When the state-run health care system makes cuts

Great Britain has a state-run health care system, having taken over virtually all medical care at little or no cost to the individual.  That’s what many people in this country would also like to see eventually.  But now the incredibly expensive British system has to save costs.  Here are some of the ways the British government will save money:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.

* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.

* Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.

* Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.

via Axe falls on NHS services – Telegraph.

This is why so many Americans are leery of state-run health care. They don’t want to become dependent on the federal government for their very lives, knowing that what the state gives it can take away. The free market is the only way to allocate supply and demand while cultivating both freedom and abundance. (Yes, scarcity raises prices for the poor, but that can be addressed without taking over the whole system in a command economy run from above.)

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About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    From the comments section of the Telegraph article:

    “Dear American Friends. In the UK we are not compelled to use the NHS. Some of us indeed (and I suspect many readers of this newspaper) have private insurance and others on occasion pay as they go in the UK’s private health care sector … Some of us go to Europe or even further but rarely to the USA which is too expensive. Incidentally the UK private sector is used by many people from outside the UK.”

  • Tom Hering

    From the comments section of the Telegraph article:

    “Dear American Friends. In the UK we are not compelled to use the NHS. Some of us indeed (and I suspect many readers of this newspaper) have private insurance and others on occasion pay as they go in the UK’s private health care sector … Some of us go to Europe or even further but rarely to the USA which is too expensive. Incidentally the UK private sector is used by many people from outside the UK.”

  • Orianna Laun

    The old man had been sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to see the doctor. Finally after a lengthy wait, he stood up, put on his hat and said loudly enough for those around him to hear, “Well, I guess I’ll just go home and die a natural death.”

    For now, it’s just a joke.

  • Orianna Laun

    The old man had been sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to see the doctor. Finally after a lengthy wait, he stood up, put on his hat and said loudly enough for those around him to hear, “Well, I guess I’ll just go home and die a natural death.”

    For now, it’s just a joke.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I find that interesting Tom. So most people find it necessary to supplement government healthcare with their own insurance?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I find that interesting Tom. So most people find it necessary to supplement government healthcare with their own insurance?

  • Tom Hering

    Bror, the sense I got from the comment was that some people depend on the NHS exclusively, while others use the private sector exclusively – though I”m sure there also some who use both.

  • Tom Hering

    Bror, the sense I got from the comment was that some people depend on the NHS exclusively, while others use the private sector exclusively – though I”m sure there also some who use both.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Yes, there is a private system in the U.K.–keep in mind, though, that the U.S. health insurance deform law prohibits new doctor owned hospitals in the U.S. The takeaway here is that central control leads to shortages and refusals of treatment, as anyone who has ever comprehended the lessons of first semester economics ought to be able to tell you.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Yes, there is a private system in the U.K.–keep in mind, though, that the U.S. health insurance deform law prohibits new doctor owned hospitals in the U.S. The takeaway here is that central control leads to shortages and refusals of treatment, as anyone who has ever comprehended the lessons of first semester economics ought to be able to tell you.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-27802-Televangelism--Pop-Christianity-Examiner Bob Hunter

    As it is, those with insurance find the insurance companies refusing to cover various procedures. So it’s a toss-up – the US government determines what you’re covered for or private insurance companies do.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-27802-Televangelism--Pop-Christianity-Examiner Bob Hunter

    As it is, those with insurance find the insurance companies refusing to cover various procedures. So it’s a toss-up – the US government determines what you’re covered for or private insurance companies do.

  • DonS

    Central planning and government monopolies are no panacea. That should be painfully obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

    We needlessly complicate our system, make things very expensive, and frustrate our medical providers by mandating comprehensive health insurance that covers routine care. Insurance should cover catastrophic and chronic care (treatment for managing a disease) only. This would keep compliance and claim costs way down, and allow doctors to be promptly paid without being forced to file a form for every patient they see.

    To cover routine care, and to ensure that the poor received proper medical care, health spending accounts (HSA’s) should be the norm. Those of average income or above can save money in a completely tax-free account, saving them state, federal and local income taxes, as well as payroll taxes, and use this money to pay for medical care. For those of below average income, refundable tax credits would be available to fill their HSA’s. Yes, this is still a government subsidy. However, it does not require a huge government and insurance bureaucracy to manage, and it gives patients the power to pay for their own care. An added benefit would be to return pricing power to the marketplace, where it belongs, as patients would once again care how much things cost.

    With these changes, the government could mandate that the catastrophic policies (for care above certain financial limits) were comprehensive in what they covered. Because of the much lower premiums for such policies, employers would be willing to pay premiums that covered many of the controversial procedures that insurance balks at paying for now, because their premiums are already swollen with obligations to pay for routine care.

  • DonS

    Central planning and government monopolies are no panacea. That should be painfully obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

    We needlessly complicate our system, make things very expensive, and frustrate our medical providers by mandating comprehensive health insurance that covers routine care. Insurance should cover catastrophic and chronic care (treatment for managing a disease) only. This would keep compliance and claim costs way down, and allow doctors to be promptly paid without being forced to file a form for every patient they see.

