Sunday, January 27, 2008

National Health Care: Only if we like you

As a sort of follow up to an earlier post, this story in the UK Telegraph caught my eye:


Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Fertility treatment and "social" abortions are also on the list of procedures that many doctors say should not be funded by the state.

The findings of a survey conducted by Doctor magazine sparked a fierce row last night, with the British Medical Association and campaign groups describing the recommendations from family and hospital doctors as "out­rageous" and "disgraceful".



So, at least from some survey respondents, in the ideal national health care system every citizen pays for health care through their taxes but are denied benefits if they don't live their lives the way doctors think they should or get too old.

Of course, those "bad people" won't be getting a break on their taxes of course. They have to keep paying for the "good people" who really deserve medical care.

That's a national health care system you can keep on the other side of the pond. Socialism is egalitarian only if you're one of the "good people", apparently.

7 comments:

Der_General said...

This has come up in several of the places I frequent, and it always gets my blood boiling. I'm overweight, but I don't smoke and rarely drink; does that make me more or less of risk than a skinny guy who smokes two packs a day and goes out drinking five nights a week? What about people who don't wear their seatbelts? Or people who have a history of cancer/heart disease/Alzheimer's disease in their family? Motorcyclists? Hunters? Where will they draw the line?

Rus said...

The kick of it is people are forced to pay into the national health care system, but according to some doctors they shouldn't receive the same benefits as others.

Rather puts paid to any notion of equality, eh?

Giles said...

Notice this was an opinion piece not a policy piece, some doctors reckon this should happen, 99% of Telegraph readers probably agree with them, the fact is though we don't do it. (Rus you need to start reading the Times instead of the Telegraph)

@ der_general. If you get knocked over by a car in the UK, you'll get treated despite the fact you are overweight and guess what we won't want to see any insurance first, we'll even carry out surgery on you even though dieing on the operating table increases proportionately the more you are overweight, but hey thats the beauty of the NHS.

OTOH, if you were British and being fat/smoking/having casual sex is a lifestyle choice for you and now you need an operation because you are fat a smoker or a slut and the chances of success will be increased if you lose weight/stop smoking/stop sleeping around but you can't be arsed, then frankly fuck you, why should I pay for it.

Actually Rus, the kick of it is people like me pay into the national health care system, and then see complete fuckwits who can't be arsed to look after themselves take up a disproportionate amount of resources.

NHS, free health care for all, not f*cking childcare because you don't make any effort to look after yourself.

BTW nice to see our American cousins so concerned about the British health service. :)

Rus said...

Hey Giles!

On this:

Actually Rus, the kick of it is people like me pay into the national health care system, and then see complete fuckwits who can't be arsed to look after themselves take up a disproportionate amount of resources.

NHS, free health care for all, not f*cking childcare because you don't make any effort to look after yourself.


Yep, that's the rub. If there's a single payer system, there will be those who consume more resources than others.

Which, to me, means on this side of the pond we should not have a single payer system. That removes the incentive to control others behavior, since it costs you nothing.

Considering the verbage of late from the Dems, we may end up with a national insurance scheme of some kind, which is why looking to the other side of the pond can be instructive for us over here.

On the other hand, it's looking mor e and more like we won't be able to afford such a boondogle, so the point may be moot.

TchoTChoWrangler said...

I think perhaps the US would be better served if were to go back and look at the goals of the NHS when it was founded.

It was designed to ensure those who could not provide for themselves recieved general healthcare.

The aim of the NHS was to promote “the establishment of a comprehensive health service designed to secure improvement in the physical and mental health of the people of England and Wales and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness”

The values which underpinned the establishment of the NHS still hold true today, but our expectations have increased.

To me there is a covenant the NHS tries as best it can to stick to it, its us who are failing to stick to our side of the bargain.

Rus said...

TchoTChoWrangler:

The goal is admirable; I ( and others ) worry about unintended consequences.

Like, perhaps, "bad" behavior becoming illegal. That would require a level of societal control I'm not comfortable with... and would also require those in charge to always be right, which doesn't seem possible.

In fact, the NHS may lead to more risky behavior than there otherwise would be.

Giles said...

Hey Rus

I agree to a point, but as I said if the US were to adhere to the original goals of the NHS - prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness - and spell out the terms and conditions under which a person receives treatment then I don't think this would be an issue.

As an aside if your not an alcoholic then the NHS should be able to charge a drunk for using NHS resources.

Giles