developed western world.
It is failing even as some people believe it is succeeding.
The Commonwealth Fund (a private progressive foundation) with a focus on healthcare is certain that a single party payer system is the only viable healthcare system.
The report ranked healthcare systems throughout the developed western world. In its published ranking the National Health Service of Great Britain was considered the best medical system among the 11 of the world's mostadvanced nations, including Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden.
The United States came in last.
Few have the time or patience to read the complete report or pick out the defects in the study.
Most people reads the summary. The summary in this study is not close to the evidence presented.
The Commonwealth Fund’s rankings of countries are contradicted by objective data about access and medical-care quality in these countries in peer-reviewed academic journals.
The Commonwealth Fund’s methodology is defective. Its conclusions relied heavily on subjective surveys about "perceptions and experiences of patients and physicians."
Kenneth Thorpe made an important point by examining differences in disease prevalence and treatment rates for ten of the most costly diseases between the United States and the ten European countries with a single payer system.
He used surveys of the non-institutionalized population age fifty and older. Disease prevalence and rates of medication and treatment are much higher in the United States than in these European countries.
Why would that be?
There are many reasons for this finding. The main one is the availability of care in the United States compared to the ten socialized western countries.
Another is lifestyle and incidence of obesity in the United States. Both lead to the onset of chronic disease and increased treatment.
“Efforts to reduce the U.S. prevalence of chronic illness should remain a key policy goal.”
“Americans are diagnosed with and treated for several chronic illnesses more often than their European counterparts are.”
Americans diagnosed with heart disease receive treatment with medications and procedures more frequently than patients in Western Europe.
In the past local peer review was all that was needed along with confidence in the treating physician’s judgment. This confidence in physicians’ judgment has been destroyed by excessive media sensationalism. The real percentage of abuse is small and easily discoverable by peers and the use of the new social media.
Cancer treatment survival rates in America are far greater than the survival rates in Britain, and countries in western Europe.
The reasons for the higher cure rates are the availability of early detection and treatment.
Cancer treatment costs are high. The government should look into the reasons for this high cost and try to lower the cost.
The Commonwealth Fund’s report does not consider any of these factors.
The NHS has a waiting list of 3.2 million people for admission to the hospital. In London alone over 500,000 patients are on a waiting list for diagnosis and treatment.
A large percentage of patients triaged as urgent after being diagnosed with suspected cancer have a 62-day wait time to receive therapy.
The British Health and Social Care Act 2012 authorized the use of the small private sector of healthcare to help the NHS with its problems.
The share of NHS-funded hip and knee replacementsby private doctors increased to 19% in 2011-12, from a negligible amount in 2003-04. Each year there is an increase in NHS funded care by the private sector.
It sounds like the VA Healthcare System’s solution to its problems.
Englishmen who can afford private care and private healthcare insurance to avoid the NHS are switching to private insurance even though they have to pay $3,500 for each man, woman and child in a family into the NHS.
The single party payer system (NHS) is struggling with unsustainable costs even though we hear from progressives how great socialized medicine is in England.
The key ingredient missing in all these systems is patient responsibility for their health and their healthcare dollars. Both are powerful motivators to healthy living and detecting disease early.
There are big problems in Canada that have been undisclosed in the United States.
There were two articles in American newspapers in 2011 that applaud the Canadian system.
Article 1. Debunking Canadian health care myths – The Denver Post
Article 2. Everything you ever wanted to know about Canadian health care in one post. Washington Post
Both articles are opinion articles and lack concrete evidence. The articles contain both misinformation and disinformation.
The Fraser Institute is a well-respected Canadian think tank. Its research is considered accurate with a libertarian slant.
Its 2011 report contradicts the statistics in these articles on the Canadian government healthcare costs.
Article 1. “Ten percent of Canada's GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada's.”
Article 2. “In 2009, Canada spent 11.4 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on health care, which puts it on the slightly higher end of OECD countries.”
This is not true according to the Fraser report. Six of ten Canadian provinces are on track to spend half of their revenues on health care, according to the Frazer Institute. To be specific, in 2011, health care spending consumed 50% GDP in Canada’s two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec.
“Total federal, provincial and territorial government health spending has grown by 8.1 percent annually, while the national GDP in Canada rose by only 6.7 percent during the same period.”
The provincial governments have raised taxes and rationed care, while increasing patient wait times.
“Provincial drug plans have also more often refused to pay for most of the drugs that are certified as “safe and effective” by Health Canada.”
“Unsustainable rates of growth in health care spending crowd out the resources available for other purposes including education, public safety, and economic growth-enhancing tax relief,”
One has only to think about the Obama administration’s initial propaganda and the stunning reality we are facing presently.
The VA is now asking for additional funding to clear up the disaster.
The problem is entitlements are too expensive for a government. Entitlements do not work because governments cannot legislate behavior by directives. Individuals must be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.
The other problem is government entitlement programs generate a large bureaucracy. The bureaucracy stimulates the development of inefficiencies and corruption. The new bureaucracy practically guarantees failure of the entitlement.
The Government can help people be responsible for their health with incentive programs.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.