WHO healthcare ranking: Britain 18th, USA 37th

US healthcare protest

US healthcare protest (image via The Guardian)

The Guardian has an article about the misrepresentations, half-truths and outrights lies going on in the US partisan debate on healthcare: ‘Evil and Orwellian’ – America’s right turns its fire on NHS (they don’t mention the Stephen Hawking faux pas).

Defenders of Britain’s system point out that the UK spends less per head on healthcare but has a higher life expectancy than the US. The World Health Organisation ranks Britain’s healthcare as 18th in the world, while the US is in 37th place. The British Medical Association said a majority of Britain’s doctors have consistently supported public provision of healthcare. A spokeswoman said the association’s 140,000 members were sceptical about the US approach to medicine: “Doctors and the public here are appalled that there are so many people on the US who don’t have proper access to healthcare. It’s something we would find very, very shocking.”

Take a look at this database comparing health care in various countries and see if you can deduce which particular fact made me LOL (hollowly).

Also, one very perspicacious comment to that article (quoted in part):

You may have noticed that the anti-reform contingent is wholly negative about government-run programs like Medicaid (for the very poor), Medicare (for the elderly and disabled), and VA services (veterans), despite evidence that they are largely successful. That’s because successful health outcomes (in the US, in the UK, in France, wherever) are not germane to their concerns. They are opposed, in principle, to the government using their tax dollars on anyone — be they indigent, elderly, disabled, or a wounded veteran — other than themselves. In their eyes, any such program – and the government that administers it — is immoral.

To be blunt: a great many of my fellow countrymen believe that if you are not contributing to the growth of the economy, you don’t deserve to live. If you die because you don’t have enough money to pay for treatment, its your own fault; you should have earned more money. And under no circumstances, no matter how pitiful, should the government use *their* money to help another citizen.

This is the dark side of the so-called pioneer mentality. Its every man for himself.

I don’t grok this extreme individualist stance myself – it seems trivially obvious that a society committed to a functional social safety net is both a pleasanter and a safer place to live for everybody than a society without such a safety net, and also trivially obvious that most citizens (those without significant inherited wealth) are only a serious accident or illness away from losing their ability to pay for a comfortable house and sufficient food for their families, so that no matter how hardworking they have been in the past they or their descendants could well need a safety net themselves in the future. It’s possible to still have socioeconomic incentives for individual enterprise without restricting access to basic standards of living as part of those incentives, surely?



Categories: culture wars

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2 replies

  1. From the Guardian article:

    On Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel, the conservative commentator Sean Hannity recently alighted upon the case of Gordon Cook, a security manager from Merseyside, who used superglue to stick a loose crown into his gum because he was unable to find an NHS dentist. The cautionary tale, which was based on a Daily Mail report from 2006, prompted Hannity to warn his viewers: “If the Democrats have their way, get your superglue ready.”

    The point which they have of course ignored is not just that Mr Cook was unable to find an NHS dentist (it’s a serious problem) but that HE COULDN’T AFFORD TO PAY FOR A PRIVATE ONE! There are thousands of dentists throughout the UK – there is no shortage of dentists per se, but the vast majority have gone 100% private or maintain only a small ‘list’ of NHS patients alongside their private clients. It is in fact an excellent warning of how an overwhelmingly privatised medical sector (like that in the US) operates. There will be many Fox viewers who have their superglue ready already … so why do you want to deny them access to healthcare Mr Hannity?
    You know as a Brit, I’m getting really p*ssed off about GOP scum bad-mouthing my NHS (we’re quite attached to it over here). If Rupert Murdoch likes America so much perhaps he should restrict his business dealings there – where do I sign up for the boycott?

  2. It is in fact an excellent warning of how an overwhelmingly privatised medical sector (like that in the US) operates.
    Precisely. Dentistry is one of those parts of the NHS where there has been a significant drive to reduce its market share in favour of the private sector – and the drying up of NHS dentists has happened as a direct result. So as DEM says, it’s an opposite example to the one being claimed.

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