Following up on a letter in the Wichita Eagle written by Brad Beachy of Wichita: He’s making the case that nationalized health care of the type found in Europe is both cheaper and better than what we have in America.
Cheaper, yes. Better? Let’s take a look.
Beachy, in his letter, states: “European countries such as England spend about 8 percent of their gross domestic product on health care while covering every single resident.”
The eight percent of GDP figure is commonly cited, and that’s about half what the United States spends. So how does England do it?
Last week I reported on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the board in England founded about 10 years ago as “a body that would ensure that the government-run National Health System used ‘best practices’ in medicine.” (We hear phrases like this from Obama. As if the government would know what are “best practices.”)
But something different happened: “What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS.”
The Journal article details a few examples of care that is denied in England, but most Americans get.
There are real consequences: “The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.”
One of the reasons used by those in favor of national health care is that sometimes insurance companies won’t cover treatments people feel they should receive. A government rationing board — we will have one in America if Obama’s plans proceed — is likely to be much more harsh.