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The Conundrum of Health Care December 12, 2016

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture, Uncategorized.
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I write about health care because now, about 18 months ago, I was under a death sentence. I ultimately didn’t die (I will someday, but it won’t be today), but such a situation does tend to focus your thoughts.

Health care in the US is mostly private, based on employment. In other countries, notably the UK, it is largely public.  I came across the story of a writer in Britain, Adrian Gill, who passed of cancer a few days ago, and offers praises for the National Health Service there.

There is a fatal flaw in health care that societies in general refuse to acknowledge. Health care is not an unlimited resource.  There is not an infinity of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.  Drugs cost money.  Out of necessity, health care must be rationed.  Here in the US, we largely ration through, as I said, employment.  That isn’t particularly satisfactory, of course.  But in places such as the UK and Canada, they ration through availability.  That isn’t satisfactory, either.

But it’s a discussion that no society is willing to have, and that’s the real problem. I have a friend who says, crassly but no doubt reflecting what many people truly think, “I love nationalized health care, as long as I can afford to buy what I need on my own.”

No one wants to say, “You can get as much health care as you can afford.” Or “You can have health care as long as you are willing to wait a long time for it.”

And there is the rub. They are the realities.  But we ignore them because of the friction built into our health care systems.  We can dismiss rationing as being an unintended consequence of the broken systems.

I do have one objection to Gill’s description of the NHS. He says that you don’t get the humanity in private health care that you do in public.  I respectfully disagree.  People are people, whoever signs their paycheck.  We have a human connection.  He was wrong.

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