The Perils of Socialized Healthcare

by Tom Blumer

This is a difficult column to write, because there’s a glut, not a lack, of pertinent material.

You see, the state-run British National Health Service (NHS) has been decaying steadily for years. Even the formerly fawning British media, after decades of kid-glove treatment, has taken to regularly exposing the NHS’s dark side.


Here are just a few of the most recent sordid examples revealing a system at its breaking point.

The first comes from just outside of many British hospitals (known as “trusts”), in the UK Daily Mail:

A&E patients left in ambulances for up to FIVE hours ‘so trusts can meet government targets’

Seriously ill patients are being kept in ambulances outside hospitals for hours so NHS trusts do not miss Government targets.

Thousands of people a year are having to wait outside accident and emergency departments because trusts will not let them in until they can treat them within four hours, in line with a Labour pledge.

The hold-ups mean ambulances are not available to answer fresh 999 calls.

Doctors warned last night that the practice of “patient-stacking” was putting patients’ health at risk.

You don’t say? Ambulances sit; sick patients get sicker; injured patients’ wounds fester. When was the last time you heard about a US ambulance not unloading its human cargo on a timely basis?

Upon admission, the quality of care is, uh, less than perfect:

  • “Patient’s anger at cancer retests” (BBC, Jan. 19) — Women with cancer were told they didn’t have it until a year or so later because of botched
  • “Throat cancer patient ‘starved to death’ after feeding tube
    blunder” (Times Online, Feb. 15; HT Socialized Medicine Blog).
  • “Neonatal unit closed after fungal infection kills baby” (Times Online, Feb. 15; HT Socialized

I would suggest that those who obsess over “medical mistakes” in
the US would have their hands full if they crossed the pond.

Well, if the NHS is to do something about all those parked ambulances, and all those treatment mistakes, they’re going to have to deal with utilization, right?

Here’s one “briilliant” idea, originally written up in the January 28 UK

Don’t treat the old and unhealthy, say doctors

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

But wait: Wasn’t the whole idea of socialized medicine “free care to everyone”? Instead, we see eugenics not-so-light.

Here’s yet another utilization control measure, from an opinion piece.

“Instead of going to a hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out ‘self-care’ as the Department of Health tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending,” the (UK) Telegraph explained.

Yet it’s liberals who accuse conservatives of advocating a “you’re on your own” society.

Perhaps you’re one of those “unhealthy” folks who wants to stay alive, and for whom “self-care” is not an option. Even if you’re filthy rich, you’ll be in for the shock of your remaining life, as shown in this UK Daily Mail report from late January (bold is mine):


Sentenced to death by idiocy

….. Mrs. (Colette) Mills, a former nurse who has breast cancer, was told back in September that her local hospital trust would not pay for Avastin, a drug which would double the time her disease was kept under control.

Colette, 58, and her husband Eric, said they would buy the Avastin out of their savings. Imagine their shock when they learned that, if they purchased the drug, the mother-of-two would have to pay for all her future NHS care – to the tune of £15,000 a month (about $29,000 US — Ed.).

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has ruled that patients can no longer combine private and NHS care as this creates a “two-tier” system.

Who knew that the NHS’s lousy health care was “worth” about $350,000 a year? So Colette Mills’s choice is to go broke in the private “tier,” or die sooner in the public one — liberal “compassion” at its finest.

These stories rarely receive US Mainstream Media coverage. Even news about Massachusetts’s imploding state-run Commonwealth Care, a.k.a. RomneyCare, rarely gets beyond the Bay State. Reporters there incredibly still refer to it as a grand experiment,” and a “landmark.”

Why? It’s simple:

  • Despite all of the contrary evidence, mainstream media reporters persist in their belief that socialized medicine can be made to work better than “evil, profit-driven” healthcare.
  • Two of the three remaining viable US presidential candidates advocate socialized medicine, aka “universal healthcare.”
  • Ergo, the serious problems at NHS and in Massachusetts must be ignored.

If we ever see a nationwide state-run healthcare system in the US, the mainstream media will have played a large role in its arrival by ignoring its myriad failures, both overseas and at home.

Tom Blumer is a CPA based in Mason, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati. He presents personal finance-related workshops and speeches at companies, and runs


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