[extropy-chat] Who Gets Expensive Treatments Under Socialism? (was Cryonics is the only option?)

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Apr 16 06:45:58 UTC 2007

On 4/16/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Ben writes
> > There would doubtless be some kind of cost-benefit calculation involved,
> > to decide just who would get this treatment. Unless you're in America,
> > where, i assume, you die if you can't afford whatever life-saving
> > treatment you need (is this correct?).
> But if money doesn't decide, who does, and how?  Is it assumed that
> the "waiting list" works well enough where you live?  In the U.S.
> there have been cases IIRC where famous baseball players have
> gone to the head of the list;   and I cannot believe that people
> who are less connected (like me) could possibly stand the same
> chance as people who are well-connected (like powerful politicians).
> Does this problem seem to come up in countries with even more
> socialized medicine than we have in the U.S.?

In Australia, most people who are acutely unwell, whether poor or rich, end
up in a public hospital where they are treated for free. If they are not
*too* unwell and don't have a really rare or difficult to treat condition
and they have private health insurance, they may be transferred to a private
hospital, where the food and the room may be a little better. Unlike in the
US, the "cutting edge" medicine is mostly in the public hospitals, and in
fact visitors who get sick and have to pay are sometimes directed to the
private hospitals because they are actually cheaper. The only advantage of
having private health insurance is that there are waiting lists for some
non-life threatening elective procedures, such as joint replacements. Other
than that,it isn't really possible to buy better care even if you have the
money. Thereare some exceptions such as very expensive chemotherapy drugs
which the Government doesn't want to fund, but public pressure usually sees
them relent. Also, because the Government Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
effectively buys drugs for the whole country they have a lot of bargaining
power, and the real cost of drugs is among the lowest in the world (that is,
excluding those countries which ignore drug patents). People get used to
public medicine just as they get used to public education or defense.

Stathis Papaioannou
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