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Time for your medication, honey

nurse obama

I’ve been avoiding writing about the NHS. Health care, in all its ghastly detail, is so effing boring. And I’ve never been sick in either country. You never really know a system until you’ve depended on it.

But I’m the only one in my circle who has lived with no insurance, and under Blue Cross and under the NHS, so I feel obliged to weigh in. Even if much of my experience of anyone’s healthcare system is as an interested bystander.

First off, the NHS isn’t that bad. The horror stories you read in the Daily Mail — beloved of the Drudge Report — represent the worst failures of the worst doctors in the worst hospitals viewed through the jaundiced lens of a sensationalist media. If you took the worst failures of the worst doctors in the worst hospitals in the US, I’m certain we could match them wrong-kidney for missed-diagnosis. The truth isn’t in the outliers. The NHS is pretty good for most people most of the time. HOWEVER…

The NHS is pretty good, but it’s not quite good enough. The real picture isn’t in individual horror stories, but broader averages. As Theodore Dalrymple says, “Britain’s hospitals have vastly higher rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a measurement of the cleanliness of hospitals) than those of any other European country; and survival rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease are the lowest in the western world, and lower even than among the worst-off Americans.” (Incidentally, Theodore Dalrymple — AKA Anthony Daniels, MD — is a god. Google him and read all 92,500 hits. Do it now, Mister!).

They aren’t actually proposing an NHS, so comparisons aren’t all that meaningful. Not all government-run health systems are the same; some work better than others. The NHS was a bottom-up restructuring of public health, for better or worse. What Washington hopes to do is impose a bunch of new bureaucracy on an existing public system. It’s less “reform” than a controlled demolition. Like being nibbled to death by ducks.

The current US system is already a de facto universal solution. The old have Medicare, the poor have Medicaid, the rich live like kings amongst us and most of the rest have insurance through work. As armybrat and Bob touch on in the comments to the previous thread, nobody gets turned away for acute care, regardless of their ability to pay (which is one reason the system is so expensive).

So the main problem we have is middle class people who are uninsured (or underinsured) and have an unexpected or pre-existing serious, chronic medical problem. How many people are in that spot? I don’t know, but it sure as HELL isn’t 47 million. And fixing it sure as HELL isn’t worth completely shattering what we have now.

Because the US has the best medical care in the world. We get hammered all the time with how “broken” our system is. It isn’t. We have fabulous medical care — innovative, experimental, enthusiastic and scientific as shit. It’s just that not everyone has sufficient access to it. That’s a much narrower problem than the one Washington wants to “solve”.

Theres a lot more to public health care, of course. The cost of our existing programs, necessary taxes, more intrusion in our private lives, “death panels”, malpractice law, illegals in the system. But I’ve already bored myself stiff. And I’d really rather spend my time Photoshopping Obama’s head where no Obama’s head has gone before.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 8, 2009, 6:39 pm

You can’t help concluding it’s not actually about healthcare, can you?

Comment from Tesla
Time: September 8, 2009, 7:02 pm

If you need help finding places to place obama’s photoshopped head I’ve got some dandy suggestions. And get your mind out of the sewer cuz that’s MY job. And the 1st place in the sewer goes to the big white mint found in men’s urinals which you girls shouldn’t know about anyhow. And if you do know about big white mints please supply stories as to how this knowledge was obtained.

Comment from Allen
Time: September 8, 2009, 7:12 pm

What do I care, I get the sweet sweet deal of CongressCare. I have the same system as the poobahs from my wife’s work. As long as I pay the premiums I get the good stuff. So pffft, I’m safe because they’ll never jack with their own system.

Seriously though, that’s the one thing the media seems to downplay. That is the fact that Congress will NOT be on the system they designed.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 8, 2009, 7:15 pm

That would be an interesting place to put the lever, Allen.

“We’ll accept whatever new health package Congress comes up with — provided they consent to live with the same plan. No extras.”

Comment from armybrat
Time: September 8, 2009, 8:27 pm

That’s exactly what I’ve been saying Allen. If Mike had balls of Steele instead of marshmallow, he’d be leading the republican party with just that message. But, that’s why we’re in this mess to begin with.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: September 8, 2009, 9:53 pm

“Time for your medication, honey” – Why do I hear that in Flip-Wilson-as-Geraldine’s voice? And, am I the only one old enough to know what that is?

Probably. That pic is creepy.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 9, 2009, 4:32 am

Flip Wilson! Of course I remember him, Felix. What happened to him?

Oh, dear. Wikipidia say, he daid.

Comment from Gnus
Time: September 9, 2009, 12:12 pm

I heard on the radio – You know it’s true or they couldn’t say it. – that something like one million people in the US have come down with Swine Flu, but only around five hundred have died from it. So how come we suddenly have to fix our health care system?

And no, Felix, I ‘members Flip Wilson and Geraldine. 🙂

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: September 9, 2009, 12:47 pm

ya know, stoatie… that picture of Obama is almost as disturbing as one of Janet Reno coming at someone wearing a negligee and carrying a box of condoms…..

Pingback from Health care comparison » Cold Fury
Time: September 11, 2009, 9:52 am

[…] Health care comparison Posted in Leftward ho! by Mike Sep 11 2009 TrackBack Address. Sweasel runs it down: First off, the NHS isn’t that bad. The horror stories you read in the Daily Mail — beloved of […]

Comment from Chrıs Anton
Time: September 14, 2009, 7:34 pm

Seriously though, that’s the one thing the media seems to downplay. That is the fact that Congress will NOT be on the system they designed

Comment from Bad Science
Time: September 19, 2009, 4:29 pm

The “good is bad” meme is an ongoing theme in the media – the economy was actually kinda good until the dems took Congress (although I suppose we could give them props for collapsing the house of cards (but I’m not going to, and you shouldn’t either (if you want))), the medical system is the best until they take healthcare or insurance or whatever their current flavor of the week is.
Any others?

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