Elderly Cancer Patients are not Worth the Cost of Health Care they Consume so the Policy of the NHS is to Let them Die

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Proponents of Obamacare attack the profit-oriented private health insurers, medical device and drug manufacturers and hospitals.  Putting profits before people is wrong and shameful they say.  And just plain wrong.  No, the better way is to do like the Canadians.  And the British.  Adopt a health care system that puts people before profits.  Where everyone can smile and enjoy life.  Content in a perfect world where everyone gets whatever health care they need.  Not just the rich who can afford it.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at that health care utopia in the United Kingdom.  And see how wonderfully just, kind and generous their health care truly is (see Elderly dying due to ‘despicable age discrimination in NHS’ by Rebecca Smith posted 3/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

A lack of treatment or insufficient treatment is contributing to 14,000 deaths a year in people over the age of 75, Macmillan Cancer Support has found, in what it called an ‘unacceptable act of discrimination’.

Deaths from cancer are reducing in most age groups but at a slower rate in those aged 74 to 84 and are increasing in people aged 85 and over, the report said.

The report, The Age Old Excuse: the under treatment of older cancer patients, said treatment options are too often recommended on the basis of age rather than how fit the patient is…

Few clinical trials involve older people so clinicians are lacking evidence of how effective drugs may be in elderly people and few cancer specialists have had training in care of older people, the report said.

A survey found six in ten trainee oncologists had not received training in the additional care needs of the elderly such as preventing falls and incontinence management. This is despite half of all cancers occuring in the elderly, the report found…

“The NHS and social care providers must wake up to the specific issues older people face and ensure treatment decisions are based on their overall health not just their date of birth. Writing people off as too old for treatment is utterly shameful.”

This is the future of Obamacare.  This is what happens when the government pays for health care.  The government decides.  They decide who lives.  And who dies.  Who gets treatment.  And who is not worthy of treatment and should consider themselves lucky if they get a pill to dull their pain until they die.  When they finally stop being such an inconvenient and inconsiderate burden to government.

Why is the NHS like this?  Are the British cruel?  No.  It’s just business.  Health care costs continue to rise despite the power of government to stop these costs from rising.  Their population is aging.  And they have a massive budget deficit.  Made up primarily from the budget deficit in the NHS.  Taxes are already high.  And the economy is not doing as well as it once did.  Which means you can’t raise taxes anymore.  Unless you want to crash the economy and reduce tax revenues even further.  And with a massive deficit you can’t borrow anymore.  So if you can’t tax and you can’t borrow and you have an aging population consuming an ever larger share of the health care budget what do you do?  Why, you do what the NHS is doing.  You ration health care.  By making life and death decisions.  And the NHS has made a decision.  Old people over a certain age shall die of cancer.  And they will take that health care and give it to someone else who is more worthy of it.

Bureaucrats making life and death decisions for cost reasons?  Kind of sounds like a death panel, doesn’t it?  Now Obamacare doesn’t include anything called a ‘death panel’ but there will be a death panel.  Because there always is when you ration health care.  Which is what will happen as the government tries to rein in health care costs.  Because that’s the only way they can control costs.  By cutting costs.  And how to you cut costs?  You spend less on life-saving health care services.  And ration these services.  Deciding who has enough value to save.  And who doesn’t and should die.  By authority of the death panel.  The secretary.  Or some other bureaucrat.  Who you hope their life and death decisions are based on costs alone.  And not your politics.

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Rich Doctors say Tax Them More to Help Fund the Canadian ‘Obamacare’ System that Makes them Rich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

People distrust rich people.  That’s why they want to tax them more.  Because they have more than enough money.  No matter what they say about earning their money or how they invest their wealth to create jobs.  People don’t want to hear any of this.  For they ‘know’ that these rich fat cats are lying just to keep from having to ‘share’ their wealth.  But whenever a rich guy says ‘tax us rich people more’ everyone hangs on to their every last word.  For if they are talking about raising taxes on the rich then these are not your typical rich.  They’re the good kind.  Like these doctors in Canada (see Tax us more, doctors urge (Are the lawyers listening?) by Michael Babad posted 3/22/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

A group of doctors is taking a page from Warren Buffett’s tax-the-rich call, urging the Canadian and Ontario governments to tax higher-income earners more…

Doctors for Fair Taxation plan to announce their scheme in Toronto this afternoon, calling for additional taxes on people earning more than $100,000. You’d be hit with an additional 1 per cent if you earn between $100,000 and $170,000, 2 per cent if you earn up to $640,000, and 3 per cent for up to $1.85-million. Above that it would be 6 per cent.

“We feel that this is a moral argument,” Dr. Michael Rachlis, who founded the group that so far boasts more than 50 physicians, told The Canadian Press.

“We cannot talk about throwing people out of work and cutting needed programs for people,” said Dr. Rachlis, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.

Wow.  Sounds very selfless, doesn’t it?  These rich guys asking to be taxed more to help their country?  At least on the surface it does.  But the question that begs to be asked is what are they spending so much money on that they have to raise taxes?  And when you learn what that is it puts these doctors into a different light.

