Friday, August 03, 2007

One European's View on Socialized Health Care

The WSJ ran a piece today called Sicko Europe where an Italian named Daniele Capezzone wrote about the failings of socialized health care in Europe. Supporters like to point to Europe, Canada, and Cuba as successful examples of how wonderful socialized medicine is. So I'm happy to pass along this commentary from an Italian who thinks a very important part of his country's socialized health care is costing people their lives.

His first two paragraphs are particularly illuminating. Emphasis mine

We live in an age of unprecedented medical innovation. Unfortunately, most of today's cutting-edge research is conducted outside Europe, which was once a pioneer in this field. About 78% of global biotechnology research funds are spent in the U.S., compared to just 16% in Europe. Americans therefore have better access to modern drugs. One result is that in the U.S., the annual death rate from cancer is 196 per 100,000 people, compared to 235 in Britain, 244 in France, 270 in Italy and 273 in Germany.

It is both a tragedy and an embarrassment that Europe hasn't kept up with the U.S. in saving and improving lives. What's to blame? The Continent's misguided policies and state-run health-care systems. The reasons vary from country to country, but broadly speaking, the custodians of public health budgets aren't devoting the necessary resources to get patients the most modern and advanced medicines, and are happier with the status quo. We often see news headlines about promising new cures and vaccines next to headlines about patients who can't get life-saving drugs as politicians impose ever stricter prescription controls on doctors.

This situation is especially dire in Italy. The government has capped spending on pharmaceuticals at 13% of total health-care expenditures while letting expenses for infrastructure and staff skyrocket. From 2001 to 2005, general health expenses in Italy grew by 31% while expenditure on medicines increased a mere 1.7%. Italian patients might well have been better off if the reverse was the case, but the state bureaucrats who make these decisions refuse to acknowledge the benefits of advanced drugs.

Governments simply cannot efficiently control the marketplace. When they try, quality goes down and costs go up. The profit incentive generates the research capital and desire to develop life saving drugs and treatments. This is why the US leads the world by such a large margin.

I don't want a system where the government controls my health care. It simply will not work.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Lester Mills8/03/2007 7:07 PM

    I cannot add anything to what you and the WSJ have already said, except that 90 percent of the liberals who are clamoring for socialized medicine are convinced that somebody else is going to pay for it. Duh.

    To me, the most devastating indictment of “national” healthcare is not so much the astronomical cost of it but the lack of access to it! What good is it if you cannot use it when you want it?

    Check out the official “wait times” in Canada to see what I am talking about:

    The Doctor Will Be With You Shortly

  3. Lester, as someone who pays $1251 each quarter - $5004 per year - for Blue Cross with a $10,000 deductible for my daughter and I (my wife was refused due to a pre-existing condition), I'm more than ready to consider single-payer. Especially in light of this.

    "Non-profit" my ass.

    Unfortunately, your link produced a 404 error - page not found. Are any of these what you meant?

  4. Lester Mills8/04/2007 12:10 PM

    It comes as no surprise to me that the link worked yesterday but not today. IT IS the Health Canada Web site, you know. (Imagine what they will do your health if they cannot run a Web site!)

    Here is the URL that works at the moment:

    Or Google:
    “health canada wait times”

    No matter how much you are spending for healthcare insurance, it would be considerably less if the US Government were not artificially forcing up prices through Medicare and Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals. You are competing with your own government when it comes to bidding up the price of healthcare. Ditto for college tuition prices.

    In any event, why do you think you can get equivalent healthcare insurance for less money under a single-payer system? Who do you think is going to pay for that discount?