    To cover routine care, and to ensure that the poor received proper medical care, health spending accounts (HSA’s) should be the norm. Those of average income or above can save money in a completely tax-free account, saving them state, federal and local income taxes, as well as payroll taxes, and use this money to pay for medical care. For those of below average income, refundable tax credits would be available to fill their HSA’s. Yes, this is still a government subsidy. However, it does not require a huge government and insurance bureaucracy to manage, and it gives patients the power to pay for their own care. An added benefit would be to return pricing power to the marketplace, where it belongs, as patients would once again care how much things cost.

    With these changes, the government could mandate that the catastrophic policies (for care above certain financial limits) were comprehensive in what they covered. Because of the much lower premiums for such policies, employers would be willing to pay premiums that covered many of the controversial procedures that insurance balks at paying for now, because their premiums are already swollen with obligations to pay for routine care.

  • Michael Z.

    @ Bob
    However, under a private system, you can switch to a private insurance company that will cover a particular problem if your current coverage does not include it.

  • Michael Z.

    @ Bob
    However, under a private system, you can switch to a private insurance company that will cover a particular problem if your current coverage does not include it.

  • Peter

    Even so, the poorest in the UK still receive vastly better medical attention than do millions of Americans who can’t afford it or are otherwise denied access.

    Michael Z @8. What about those who don’t qualify for Medicaid but who can’t afford insurance?

  • Peter

    Even so, the poorest in the UK still receive vastly better medical attention than do millions of Americans who can’t afford it or are otherwise denied access.

    Michael Z @8. What about those who don’t qualify for Medicaid but who can’t afford insurance?

  • Michael Z.

    Peter, I was not defending the recent system in all of its aspects. There are problems with the recent private health care system, and those problems need to be addressed. I was merely stating that there is a big difference between government rationing and private sector rationing.

  • Michael Z.

    Peter, I was not defending the recent system in all of its aspects. There are problems with the recent private health care system, and those problems need to be addressed. I was merely stating that there is a big difference between government rationing and private sector rationing.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Peter, people are in general not denied access here. Besides, the article makes it very clear that in the UK, people are being denied access at this very moment. Red.Herring.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Peter, people are in general not denied access here. Besides, the article makes it very clear that in the UK, people are being denied access at this very moment. Red.Herring.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-27802-Televangelism--Pop-Christianity-Examiner Bob Hunter

    Michael: That is, if you can get insurance (my wife can’t), or can afford it (I can’t).

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-27802-Televangelism--Pop-Christianity-Examiner Bob Hunter

    Michael: That is, if you can get insurance (my wife can’t), or can afford it (I can’t).

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think the point here is that America’s current trajectory includes the problems of Britain’s system, without the benefits of Britain’s system. I am disappointed, but really surprised, that Washington is too proud to have a serious conversation with other nations before trotting out their smelly healthcare propositions.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think the point here is that America’s current trajectory includes the problems of Britain’s system, without the benefits of Britain’s system. I am disappointed, but really surprised, that Washington is too proud to have a serious conversation with other nations before trotting out their smelly healthcare propositions.

  • Peter

    Bubba @11
    You’re. Not.Well.Informed.

    A queer thing about Americans is their belief that government shouldn’t provide a necessary service because the government might someday ‘take it away’ from them. But they have no problem making themselves wholly reliant on for-profit private companies for that service, even if they can’t afford the service, have no means to obtain it, and die for lack of it.

  • Peter

    Bubba @11
    You’re. Not.Well.Informed.

    A queer thing about Americans is their belief that government shouldn’t provide a necessary service because the government might someday ‘take it away’ from them. But they have no problem making themselves wholly reliant on for-profit private companies for that service, even if they can’t afford the service, have no means to obtain it, and die for lack of it.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 14: That’s not why Americans don’t think government should provide health care. Not at all. There are many reasons, but that’s not a primary one at all. What some on this thread have been trying to do is merely point out that just because government is doing it doesn’t mean everything’s great. In other words, government is not inherently good, as many seem to believe.

    Here are just a few reasons why government should not provide health care:
    1. Federal government is not authorized under the U.S. Constitution to do so;
    2. Everything that government does it does through coercion (regulatory authority). That makes it inflexible and reduces the liberties of every person either providing or accepting benefits through the particular program at issue. Americans love individual liberty, and hate to have it unnecessarily restricted by government;
    3. Because government is captive to labor unions and agreements and employs expensive labor with expensive benefits and pensions, it is not an efficient service deliverer. Also, government employees, knowing that they are providing a monopoly service, tend to not be customer-oriented (been to your state’s DMV recently?);
    4. Health care providers are better at delivering medical services than government is;
    5. Government is running huge persistent deficits and cannot afford to take on any additional entitlement responsibilities;
    6. Governments involved in the delivery of health care services persistently ration care by making it unavailable absent long waiting periods. When government denies service, either through rationing or because of an error, there is no effective recourse for the patient.

