By Jon Dougherty
The future of American health care is playing out over at our cousin’s place across the Atlantic — Great Britain — if anyone cares to take the time to look. And you should, because if any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates win the White House and get their way in Congress, we’ll end up a British-style healthcare system.
It’s a system that has been failing for years but is now near collapse.
The vaunted National Health Service, which is full-on socialized medicine — “Medicare for All” is what it will be called in the U.S. — has hit an 11-year low in patient satisfaction scores. Patients are dying waiting for days for care in corridors. On, and wait times are also at historically high levels.
How could this be? Socialized medicine is the end-all, be-all of healthcare. It doesn’t just rival a free-market system, it is vastly superior, we are told by Democrats and Leftists throughout our political system.
As noted by Mac Slavo at SHTFPlan.com:
The British Social Attitudes poll of nearly 3,000 people found 53% of in England, Scotland, and Wales were satisfied with services last year, according to a report by the BBC. That is a three percentage point drop since 2017 and the lowest level since 2007. A peak of 70% was seen in 2010.
“These findings show the inevitable consequence of starving the NHS of funding for the best part of a decade,” Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health services, told the BBC. “We should be under no illusions about the scale of the task we face to restore public confidence in the health service.”
Sally Pipes, a health policy expert and president of the Pacific Research Institute, wrote in October that the NHS is suffering from chronic shortages of doctors, nurses, and other staff — because the system is always starved for cash:
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service, which celebrated its 70th anniversary on July 5, is imploding.
Vacancies for doctor and nurse positions have reached all-time highs. Patients are facing interminable waits for care as a result. This August, a record number of Britons languished more than 12 hours in emergency rooms. In July, the share of cancer patients who waited more than two months to receive treatment soared.
The NHS has struggled to fully staff its hospitals and clinics since its inception in 1948. But today, the shortages are growing worse. 9% of physician posts are vacant. That’s a shortfall of nearly 11,500 doctors.
The NHS is also short 42,000 nurses. In the second quarter alone, nurse vacancies increased by 17%. Meanwhile, in the United States, nearly all states will have a surplus of nurses by 2030.
It’s unsurprising that people don’t want to work as nurses in Great Britain; it’s a stressful job, with long hours and terrible working conditions. Some NHS nurses are taking positions at supermarkets because stacking shelves comes with better hours, benefits, and pay, according to a report in the London Economic.
Right, right, say Dems running for the White House. ‘But we know how to do socialized medicine better.‘
Really? Because that’s what most of them were saying in 2010 when they voted to support Obamacare, which essentially gave the government full control over most aspects of healthcare.
And how has Obamacare worked out? It hasn’t. Wait times in E.R.s are still high; monthly premiums and deductibles are both higher; and healthcare costs have grown; and still not all Americans are covered by a health plan — all things that Democrats promised us Obamacare would “fix.”
Amazingly, many Democrats ran on and won 2018 races complaining about the healthcare breakdown in the U.S. that their party created. Naturally, the pathetically biased “mainstream media” failed to hold any of them accountable for the Obamacare disaster.
Now they’re back promising, once again, that they will “fix” healthcare, if only we give them full control over all of it.
But the British model provides us with all of the information we need to reject Democrats’ phony promises of a healthcare utopia. The only thing more government control over our healthcare will do is make it more inefficient, more expensive, and drive more providers out of healthcare altogether.
In fact, Obamacare has already led to a provider shortage in the U.S.:
— “A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That’s a 16% increase from their forecast just last year. Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.” — Investors Business Daily
— “In a national survey of physicians across all specialties in the United States in 2014, nearly one in five respondents indicated their plan to reduce practice hours within 12 months, and one in four said they would likely leave their current practice within 2 years.” — Medscape
— “The time it takes to schedule a new patient appointment with a physician in 15 major metropolitan areas in the United States has increased by 30% since 2014, according to a survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins… Merritt Hawkins’ Smith said that the survey results show there is a physician shortage in the United States.” — Medscape
— “An increasing proportion of the roughly 100,000 doctors in medical school today do not intend to treat patients as their primary career – or at all. The movement of doctors from patient care to non-clinical roles has caused no shortage of hand-wringing…” — Doximity
Obamacare, which is just a partial government takeover of healthcare, has already caused significant damage to our healthcare system. As our population continues to age with the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, doubling down on handing government more control over our healthcare system is suicide.
Plus, there is the expense. Keep in mind that the NHS is chronically underfunded; that’s why the system cannot attract enough providers, compensate them well enough, keep enough staff on hand to handle demand, and still keep up maintenance of government-run facilities as well as construct new ones.
— A recent study by Mercatus projected that, over 10 years, healthcare costs in the U.S. would top $32 trillion — and you just know that’s an estimate that will be low because all such estimates generally are.
Expenditures that steep will inevitably lead to calls from Congress to lower healthcare costs. Do you know how government lowers costs? They simply cut budgets. Demand doesn’t matter. Need doesn’t matter. Only costs matter, and if a government program is costing too much, then its funding gets cut.
Ask any doctor who takes Medicare and they’ll tell you: Government payouts are far lower than it costs to provide services in many cases. And for Medicaid, payouts are ridiculously low. That’s why an increasing number of doctors aren’t taking Medicare and Medicaid patients; they don’t get compensated at a level that makes it economically feasible for them to stay in practice. And if they don’t stay in practice, we get provider shortages.
Worse than we already have.
The answer to this dilemma isn’t more Democrats in 2020 promising more government control over healthcare. It’s getting government out of the healthcare management business and returning more of the industry over to the free market.
Doctors, hospitals, and clinics that have to compete for patients will provide better services for less money. That’s how every other business competes (and succeeds) in America and it would be no different for healthcare.
Rules and regulations don’t take care of patients, but that’s what “Medicare for All” government-run healthcare would become: An even worse labyrinth of rules and regulations that inhibit care, make care expensive, and drive people out of the industry.
Democrats (and Great Britain) have already provided us an object lesson in how not to do healthcare. After the Obamacare debacle, why in the world would we ever trust Democrats with our healthcare again, especially when all they’re selling is the same socialist system, repackaged as a ‘better deal?’
And there is this: Never forget that whatever system Democrats force on us, they’re not going to subject themselves to or their families. They exempted themselves from Obamacare; they will exempt themselves from ‘healthcare for the masses’ as well.
“Congress’ ongoing failure to repeal Obamacare means ordinary citizens will continue to suffer that law’s rising penalties, wage cuts, reduced choice, rising premiums, eroding coverage, administrative burdens, and collapsing markets, even as members of Congress enjoy special exemptions and illegal subsidies that spare them from the burdens of that law,” wrote John Malcolm and Michael F. Cannon.
Finally, there is a simple question no one ever asks a socialist who comes calling for our healthcare: “Why does it have to be ‘managed’ by government in the first place?”
When Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and the others come at you with “Medicare for All,” you tell them, “No, thanks.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10