Sunday, September 09, 2007

THIS Is Socialized Medicine

Via a link from Newsalert:

SMOKERS and obese patients are being refused elective surgery in Victorian hospitals.

Surgeons are rejecting people because of the likelihood of poor surgical outcomes linked to smoking and obesity -- and to save money...

"Surgeons should not have to operate on people who are not willing to quit smoking," Mr Quinn said.

"But it is up to the individual surgeon. There has to be some community responsibility with this, especially in terms of today's limited health dollar. (boldface mine--Darren)
If you think nationalized health care means free health care, think again.

Update, 9/10/07: Do you think it's the government's place--any government, at any level--to tell you what you can and cannot eat? Freedom means you get to make your own decisions, even if someone else thinks your decision isn't in your best interest.

NewsAlert points us to what Los Angeles is considering--limiting the number of fast food restaurants because there are already "too many".


Kimberly Lloyd said...

We already do stuff like that in the US. Due to malpractice concerns, very few OB/GYNs will work with obese women (which is one reason why I won't even consider having kids right now, as I have a lot of weight to lose).

allenm said...

The difference being that the socialized medicine system is sold as applying uniformly to the entire population. A private practitioner has no legal obligation to accept all patients.

What I don't understand is why an overt policy of care rejection? The old means of rationing medical care, letting people wait to death, is working just fine.

David Foster said...

Even if one were to accept the premise...which I don't...why on earth should the decision rest with the individual surgeon. It's not *his* money; it's that of the taxpayers.

This is roughly analogous to airline pilots refusing to carry passengers if they disapprove of the purpose of their trips.

Medical arrogance meets governmental arrogance.

Ellen K said...

We have already had a guy here in the center part of the country who was denied adoption of the foster child he has cared for since birth due to his weight. To try to alleviate the judge's concern, he underwent gastric bypass last month. But the judge won't buy it. Ironically the judge is the same one who granted him adoption of his now five year old son. So what gives? He weighs the same, he's the same person, he's employed. Do we have so many people willing to adopt that we can afford to deny someone based on the actuarial table results citing the man would die by age 63? Who is playing God here?

Jack Lacton said...


The overall balance of public/private spending in Australia's health system is probably OK at present. The main issue is with waiting times - the age old problem of socialised health care, though it's nowhere near as bad as in Europe and Canada.

I'd prefer to see less public money spent on it, myself. As PJ O'Rourke said "If you think health care is expensive now then just wait until it's free"

Michael Shirley said...

On another point re: Stossel, the following was posted on Michael Moore's website:
Dear John,

My name is Julie Pierce. My husband was Tracy Pierce. I am featured in Michael Moore's documentary 'SiCKO.' In the movie, I share my deceased husband's story — his unsuccessful battle with our insurance company to receive what could have been life-saving treatments for kidney cancer.

I just read your Wall Street Journal article written on Sept. 13, 2007, titled "Sick Sob Stories." You begin by talking about Tracy's role in 'SiCKO,' and claim the bone marrow transplant denied by our insurer would not have saved him. You also accuse me of "sneering" over our situation.

In your 'reporting' of this story, you did not contact me, and you did not contact my husband's doctors. I cannot believe that a publication like the Wall Street Journal would print such an accusation without talking to anyone involved — especially in such a personal matter, which resulted in the death of my 37-year-old husband and the father of my child.

If you had contacted me, I would have told you that bone marrow transplants became a last option, only after our insurer denied many other treatments again and again and again.

I would have shown you a letter from our doctors at the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Kansas Hospital, in which they argued strongly for the bone marrow transplant, citing "strong evidence" supporting the past success of that treatment — they wrote that it could "give him a chance to achieve complete remission." In fact, they called the bone marrow transplant "his only chance of survival."

Instead of calling me up and doing real reporting, all you can do is throw around studies from 1999 about the supposed inefficiency of bone marrow transplants for breast cancer patients — even though Tracy didn't have breasts. He had kidney cancer! I understand that you want to try to prove that private insurance in this country really isn't that bad. And I can see that you won't let the facts get in the way.

You go on to claim that Tracy wouldn't have received his transplant in a country with socialized medicine, either. Where is the evidence? Not only are more bone marrow transplants performed every year in Canada, but they invented the technology! So much for your ridiculous claim that "profit is what has created the amazing scientific innovations that the U.S. offers to the world. If government takes over, innovation slows, health care is rationed."

You are simply carrying water for the for-profit insurance industry that killed my husband. And then you have the nerve to accuse me of "sneering" about it. My husband has only been dead since January 18th, 2006. It is still fresh to me and my family, and comments like this are inhumane.

I have since tried to contact you via email, but you have not responded. I don't expect an answer. People like you just write with an agenda, without coming to the source or getting any facts, because your main goal is to try to discredit Michael Moore and universal health care. I understand it's a game — you did it without thinking about how you would hurt a family who have suffered — and are still suffering — such a tragic loss.

My family is not a "Sick Sob Story." We are a normal, American family that has had a significant member die from a horrible cancer that ravaged his body due to repeated denials from a health insurance company. We will never know for sure what would have worked because Tracy was never given a fighting chance. Over 18,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance. I suppose theirs are "sob stories," too.

I don't want a hit-piece. I want answers. Why does our wonderful profit-driven system of medicine kill 18,000 Americans each year? Why do we pay far more for our health system than any other country, but have some of the lowest life expectancies and highest infant mortality rates in the Western world? Would you discredit the work of your late colleague Peter Jennings who, while suffering with lung cancer, did an excellent report titled "Breakdown: America's Health Insurance Crisis"?

I hope you have answers, but I am not optimistic. I pray that you will never have to go through what we went through — if you did, you wouldn't be so quick to cheerlead the system we were victimized by.

Julie Pierce
Mission, Kansas