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I have said previously that anyone who supports the notion of Medicare for All has never been on Medicare! After a lifetime of paying Medicare taxes, I still have to pay a Medicare premium of $134 a month for Parts A & B, plus $130 a month to a private insurer, Aetna in my case, for Part G. Part G does not include prescription drug coverage.
But, that said, I can still get in to see my doctor within a day or two, and sometimes the day I call. The ‘free’ health care system in our neighbor to the north? Not so much! From the Toronto Sun, which isn’t exactly an alt-right site:
Postmedia News | Published: March 30, 2019 | Updated: March 30, 2019 8:56 PM EDT
Two reports on medical wait times released last week underscore three key points that the more than one million Canadians waiting for medically necessary treatment already know from often bitter experience.
First, that access to a waiting list for health care is not health care.
Second, that waiting for medically necessary treatment imposes a financial burden on patients in addition to physical and psychological ones.
Third, that excessive wait times for medically necessary treatment have become a permanent feature of Canada’s health care system.
The editorial continues to note the grim statistics, that the Canadian health care system is nothing more than hurry up and wait. But the money quotes are two paragraphs further down:
Finally, excessive medical wait times aren’t, despite what our politicians tell us, examples of our health care system failing to function as it should.
In reality, Canada’s health care system could not function without excessive wait times for medically necessary care, as a way of rationing health care to Canadians.
Of course, I’ve known about these wait times in Canada — and other socialized medicine nations as well — for a long time, so it was no surprise to me when I heard about the excessive wait times in our own Veterans’ Administration health care system; the VA was doing nothing qualitatively different from other socialized medicine systems. If a patient needs four appointments a year, one every three months, if the system can drag those appointments out just a little, it can push that fourth appointment off until the next fiscal year.
But it seems like our neighbors to the north aren’t just stretching out appointments just a little: the editorial noted that 30% of patients needing knee replacements or cataract surgery had wait times exceeding “recommended (maximum) wait times,” and those recommended maximum wait times were six months and four months, respectively.
As it happens, I’ve had cataract surgery . . . and in the horrible American health care system, I didn’t have to wait a week.
And while cataract surgery isn’t the treatment of a life threatening condition — other than the fact I couldn’t see well enough to drive after dark, and my career had me driving to work before sunrise, and, sometimes, not getting home until after dark — the deliberate delaying of appointments and treatment has one other, unspoken, motive beyond pushing things until the next budgetary year; if treatments and appointments can be delayed, some will never happen at all, because some patients will simply die before the next appointment.
Significantly delaying treatment has a built-in death benefit for the state.
Of course, it isn’t just Canada:
“The (British National Health Service) N.H.S. waiting list will grow to five million people by 2021,” (Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the service in England) said in an impassioned speech to health care leaders in November. “That is one million more people, equivalent to one in 10 of us, the highest number ever.”
What’s more, he said, “after seven years of understandable but unprecedented constraint on the current budget, the N.H.S. can no longer do everything that is being asked of it.”
And The Guardian, another not exactly alt-right source, noted:
Report says private providers have seen 15 to 25% annual rise in ‘self-payers’ as patients resort to using savings or loans
Denis Campbell, Health policy editor | Sunday, 10 September 2017 | 19.01 EDT
Growing numbers of patients are paying for private treatment to beat rationing and delays for treatment imposed by the cash-strapped NHS.
People who do not have health insurance are increasingly paying up to £14,880 for operations such as a hip or knee replacement or cataract removal, a report reveals.
Profit-driven hospital firms are experiencing 15 to 25% year-on-year rises in the number of uninsured “self-payers”, with the increase mainly driven by long waiting times to undergo non-urgent surgery in NHS hospitals. Patients are using their savings or taking out loans to pay for their treatment.
The biggest increases have been in those paying for procedures to relieve disabling condition, interventions that are increasingly hard for people in England to obtain on the NHS without a long wait.
“There’s no doubt that NHS waiting lists are at the heart of this growth in self-pay,” said Keith Pollard, the chief executive of Intuition Communications, which undertook the research.
The report said: “Providers have noted a direct correlation at a local level between reported excessive waiting times for surgery and demand for self-pay surgery.”
The total number of patients in England waiting for planned hospital care within the maximum 18 weeks guaranteed under the Referral to Treatment scheme exceeded 4 million in July for the first time in decade, soon after NHS England and ministers controversially relaxed the target.
There has also been a rise in those paying for private cancer care in the wake of NHS England cutting the number of drugs it pays for under the Cancer Drugs Fund. “Widely publicised restrictions on NHS funding for cancer drugs is fuelling the growth in self-pay oncology,” notes the report, titled The Private Healthcare UK Self-Pay Market 2017.
This is what will happen if we go to Medicare for All, because if the government becomes the payer of health care for everybody, the government will have to find ways to economize; that’s simply the way things work. These situations don’t exist because the governments in Canada and the United Kingdom are just big ol’ meanies who hate the working class; they exist because health care costs money, and that’s something of which they do not have enough.
Health care in the United States does cost more . . . and we get more for it. Even those of us on Medicare get the advantages of the prompt care that is part of the American system, because we are still being treated in the private health care system.
But if the United States turns to Medicare for All, with private health insurance going away for most care, we’ll see the same thing that plagues our Mother Country, a system in which budgetary necessities force delays, and worse care.
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