[January 29, 2008 @ 7:48 pm] David Catron

Health care, like all finite commodities, must be rationed. The only real choice involves the mechanism by which that rationing is carried out. It can be based on market forces or it can be based on the whims of some priviledged elite. An article in yesterday’s Telegraph suggests that the former might be more compassionate than the latter:

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.

In a survey of 870 family and hospital physicians,  a majority said that the NHS should not provide free care to everyone. There was, however, some diversity of opinion concerning which patients should be thrown overboard:

One in three said that elderly patients should not be given free treatment if it were unlikely to do them good for long. Half thought that smokers should be denied a heart bypass, while a quarter believed that the obese should be denied hip replacements.

My bet is that the mothers, wives, and children of these same docs would somehow manage to get special dispensations, regardless of their age or lifestyle choices. It is also probable that people with political or financial pull would somehow be treated.

This is a big problem with government-run health care. Regardless of what you call it, any system that tries to outsmart the market ends up rationing care based on the whims of people who don’t face the consequences of their own decisions.

Is this what we want in our country?


  1. W Horter Says:

    In all of your ranting about National Health Care, you forget to say that this “free market system” America has now, is severly rationed, to the “haves”. 47 million without healthcare? That is immoral! Someone once said, a society will be judged not on how it treated it’s best, but in how it treated the least of their brothers. But the real mountain you fail to address is financial. Almost one third of “free market” health dollars, goes to administrative costs. In government run Medicare, that figure is less than 4%. The US spends 17% of it’s GDP on healthcare now. Most other countries spend not more than 11%. Yet we can unsure only 80 to 85% OF THE PEOPLE? Your whole premise is skewed sir.

  2. stuart browning Says:

    M Horter – Please watch the film “Uninsured in America” on this site as well as reading the essay “The Myths of Single-Payer Health Care” (also here on this site). They might help to puncture some of your smug (and false) assertions.

  3. W Horter Says:

    Mr Browning, what “false assertions” are you speaking of? All I have given is fact, not my facts, just the facts as they are. The US spends 17% of GDP on Healthcare, yet is rated 37th in the world. I might ask you, have you watched “Sicko” yet? It is also a fact that 33% of the healthcare dollar goes toward administration costs in the US. That figure is under 10% in Canada or Germany. You may not like the facts, but they are facts none the less.

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