[extropy-chat] Health data

Charlie Stross charlie at antipope.org
Fri Jun 16 22:38:06 UTC 2006

On 16 Jun 2006, at 23:07, Damien Sullivan wrote:

> On Fri, Jun 16, 2006 at 08:54:10PM +0200, Anders Sandberg wrote:
>> On the other hand, the UK health system looks right now to be on  
>> the verge
>> of bancrupcy (although that is a bit unfair, since it the main cause
>> appears to be some bad planning and politics). And "v?rdkrisen" ("the
> Impressive, given that the UK is near the bottom of the spending list!
> Of course, the Left accuses the Thatcher-Major-Blair regimes of trying
> to cut or bankrupt the NHS in the name of the market.

[ Just ducking in ]

Speaking as a Brit, the problem is entirely political in origin, and  
relates to some really stupid policy decisions taken over funding the  
NHS a few years ago. (Thumbnail: the government wanted to increase  
spending. They did so by leveraging private investment, offering lock- 
in contracts and selling off real estate owned by NHS hospitals to  
pay for it. Now the pigeons are coming home to roost in the form of  
interest payments. To add insult to injury, the huge NHS IT  
integration project -- which was appallingly badly planned -- turns  
out to be roughly £6Bn -- about US $11Bn -- over budget, a margin  
which exceeds the NHS funding shortfall by an order of magnitude.  
They wouldn't be in a crisis if they'd planned their IT program  
properly, bluntly, and it can be solved trivially if the politicians  
would stop posturing and ... gaah. You've heard it all before about  
any number of large institutions, right?)

Oh yeah. Last time I had to go see my GP I was sitting in his  
examining room all of five hours after I picked up the phone. I keep  
*hearing* about the alleged one year waiting times, but I've never  
met anyone who actually *did* have to wait a year -- or even a week  
-- to see their GP.

Discussions of healthcare are inevitably propagandized, especially  
when someone dumps a handful of free market ideology chum in the  
shark pool.

>> ... If there is one thing that remains constant
>> everywhere in Europe it is that nobody thinks their health care  
>> system
>> works well.

I suspect this is because in the USA you have one interesting  
phenomenon that's absent elsewhere: a vast, parasitic health  
insurance industry that needs to keep medicine expensive -- and has  
the advocacy/lobbying/advertising dollars to spend on convincing  
everyone that their way is best.

-- Charlie

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