Our Bodies, Ourselves

I have written on a number of occasions that I thought it odd that the left (and women's groups in particular) don't see a contradiction between their support for government health care and their long-held abortion beliefs that people should be free of government coercion when it comes to decisions about their body and their health.  These views certainly don't seem compatible in England:

A cancer charity has today published research that shows doctors are keeping
  cancer patients in the dark about new treatments that could extend their lives.

Myeloma UK, which conducted the research, said a quarter of myeloma
  specialists questioned in a survey admitted hiding the facts about
  treatments that may be difficult to obtain on the NHS.

The main reason given was to avoid distressing or confusing patients.

Myeloma is a bone marrow cancer that affects around 3,800 people each year in
  the UK. Of these, 2,600 are likely to die from the disease.


  1. happyjuggler0:

    Free universal healthcare.

    The only word in the above sentence that seems true is universal.

  2. Frederick Davies:


    Remember the sign in the photocopier store: "Fast, quick and cheap: choose two." Your comment just gave me an idea for a slogan:

    "Free, universal, healthcare: choose two!"

  3. Sandy:

    The most facist, illogical and vicious people I have ever encountered in my life have been far left feminists. Look at the army they've led to attack Mrs. Palin and her innocent teenage daughter with some of the ugliest stuff I have ever read. Having followed their literature and internet forums for the past several years, they attack anyone who questions universal healthcare. Their arguments are completely illogical and it's futile to debate them, as they see only the fairy dust they want to believe. The alphabet media and feminist blogosphere have given up any pretense of objectivity, human decency or reason. It is beyond me how they can WANT government bureaucrats making decisions over their bodies and their medical care and control over their lives. All they seem to see is "free stuff." One problem I've noticed is that the worst are young and mostly white and upscale -- they haven't begun to have the real health problems that come with age, minority status or poverty. They are quite happy to write off people who are older, disabled, minority or sick and who are being targeted for the most intrusive, unsound and dangerous governmental interventions. "Universal healthcare" is one of those PC issues that they think makes them look caring and reasoned, but actually shows their ignorance of what's going on, of history, of the medical system, of medical science, and of who's going profit off of controlling everyone's lives.

  4. dearieme:

    Actually, the greatest recent scandal in the National Health Service is, in my view, the revelation that if you pay, yourself, for a drug that the NHS won't supply free, then the NHS stops the rest of your treatment - it prohibits mixed public/private treatment for patients. (But not for doctors: they are allowed to practise both for the NHS and privately. Naturally.)

  5. Mark:

    What is sad is the misrepresentation of socialistic universal health care. The claims that the "EUropean" or "Canadien", or Cuban health care systems are superior to the health care system of the United States is based upon pure propaganda and distortions.

    When these people talk about "superiortiy" they use seemingly relevant statistics like "Life Expectency" and "Infant Mortality", as if these measures are the only measures available to judge health care outcomes. The actual fact is, that the outcomes in the United States are much superior than those in Europe or Canada because our health care is delivered in a much more timely manner, is delivered by in a much more qualified way, and utilizes technology and drugs that are not available in the socialized medicine countries.

    Further, the claim that the system in the United States is not "universal" is ludicrous. The government units in our federal system, local, state, and national, all cover the entire population and then some. NO one really goes without health care. This is not to say that the delivery of health care to the poor and indigent could not be improved and made more efficient, but the claim that some people do not get adequate health care coverage rings hollow when we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on Medicaid and other health programs for the poor.

    Further, the fact is that health care economics is the allocation of fixed cost. That is, what I "pay" for my treatment is how the health care provider allocates their fixed costs back to me the user. The only way to reduce health care costs is to reduce fixed costs. That would mean fewer hospital beds, fewer MRI machines, lower levels of technology, fewer specialists, and cheaper, less effective drugs.

    If you do not believe this, consider what the variable cost is for getting an MRI. That is, add up the cost of electricity, the technicians time, and other similar costs. I doubt that the true variable cost of the procedure is even $10. Now compare that estimate to what the hospital bills you for the MRI procedure. I am sure this is many, many multiples of that $10. The reason for this is that the MRI machine costs millions of dollars, and will cost millions of dollars whether one person uses it a day, or 100.

    WIth variable and fixed costs in mind, the only real way we can reduce "costs" in this (and just about every) example is to eliminate the MRI machine itself. Now, in some cases this may reduce the number of situations were an MRI was not really called for and did not improve patient results. But in many or most cases, this will result in care that is not high quality, generate incorrect results, or miss diagnosis that could save your life. The comparable outcome based results of socialistic and our health care system, in general, confirm this.

    And lastly, what is also ignored is factors that are not measured in economic terms. The European and Canadian systems are less expensive because they do not have the massive fixed cost and capacity of the American system. What that means is that there is a shortage of equipement and doctors, and if you need treatment you will simply wait. Waiting with a medical condition can mean several things, including death. Death is easy to understand, and I am sure that the people in England and Canada that die from prostate cancer and similar diseases because they were not diagnosed and treated when the disease was curable do not think that the health care system of their countries is superior to the United States; were the survival rate (5 year) of prostate cancer is 99% versus 77% in Europe.

    And, I am sure that your grandpa or grandma, that are suffering pain because their joints are deteriorating, are thankful that they live in the United States were they can get these routine procedures done in a timely manner. The difference in time is actually measured in pain. That means if grandma has to wait 18 months longer in Europe to get her knee replaced it means she needs to live with 18 more months of suffering and pain. How do you measure that?

  6. Xmas:


    I think you mean "marginal costs" not "variable costs". The marginal cost of getting an MRI is probably small (not $10 small), while the fixed costs for the MRI device, the technicians training, etc, etc is very, very large.

  7. Mark:

    No, I am refering to variable cost in the example above. That is the direct cost associated with producing that unit of commodity, in this case ONE MRI unit.

    Total Cost=Fixed Cost+Variable Cost

    Marginal cost is the cost of producing one more unit of output, and includes both fixed and variable. Marginal cost is important because the price you will supply a commodity is equal to the long run marginal cost of that commodity.

  8. Jim Collins:

    Universal healthcare. Did anybody hear about the cancer patient in Oregon? Their healthcare system wouldn't pay for the medication that he needed, but they sent him information about physician assisted suicide. Yep. Universal healthcare.