Here’s an article from 2010.  About two years ago.  Talking about a budget crisis.  Where spending is out of control.  Spending that the Canadians just can’t sustain.  And where is this out of control spending?  Why, it just happens to be in the industry that pays these doctors.  Canada’s single-payer health care system.  Talk about coincidences.  These doctors asking rich people everywhere to help pay the nation’s bills.  Where the biggest bill is the one that pays these doctors (see Soaring costs force Canada to reassess health model by Claire Sibonney posted 3/31/2010 on Reuters).

Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate “incentive fees” to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit — an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

It’s likely just a start as the provinces, responsible for delivering healthcare, cope with the demands of a retiring baby-boom generation. Official figures show that senior citizens will make up 25 percent of the population by 2036.

Proponents of national health care in America blame the private health insurers, the pharmaceuticals and the hospitals for out of control health care costs.  What they say we need is a system like Canada.  Where they put people before profits.  And yet here they are.  The Canadians.  With a health care system suffering from out of control costs.  Which they are trying to fix with higher taxes.  Additional fees.  Even a little Americanization (that is, privatization).  Makes you wonder why we’re going forward with Obamacare while the Canadians are finding that type of a system is unsustainable.  Especially when our retiring baby boomers outnumber their retiring baby boomers. 

Canada, fretting over budget strains, wants to prune its system, while the United States, worrying about an army of uninsured, aims to create a state-backed safety net.

Healthcare in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded system, which covers all “medically necessary” hospital and physician care and curbs the role of private medicine. It ate up about 40 percent of provincial budgets, or some C$183 billion ($174 billion) last year.

Spending has been rising 6 percent a year under a deal that added C$41.3 billion of federal funding over 10 years.

But that deal ends in 2013, and the federal government is unlikely to be as generous in future, especially for one-off projects.

Wow.  Look at that.  Almost half of provincial budgets pay for the ‘free’ health care of Canadians.  Which is causing budget deficits at the provincial level.  And at the national level.  Well, up until 2013, that is.  When the national government is going to address their budget deficits by cutting their health care payments to the provinces.  Increasing the provincial budget deficits in the process.  Leaving the provincial governments to tax and spend more.  Or ration care and cut spending more.  Including doctor pay.  Could this have anything to do with those selfless physicians asking that their government tax the rich more?  Perhaps.

Brian Golden, a professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, said provinces are weighing new sources of funding, including “means-testing” and moving toward evidence-based and pay-for-performance models.

“Why are we paying more or the same for cataract surgery when it costs substantially less today than it did 10 years ago? There’s going to be a finer look at what we’re paying for and, more importantly, what we’re getting for it,” he said.

Other problems include trying to control independently set salaries for top hospital executives and doctors and rein in spiraling costs for new medical technologies and drugs.

Ontario says healthcare could eat up 70 percent of its budget in 12 years, if all these costs are left unchecked…

The province has introduced legislation that ties hospital chief executive pay with the quality of patient care and says it wants to put more physicians on salary to save money.

In a report released last week, TD Bank said Ontario should consider other proposals to help cut costs, including scaling back drug coverage for affluent seniors and paying doctors according to quality and efficiency of care.

So the power of government inserted into the health care system has done nothing to lower the cost of medical procedures in Canada.  Makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it?  Because the proponents of Obamacare say that’s exactly what the power of government can do.  But in practice it has failed to do what these theorists say it can do.  Cut costs.  Through bureaucratic management.  And ‘turning of the screws’ on the medical device and drug manufacturers.  Despite this very practice NOT working in Canada.  Which means that the proponents of Obamacare think the Canadian bureaucrats simply aren’t smart enough to make their health care system work efficiently.  That the system of government-managed health care is a flawed system when it comes to costs and efficiency.  Or that government-managed health care is not about costs or efficiency.  But about the bureaucracy itself.  The control and power it offers the politicians.  And the votes it can buy them.

“Many of the advances in healthcare and life expectancy are due to the pharmaceutical industry so we should never demonize them,” said U of T’s Golden. “We need to ensure that they maintain a profitable business but our ability to make it very very profitable is constrained right now.”

Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional. “(The public) will use the services more wisely if they know how much it’s costing,” she said.

Wait a minute.  To fix the government-managed system they need to make the patients aware of the costs so they can choose wisely?  There’s a name for such a system.  We call it capitalism.  The very thing missing from government-managed health care.  And the very reason why government-managed systems (the Canadian health care system, the American Medicare/Medicaid programs, the UK’s National Health Service, etc.) fail to control costs.  And why Obamacare will fail to control costs.  Because they exclude the one thing that controls costs best from government-managed systems.  Capitalism.  Where people make spending decisions based on cost.  Which will never happen when someone other than the patient pays for the costs for the medical services a patient receives.  For no one ever asks ‘how much’ when they’re not paying the bill.

So when a rich doctor says to tax the rich more is this selfless?  Or selfish?  You decide.

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