Tuesday, December 30, 2003

20 December, 2003

Australia: "A woman was left to give birth alone in a hospital corridor, then told she had no choice but to watch her premature baby die"

15 December, 2003

Australia: "CANCER patient Rodney Plows believes he will die waiting for relief from his chronic back pain. He has been told he faces a delay of up to five years for treatment in Queensland's public hospitals. Mr Plows, 53, was shocked to learn there were 540 people ahead of him on the waiting list for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital. The invalid pensioner spends his days mostly housebound as he fights a losing battle to manage the pain".

The latest upload of a chapter from my book looks at ways of having universal health care without socializing medicine. Details here or in chapter 24 here.

14 December, 2003

Australia: "A PATIENT bled to death unnoticed in the intensive-care unit of one of Sydney's largest public hospitals after he was left without proper medical supervision"

How lucky that your government was looking after you: "THE same strain of influenza that hit Australia during the past winter has now taken hold in the US, killing at least 20 children and causing panic among the many who have been unable to obtain vaccinations.... The most common strain of influenza being identified so far is a type-A virus known as H3N2 Fujian flu. It takes its name from the Chinese province where it originated. It is the same strain that caused widespread illness in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year.... The current vaccination available in the United States does not specifically target Fujian flu, but according to the CDC, it does offer some immunity and will reduce the severity of the disease.

29 November, 2003

The good old US taxpayer is funding quack medicine -- so-called "alternative" medicine that has no scientific standing at all -- and some of which is clearly fraudulent. This at a time when real medical advances are held up for years or totally blocked by FDA red-tape. What crazy priorities!

24 November, 2003


I have said this before myself but when Milton Friedman says it, it is worth repeating: "We are deeply concerned about proposed legislation to remove pharmaceutical companies' ability to control the importation of their products. The goal of this legislation will be to reduce prices in the American market by imposing other nations' price controls on us. If this attempt succeeds, American consumers would get the short-term windfall of lower prices, but they would end up unnecessarily suffering and living shorter lives -- because promising new therapies would be delayed or not even developed. Even the threat of price controls reduces the incentive to develop new drugs."

And more on the same theme: "The problem here is politicians face terrible incentives when regulating the prescription drug market. Many of you will know that politicians have had negative consequences on the rest of the American health care system, and now they've set their eyes on prescription drugs and threaten to screw that up, too."

In Canada even dogs get better health care: "Still lusting after socialized medicine? Consider the story of a man in Canada (a country well-known for socialized medicine) who needed a cat-scan but had to wait several months to see a physician. In his desperation, he booked an appointment for himself at a local veterinary clinic that had the imaging equipment he needed. He registered himself under the name 'Fido' to assure that he would get in."

The poor old Poms! ("Poms" is Australian slang for the English). The only thing their government can think of to improve their dreadful hospital system is to rip more and more money out of the taxpayer to spend on their existing system of socialized medicine -- the infamous "National Health". Yet, just North of England is Scotland -- where their National Health system already gets 20% more funding than the English equivalent. And by practically every criterion, the Scottish system delivers much WORSE results! But that extra funding does buy LOTS of extra bureaucracy! I sometimes think socialists must be pretty close to brain dead. Some part of their brain is not working.


23 November, 2003

Is there anything the "do-gooders" won't oppose? "The inventors of a magic-bullet pill which is said to eliminate most heart attacks and strokes have opened negotiations with the Government on producing the treatment, which would be given to everyone over 55. .... The polypill would be a combination of six medicines to be taken once a day which, evidence suggests, would prevent 80 per cent of heart attacks and strokes. ... But the proposal has divided doctors. Some specialists say it could undermine the need for lifestyle changes."

19 November, 2003

New Zealand: Kiwi Pundit has a fabulous example of how the honchos of socialist medicine fix the problem of long waiting lists.

3 November, 2003

Comparing the American and the Canadian health care systems shows that the solution does not lie in more state intervention but, on the contrary, in more business-like medicine." The waiting times in socialized medicine can be shocking. For one modern diagnostic test mentioned, the wait in Canada was 150 days compared to 3 days in the USA. Pity if you had a fast-growing cancer!

27 October, 2003

Reason argues against the "bioethicists" who arrogantly claim to know what medical treatments should be allowed to people: "Who are 'we' to decide how other people should live? If people do not have liberty to make choices about their own bodies, what liberty do they have?"

