People like to talk about the problems with private medicine in the US but don't recognize the problems that can come with it or even because of socialized medicine.
Well, I've had some experiences of my own with "socialized medicine" over the years. Let's start with the UK.
When I was in the Air Force, I lived in the UK for two years. One of my
co-workers was married. The small base we were assigned to did not have
its own hospital. Any medical care beyond cold and flu bugs that wasn't
severe enough to be evacuated was handled by local UK hospitals. This
included my co-worker's wife's pregnancy.
It was a second child
so the pregnancy was "routine" (It Says Here). She had a problem with
hemorrhaging with the first child but a second was "routine", by policy.
The doctors were warned of the problem but a second pregnancy was
routine. After the child was born, she started bleeding. She bled to
death in the hospital. A "routine" childbirth (even though the first had
had the exact same problem and the doctors had been told that) and she bled to death in the f*king hospital.
your wife died? Too bad, so sad. But how could we know something like
this could happen since it was a routine pregnancy? You told us? But it
was a routine pregnancy.
UK2: At the same time there
was a great debate going on among doctors regarding the subject of "crib
death" (was still being called "SIDS"--Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome--back then I believe). A very popular theory was that it was a
result of maternal neglect/negligence if not outright what would now be
called Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy. That "theory" had been thoroughly
debunked in the US for literally decades. But in the UK a mother who
just lost her baby was as likely as not to have the added burden of
having her doctor blame her for the loss.
Another "poster child" for socialized medicine is Japan.
My wife's uncle had cancer. I visited him in the hospital once. Filthy
place. Seriously. If I ever get seriously ill or injured in Japan,
stabilize me and get me out of there if you have to send me on deck
space on a freighter. That's only moderate hyperbole.
he was deemed an "unlikely prospect" for a cure. Treatment was cut off including pain medication. In the end he ended up dousing himself with
gasoline and lighting himself on fire. I am dead serious. No hyperbole.
He literally burned himself to death rather than face the untreated
pain of his progressing cancer.
Japan2: While visiting
Japan on business I attended a Judo club as a guest (Judo was my sport
of choice at that time). In the course of randori I managed to sprain my
shoulder. Not "serious" in any major way but lordy did it hurt. I could
not buy over the counter pain medication anywhere. Not aspirin,
not acetaminophen, not ibuprofin, not naproxen sodium, nothing. They
have some topical "pain patches" (and predated their availability in the
US) but those were worthless for anything like this). The only "pain
killer" available was ethanol but . . . I don't drink. Short of going to
the hospital (and my guide at the company I was visiting did suggest that but see above) there was nothing I could do except apply
ice and tough it out.
Japan3: While returning from
another business trip I tripped on an escalator in Tokyo station and
sprained my ankle. It didn't seem to bad at first but by the time I got
to Narita it was quite painful. Fortunately (yeah, right) there was an
actual medical clinic in Narita right off the walkway from the train
station. I stopped in there (Yeah, I'm not covered by their "national
health care" but I could pay for it so I figured....)
When I got
in, I was told simply that the orthopedist was not in and so nobody
could look at my ankle. Excuse me? A sprain, something anybody in the US
with MD, or even PA, after their name could handle and they couldn't
even look at it and splint it/tape it up/ or something? They had to have
a specialist come in for even a sprained ankle?
So the question
there becomes, are doctors who aren't specialists in orthopedics not
trained in diagnosis and treatments of things like sprains or are they
simply forbidden based on the government control that always comes with government payment?
those are just the experiences I was personally involved with. I also
know some ex-pats from various countries with “socialized medicine”.
is, of course, the point where someone will say "but I've experienced
socialized medicine and had good experiences." Well, does your good
experiences make my bad experiences go away any more than my good
experiences with American health care make the bad experiences that are cited as reasons for going to "socialized medicine" go away? If those
bad experiences count on the one side then mine count on the other. And
once you recognize that "socialized medicine" has its own problems the
choice of which is "better" is no longer so "obvious" as proponents
would like to claim. If all we had to go on were a listing of anecdotes about "bad results" and "if onlies" there would be nothing to choose from between them because both have their anecdotes. But that's not all we have to go with.
On the flip side, the castigating of medicine, insurance, and medical support (equipment,
pharmaceuticals, and what not) being "profit motivated" has come up in
another forum. Part of this is recap from an earlier, shorter posting
on the same subject but here's my response:
"There are certain
necessities in life, and medication is one." So how did we get along
before these medicines were invented/discovered? And even if so, you
might want to consider how many new, effective, treatments and
medications have come out of the West where people have, to some
extent at least, been allowed to profit from their work than have come
out of, say, the old Soviet Union over the same time frame.
(that's you personally, whoever you might be) have access to far more in
the way of medical treatment and medications because companies like Dow
and Lilly were allowed to make money than if we had followed some ivory
tower "good of society" model.
At my age, I take quite a few
medications. More than half of them are "$4 generics" at my local
Kroger, that's $4 flat without insurance, and that's medicines that
didn't even exist when I was a boy, medicines that only exist because
companies like Lilly and Dow have been profitable places for people to
invest money, have paid high salaries to attract some scary smart
researchers and technicians to develop these new medicines and
Without these newer medicines I would be limited to
the medicines my parents and grandparents had, medicines that were less
effective, or with more and more severe side effects. Thanks, but no.
with a profit motive developed smaller and less expensive X-Ray units.
Because of this my doctor has one in his office. When I have an impact
or joint injury I can get an X-Ray right there--immediately--without
needing to go to the ER or scheduling an appointment with a hospital
radiology department. Less expensive and quicker diagnosis.
same profit motive led to the development of portable EKG machines which
my doctor also keeps in his office. My annual exam includes an EKG
every time. Should I start to develop heart problems early diagnosis
means early treatment with much better chances for my continued
breathing. (I'm in favor of breathing and would like to continue doing
The same profit motive led to the CAT scan unit being right
there in my local hospital after my last auto accident. (Rear ended by a
Tahoe while I was leaning forward to change stations on the radio
putting me at about the worst possible posture for a whiplash injury.)
They're everywhere. They're everywhere because people with profit
motive made them available.
The same profit motive led to
improvements in glucometers so I can quickly and reliably check my blood
sugar with less pain and fuss than my mother did a scant two decades
I could go on and on.
And if I can't afford the
latest and greatest? Well, I didn't have it before either so I can't
really complain that much. And if only the latest and greatest can save
my life and I don't have it? Well, sucks to be me in that case, I guess.
But although I may not have it, my daughter will. After all,
yesterday's "latest and greatest" is today's "cheap and ubiquitous".
But hamstring the Lillys and Dows of the world by undercutting profit
and going to some Marxist "according to his need" (which is what that
"they are necessities" amounts to) and she won't.
And that, I can never forgive.
You can keep your socialized medicine. Just keep it far away from me.