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NHS: Go private and lose access to health care
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, February 21, 2008

More about the "free" health care provided by the NHS in the UK:
Debbie Hirst’s breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.
Why?
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.

“That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.,” Mr. Johnson said.
So, instead they simply deny treatment. Isn't that a version of the argument against insurance companies? The difference, of course, is with an insurance denial, you can still pay for treatment you want privately while maintaining or receiving that treatment which has been approved.

Additionally, the enforcement of this sort of thing has been spotty at best.
But in a final irony, Mrs. Hirst was told early this month that her cancer had spread and that her condition had deteriorated so much that she could have the Avastin after all — paid for by the health service. In other words, a system that forbade her to buy the medicine earlier was now saying that she was so sick she could have it at public expense.

Mrs. Hirst is pleased, but up to a point. Avastin is not a cure, but a way to extend her life, perhaps only by several months, and she has missed valuable time. “It may be too bloody late,” she said.

“I’m a person who left school at 15 and I’ve worked all my life and I’ve paid into the system, and I’m not going to live long enough to get my old-age pension from this government,” she added.

She also knows that the drug can have grave side effects. “I have campaigned for this drug, and if it goes wrong and kills me, c’est la vie,” she said. But, she said, speaking of the government, “If the drug doesn’t have a fair chance because the cancer has advanced so much, then they should be raked over the coals for it.”
Yes, she is now sick enough to receive the drug "free". But instead of years, her life may have been reduced to months because the treatment was previously denied.

 
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instead of years, her life may have been reduced to months
Which is the point, isn’t it? Think of all the hospital space she now will not use.
 
Written By: sammler
URL: http://stonecity.blogspot.com
Well, Avastin wouldn’t be so expensive if the greedy pharmaceutical company didn’t insist on charging money for it. And their greedy employees who demand to be paid actual wages for their work.

/irrational socialized medicine fetishist argument
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
"Well, Avastin wouldn’t be so expensive if the greedy pharmaceutical company didn’t insist on charging money for it. And their greedy employees who demand to be paid actual wages for their work."
All joking aside this illustrates a point to the no social health care side of the argument. With this wonderful social health care, why is the medicine still so damn expensive? Its not made health care cheaper has it? Shouldn’t that be the point? Socialized care only creates more problems, and fixes none of the old ones.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
Its not made health care cheaper has it?
Actually, it has. Hospital stays are shorter because medicines work better now. And things which used to require a hospital stay can be done on an outpatient basis with medication. Medicine’s expensive, but it takes a LOT of little pills to add up to one day in the hospital.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.
Indeed! The rich should die just as quickly as the poor!
"That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.," Mr. Johnson said.
And the sooner end of one of your fellow citizens. Well done, ye good and faithful public servant.
"I’m a person who left school at 15 and I’ve worked all my life and I’ve paid into the system, and I’m not going to live long enough to get my old-age pension from this government," she added.
How fortunate for the Government... Certainly there is no conflict of interest...
Actually, it has. Hospital stays are shorter because medicines work better now. And things which used to require a hospital stay can be done on an outpatient basis with medication. Medicine’s expensive, but it takes a LOT of little pills to add up to one day in the hospital.
No, compitition and inovation has made it cheaper. If you get paid the same either way, why invent new and quicker ways?
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Actually, it has. Hospital stays are shorter because medicines work better now. And things which used to require a hospital stay can be done on an outpatient basis with medication. Medicine’s expensive, but it takes a LOT of little pills to add up to one day in the hospital.
Limiting the amount does not make it cheaper.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
Actually, it has. Hospital stays are shorter because medicines work better now. And things which used to require a hospital stay can be done on an outpatient basis with medication. Medicine’s expensive, but it takes a LOT of little pills to add up to one day in the hospital.
Less care so money can be saved doesn’t mean its cheaper.

In the US this happens now because it reduces liability if something goes wrong in the hospital. But let’s not talk about that.

======================

Anyway, its funny that because of Canadians knowing better and most of those with actual experience saying there’s a substantial quality difference, they switch to pitching the UK system as their example. Substantially fewer people are familiar with both systems and nationalistic pride also is stronger too. So fewer Brits are likely to detract from their own system. But the horror stories are much grander. I guess they’ll have to go to Germany or France next.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Limiting the amount does not make it cheaper.
A lot of factors have gone into making medical care more expensive, but it’s hard to argue that care would be less expensive in the absence of the newer medications.

