Just got back from a business trip to Europe and had an interesting discussion with some German colleagues about health care here in the US and in Europe. Naturally, the topic came up how F'd up our system is. But the discussion was enlightening for all. You see, many people in Europe have this belief that people are dying in the streets and that we have 3rd world technology. What I share with them opened their eyes. Chiefly, is just how much access we have to healthcare here in the US. By access I mean facilities, new technologies, and procedures. You see in Germany, and nearly every country that has "single payer" systems, care is most certainly "rationed". In Germany for instance, heart and vascular care can only be found in regional mega-hospitals. IN the US, there are more cardiac surgery programs per capita than anywhere in the rest of the world. We have more cardiac cath labs, more 3D CT scanners, more 3 Tesla MRI's. We perform heart surgery on people here that would never get the surgery elsewhere. People wait significantly longer in Europe and Canada for healthcare services. That is a fact presented by many sources, including the New England Journal of Medicine. I was told the state of Iowa (population less than 3m) has more MRI scanners than the entire country of Canada. My German colleagues affirmed that care isn't as readily available to those in small towns or rural areas. So in many ways, we do provide great healthcare compared to most countries.
I was reading an article about the serious problems Britain's single payer NHS system is facing right now and it bears discussion for those who say single payer is the only way forward. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE IN FOR. That's the lesson.
So, here is an article that I hope all of you take time to read.
Hospitals are now so short-staffed and underequipped that people are also dying needlessly because of a chronic lack of investment. The verdict, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will make embarrassing reading for David Cameron who denied the cash-strapped NHS is heading for its worst winter crisis.
Staff are too rushed to improve levels of care that have in many areas fallen below countries such as Turkey, Portugal and Poland. Almost 75,000 more doctors and nurses are needed to match standards in similar countries the OECD said in its annual Health at a Glance study comparing the quality of healthcare across 34 countries.
While access to care is “generally good” the quality of care in the UK is “poor to mediocre” across several key health areas, obesity levels are “dire” and the NHS struggles to get even the “basics” right, the report said citing a lack of investment over the last six years.
LONDON — Britain’s National Health Service is in crisis. Every day the country’s newspapers are filled with harrowing reports of overcrowding in hospitals, operations being cancelled, doctors and nurses struggling to cope, and accident and emergency units being unable to meet targets.
This week it was reported that at least 23 hospitals have declared a “black alert” after becoming so overcrowded that they can no longer guarantee the safety of patients and provide a full range of services. This follows a warning from the Royal College of Physicians that vital services are “struggling or failing to cope” and the conclusion of the Red Cross that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis.”
See, we can move towards single payer. But it WILL require sacrifices. We simply cannot afford to provide the same level of care we provide now. We will have to ration care. We will have to eliminate private rooms. We will have to make hard choices about who gets what procedure. Just like Canada, Great Britain, and most of the developed world has found.
ARE YOU PREPARED TO MAKE THOSE SACRIFICES?