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Ready to "PULL YOUR OWN TEETH? (i.e. with Obama's Nat'l Health Plan)" Read These News Headlines About UK's National Health System!
Original post made
on Jul 2, 2009
Are you ready to support Obama's National Health System? Before doing so, please inform yourself about what has happened in the UK and other countries that have such a government program. A few other news headlines about the UK's National Health Service are listed below.
Also, at the bottom of this page is a link to many other countries and widespread problems related to their socialized health systems.
Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS) was created on July 5, 1948. As with all government programs, bureaucrats underestimated initial cost projections. First-year operating costs of NHS were 52 million pounds higher than original estimates1 as Britons saturated the so-called free system.
Many decades of shortages, misery and suffering followed until 1989, when some market-based health care competition was reintroduced to the British citizens2.
Unfortunately for those requiring care, a mostly socialist health care system has problems. The articles and commentaries in this section identify some disasters caused by government intervention in the British health care system.
Woman forced to pull out own teeth after 12 NHS dentists refuse to treat her
- Olinka Koster, March 26, 2008 [Daily Mail(UK)]
Women in labour turned away by maternity units
- John Carvel, March 21, 2008 [Guardian Unlimited]
Smokers and the obese banned from UK hospitals
- May 2, 2007 [Healthcare News]
British Healthcare To Be Rationed
- April 7, 2006 [United Press International]
2,000 British doctors out of work
- August 14, 2005 [The Washington Times]
Heart patients die on waiting lists
- Peter Sharples, October 18, 2004 [Manchester Online]
Shortage of dentists to double by 2011
- John Carvel, July 24, 2004 [Guardian UK]
The British Way of Withholding Care
- Harry Schwarz, March 1989 [FEE.org]
Study finds British hospitals are still austere, cold, smelly and poorly maintained
- May 6, 2004 [News-Medical.net]
'No strategy' on NHS waiting time
- January 14, 2005 [BBC]
Number of NHS Bureaucrats 'Rising Faster Than Health Staff'
- Joe Churcher, March 22, 2005 [Scotsman]
British health service facing nurse exodus
- April 25, 2005 [United Press International]
UK health 'unsustainable'
- August 14, 2005 [Finance24]
5,000 elderly 'killed each year' by lack of care beds
- June 26, 2006 [Telegraph UK]
One in eight patients waiting over a year for treatment, admits minister
- John Carvel, June 8, 2007 [Guardian Unlimited]
For much more information about the above and many other articles, please click on this link below.
Posted by Myra,
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 2, 2009 at 1:12 pm
Nice try, Cholo. But you need to scratch under the surface for more info on France's healthcare system. Bottomline, it is going broke and the citizen's know that a crisis there is inevitable (read on).
Here is a detailed study of their system by the Heritage Foundation, known for reliability and accuracy.
July 9, 2001
Perspectives on the European Health Care Systems: Some Lessons for America
by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Philippe Manière, David G. Green, Ph.D., Paul Belien, Johan Hjertqvist, and Friedrich Breyer, Ph.D.
Heritage Lecture #711
The Coming Crisis in France
France's health care system is typical of those of most European countries: It is a state-oriented system that operates with little concern for the economic dynamic of supply and demand or efficient management. As the client base of the system increases, without innovative policies to augment finances, curtail waste, and more effectively target services, a crisis is increasingly more imminent.
Problems in France's System
France's health care system is the epitome of mismanagement, riddled with opportunism. In France, about half of all the hospitals (and all the largest ones) are state-owned. They are run on the assumption that people will not pay. With high rates of refunds to patients, the system provides virtually free care, attracting clients from beyond the country's borders. It has been said that people from developing nations take cabs directly from the Charles de Gaulle airport to hospitals in Paris and that they can expect that even their taxi fare will be taken care of through French largesse.
Mismanagement of Hospitals
Mismanagement and waste compound the burden of the health care system. The majority of France's state-owned hospitals are managed in a way that is reminiscent of the old U.S.S.R. For example, in the average French public hospital, it is not uncommon for every window to be open, even in winter, because the heating system for the building cannot be regulated. With the only options being no heat or unbearably high heat, everyone opts for the latter and lives with open windows. Predictably, this is not very cheap.
Hospital staffing brings an added fiscal burden. No tasks are outsourced, since outsourcing is something that unions strongly oppose. The staff of an average French hospital includes carpenters, electricians, cooks, and people in charge of laundry.
Nearly all of the doctors outside of hospitals are "chartered"--that is to say, their fees and the cost of their prescriptions are systematically refunded to the "assuré sociaux" who have national health care coverage, i.e., virtually every person in France. Any doctor who has a diploma has a right to be chartered upon simple request: The government cannot legally refuse to charter him. In other words, a diploma guarantees a right to public expenditures.
Meanwhile, the French can consult with as many doctors as they wish, as often as they wish, receiving refunds for their medical expenses that are as high as 70 percent to 100 percent. Any unpaid balance is paid by the mutual companies that most employers subscribe to for their employees. A patient does not pay for his doctors, and there is no gatekeeping for doctors' visits, whether to general practitioners (GPs) or specialists.
As might be expected, under this system, there are people who consult with doctors as often as five times a week. This is especially true of older people because they have plenty of time and enjoy being able to talk about their problems with someone.
When the demand for doctor care is met by a guarantee of unlimited services, with no costs and no constraints, the result, of course, will be a boom in health care consumption, and that is what France is experiencing. There is currently a 5 percent to 8 percent increase in expenses per year in real terms, resulting in enormous deficits and even greater problems when the rate of unemployment rises. When employment rates improve, the deficits are eased because more taxes come in. But as soon as employment falls again (which is not so uncommon in France), deficits come back, and they are here to stay as long as the system is not changed. In a futile effort to deal with this imbalance, the government issues continual prorogations of temporary taxes to pay for the deficits.
