Expect the next Democratic presidential nominee to run strongly on single-payer (ie socialized) medicine. Vodkapundit reminds us what this is like, with the latest from England:
Hospitals across the country are imposing minimum waiting times -
delaying the treatment of thousands of patients.
After years of Government targets pushing them to cut waiting lists, staff
are now being warned against "over-performing" by treating patients too quickly.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that at least six trusts have imposed the
In March, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, offered her
apparent blessing for the minimum waiting times by announcing they would be
"appropriate" in some cases. Amid fears about £1.27 billion of NHS debts, she
expressed concern that some hospitals were so productive "they actually got
ahead of what the NHS could afford".
The Sunday Telegraph has learned of five further minimum-waiting-time
directives. In May, Staffordshire Moorlands PCT, which funds services at two
hospitals and is more than £5 million in the red, introduced a 19-week minimum
wait for in-patients and 10 weeks for out-patients. A spokesman said: "These
were the least worst cuts we could make." In March, Eastbourne Downs PCT,
expected to overspend by £7 million this year, ordered a six-month minimum wait
for non-urgent operations. Also in March, it was revealed that Medway PCT, with
a deficit of £12.4 million, brought in a nine-week wait for out-patient
appointments and 20 weeks for non-urgent operations.
Doctors are also resigning. One gynÃ¦cologist said that he spent more time
doing sudoku puzzles than treating patients because of the measures. Since
January, West Hertfordshire NHS Trust, with a deficit of £41 million, has used a
10-week minimum wait for routine GP referrals to hospital. Watford and Three
Rivers PCT, £13.2 million in the red, has introduced "demand management": no
in-patient or day case is admitted before five months.
Note that this is not a bug with single-payer systems, it is a feature. Any 3rd party payer system has to impose some sort of artificial rationing or bankruptcy will ensue. Would you drive more if your gasoline costs were all covered by a single-payer system, such that you did not pay directly for gas. Would your choice of cars be affected?
Along the same lines, from Marginal Revolution comes this story of new scholarship showing the enormous spike that occurs in health care demand under third party payer (e.g. insurance) systems.