Saturday, February 07, 2009

Universally Broke

UPDATE: below

Australia's government generously funds health care:
Medicare is Australia’s universal health care system introduced in 1984 to provide eligible Australian residents with affordable, accessible and high-quality health care.

Medicare was established based on the understanding that all Australians should contribute to the cost of health care according to their ability to pay. It is financed through progressive income tax and an income-related Medicare levy.

Medicare provides access to:

* free treatment as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital, and
* free or subsidised treatment by medical practitioners including general practitioners, specialists, participating optometrists or dentists.
I'll bet you can guess the health of such a healthcare program today, especially in the populous Australian state of New South Wales:
Experts have told The Sunday Telegraph the health crisis has for the first time permeated the entire state, extending from major Sydney hospitals to rural and regional centres in Moree, Broken Hill and Albury.

Dr Brian Morton, president of the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), said the state of the public health system had plunged to an unprecedented low.

"(The system) is basically broke and all the health services are in trouble,'' he said.
Among major problems blighting the system are:

* All of the eight area health services are facing major funding, staffing and supply shortages.

* New fears of deadly superbug outbreaks, as cleaning budgets are slashed across NSW, which already has Australia's highest rate of hospital-acquired infections.

* NSW Health's finances are a "significant problem'', according to the Auditor-General's Office, with a "large number of errors detected during the audit process'' as well as missed deadlines.

* Patients being denied basic drugs, medical supplies and quality food because of cost-cutting.
Universal access + government as payor = broke. Wonder if Senator Daschle's replacement at HHS knows that?


It has happened here, according to former Texas state representative Arlene Wohlgemuth:
News coming out of the Massachusetts experiment with "socialized medicine lite" -- the combination of insurance coverage that is free, subsidized, or mandatory to make it near universal -- continues to be distressing for reasons other than the predictable, ever-escalating cost to the state.

First were the reports from across the state of primary care physician shortages. According to a physician workforce study conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society, half of the internists in Massachusetts stopped accepting new patients, as did 95 percent of general practice physicians in Boston’s top three teaching hospitals.

Waiting times for appointments, for those fortunate enough to get one at all, increased by more than one-third. Need to schedule a physical? How about this time next year?

The latest development is an astounding change in the way patients and doctors have interacted for generations. "Shared medical appointments" are the new wave in Massachusetts physician practices due to the shortages.

Eight or nine patients with the same general complaint are scheduled at the same time and ushered into a room to have their examinations -- together. The doctor examines each one and then discusses with them as a group how to manage their health issue. Other, more personal issues can be discussed with the group, or perhaps with the doctor alone afterwards.
(via Don Surber)


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Liberals can easily explain this. They simply deny it's true.

Carl said...

I agree--that's what they do. Which is why I've hit 'um with facts. But the "universal/single payor" army hasn't slowed. What's our best response?