24 October, 2003

A horror story about bureaucratized medicine in New Zealand. You would not wish it on a dog. By contrast, I need surgery for skin cancer pretty often and I get it within weeks when I ask for it under my private health insurance here in Australia. I encounter no bureaucracy at all. I don't even have a preliminary consultation. I just ring up the plastic surgeon's receptionist, book myself in for a procedure and turn up on the day arranged. I go straight into the plastic surgeon's private operating theatre and he does the job forthwith. No fuss at all and a trivial out of pocket expense. And if it looks an easy job I get my GP to do the slicing. I have to book him only a couple of days in advance and he costs me nothing at all. No bureaucracy with him either. Just one appointment and it's all over. Why anybody would have any other system I do not know.

17 October, 2003

Mike Tremoglie has been really listening to what the advocates of socialized medicine for America say: "It would be a grievous error to believe that the current proponents of a single payer healthcare system are concerned with anything other than ideology. I reached this conclusion after attending the annual National Managed Healthcare Congress conference in Washington D.C. in April 1993...."

28 September, 2003

"American workers are changing lifestyle habits to keep the doctor away in light of increasing health care costs" Odd, that! Socialized medicine offers no such incentives towards prevention.

8 September, 2003

Britain: Patients who have major operations on the [U.K.] National Health Service are four times more likely to die than Americans undergoing such surgery, according to a new study. "Professor Monty Mythen, head of anaesthesia at UCL who led the British side of the research, said: "The main difference seems to be in the quality of post-operative care and who cares.""

13 August, 2003

Someone should ask them why so many Canadians go to the U.S. for their medical treatment: "More than 7,000 doctors, including two former surgeons general, called for universal health insurance for the United States on Tuesday, saying it would not only be more fair, but would be cheaper and more efficient than the current patchwork system"

10 August, 2003


My post about Hitler's eugenics making him simply a typical Leftist of his times has energized one reader to comment as follows:

"You are right to point out the socialist roots of eugenics. Bertrand Russell was a true believer in the eugenic State and even saw socialised medicine as a key step in imposing State planning over procreation. In a letter to his first wife, feminist Alys Pearsall Smith, about socialism and "the woman question," for example, he writes:

"Thee might observe incidentally that if the state paid for child-bearing it might and ought to require a medical certificate that the parents were such as to give a reasonable result of a healthy child -- this would afford a very good inducement to some sort of care for the race, and gradually as public opinion became educated by the law, it might react on the law and make that more stringent, until one got to some state of things in which there would be a little genuine care for the race, instead of the present haphazard higgledy-piggledy ways."

(Quoted from here)

29 July, 2003

There is a fascinating editorial in USA Today about the present Congressional struggle to pass a prescription drug benefit addition to Medicare. It points out that the last such attempt under the Reagan administration was such a disaster that it had to be repealed.

4 July, 2003

Congress voted for a huge expansion of Medicare that enriches pharmaceutical companies, fleeces taxpayers with billions in new spending, and forces millions of seniors to accept inferior drug coverage. Conservatives might ask themselves whether this is what they had in mind when the party of 'limited government' gained control of the House, Senate, and White House."

14 June, 2003


A medical correspondent writes:

In Toronto, this medical student who was exposed to SARS was quarantined for 10 days (idiotic, especially when incubation has been up to 14 days) - so, predictably, on day 11 he goes back to work in the nursery, and on day 12 he comes down with symptoms. A lot of new mothers are really pissed offf because thay can't bond with their quarantined babies.


24 May, 2003


In response to my recent note about the attempt in Maine to force drug prices down for the uninsured, one of my readers who is a medical specialist writes:

This drug price control will just result in a shortage of drugs - for "the poor" - NPR had a good discussion of this issue. One way the drug companies can wiggle around this is to restrict their supply; and the insurance companies can apply restrictions on distribution, like requiring pre-approval; when "the poor" realize that they will have to make another trip to the doctor's office to obtain pre-approval, etc.. many will not go back and simply will not get their drugs.

There is no free lunch. Following all the pressure to discount anti-AIDS drugs for Africa's "poor", there has been a great reduction of new such drugs - no surprises here. Likewise - there have been few new drugs for malaria - most of the people who need them the most can't afford them. Of course, "need" is simply not a market force - some people are just out of luck.


