Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ted Kennedy's cancer: Not treated in Morocco... or Canada or anywhere in Europe for that matter


Senator Ted Kennedy's office has begun convening a series of meetings to begin laying the groundwork for a new attempt at the old idea of universal healthcare. We got to thinking whether or not Kennedy would’ve received the excellent care he did which involved a successful surgery at Duke University Medical Center back in June and radiation treatment and chemotherapy currently at Mass General were he living in a country that had socialized medicine.

If the World Health Organization's rankings are to be believed then he (and all of us) would fare better overall in either Morocco or Costa Rica. Of course, this doesn’t pass the sniff test so how can this be? Well, for starteres,it can be because the WHO grades on a curve - bonus points are awarded in the WHO’s rankings for countries with tax-funded, socialized programs because everyone has equal access to the same health care.

You see, its fair… and that’s good even if the overall quality of the care is extremely poor. So theoretically, a country with bad health care could shoot right up the WHO’s power rankings by simply providing bad health care to everybody more equally. Isn’t social justice peachy?

But since its election time, we are being told that what we really need is what Canada and Great Britain have got.

"Debbie Hirst's breast cancer had metastasized, but the (British) NHS would not provide her with Avastin, a drug widely used in the U.S. to control such cancers. According to a report in the New York Times, Debbie opted to pay for the drug herself while getting the rest of her publicly funded treatment. NHS bureaucrats found out about Debbie's plan and informed her doctor that Debbie would have to accept the "free" care as is or, if she wanted the Avastin, she would have to pay for it and all the rest of her treatment too."

"NHS officials told the British press that to allow Debbie to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the NHS by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones. British Health Secretary Alan Johnson told Parliament patients "cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the NHS and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs. That way lies the end of the founding principles of the National Health Service."

Got that? It has nothing to do with saving lives but rather preserving a philosophy.

And what about our northern neighbors...?

"The Canadian Health Care System nearly killed Sylvia De Vries. The Ontario woman was afflicted with a 13 inch, 40 pound fluid-filled tumor. She was told to wait in line for treatment. Worried, she crossed into the U.S. In a Pontiac, Mich., hospital, a surgeon removed the tumor telling De Vries she could not have lived with it longer than a few weeks."

"In the last two years, the government of Ontario has sent at least 164 patients to New York and Michigan for neurosurgery emergencies – defined by the Globe and Mail newspaper as "broken necks, burst aneurysms, and other types of bleeding in and around the brain."

"The Cato Institute reports that one in seven Canadian doctors refers a patient every year to the U.S. for treatment. The Canadian government mandated and funded health care system is successful, if at all, because it uses the private health care system of the U.S. as a safety net."


C’mon BwD, you’re just cherry-picking numerous, wide-ranging and representative anecdotal incidents to make socialized medicine look inadequate, inefficient, inhumane and downright broken.

OK. Back to Kennedy and cancer survival rates. Let’s look at some numbers published recently in Lancet Oncology.

- American women have a 63 percent chance of living at least five years after a cancer diagnosis, compared to 56 percent for European women.

· American men have a five-year survival rate of 66 percent — compared to only 47 percent for European men.

· Among European countries, only Sweden has an overall survival rate for men of more than 60 percent.

· For women, only three European countries (Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland) have an overall survival rate of more than 60 percent.

These figures reflect the care available to all Americans, not just those with private health coverage. Great Britain, known for its 50-year-old government-run, universal health care system, fares worse than the European average: British men have a five-year survival rate of only 45 percent; women, only 53 percent.


Lancet’s conclusion: U.S. #1. When it comes to early cancer detection and treatment there is no need to radically overhaul the system.

We never cease to be amazed by the clamoring for universal health care/socialized medicine even after the mountains of data that have been generated shows it to be an abject failure. So much so that the GodFather of the Canadian health care system, Claude Castonguay, now says the single-payer system is bunk and that radical reform (change!) is needed: “We are proposing now to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."

Yes, dear readers, it has come to this: The idea that “affordable health care” as health care that you yourself can afford is thought of as radical.

Apologies for the long-winded post but a convergence of news items and recently-read articles aligned themselves perfectly… to your detriment.

5 comments:

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Grrrr....
My mom had breast cancer.

She survived.

There is now a waitress of the same age--alright lady-- who has no insurance and yet will STILL get the same bloody treatment as my mom. Without payment.

And folks want to tell me how horrid America is?

Anonymous said...

Dean,
You rock. You nailed it! When government pays for everyone's health care, we all have a better chance of dying.
B-daddy

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