Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another glorious example from the "enlightened" health care countries

France is held up by many supporters of health care reform (or I guess they're trying to call it "health insurance reform" now) as a model which works, is cost-effective and efficient. Which is true, I suppose for some definitions of the words "works," "cost-effective," and "efficient." Denis Boyles has a story that would no doubt be dismissed as "anecdotal" by the supporters of government-supplied health care, but demonstrates that the system doesn't work and isn't cost-effective or efficient by my understanding of those terms.
July 2003 had been miserable. On the 28th, Dr. Patrick Pelloux, the president of France’s association of emergency-room doctors, took a look at the long-range forecast, the number of health-care workers who would be off-duty, and the number of doctors and nurses left behind who were restricted by law from working more than 35 hours. He issued a warning saying the number of available hospital beds would be reduced by “25 to 30 percent” — not enough to meet an emergency situation. President Jacques Chirac and the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, including Health Minister Jean-François Mattei, disregarded the warning — and left town....By August 4, the temperature in parts of the country had reached 40° C (104° F), and more than 300 people — almost all of whom were elderly and alone — had died...by August 7, Paris hospitals were collapsing in chaos under a flood of elderly victims who made their way to a hospital — only to find there were no beds, no staff, and — as throughout energy- and environmentally conscious France — no air conditioning. In some hospital rooms, even those filled with unattended elderly people, temperatures reached 120° F....On August 12, some 2,200 people died. By now, the actual death toll was more than 10,000...It took almost six months before the French government admitted 15,000 of their most vulnerable citizens died in the heat wave. The bold, new plan promised by Chirac? The government would make sure every hospital has one air-conditioned room. And next time...the government promised, the elderly will be told to avoid going to the hospital and instead go to the movies.

...

health care in France is still assumed to be a government responsibility, even when that responsibility is one the government obviously can’t always meet. The French pay taxes that together amount to nearly 70 percent of their income, and they expect the government to take care of their health — despite what happened to so many of their grandparents. Nevertheless, the service is facing cutbacks...because of its escalating cost

Read the whole thing. Think it can't happen here? Only if Obama and the Democrats can be stopped from taking over the health care system as they clearly want to...

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