National Health Care Budget Deficits force Hospital Closures in Wales

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 21st, 2012

Week in Review

People have the misperception that a national health care system provides quality health care to everyone for free.  But health care is not free.  Someone has to pay for it.  In the United Kingdom that’s the taxpayer.  And when they can’t raise enough in taxes to close budget deficits they have to cut costs.  Close hospitals.  And make people travel farther for their health care needs (see Betsi Cadwaladr proposals: Flint and Blaenau Ffestiniog hospitals may shut posted 7/19/2012 on BBC News Wales).

Two community hospitals could close and minor injury accident departments may shut at others under a major health service shake-up in north Wales…

Among the areas under scrutiny are older people’s mental health services, neonatal intensive care and vascular and major arterial surgery.

The board is the first in Wales to outline plans for balancing the books.

It predicts a gap of £64.6m, the second highest in Wales…

Speaking before the meeting at St Asaph, Christine Evans, chair of patient watchdog Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council, said: “The local communities will be very upset.”

The UK, like the US, has an aging population.  And that’s a fact.  There are fewer people entering the workforce than are leaving it.  And those who are leaving the workforce tend to consume most of the health care services.  So you have a huge transfer of wealth from the working young to the retired seniors.  But because there are so many more of those retired seniors it is difficult to tax the working young enough to pay for them.  And if they can’t generate the tax revenue they have little choice but to cut costs.  Such as closing hospitals and minor injury departments.  And there’s probably more to come.

In the U.S. the private health insurers were vigilant in controlling health care costs.  For they were the only ones who were.  Doctors are reluctant to order tests that aren’t absolutely necessary because health insurers may not reimburse them.  And if they have a relationship with their patient, which most of them have, they don’t want their patient to get stuck with the bill.  So they won’t order a test if it’s not absolutely necessary.  Unless the patient insists.  People hate the insurance companies for this.  But one thing the private health insurance companies never did was close hospitals.

This is the future of Obamacare.  Health care will still cost.  Someone will still have to pay for it.  So they will do like they do in the UK.  Raise taxes.  Transfer wealth.  And then close hospitals when all of that fails to close budget deficits.  It’s just the nature of a national health care system treating an aging population.  With about 5 times the population of the UK those budget deficits will probably be about 5 times worse under Obamacare.  With 5 times the hospital closures.  Making the local communities about 5 times as upset.

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