You've Just Got to Love Nationalized Health Care - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
You’ve Just Got to Love Nationalized Health Care

America’s medical system is an expensive mess, but one reason that’s the case is because it doesn’t go out of its way to deprive people of needed care to save money.  Great Britain spends far less, but you’d better hope that you don’t get seriously ill and require extraordinary treatment.

Reports the Independent:

The family of a woman with an inoperable brain tumour raised over £130,000 to send her for treatment in America – only to discover that the NHS could have referred her if her local trust had realised it was possible.

The case reveals an “information lottery” in the NHS – a variation on the postcode kind – where access to treatment is dependent on who patients (and their doctors) know, not on their clinical need.

Melissa Huggins, 27, a primary school teacher, is due to fly to Boston tomorrow to be assessed for high-energy proton treatment, a specialised form of radiotherapy delivered by a 70 ton machine that costs £100m. Expenses for the trip will be met from “Melissa’s fighting fund” established by her boyfriend, James Pegram, a structural engineer, in October.

Proton treatment is not available in the UK because of the expense. Ministers agreed last year to set up a “reference panel” in Leeds to send cancer patients abroad for treatment to Switzerland, Paris and Boston. So far, 25 patients have been assessed and 18 referred for treatment, at NHS expense.

Ms Huggins and her family did not learn about the NHS scheme until after they had made contact with the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, ruling them out of consideration.

When the Clintons tried to “reform” health care in 1993, they forgot that the bottom line was caring for the sick rather than establishing a really neat new bureaucracy.  Let’s hope the Obama administration does better when it addresses the issue.

Doug Bandow
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Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
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