Tag: "socialized health care"

Brits Opt For Personalized Medicine

What’s happening under “socialized medicine”:

England is launching an extensive cancer database tracking all 350,000 new tumors detected each year as well as 11 million historical records going back as far as 30 years, in an attempt to advance personalized medicine. (FierceHealthIT)

What’s happening under ObamaCare:

In an interview with CNN the other day former White House health adviser Ezekiel Emanuel called “personalized medicine a myth.” According to his own center’s summary of the interview: [He] characterized excited public discussion of the potential of population-wide individual gene-based medicine as “hyperbolic.” He said tailoring medical treatments to individual characteristics of each patient is both overly optimistic and cost-prohibitive and likened the process to buying a custom-made suit versus one off the rack. (JCG Blog)

The next time you see Zeke on TV tell me if those suits look off-the-rack.

The “Envy of the World” is Being Privatized

[I]n 2000 the NHS [British National Health Service] created independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) to contract out various clinical services. The same year, pathology and high technology diagnostic services began begin contracted out to provide-sector providers as well.

Further, in 2008, NHS began the Patient Choice initiative through which patients are able to choose any provider (i.e., NHS, private, not for profit) they wish for elective care.

Just as the U.S. healthcare system is not exclusively run by the private sector, in Great Britain the NHS also does not provide 100% of the care British patients receive.

More from Jason Shafrin. Study.

Crony Capitalism

Seven out of the 10 richest counties in the U.S. are in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., which produces little except rules and regulations. Even worse, the slow growth and decreased social mobility of the last decade have damaged the free market’s reputation as a creator of prosperity. The hundreds of millions of dollars awarded for disastrous economic performance — from Robert Rubin’s salary as chairman of almost-bankrupt Citigroup to government loans for the actually bankrupt solar company Solyndra — have in turn weakened public belief in the system’s fairness.

Luigi Zinglaes’ editorial in the WSJ.

Teachers Get Free Botox in Buffalo

The Buffalo public school system’s health insurance covers plastic surgery. There is no copay. According to BuffaloNews.com, the cost of the benefit rose from $1 million in 2004 to $9 million in 2009. That was 9 percent of the district’s total spending on health benefits for employees and retirees. According to Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic, the union has said that it will be happy to drop the benefit in the next round of contract negotiations.

However, Buffalo teachers haven’t bothered to negotiate a new contract since the last one expired in 2004. Thanks to New York State’s Triborough Amendment, they don’t have to. The old contract automatically stays in force until the union reaches a new agreement. As the old agreement has lavish benefits and yearly 2.5% step increases, the union has no incentive to enter into negotiations with a city that receives 48 percent of its revenues with from what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls a “functionally bankrupt” state and might, for once, actually be interested in driving a hard bargain.

Should You and I Pay for Austin’s Daughter’s Asthma Pills?

This is Austin Frakt at The Incidental Economist:

Asthma medication is exactly the type of health product that should be free, or nearly so, especially for low-income families. I cannot imagine many would take the meds for “fun”. I don’t think “skin in the game” causes patients to avoid overuse. All I think it does is risk more asthma attacks and more ER visits, even more deaths…

I’d call breathing a merit good, something we all have a right to enjoy. Let’s not charge people for medication that permits it, particularly if doing so means we’re likely to pay vastly more if they don’t take their meds.

Here is the response I posted:

Austin, on first reading, I thought you were saying that I (as a taxpayer) should help pay for your daughter’s asthma medication — even though you agree that you can afford to pay for it yourself. Disbelief overcame me, so I read your post a second time. Then I read it a third. Each time, the message was as incomprehensible as on the previous reading.

Is there a persuasive reason why I owe the Frakt household something? If so, it’s not in this post.

Socialized Medicine, Montana Style

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer wants to establish a government-run health care plan in his state, patterned after the program used in Saskatchewan.  He then went on to explain how his government-run system might keep taxpayer spending on health care low:

Chris Jacobs has discovered that “Wait List FAQs” from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency includes this helpful guidance for cancer patients:

What are you doing to ensure that I get an appointment in a timely way?

Currently we have a shortage of medical oncologists that is impacting our wait times.  We are also actively recruiting to fill our vacant positions throughout our facilities and are working to bring in locums to help address wait times….

Can I get care sooner if I go somewhere else?

You will find that wait times exist in the healthcare system throughout Canada and in other countries as well….

British EMR Experiment Ends in Failure

While the Obama administration is in the process of spending billions on developing electronic medical records, the British government has concluded that its £12.7 billion national electronic medical records system is a failure and that “there can be no confidence that the programme has delivered or can be delivered as originally conceived.” The Telegraph reports that Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said “Labour’s NHS IT Programme let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers’ money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which didn’t fit their needs.”

The two parts that have worked and will be retained have been a part of the U.S. health care landscape for some years. The first is a nationwide NHS email system. The second is Choose and Book. Choose and Book lets patients who have been given a password and a reference number by their primary care physician “choose where [one] goes for your first consultation by comparing the hospitals [one has] been shortlisted at” and book, cancel, or change one’s appointment online as well as by phone.

Living With a Global Budget

This is the latest news about the British National Health Service:

Family doctors have been ordered to ration the number of patients they send for life-saving cancer scans to save money.

They are being told to slash the number they refer to hospital for tests including ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans commonly used to spot tumours.

Last night experts warned the cost-saving measures increased the risk of patients being diagnosed too late and dying unnecessarily.

Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe, and experts say late diagnosis is to blame.

Vending Machines for Prescription Drugs, and Other News

Hospital offers a 24-hour vending machine for prescription drugs.

Government waste discovered by ABC News (great video).

Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Chicago city workers: enroll in a new wellness plan or pay a $50 a month higher premium.

Hospital drug shortages have cost at least 15 deaths. See previous posts here, here, and here.

The Downside of Japanese Health Care

[P]atients can nearly always see a doctor within a day. But they must often wait hours for a three-minute consultation. Complicated cases get too little attention. The Japanese are only a quarter as likely as the Americans or French to suffer a heart attack, but twice as likely to die if they do.

Some doctors see as many as 100 patients a day. Because their salaries are low, they tend to overprescribe tests and drugs. (Clinics often own their own pharmacies.) They also earn money, hotel-like, by keeping patients in bed. Simple surgery that in the West would involve no overnight stay, such as a hernia operation, entails a five-day hospital stay in Japan.

Emergency care is often poor. In lesser cities it is not uncommon for ambulances to cruise the streets calling a succession of emergency rooms to find one that can cram in a patient. In a few cases people have died because of this. One reason for a shortage of emergency care is an abundance of small clinics instead of big hospitals. Doctors prefer them because they can work less and earn more.

Full article on Japanese health care here.