What’s So Bad (or Great) About Obamacare? (Part 3 of 9)

Posted: October 8, 2009 in Politics
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Rationing of care: If the experiences of those in similar systems in Canada and Europe are any guide, this means looooong waits and many treatments and procedures not approved or otherwise unavailable. It seems every week, now, that one hears reports of someone in the UK who, for example, had to wait a year for some critical procedure or treatment after being given a prognosis of 6 months to live. (As Betsy McCaughey pointed out in her analysis for the NCPA, “A study by the Royal College of Radiologists [in the UK] showed that such long waits are typical, and 13 percent of patients who need radiation never get it due to shortages of equipment and staff.”) One also hears periodically of yet another Canadian who came over to the States for surgery because either it was not available in Canada or they could not schedule it for several months. The well-to-do from all over the world fly to the United States to get the best care money can buy.

Now we hear rumblings from places including Spain, Colombia, the UK, Canada, etc., that their socialized – or, “nationalized”, if you prefer – health care systems are beginning to crumble and go into bankruptcy. Despite having some of the best doctors in the world, the French health care system is experiencing shortages of, among other things, personnel and beds. A recent report by the High Council for the Future of Health Insurance  — an advisory body set up by Prime Minister Raffarin and composed of medical professionals, as well as representatives from trade unions and the health insurance industry — calls their current system “badly regulated and badly governed”. If they do not pass reforms soon to “cut waste and increase efficiency”, they are projected to incur a health care deficit of 10.9 billion euros this year, potentially rising to 29 billion euros by 2010.

Then there are the statistics. For example, in 2007 Lancet Oncology published the results from the largest ever international (i.e., U.S. & Europe) study of cancer survival rates; another recent study specifically compared Canadian health care with that of the U.S. (Note: The Lancet study looked at the chance of living at least five years after a cancer diagnosis. All Americans were included, not just those with private insurance.) The results for overall cancer survival rates were as follows:

Women: U.S. – 61-63%; Canada – 58%; Europe – 56%

Men: U.S. – 57-66%; Canada – 53%; Europe – 47%

It might be noted that the UK’s much-touted National Health Service (NHS) typically scores worse than the European average.

Based on these studies and other reports, McCaughey concludes, “International comparisons establish that the most important factors in cancer survival are early diagnosis, time to treatment and access to the most effective drugs. Some uninsured cancer patients in the United States encounter problems with timely treatment and access, but a far larger proportion of cancer patients in Europe face these troubles.” Where would you rather be?

If Obamacare passes, dozens of new agencies will also be created that add more bureaucracy and government control over Americans’ health care. For example, five government appointees on a new

Independent Medicare Advisory Council will be charged with deciding what will be covered under Medicare and how much the reimbursements will be. Standards for all health insurance policies – whether private or “public” plan – will be set by the Health Choices Administration and the National Health Insurance Exchange. Similarly, the new Health Benefits Advisory Committee will decide on what will be included in an “essential benefit package” that every private insurance policy will be mandated to carry. As Newt Gingrich has pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, this means that a single male with no children will have no choice but to pay for maternity benefits and well-baby and well-child care coverage. Sound fair and rational to you?

You know how frustrating it is when your insurance company tells you that that procedure your doctor is recommending is not covered by your policy? Now imagine that an additional federal agency (or three) will be adding their controlling 2 cents, knowing their “marching orders” are to cut costs and save money for other programs (like health insurance for illegal aliens). Grandpa needs a new hip? Sorry, he’s too old – i.e., he doesn’t contribute enough to society to justify the cost. Hobble along, now. What, you want that new procedure that has 3x the success rate of the old one to cure your condition? Nope, too expensive. Take another pain pill and deal with it. That is the kind of thing we have to look forward to, say the critics, if this bill passes in anything like its current form.

With unprecedented power to control health care coverage and a mandate to save money in an overburdened economy with the biggest deficit ever, plus historical examples from other nations who “socialized” their health care, can there really be any doubt that H.S. 3200 (or anything similar) will result in the rationing of care? The next question to ask is “How far will it go?” Did someone mention “death panels”?

< to be continued… >

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