According to a recent study by the Cato Institute of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), there is no perfect scenario when it comes to health care. On one side of the spectrum is the desire to have unlimited medical care to extend one’s life as much as possible, and the other end of the spectrum is to ration care to control spending.
The NHS is a centralized government version of the one-payer system in England, and it pays directly for health care and finances the system through general tax revenues. Most physicians and nurses are government employees. Below are some key statistics to keep in mind when looking at a government system without competition.
* Presently as many as three quarters of a million British are waiting to be treated in Britain’s hospitals. Cancer patients, for example, will wait as long as eight months before being treated. A byproduct of that wait is that maybe 20 percent of colon cancer patients, who were initially considered “treatable” when first diagnosed, will become “incurable” as a direct result of all that waiting. Even more alarming is the fact that as many as 40 percent of cancer patients have never even been seen by an oncology specialist.
* In 2008 Britain’s goal was for a wait time of no more than 18 weeks. The study showed that only 30-50 percent of patients actually received treatment within the 18-week time frame. What’s worse is that only 20 percent of orthopedic and trauma patients received care from a specialist within the18-week target window.
* Not surprisingly, a direct result of Britain’s over-taxed system is that certain types of care for more expensive procedures such as open heart surgery and kidney dialysis are now “rationed.” Even more alarming is that patients deemed “too ill” or “too old” for a procedure to be “cost-effective” are being denied treatment altogether. One government “solution” being proposed is that the NHS be allowed to refuse treatment to those with “unhealthy lifestyles” such as smokers and the overweight.
* Another solution is “competition” in the form of private healthinsurance. Currently about 10 percent of British have private health insurance, and that number is growing, as more and more British seek to gain access to a wider choice of healthcare providers and avoid waiting lists.
* Studies conducted on the British public indicated that 63 percent felt the need for healthcare reform is “urgent,” and another 24 percent believe that it is at least “desirable.” Even more telling, however, is that 60 percent of Britons believe that making it easier for patients to spend their own money on health care would “improve quality.”
Doug Gulleson loves to scuba dive overseas. He makes sure he always takes his credit card AND international travel insurance. Visit Good Neighbor Insurance and view the BUPA plans at http://www.onlineglobalhealthinsurance.com/ for your next overseas trip and get a FREE quote.