We hear certain politicians floating the idea about how America needs a “single-payer” health care system. They often point to the success that other countries, like the United Kingdom, have had with their nationalized health care.
But the facts don’t actually show “great success” in the U.K. at all. In his recent book Open Heart, Dr. Stephen Westaby, a pioneering British heart surgeon, shares some first-hand experiences.
Dr. Westaby is widely-recognized for being one of the first surgeons to implant a permanent artificial heart. His patient, Peter Houghton, set a world record for living with an artificial heart.
As a recent review of Open Heart points out:
One theme in “Open Heart” is Dr. Westaby’s frustration with Britain’s National Health Service, which, he says, values saving money over saving lives. He grows frustrated as he tries to get the reluctant government-run payer to cover the costs of advanced interventions. There are other problems too: Dire situations often get worse, he says, because of treatment delays and poor attention to best practices, like administering clot-busting drugs after a heart attack. Medical directors, he says, seem intent on ensuring that “no one does anything new or interesting.”
It’s hard to imagine the frustration a doctor must feel at working their entire lives to discover new ways to save lives, only to find that the government bureaucrats who control the health care system have no interest in them.
Likewise, it appears the British health care system gives administrators more control over patient care than doctors, failing to provide the right post-op treatment to help patients recover.
Finally, it destroys innovation. New, live-saving procedures rely on the experience and creativity of medical professionals. When the system tells them that innovation is not welcome, doctors get frustrated and patients never have the opportunity to receive treatments that were never developed.
Hopefully, Americans will think twice before following the U.K.’s single-payer model. Our health care system is frustrating enough as it is.
What are your thoughts?
Would a single-payer system in the US make us healthier, or would it follow the trend of other countries of declining innovation and treatment?