Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Socialized Medicine and Me" (With introduction by D.C.)

As most of you know, the whole issue of medical care in the United States is erupting into a big debate over whether to adopt "socialist healthcare" practices (for instance, like the system we have in Canada) or retain their "pay as you go" system. I have already touched on this issue in a previous blog post, but recently, while checking my Facebook, I came across a note that one of friends (who is a philosophy PhD candidate) had something (which I thought was very interesting) to say about the "powder keg" which is the debate surrounding this issue. Here is what he had to say:

Since I've had experience of the British health care system now, I thought I'd throw an anecdote on the pile. Given all the nonsense in the US health care debate right now about death panels and rationing, it seems apt.

I've always gotten headaches, but this April I started having a different kind - the pain was different and in a different location than the ones I used to have. I had a really bad one, and then kept having little ones for about a month. Eventually, I got fed up with being too distracted to read and went to the doctor. I made an appointment for the next morning, a Wednesday. The GP ruled out some of the big scary things (stroke, aneurism) and suggested we consult a specialist. I made an appointment for that Friday. The specialist re-ruled out the big scary things, and was 99% sure about his diagnosis, but figured we should get a MRI just to be safe. If I was still in pain, he said, we'd have done it right then, but since I wasn't, I was on the lowest of the low priority list. I was put on a list, and within a couple of weeks had an appointment for 2 months after my initial visit. When I went in to get the scan done I was actually finished before my scheduled start time. The needle was a pain, but that was it. The doctors confirmed that there is nothing unusual in my head (as for my mind, well, that didn't come up on the scan) and that I'm just susceptible to more than one kind of migraine.

If there were rationing, I wouldn't be getting an MRI at all. If there were serious wait issues, I would still be waiting on the scan. If I was in serious trouble, the scan would have been done right away. Since I'm an international student, I'm covered by the NHS and paid a grand total of £4.80 in bus fare for the whole thing. I'm told I could have gotten an NHS shuttle for free, but couldn't be bothered.

Anyway, I want to go on a nice preachy rant right now, but hopefully the facts of my experience speak for themselves.

P.S. My head's fine, thanks. Well, as fine as it ever was.

(Raymond G. Critch, PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh)

I will let you, the readers, form your own opinions of his text, but I think it speaks very highly of a "socialist healthcare" system. there are many benefits of being able to walk into a hospital and be treated for your ailments without having to mortgage your house. Also, I don't Stalin will be delivering you your flu shots if it is adopted (just thought I'd point that out).


The Commentator said...

It still doesn't mean the opposite doesn't happen - which it does; all to often for my taste. Nor do I think overall quality of care hasn't eroded.

Health is bureaucratized and politicized here to the point of functional paralysis. There are massive problems with our system as it's set up.

I worked behind the scenes for one year and let me tell you, it's not pretty. Sometimes I wonder how we manage at all.

Welcome back.

DC said...

Always a welcome opinion.. Good to hear from you Commentator.

I agree that the debate on the public healthcare option is not as black and white as some people have made it out to be, but the one thing that the debate is doing is causing it to be questioned. A system that goes unchecked will eventually fall into disrepair.

As long as the conflict between the supporters and critics stays within the bounds of constructive criticism I think it will turn out okay. The only problem is the track record for this sort of thing seems to not reflect kindly on that sort of outcome.

The Commentator said...

I'm wondering: what track record are you referring to?

Personally, I feel here in Canada romantic rhetoric gets in the way of meaningful debate. Whenever a discussion begins on the matter, circular reasoning takes over. The standard response to any criticism (including constructive) tends to be, "well, do you prefer the American system?" and "no system is perfect" and "at least you're covered" and my personal favorite "it's free."

Yeah right. People still believe government programs are free?

Public health has become a cornerstone if not THE main piece of how we define ourselves as a nation.

To me, this distracts us from really dealing with the problem. We've more or less identified the weaknesses and problems of the system. We don't need darn Royal Commissions. We have simply yet to tackle them with any will or commitment. For politicians, it's still a tricky matter.

Maybe the system went unchecked but that's a byproduct of a "socialized" system - which it is.

Once the bureaucracy controls in the "best interest for all" to "equalize" peoples, everything slows down - from service to R&D.

This can not be denied.

That being said, I would not advocate the dismantling of the system. It does serve a fair function for all. However, we really need to get over this fear about the word "private." The private sector can have a positive impact. The system will never be repaired under its present state.

Behind the scenes, doctors, hospital administrators, nurses, politicians will, most of the time, concede and concur that the Canadian public system is in serious trouble. It's not as bad as it's painted to be, but it also doesn't deserve the high praise it gets.

Just my thoughts based on personal and work experience.

The Commentator said...

Nice green font by the way. It matches great with the black background.

DC said...

The track record I was referring to was some types of the criticism that has emerged from the US over their plans for socialized healthcare.

I agree that a romanticized story of how social healthcare is the "be all and end all" is not constructive in the slightest. We need to present both sides of the argument and begin a useful debate on what needs to be done to improve it.

I also agree that there is always room for private healthcare within a primarily social infrastructure, but I also believe that these private ventures need to be accountable for their actions and not have free reign to do as they please.

No system can inherently deal with every situation, and healthcare is no different. We just need to create an open debate which takes in the opinions not just of companies, politicians and doctors, but those of the citizens as well.

The Commentator said...


Private with tight regulations.

I think that's a fair trade.