France's health care system was created in 1946-1947, just at the end of World War II and a time when the people who were in charge of France were given unlimited legitimacy because they had opposed the Germans. As a result, the historical legitimacy of France's state-oriented system makes it very difficult to challenge or change today.
"Unblocking the Money"
The system is also immune from criticism, in spite of waste and mismanagement, because it is rooted in the economic culture of France, where there is a general belief that the government can always step in with needed funds when a problem arises. When people talk about addressing deficits, they talk about the state "unblocking" money. This phrase--to "unblock" money--is very common in the French political and media arena. There is an underlying assumption that there is some huge amount of money that is typically blocked by evil politicians and (thank God) can be unblocked during times of crises, such as a flood or hurricane. Most of the people I know in France cannot seem to understand that there is no money "blocked" anywhere and that the government needs to raise money before it can give it away.
In the United States, when funding is discussed, it is not uncommon to hear that "the taxpayer will pay" for it. In France, it is said that "the government will pay" for it. There is a broadly based misconception that there is a pool of money somewhere that can be tapped without limits. In such a cultural environment, it is very difficult to implement reforms and to convince people that, in funding a social system, it is crucial to balance accounts.
In France, physicians and other medical professionals form a powerful lobbying bloc that opposes any restriction of medical consultation. They invoke a right to what has been called "medicine liberale"--the belief that all people have a right to consult any doctor. There is, also, a widely held belief that any privatization or entry of competition in the arena of health insurance would only promote the interests of insurers and health care providers at the expense of their clients' health.
This attitude is central to the problems faced by France and continental Europe as a whole, and it is a factor that should not be underestimated by scholars and researchers. Many choices made collectively by the European people cannot be understood from a U.S. perspective.
This element of French culture is what I call an assumption of a "disjunction of interest." In the United States, most people do not think of it as impossible that what is in John's interest may also be in Peter's interest, but in Europe, there is a broad belief that there can be no common interest with the exception of the unifying entity of the state. As a result, any private agent who strives to reform a state-owned or socialized system (even one that clearly does not work) is treated with suspicion. The worst offense is to pursue private interest. This explains the French people's acquiescence with high taxation and their resistance to reform--the fear that reform would be in the interest of some particular category of the people.
The devastating effects of such a system are far-reaching. Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, for example, are becoming more and more constrained. Rather than addressing the need to reform the system, the government opts for a quick fix--imposing homothetic price cuts. According to this lazy solution, the organization in charge of managing the health care simply tells all the producers of pharmaceuticals that, because expenditures are too high, they must cut all their prices, for example, by 5 percent.
This blanket policy is irresponsible. In certain fields of medicine, more investment is needed to support research and development. In other fields, there may be so much waste that prices should be cut not only by 5 percent, but by 30 to 50 percent. But to develop a well-targeted policy would require investigation and reform, which seems to be unthinkable to those who are currently managing the system.
As a result of failed policies, certain hospitals are now experiencing labor shortages. Recently, a hospital in Lyon was so desperate for nurses that there was consideration of importing nurses from Greece and Portugal. Fortunately, just in time, the hospital recognized that this would have been a recipe for disaster, given that nurses in Greece speak Greek and nurses in Portugal speak Portuguese while, typically, the people who are in French hospitals are French and speak only French.
The research and development area of pharmaceuticals has suffered from the cash-strapped health care system. Whenever a new drug arrives on the market, negotiations are made to determine the rate of refund that the health care body will accept. In comparison with other European countries, France's rate of refund for prescription drugs is very low. As a result, research and development is not funded and France's pharmaceutical industries, which ranked third in the world in 1975, have not produced a cutting-edge product within the last 20 or 25 years.
On the other hand, there are some companies that have learned to play the system to their advantage. In order to help the small laboratories (that never invent a thing) to make a profit and keep their people employed, the state has agreed to offer refunds for products that would be considered ineffective in any other country. There is, for example, a very popular drug in France that women use for "jambes lourdes" (heavy legs). This product is used in no other country because it has virtually no effect. Yet the people in France who use it have their costs refunded by the state. This is nothing less than a "gift" from the French state to the small pharmaceutical company that produces that product. In other instances, it has been reported that some pharmaceutical industries have made arrangements with the state to purchase official authorizations to market a product.
Another perverse effect of a system that promotes irresponsibility is that people abuse medicine and drugs simply because they are "free". People who visit their doctor, or multiple doctors, five times a week receive many prescriptions, which they often use together. Honest doctors would warn their patients of the dangers of mixing medicines. When two or three drugs are combined, it is difficult to predict what may happen, but when five to seven drugs are taken together, it is impossible. The only certainty is that the person's health will not be improved. In many cases, people suffer serious disorders only because they are taking too many drugs. Were they to quit taking all but the one or two drugs that were truly necessary, many of them would recover.
Finally, the system's waste of massive amounts of money and energy is having a very negative effect, not only economically but sociologically as well. Everyone is aware that the system cannot be sustained, but there is no reform. Therefore, French people tend to feel less confident and more reluctant to spend, invest, or create; they know a crisis in the health care system is inevitable.
In spite of all that has been said about the flaws and failures of France's health care system, France miraculously appears to thrive. It is still a very wealthy country with quite robust economic growth and--if one makes the reasonable assumption that half of the officially unemployed are happy not to work--even its unemployment rate is acceptable. France ranks first, before Japan, in terms of per-capita exports, and it is the fifth richest country in the world in terms of GDP. It seems that a situation that should be hell is almost paradise.