(part one of two about the healthcare debate)
Opponents of government participation in healthcare love to point out horror stories from the British NHS, and why not- it's an easy target; the stories are easy to find. In just this morning's Telegraph there were two such: Almost 4,000 women 'forced to give birth outside maternity wards' , and Man's appendix ruptures a month after it was 'removed' in hospital . But those who do so do not understand the situation, according to Lawrence Lindsey, writing in the TimesOnline. His article, America’s lesson for the NHS We in Britain think US healthcare favours those who can pay for it, but that’s a serious misdiagnosis of a smart system , is a must-read for everyone on any side of the healthcare debate.
"The political class in the United Kingdom has taken a good deal of umbrage at the unkind comments about the National Health Service made in the context of the American healthcare debate. Please accept my apologies on behalf of my countrymen, who are looking at the NHS through the prism of the American experience and without the historical context of British health before the NHS.
That said, there is also a tremendous amount of misinformation in Britain about the American healthcare system. The fact is, both America and Britain are going to have to change the way they provide healthcare but through evolution, not sudden or drastic reform."
Some of the myths about American healthcare he explains to his British readers needs to be read on this side of the pond, too; I've heard and read them here. "Moreover, being uninsured does not close the door to receiving healthcare... Some of the uninsured simply pay out of pocket. But, if you are uninsured and indigent, you show up at the emergency room. It is illegal to refuse treatment in all 50 states. This creates an enormous crosssubsidy issue as hospitals and other medical service providers must push this unreimbursed cost onto their insured customers."
He also speaks of something at the core of the issue that I've tried to raise discussion about without success: it doesn't matter who's paying if you don't control the ever increasing costs. "Healthcare spending in America is growing between two and four percentage points faster than GDP. Washington views this as a long-term political challenge. As an economist, I view it as a long-term mathematical impossibility. One cannot have a component of GDP growing faster than GDP indefinitely."
I can't even begin to get into the even more important things he says without quoting the entire article; like many big issues, every facet is interlocked with every other. Just do yourself a favor and go read it right now.