Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hatred of the Good

The NY Times has a story today showing another example of the failure of socialized medicine, this time in Britain. When reading it, ask yourself what kind of motivation is required to design a system explicitly geared towards making everyone suffer equally?

That is, in the case below, or in the others mentioned in the article, the person wishing to pay for extra care is in no way reducing the choices or resources available to others, indeed she is increasing those resources by allowing medical practitioners and drug companies to make a profit on her purchases -- thereby helping them remain in existence a little bit longer. Yet, by the egalitarian morality underlying the whole system (and animating many of its advocates here in the US), she must be punished in order that she suffer equally with everyone else.
One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.

“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.
Update: Paul Hsieh has several good posts on this topic over at the FIRM blog.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Lucy Hugel said...

That is really shocking and sad. The poor woman....I can only imagine how frustrated and helpless she must feel. And angry, no doubt. I think this article makes it pretty clear that the lives of its citizens is of less importance to the British government than their vicious egalitarian ideology. Instead of protecting rights, they're actively blocking an individual's right to try to save her own life!

1:40 PM  

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