What’s easy about guaranteed health care for all? For one thing, we know that it’s economically feasible: every wealthy country except the United States already has some form of guaranteed health care. – Paul Krugman, August 10, 2008
Many pundits see red at the words “single-payer system.” They think it means low-quality socialized medicine; they start telling horror stories — almost all of them false — about the problems of other countries’ health care. — Paul Krugman, May 1, 2006
If citizens of these other wealthy countries have guaranteed care, can Dr. Krugman explain to me to following instances of people in these countries not getting needed medical care?
- The British National Post reports on “How the NHS is letting my father die – by a top hospital consultant.”
- The Globe and Mail reports that “More than 100 Canadian women with high-risk pregnancies have been sent to United States hospitals over the past year – in what a doctors’ group attributes to the lack of a national birthing plan.”
- The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that in one year, 71 Ontario patients died while waiting for coronary bypass surgery and over one hundred more became “medically unfit for surgery.”
- The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that “109 people had a heart attack or suffered heart failure while on the waiting list. Fifty of those patients died.”
- The Globe and Mail reportedthat “Inside Sylvia de Vries lurked an enormous tumour and fluid totalling 18 kilograms. But not even that massive weight gain and a diagnosis of ovarian cancer could assure her timely treatment in Canada.”
- The Globe and Mail also reported that “More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here.”
- The BBC reports that “up to 500 heart patients die each year while they wait for potentially life-saving surgery.” The Times reports that a British woman “will be denied free National Health Service treatment for breast cancer if she seeks to improve her chances by paying privately for an additional drug.”
- A Daily Telegraph headline reads: “Sufferers pull out teeth due to lack of dentists.” “Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives,” reports another article.
- [update, Aug 14] An August 13 Telegraph headline reads: “Patients ‘should not expect NHS to save their life if it costs too much’ The NHS should not always attempt to save someone’s life if the cost is too much, the medical regulator has ruled.”
- [update, Sept 2]: The Independent (UK) reports that “A cancer charity has today published research that shows doctors are keeping cancer patients in the dark about new treatments that could extend their lives.” (via FIRM)
- [update, Sept 2]: And for those who hate anecdotes of those who do not receive care where government supposedly “guarantees it,” BigGovHealth.org keeps a growing list.
- [update, August 18]: “Kidney cancer patients denied life-saving drugs by NHS rationing body NICE,” Daily Mail 4-29-09
- The Telegraph reports: “The National Health Service is today condemned over its inhumane treatment of elderly patients in an official report that finds hospitals are failing to meet “even the most basic standards of care” for the over-65s.” (Feb, 2011)
- See my other posts on government health care rationing, including this video about rationing in Oregon.
Are any of the above false? And if the governments of these countries “guarantee” health care to citizens, how could the above situations occur?
Unlike Paul Krugman, I do not have a Ph.D. in Economics, have a column in the New York Times, and Princeton University does not employ me as a professor. So maybe I lack some insight that he possesses.
Or could he be trying to deceive readers? Or is he just ignorant? Other explanations?