Thursday, February 21, 2008

British Universal Healthcare

From the NY Times:

One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.

“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.


This is fundamentally immoral and a flawed policy on multiple levels.

On one level, Debbie wanted to use her savings to pay for better treatment. These savings are the fruits of her labor and nothing could be a more fundamental right than using one's lawfully gained resources to save her own life. According to the N.H.S., it's unjust for "richer patients [to have] an unfair advantage over poorer ones," but this is completely turning the concept of fairness on its head. In a system like Britain, if Debbie was "rich", it implies that she paid more taxes and most likely subsidized the healthcare of poor. The British government though says that they wouldn't allow her to augment her government-provided healthcare with her own savings. If she wants to pay for better treatment, she has to waive all her government-provided healthcare and pay all of it herself.

If she wants the cancer drug, this effectively means she must pay for healthcare multiple times. The first time was when she paid her taxes which funded the standard government healthcare. If she wants the cancer drug, she'll need to pay a second time for all the healthcare plus the drug. That would be 2x. But in reality, since she is "rich" according to the British government, it likely means she subsidized the healthcare of others. So in the end, if she wants to have choice in the healthcare she receives, she has to pay for more than 2x the healthcare.

On another level, this policy isn't aimed at the rich. Debbie clearly isn't wealthy. Wealthy people don't need to sell their houses to pay for their healthcare. A wealthy person would have no problems refusing the government-provided healthcare and paying all the expenses out of pocket. So this policy isn't designed to hurt wealthy people. It's designed to hurt people who have some savings and are willing to make sacrifices in order to try to save their lives or the lives of their loved ones.

This is so immoral but socialism always is. And it's coming to America.

3 comments:

Vijay said...

Amen brother!

Scott said...

This also begs the question if the entire program would be secure against slush fund theft by the two party money grabbers.

It is a flawed philosophy, a logical next step on the path to depleting liberty and economic power for Americans, and it is harmful to promote plans that are written on the blank check that is the American dollar.

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