The benefits of socialized medicine

I say “medicine” but it applies to anything socialism touches. It’s just that with medicine we have more vivid and frequent examples to chose from.

Via an email from friend Kris an escapee from Australia here in the U.S., Full hospitals turning patients away in Brisbane:

emergency rooms went into meltdown yesterday as major hospitals turned away patients because they were full.

Six hospitals around the city issued capacity alerts as a flood of high priority patients threatened to overwhelm services stretched to the limits, The Courier-Mail reports.

The chaos left stressed ambulance officers trying to care for people in their vans.

“Today is out of control, our departments are in complete meltdown,” the nurse said. “What is scary is that there is no good reason for it – it isn’t a terribly hot day, it isn’t flu season, there is no outbreak of disease, we just don’t have enough resources.”

Ambulance union spokesman Kroy Day said the lack of hospital resources meant it was “only a matter of time before someone dies in a van”.

He warned that having multiple hospitals on capacity alerts meant paramedics could be left caring for patients in their vans for up to four hours.

“If this is what we are seeing on a mild summer’s day, I hate to imagine the trouble we’ll be in when flu season rolls around,” he said.

When asked about the RBWH being on bypass, Health Minister Stephen Robertson blamed a record amount of elective surgery patients.

Kris reports, “Regular occurrence in Perth at certain times of the week, or whenever it gets too hot (it never gets too cold in Perth).”

In Britain this has been a complaint for many years. People wait in the emergency room for many hours before being seen by a doctor. The politicians then required the hospitals to report on how many hours people had to wait.  The hospitals then started refusing to let the ambulances bring the patients into the hospitals until they were ready for them. This improved the numbers because the clock didn’t start ticking until the patient entered the door. The ambulances sometimes wait in the parking lot for hours with the engines running to provide temperature control. This not only threatens the life of the patient waiting for a doctor it also ties up the ambulance such that it can’t transport another patient in need of immediate care.

The basics of the problem is that when the central committee (politicians) allocate resources rather than the free market they do a much poorer job. They are further from the problem that needs to be solved and cannot respond as quickly. In a free market someone realizes they can make a profit whenever the demand starts to exceed the supply and the most successful will meet the demand quickly and for the least total cost.

Via friend Jim, who spent some time in eastern block countries during the mid 80s, I heard reports of lines for bread, shoes, toothpaste, toilet paper,  and almost every common commodity you can think of. Another friend reported to me that light bulbs were rationed out to government offices and critical businesses. Hence people would bring in their burned out bulbs from their homes and swap them with the new ones in public buildings and businesses.

And the above doesn’t even address the frosty stares I get from my physical therapist wife when I bring up more U.S. government involvement in health care. We already have too much government involvement in health care. Don’t let the Obama administration give us ambulances waiting in the parking lot too.


5 thoughts on “The benefits of socialized medicine

  1. We’re in the process of “getting the money out of health care” after which no one will want to bother to go through all the trouble of providing it.

    It reminds me of a report I once saw about some tin-horn dictator building new hospitals, which then sat abandoned because there were no doctors.

  2. Even worse is that under socialised medicine, doctors lose their professional status and pay and leave the business & start taking jobs as plumbers and truck drivers etc. or leave the country making the problem even worse.

  3. My wife is a Nurse Practitioner as well as a Type I Diabetic, she gets furious whenever this subject is brought up. If socialized health care becomes a reality in the US, she has discussed moving to an US friendly Latin American country such as Costa Rica for two reasons:
    1) Her pay will likely be fixed by the government regardless of where she works and regardless of the number of patients she sees.
    2) She is worried about getting timely access to and enough supply of insulin. Type I is childhood onset caused by the body not producing enough insulin, yet in a socialized system she will be in line with Type II people who (for the most part) are diabetic due to poor diet and lack of exercise.

  4. What to do with the unfortunate people who got the muddy end of the U.S. stick, who cannot afford much at all? Or perhaps the elderly parents, who’s families can’t take care of them, or afford to send them to a home? I am very curious what people would say to the faces of those people. The ones that got there due to an outside influence; not themselves. Any takers?

    Both sides have thier points. One way keeps hurting those who are hurt. Some may say the ‘other’ would hurt those already doing well. Thus making things harder for everyone?

  5. Anon, in the case of socialized medicine the government will (and does) decide who is not worth the money and let them die–even if they have the money and a doctor willing to provide the service the government will (and does) forbid the treatment. See this article for some hints of what is to come in this country.

    So, we have a trade-off. Either individuals decide if the treatment for themselves (and relatives) is too expensive and do without or the government decides who gets treatment or not. In the latter case it will cause a great deal of corruption. Political enemies will be denied treatment. Political favorites will be be moved to the head of the line. And there will be lines. Just look at England and Canada.

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