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  • British Health (Mis)Care: No Complaints Allowed

    October 11, 2008
    The British government has found the right strategy to cut down on complaints about the National Health Service--convince patients that nothing can be done.  Then the bothersome people will simply go away. Explains the Daily Mail:
    One in seven patients using the NHS is unhappy, but most do not complain because they believe 'nothing will be done', a report reveals. Just 5 per cent of dissatisfied patients made formal complaints last year  -  133,600 about the health service and 17,100 about social care.  Those who failed to voice their concerns said they lacked confidence in the system, believed nothing would be done, or thought that they would be branded 'troublemakers'. The report from the National Audit Office, released today, also...
  • The Wonders of Socialized Health Care, Number 8,977

    October 8, 2008
    Ameirca's health care system is messed up.  Agreed.  It is a bizarre amalgam of public and private, with government spending and tax policy creating counterproductive incentives which have created an employer-based system of health insurance that has tended towards cost-plus medicine.  But while U.S. medical treatment tends to be expensive as a result, it is available.  Not so in the foreign systems so often lauded by health care 'reformers" in America. The website www.biggovhealth.org helps remind us that the wrong sort of "reform" in America could leave us all far worse off.  It includes a list of case histories of people victimized by nationalized health care systems.  Consider the case of Lindsay McCreith, for instance, who almost certainly would have died had the Canadian not jumped the queue, so to speak, by coming to...
  • NHS Reform: A Few More Brits Might Survive

    September 24, 2008
    Great Britain's Vaunted National Health Insurance won't pay for necessary drugs to its patients, but it has refused to allow them to contribute their own money to get the better medicines--in the name of equality, of course.  Now that is changing.  According to the Times of London:
    Ministers are preparing to allow public patients to pay for some top-up drugs in a decision that opponents claim will spell the end of the National Health Service. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, is poised to relax the ban on patients paying privately for life-extending treatments while receiving NHS care. Such a change could result in wealthier patients living longer because they have been able to buy expensive drugs not approved by the NHS. It will force cancer sufferers to...
  • Socialized Health Care Feels Like it is ... Socialized!

    September 23, 2008
    Want to nationalize American health care?  Just compare what it's like to be treated in America and in Britain.  Writes F. Brinley Bruton:
    A few weeks ago I found myself curled up in a hospital here in London, my feverish body shaking violently back and forth. The pain in my side and back made it hard to straighten my torso, and I'd thrown up in a friend's car on the way to the hospital.

    The hospital couldn't find an extra hospital bed, so I spent my first night hooked up to an IV on a gurney in the middle of a row of men and women, my sweaty skin sticking to the plastic. A shriveled woman in the bed to my right issued loud and largely unintelligible commands to nobody in particular. A steady flow of patients visited the bathroom right in front of my bed. A shouting match broke out between...

  • Misplaced Priorities on Stem Cell Research

    September 8, 2008
    Sigrid Fry-Revere has a post over at The Hill Blog questioning the merits of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. As her new CEI paper co-written with Molly Elgin, Public Stem Cell Research Funding: Boon or Boondoggle?, points out, "It is impossible to know how successful [stem cell] research will be or whether any individual projects will produce genuine medical treatments, and it is not the place of government to gamble with taxpayers' money.” Over at The Hill Blog, she writes:
    "Furthermore, politicizing stem cell research funding may produce the opposite effect of what stem cell research advocates intend, namely less not more funding and more rather than fewer restriction on the research itself."
    The inherent politicization...
  • Anna Tomalis, R.I.P.

    August 25, 2008
    Last Friday, I attended the funeral of a remarkable 13-year-old girl named Anna Tomalis. For the past three years, Anna had been battling terminal cancer and, more recently, trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to grant a "compassionate use" exemption so she could try an experimental cancer drug now being jointly developed by the pharmaceutical companies ARIAD and Merck. Unfortunately, FDA rarely grants exemptions. If too many exemptions are granted, it would become harder to enroll patients in clinical trials, where they have as much as a 50-50 chance of getting a placebo. Anna was too young and too sick to be admitted to any of the clinical trials, so that wasn't at issue here. But, of course, the whole point of FDA is to keep individuals from making their own decisions about...
  • Ending the HIV Travel Ban

    August 11, 2008
    The federal government is finally in the process of lifting the travel ban on individuals who are HIV positive. For many years, one of the blogosphere's most vocal critics of the ban has been U.S.-resident Brit Andrew Sullivan. Last month he was already predicting the eventual success of the legislation that ended the ban, known as President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):
    Obviously, the bigger achievement in PEPFAR is the funding for continued help for those with HIV and AIDS in the developing world - people whose plight is unimaginably worse than mine or so many others trapped by this HIV law. Bush's legacy in this is one for which he is rightly proud. But for...
  • GINA Law Passes, Will Afflict Insurers and Employers

    April 26, 2008
    On April 24, the Senate voted 95-to-0 to pass the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which bans insurers and employers from taking genetic information into account.  The Economist blog suggests it could doom private individual insurance in the future, as people who test negative for genetic risk factors for diseases refuse to buy health insurance policies that are priced the same for them as for riskier people who test positive for those genetic risk factors, effectively forcing those with lower risks to subsidize those with higher risks.  Such adverse selection would cause the market for such insurance policies to dry up.  Last year, I...
  • Killing Consumer-Directed Health Care?

    April 26, 2008
    One of the most important recent innovations in health care has been the expansion of consumer-directed care, especially through Health Savings Accounts.  HSAs offer patients greater control over their money and create an incentive for cost-consciousness.  Suddenly people have a reason to shop around and find the best deal for routine care. But Congress is preparing to wreck the system.  At the behest of a congressional staffer-turned lobbyist, the House has voted to impose on HSAs much of the regulatory bureaucracy evident in health insurance.  Reports the Wall Street Journal:
    Democrats have made affordable health care a mainstay of their election agenda, but apparently only if you're willing to get insurance through the government. Witness their stealthy assault on Americans who prefer the...
  • Britain Cares for Animals Better than Humans

    March 10, 2008
    Britain's National Health System is notoriously underfunded. The government makes ends meet by denying service. The elderly don't get transplants. People pull their own teeth. Indeed, Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants more people to treat themselves. But pets need not worry. Brits might be unwilling to care for themselves and their neighbors. But they will spend on their pets. Reports Reuters:
    Forget worming pills and a flea collar -- a trip to the vet in Britain these days could be about heart surgery, joint replacement, chemotherapy or a host of other cutting-edge procedures. Britain is one of the few countries in Europe to offer many of these complex treatments: devoted British pet-owners have fuelled a fast-growing insurance market that helps fund care which would otherwise take a big bite out of a bank account. Research firm Datamonitor has forecast the...

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