The Evils of Socialized Medicine

Bernie Sanders wants to bring socialized medicine to the U.S. To be fair to Bernie, though, that is probably the position of nearly every Democrat. As a reminder of why socialized medicine (like socialism generally) is one of the worst ideas in world history, here are two stories that happen to be in the news in the U.K. today.

First, former Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt is blowing the whistle on Britain’s National Health Service, which he ran for six years:

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, has described how the service he led for almost six years was at times a “rogue system” suffering from a cover-up culture that failed patients and staff.

Hunt…says the NHS’s fear of transparency and honesty about avoidable deaths and mistakes is a “major structural problem” that still needs to be tackled.

In his new book, Zero: Eliminating Unnecessary Deaths in a Post-Pandemic NHS, he reveals how civil servants in the Department of Health and Social Care tried to block him from reading patients’ letters of complaint and even told him he could not send apologies to harmed families. Before he changed the NHS stance he says there were “meetings held behind my back to work out if they could dissuade me from such a thoroughly dangerous idea”.

It is one example of what Hunt calls an “omertà around avoidable deaths” within the service and a widespread fear that being open about problems would damage public confidence in the NHS.

The ultimate fear in a government-run system.

Failed managers were often recycled into new jobs, he says, where they continued to make the same mistakes.

He says he was “shocked to his core” by the failures in care, which included 150 avoidable deaths a week in England.

Hunt also refers to the problem of lack of emergency care, with “patients who have dialled 999 waiting hours for ambulances and admission to A&E departments.” And this:

One in nine of the population in England is now on an NHS waiting list for routine surgery, a total of 6.4 million people.

The kind of rot described here is typical of government bureaucracies and is therefore entirely predictable. The second story has to do with dentistry: “Nine out of ten NHS dental practices in England closed to new routine patients.”

Across England, some 86.3 per cent of dentists are not accepting new patients who are seeking a routine check-up. Of those, 42.4 per cent state explicitly that they are not accepting new adults.

A further 43.9 per cent will only accept them with a referral from a dentist, which is likely to reflect the need for advanced dental services only, such as complications or surgical extractions.

For children, 78.7 per cent of dentists are not accepting new routine patients.

How can this be? What irrational incentives would cause dentists to shun new business?

[Louise Ansari, the national director at Healthwatch England] said the issue was compounded “by a confusing dental contract that doesn’t incentivise dentists to take on new patients, particularly ones that may require extensive treatment. And it is the most vulnerable people in our society, including children, disabled people and those on low incomes who are bearing the brunt”.
[T]he latest data published by NHS Digital in February suggested about 65 per cent of adults had not been seen in the last 24 months.

Dentists are abandoning the profession:

The British Dental Association urged ministers to “wake up” to the crisis facing NHS dentistry, warning that about 3,000 dentists had already left the NHS since the start of the pandemic.

They blame what they call a “discredited contract” between dentists and the NHS, which effectively limits the number of treatments a dentist can offer each year. The system funds care for little over half the population, while perversely incentivising dentists to take on simpler cases as they are rewarded the same for one filling as ten.

In America, people become dentists mostly because they can make very good money. They compete for new business, as more patients mean more income. If a dental practice attracts more business than the existing number of dentists can handle, they can hire younger dentists and make more money still. The result is that people in the U.S., at all income levels, generally have better teeth than people in the U.K. and most other European countries.

Socialism destroys everything it touches.

John Hinderaker

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