Tuesday, June 30, 2009

AIP Socialized Health Care Horror Stories: Cancer

With Obamacare increasingly becoming the focus in Washington, it is important to highlight the horrors of government-run universal health care in other countries so it can be stopped here.

Here's are two recent stories on how government health care affects cancer treatment:


The cancer divide: Men are most at risk because the NHS prefers saving women, says cancer expert
It revealed that among cancers which affect both sexes, men are 60 per cent more likely to develop the disease and 70 per cent more likely to die from it. ...

As a cancer specialist for the past 30 years, I found the study depressingly predictable. It has long been clear to me that we men are unfairly discriminated against by an NHS which has unfairly favoured female health matters ahead of the needs of male patients. ...

For the fact is that politicians, eager to court the female vote, have long presided over a huge disparity in funding and treatment of female cancer patients at the expense of their male counterparts. ...

The truth is that by treating the NHS as a political football to be kicked in whichever direction they judge will win them the most votes, politicians have added hugely to the disparity between male and female cancer survival rates. ...

I believe we need to look at financial incentives as a possible answer. Recently, private health insurers have started offering reduced premiums for subscribers who agree to join gyms, and even ‘no claims discounts’ for those who remain healthy. Why shouldn’t the NHS adopt a similar approach?...

From this example we can see that when the government controls health care, politicians will use it to get votes from favored constituencies - at the expense of the health of others. Notice also how the author approvingly cites the practices of private health care to encourage better health outcomes.


OHIP cost cutting complicates cancer treatment

Interleukin-2 is a protein in the human body that stimulates the immune system and helps infection-fighting cells multiply and grow. It is used to treat certain types of cancers such as advanced melanoma and renal cancer. IL-2 was approved by Health Canada several years ago, but its use is not as widespread in Canada as it is in the United States.

OHIP covers pre-approved IL-2 treatments in the U.S. for Ontario residents who need it, but Hunt has been waiting to get the life-saving drug for two months....

He sought treatment in Detroit and had a consultation with an oncologist there but didn't get OHIP's approval to proceed because of a simple mistake in the paperwork, Meghan said.

Frustrated, the couple spent hours on the phone, calling doctors, the Ministry of Health and local politicians, hoping that someone could help them.

But while they were scrambling to secure Hunt's treatment in Detroit, there was a change in OHIP rules.

OHIP will now only cover Hunt's cancer treatment in Buffalo, N.Y., where the Roswell Park Cancer Institute is the ministry's only "preferred provider" of IL-2 treatment for metastatic malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. The Ministry of Health has a number of funding agreements with out-of-country health care facilities, which are chosen based on specific criteria.

After much bureaucratic wrangling, Hunt will finally meet with specialists in Buffalo today and find out when he can begin treatment there. But he still doesn't understand why he and his family have to make the four-hour trip instead of simply crossing the border to get the same medical care in Detroit.

First of all, the fact that Canada is sending its patients to the U.S. for proper care should be enough of an indication of the failures of their system - where will Canadians go if the U.S. gets socialized health care? Second, this story demonstrates the red tape and government control of where people can seek treatment, which is based on cost, not necessarily on better care or patient comfort.

These are just two examples of many of how poorly run universal health care is for cancer patients. Next week, we'll take a look at other aspects of the system.

Originally posted at American Issues Project Blog.

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