I showed you how medicines are making care less expensive in the present, but if you want to argue that medicine should make present care less expensive than past care was, you’ll need to define just how much medical care should cost now.
No, compitition and inovation has made it cheaper. If you get paid the same either way, why invent new and quicker ways?
Are you going to argue that new medicines aren’t part of innovation? Look, there are antibiotics available at your pharmacy that in the past had to be given during a hospital stay. How is that not less expensive? There are antibiotics that work in 2 or 3 days insteaad of 5 or 10. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Which would you rather do: pay $50 a day for a month for some pills or check into a hospital for a week at $3000 a day? Which is a more efficient use of medical resources?

Yes, there are other ways to make medical care cheaper, but that wasn’t the question that was posed.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Less care so money can be saved doesn’t mean its cheaper.
Please show me how medical care would be cheaper without any of the medicines created since 1980. (That’s an arbitrary date, but let’s use that one just for the sake of simplicity.)

If medical care would be more expensive without those drugs, then will you accept that the drugs have indeed made medical care cheaper?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Please show me how medical care would be cheaper without any of the medicines created since 1980. (That’s an arbitrary date, but let’s use that one just for the sake of simplicity.)
You made the original statement. Please show me where accross the board medicines have eliminated the hospital stay with the same level of quality and aren’t being used simply as a alternative approach that’s cheaper.

Just the fact that there was a switch to more meds/less hospital doesn’t mean the quality of care is the same. Meds inherently have side-effects. For example, if meds are used as an alternative to observation you have a negative right out of the box regardless how advanced the medicine is.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
When you take the profit motive out of anything, you get shortages and rationing. Better to let the market work. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’ll be available.

In 1972, my aunt was told she had inoperable pancreatic cancer and should expect to live another six months. She went to the Mayo Clinic and told them that every Christmas she was alive, they would get a gift of $100,000 in addition to the cost of her care. She wrote the last check 1983.

There’s a line in a Traffic song, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,

"If you had just a minute to breathe, and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something ... like another chance?"

Yeah
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
You made the original statement. Please show me where accross the board medicines have eliminated the hospital stay with the same level of quality and aren’t being used simply as a alternative approach that’s cheaper.
I never said "accross the board medicines have eliminated hospital stay", so stop using straw men arguments. What I said was that some medicines have shortened hospital stays, or eliminated the need for them.

Newer antibiotics work more quickly, including the ones administered under hospital care, which inherently reduces costs. You ever hear of Levaquin? There are plenty of other examples, if you take the time to look.

My wife suffers from conditions that had no treatments at all 30 years ago, but are managed by the medicines she now takes. Were we back in 1977, she’d be in the hospital for days at a time, with the doctors trying unsuccessfully to knock out her ailments, and eventually sending her home when her symptoms subsided. It’s hard to imagine that scenario being cheaper than what we pay today.


Since you’ve averred that medicines are used only to avoid giving the same quality care as before or to avoid hospital liability, it’s up to you to prove your statement.
Meds inherently have side-effects.
Medicines have always had side effects. The drug manufacturers haven’t exactly sat on their hands when it comes to side effects, however.


I have not claimed, nor will I ever claim that medicines are perfect. But to claim that the advances in medicines have had no positive effect on medical care or that medicines haven’t lowered the overall cost of care is just ignorant.


Now, the original comment said that medicines haven’t lowered the cost of medical care. Anyone care to prove THAT statement?

 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Now, the original comment said that medicines haven’t lowered the cost of medical care. Anyone care to prove THAT statement?
I know I should probably sit tight and let josh b say this plainly himself, but what the hell. The original comment from josh b:
All joking aside this illustrates a point to the no social health care side of the argument. With this wonderful social health care, why is the medicine still so damn expensive? Its not made health care cheaper has it?
I interpret this to mean that "wonderful social health care" hasn’t made health care cheaper, not that medicine hasn’t made health care cheaper. Medicine — health care — is still expensive in the wonderful NHS system.

And his subsequent comment —
Limiting the amount does not make it cheaper.
— seems to me to bear out my interpretation by refering to NHS rationing of the drug.

Josh b, please correct me and feel free to disparage my reading comprehension skills if I’m wrong here. And pardon the interuption if in fact you guys aren’t talking past each other.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://

 
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