22 May, 2003

Maine will use Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, to force drugmakers to lower the costs of prescription drugs for uninsured residents, regardless of their income." So people who pay for their health insurance will have to subsidize the free-riders who do not! That's Lefty justice for you.

15 May, 2003

Britain: A Welsh hospital has apologised to a mother today after doctors mistakenly stitched her three-year-old daughter's tongue to her gum.

"Prices for medical services have been rising faster than prices of other goods and services for as long as anyone can remember. But not all health care prices are rising. Although health care inflation is robust for those services paid by third-party insurance, prices are rising only moderately for services patients buy directly". Funnily enough!

25 April, 2003


A British doctor who started out as an idealistic supporter of socialized medicine has been disillusioned:

I assume that most doctors would want to see that patients who had the greatest need and least capacity to help themselves, would be the ones who are most likely to receive help through a State system. Sadly, the experience of my professional lifetime is the opposite. The NHS is largely a system run by the middle class for the benefit of the middle class and with emphasis on the clinical conditions most likely to be suffered by the middle class. Services are poorest, and the doctors least well qualified and equipped, in the areas where the demand is greatest.


23 April, 2004

Britain: There's a report on PC Watch that Britain's socialized medicine system plans to have doctors in its hospitals only during the day! Let us hope that they will at least have doctors on call somewhere nearby in the evenings and at night. Maybe not.

19 April, 2003

The Wicked one has a quite amazing post on the bumbling bureaucracy of socialized medicine.

26 March, 2003


A good quote from Peter Cuthbertson:
"Scotland's spending on healthcare, for example, is the same as the European average, and this goes largely unprotested by the electorate. So clearly many Britons are willing to pay the price - but equally clearly, given the fact that Scotland's health service is worse than England's, paying this price does not bring a better state sector at all."

It is hard to imagine anything worse than the English National Health but there you have it. The English even have to export a lot of their patients across to Europe in order to get them treated. That fact is presumably why the article Peter was responding to claimed that Europe does socialized medicine better than Britain does.

That may still not mean much however. I know an older woman here in Australia who had dental implants (artificial teeth) to form permanent new front teeth in lieu of dentures. Dental services are almost wholly private in Australia so it was simply one of the options she was offered. Whilst on holiday in France, however, she fell and broke one of her implants. She wanted to get it fixed immediately of course and had traveller's insurance which would have paid for it. But she was told: "We don't yet do that sort of work in France". She had to wait until she could get back to Australia to have the work done that the French could not. It would seem to take capitalism to provide the most advanced medical services.


6 March, 2004


One of Britain's biggest hospitals, University Hospital of Wales, had to postpone a heart operation because the surgeon couldn't find a parking space thanks to the "improvements" they made in parking arrangements meant to increase the number of spaces available for patients and visitors.

"By the time I arrived I felt so stressed I was in no state to perform the surgery," says heart surgeon Ulrich Von Oppell who spent an hour finding a parking spot. "I am sorry for the patient but I felt this was the right decision to make."

(Via Jerry Lerman -- from the UK Telegraph of March 4th. under "News in Brief" -- Free registration required)


23 February, 2003

Shiny Happy Gulag (from Canada) has some good posts up at the moment -- from quoting Nye Bevan at the French to throwing the Swedish example at Canadian socialized medicine.

22 January, 2003


Shiny Happy Gulag reports:

Northern Alberta breast cancer patients whose wait to see a cancer specialist has almost doubled should be sent out of province for treatment, says the president of the Alberta Medical Association. Dr. Steven Chambers goes on to say that eight weeks is an unacceptable waiting period to see an oncologist, and these patients should be flown to the US for radiation therapy.

Eight weeks for patients with life-threatening cancers to wait before they can begin treatment. Welcome to the Gulagland state-monopoly health care system.

Note where the doctors would like to send their patients: To that wicked capitalistic USA!


8 January, 2003


"Stop panicking, calm down."

Comment made by the woman who answered a Scottish couple's call for help on the emergency telephone number when they called because their baby stopped breathing and had turned blue, while being placed on hold, ultimately for 10 minutes.

Help finally came after the father ran into the street shouting for help and a neighbor, who happened to be a medical doctor, came over. The neighbor was able to keep the girl breathing until the ambulance arrived 40 minutes later.

Source. Summary by Jerry Lerman