Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Might Universal Healthcare Look Like? Issue #2

It would be instructive for all of us to consider what universal healthcare would look like in a practical sense. Various bloggers and others have pointed to actual examples in Canada, Britain, and various other countries.

I would argue that we are already seeing elements of it in the United States. I wrote on this topic once already, concerning the availability of vaccines.

Now we learn that a task force at the Department of Health and Human Services (yes, your taxpayer dollars at work...or perhaps, your grandkids' taxpayer dollars at work) recommends against women having regular mammograms before the age of 50. Not simply stating that they are not as important as once thought, mind you—they are recommending against them.

The more cynical among us will consider the future under such task forces. Here's what I envision if universal healthcare becomes a reality.

Women reaching the age of 40 will continue to request mammograms; indeed, some of their doctors will want them to get mammograms due to family histories, medical problems, or other reasons. "Task forces" will decide who gets mammograms. Age and other limitations will be summarily enforced; those who simply "want to check," or who "want peace of mind," or who "felt something suspicious" will likely either be at the end of the line or removed from it. Those who receive mammograms will have to wait for them; women who are found to have cancer will not be able to receive treatment as early for this reason...and consequently, survival rates will decline.

Of course, those who are well-connected or who learn how to game the system will be able to receive healthcare services in a more prompt fashion. Think Soviet Union, 1970's.

My wife is not too far away from this stage of life; I certainly don't want her to face that in the future.

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