European health care rationing boards: coming to America?


Following up on a letter in the Wichita Eagle written by Brad Beachy of Wichita: He’s making the case that nationalized health care of the type found in Europe is both cheaper and better than what we have in America.

Cheaper, yes. Better? Let’s take a look.

Beachy, in his letter, states: “European countries such as England spend about 8 percent of their gross domestic product on health care while covering every single resident.”

The eight percent of GDP figure is commonly cited, and that’s about half what the United States spends. So how does England do it?

Last week I reported on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the board in England founded about 10 years ago as “a body that would ensure that the government-run National Health System used ‘best practices’ in medicine.” (We hear phrases like this from Obama. As if the government would know what are “best practices.”)

But something different happened: “What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS.”

The Journal article details a few examples of care that is denied in England, but most Americans get.

There are real consequences: “The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.”

One of the reasons used by those in favor of national health care is that sometimes insurance companies won’t cover treatments people feel they should receive. A government rationing board — we will have one in America if Obama’s plans proceed — is likely to be much more harsh.


3 responses to “European health care rationing boards: coming to America?”

  1. chris

    under my opinion everybody will be happy to go to the doctor knowing that will be free of charge and than will go and take care of his own or his children health(that’s mean less people will call sick) and may be the most then will be alive and after retirement…
    unfortunately the big mafia will not allow it.
    i really hope i am wrong!

  2. Bennett

    I have had the most helpful physical therapy denied to my father by the insurance company. Pills were acceptable, therapy in spite of improvement was not. Dad died within six months of this denial. After not walking for two and half years following a accident, surgery was denied to me as “cosmetic”. I was crippled! I finally walked after the Soviet Union collapsed and they brought out a a new therapy which sort of leaves a question as to if our health care is so innovative. Heart patients are denied care as “pre existing”. Hippocratic oath does not count if you are not on a preferred plan. You really think you are not rationed now??? Do you not believe that People do not suffer and die waiting for this shell game to end as it is??? I have been overseas also and most folks over there are wondering how we got so backward. You call this socialism? Alexander Hamilton is the father of American Capitalism and he saw limits to what private enterprise could do for a republic. Certainly JP Morgan saw limits also, especially after the 1907 panic. Our GNP is 13.8 trillion and 17% of that is going to health care. We have no problem with Federal courts dictating hard working people’s wages, but fear a system that will have the oversight of every citizen with a child or elderly parent, or a serious illness, which we all at some time face. Somehow people forget that corporations have governance also. You cannot vote for them. The appeals process is stacked against you and they are masters of delay. Father in Law with pre-existing condition, a heart, fired, because he had a heart. Anyone that thinks that Insurance companies are not governments are fools. Anyone that think they will provide you with good health, are entitled to your opinion. You are betting your life, your children’s life, your parents life. So far I wasted 31/2 years of productivity waiting for them and lost two fine people I love. God Bless you all, but I cannot pledge allegience to multinational corporations. The first attempts at improving health care as a duty of society happened during the renaissance. Prior to that was the dark ages. That was centuries before Marx ever lived and socialized medicine was instituted by Bismark, the man that exiled Marx and Engels. If you want to sit in fear of Socialism, please take the time to learn what capitalism is. The driving engine of capitalism is self improvement and the average American is facing declining wages and potential bankruptcy. That is not capitalism. Our declaration of independence says we have the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The insurance industry makes a nice profit denying it. No one is claiming the government is offering free health care. We do have a bill of right guarantees with the government. Corporations do not have loyalty to flag and have proven repeatedly that if it is between the life of a individual and their quarterly bonus, the individual must die. My ancestor fought in the revolution and he expected a pension. Our forefathers gave him that protection. He also fought 18 years against powerful mercantile interests. The government came through quicker. Before you talk liberty, learn about real liberty and stop mindlessly quoting slogans. You serve a souless master.

  3. European

    This is a silly article – here are some major errors you have overlooked Bob.

    Firstly NICE is staffed by doctors, not ‘the government’

    Secondly, although it’s true US citizens have better cancer survival rates than Europeans, the survival rates for pretty much every other major illness are higher in Western Europe – this explains why we have longer life expectancies than Americans.

    Europeans on average live longer, healthier lives than Americans.

    Good luck with reform.

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