    See my post @ 7 for a much more efficient and pleasant way to deliver affordable health care services, to everyone, rich or poor, and to empower individuals, rather than bureaucrats.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 14: That’s not why Americans don’t think government should provide health care. Not at all. There are many reasons, but that’s not a primary one at all. What some on this thread have been trying to do is merely point out that just because government is doing it doesn’t mean everything’s great. In other words, government is not inherently good, as many seem to believe.

    Here are just a few reasons why government should not provide health care:
    1. Federal government is not authorized under the U.S. Constitution to do so;
    2. Everything that government does it does through coercion (regulatory authority). That makes it inflexible and reduces the liberties of every person either providing or accepting benefits through the particular program at issue. Americans love individual liberty, and hate to have it unnecessarily restricted by government;
    3. Because government is captive to labor unions and agreements and employs expensive labor with expensive benefits and pensions, it is not an efficient service deliverer. Also, government employees, knowing that they are providing a monopoly service, tend to not be customer-oriented (been to your state’s DMV recently?);
    4. Health care providers are better at delivering medical services than government is;
    5. Government is running huge persistent deficits and cannot afford to take on any additional entitlement responsibilities;
    6. Governments involved in the delivery of health care services persistently ration care by making it unavailable absent long waiting periods. When government denies service, either through rationing or because of an error, there is no effective recourse for the patient.

    See my post @ 7 for a much more efficient and pleasant way to deliver affordable health care services, to everyone, rich or poor, and to empower individuals, rather than bureaucrats.

  • Peter

    @15 Your definition of ‘poor’ differs significantly from mine.

    I’ll leave you to argue with Veith over why American don’t want government to provide health care. Above, he wrote:

    “This is why so many Americans are leery of state-run health care. They don’t want to become dependent on the federal government for their very lives, knowing that what the state gives it can take away.”

  • Peter

    @15 Your definition of ‘poor’ differs significantly from mine.

    I’ll leave you to argue with Veith over why American don’t want government to provide health care. Above, he wrote:

    “This is why so many Americans are leery of state-run health care. They don’t want to become dependent on the federal government for their very lives, knowing that what the state gives it can take away.”

  • DonS

    Peter @ 16: I didn’t define the term “poor”, so how are you so certain that my definition is different than your’s?

    I don’t feel the need to argue with Dr. Veith, because all I said was his stated reason is not a primary one. And, I doubt that he would disagree with me.

    It would be interesting for you to actually tackle the substance of what I wrote and explain why you think the U.S. government would be so much better at providing health care than other governments, such as Canada and the UK have been. Especially given the history of Medicare and Medicaid.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 16: I didn’t define the term “poor”, so how are you so certain that my definition is different than your’s?

    I don’t feel the need to argue with Dr. Veith, because all I said was his stated reason is not a primary one. And, I doubt that he would disagree with me.

    It would be interesting for you to actually tackle the substance of what I wrote and explain why you think the U.S. government would be so much better at providing health care than other governments, such as Canada and the UK have been. Especially given the history of Medicare and Medicaid.

  • http://spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    I can’t speak for Britain or France. Perhaps those small nations are homogeneous enough to have centralized authorities guiding their medical decisions (ex: NICE in the UK).

    In a nation as large and heterogeneous as America such a one-sized fits all system is less likely to work. That’s why the most appropriate place to address medical policy is in the states. That is most consistent with the American form of democracy.

    In the Democrat’s bill I suspect we’ve begun a process of making medical care less effective and more expensive but certainly more lucrative for a few preferred industry groups.

  • http://spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    I can’t speak for Britain or France. Perhaps those small nations are homogeneous enough to have centralized authorities guiding their medical decisions (ex: NICE in the UK).

    In a nation as large and heterogeneous as America such a one-sized fits all system is less likely to work. That’s why the most appropriate place to address medical policy is in the states. That is most consistent with the American form of democracy.

    In the Democrat’s bill I suspect we’ve begun a process of making medical care less effective and more expensive but certainly more lucrative for a few preferred industry groups.

  • http://www.long-term-care-insurance-providers.com/ Diana Lee

    I found this article very up-to-date and informative as it provides excellent tips to obtain the best possible long term care insurance rates and quotes. With this handy information, you are able to make your decisions more wisely and obtain the best long-term care insurance plan for yourself. It highlights the importance of having long term care insurance especially for the people above 65 years of age in helping them to plan for their long-term care needs.

  • http://www.long-term-care-insurance-providers.com/ Diana Lee

    I found this article very up-to-date and informative as it provides excellent tips to obtain the best possible long term care insurance rates and quotes. With this handy information, you are able to make your decisions more wisely and obtain the best long-term care insurance plan for yourself. It highlights the importance of having long term care insurance especially for the people above 65 years of age in helping them to plan for their long-term care needs.

  • Orianna Laun

    I was thinking, in light of this post and one previous that it is funny (in a peculiar way) that people think that the government can be in the healthcare business when they can’t even keep the postal service afloat. Just an observation.

  • Orianna Laun

    I was thinking, in light of this post and one previous that it is funny (in a peculiar way) that people think that the government can be in the healthcare business when they can’t even keep the postal service afloat. Just an observation.


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