Wait, Wait…Don't Treat Me


My former colleague Johnny Munkhammar, author of European Dawn—After the Social Model and fellow at the Swedish think tank Timbro, cautions Americans not to get too excited about the single-payer health care model. Europeans, Munkhammer writes in the Examiner, "have already been down that road. So a word of caution is in order":

In my home of Sweden, for instance, patients in need of heart surgery often wait as long as 25 weeks, and the average wait for hip replacement is more than a year. Some patients have even been sent to veterinarians for treatment, and many Swedes now go to neighboring countries for dental care, despite having paid taxes for "free" dental coverage.

This shouldn't be a surprise. Only with an infinite supply of health care funding can government dole out an infinite supply of health care services, so waiting lists are a natural consequence of state-sponsored coverage.

The same is true, he writes, of Britain's NHS:

In Britain, more than 1 million citizens who need medical care are currently waiting for hospital admission, and every year, the National Health Service cancels as many as 100,000 operations because of shortages.

Only about half of all British adults are registered with public dentists, as dental work is notoriously inadequate and roughshod. The reason? The U.K.'s dentists are paid on a per-patient basis, so their incentive is not to offer the best treatment but to treat as many patients as possible. Surgeries, complicated procedures and other time-consuming treatments are a waste of precious billing time, from the economic viewpoint of the dentist.

Whole article here.