[January 26, 2009 @ 9:39 pm] David Catron

I have written before about the deplorable NHS policy of restricting access to life-saving medications. Anyone doubting that the “reformers” who now control D.C. have the same thing in mind for us should read this WSJ piece:

In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their “cost effectiveness” before citizens can get access to them … Here in the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama and House Democrats embrace the creation of a similar “comparative effectiveness” entity.

What do they mean by “cost effectiveness” and “comparative effectiveness”? They mean that dying patients will not be allowed access to certain drugs if they ”cost too much.”

In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their “cost effectiveness” before citizens can get access to them. The agency has concluded that $45,000 is the most worth paying for products that extend a person’s life by one “quality-adjusted” year.

In other words, they decide how much your life is worth and withhold any treatment whose cost exceeds that arbitrary amount. The worst feature of this grotesque and deadly policy is that it won’t save any money:

The Congressional Budget Office says that government-run comparative effectiveness studies won’t actually save much money.

Even more ironic, this policy will be implemented at a time when the federal government is involved in a wild orgy of spending. I wonder how many of the people who hailed O’s inauguration yesterday have any idea what sort of “change” they’re in for.


  1. JSB34 Says:

    The country currently lacks the capability to adequately conduct the needed cost effectiveness or comparative effectiveness studies. The only studies that have been done were long (Allhat took 8 years, CATIE 4 or so) and expensive (Allhat $120million, CATIE $42). That is why CBO says the studies won’t save money.

    The only hope is observation studies, but the country doesn’t have the capacity to conduct those studies effectively: too hard to get the data, onerous privacy protection, not enough researchers to conduct the studies, and not enough acceptance of the methodology. However, that won’t stop the health policy folks from claiming billions in “savings” from comparative effectiveness research and then using those “saving” to insure more people.

    It almost impossible to get CMS to use their own data to conduct effectiveness studies.

    Sad times.

  2. Pete Says:

    Oh, that’s right, an HMO has NEVER denied medication or treatment to anyone. They just love paying for the MOST expensive medication regardless of effectiveness.

  3. Stuart Browning Says:

    Well, considering that HMOs are a creation of government, I’m not sure that your comment is the free market critique that you think it is.

    A free market in health care would have individuals making purchasing decisions about health care the same way that they do about a myriad of other products and services. High-deductible, catastrophic health insurance would take care of the big, unexpected things.

    HMOs – as bad as they are – are not legally mandated for every citizen. The health care system in Canada is essentially one big HMO. However, unfortunately, it is forced on people who cannot “leave the plan” as they can here in the US.

    Try again Pete.

  4. Pete Says:

    Actually Stu, you are wrong about Canada. Yes, you can consider it a great big HMO, but you do not have to be part of the individual provinicial plans if you do not want to be. It is not forced on individual Canadians. Nor does a doctor have to be part of it either. You can pay cash or a doctor can choose to opt out of the system and have his patients pay cash to him. Of course, that would make one poor doc.

    A free market health care means only those that can afford care will get care. Try again Stuart.

  5. Stuart Browning Says:

    Pete – Are we talking about the same country?

    Please tell me which province in Canada (other than possibly Quebec) where a doctor can perform heart surgery or orthopedic surgery on a Canadian who pays cash.

    Also, please tell me where such a Canadian who has opted out can buy health insurance for such coverage.

  6. Pete Says:

    Stuart, you are right that a Canadian can’t buy private insurance if they opt out, but they can pay cash. There are many Mennonites in Ontario who refuse to use OHIP and pay cash for everything.

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