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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    The NHS Mystique

    By kyle | August 8, 2012

    One of the stranger aspects about visting, or living in, Britain is the utterly reverential attitude everyone has toward their filthy hospitals, their long waiting times and their poor health-care treatment, all of which are part and parcel of the National Health Service. The rosy public attitude has been a major propaganda victory for the British establishment, which has somehow convinced the Brits that it’s US healthcare that’s a relative disaster. Well.

    Says Theodore Dalrymple (a British physician) in the LA Times:

    The average Briton or Swede is unlikely to know that the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 51.6% in Britain but 59.8% in Sweden, or that the 30-day fatality rates for myocardial infarction in those two countries are 6.3% and 2.9%, respectively. (The figures for the United States are 65.5% and 5.1%.) By contrast, the average Briton knows that if he suffers a heart attack, he will be taken to the hospital and connected to a lot of machines, from which he concludes that he is having the best possible treatment.

    As is typical in politics, people see the inputs but ignore the outcomes. The entire weight of public opinion is behind the simple idea: “But it’s free!” Nothing is free. And you get what you pay for anyway. Socialized medicine inevitably leads to rationing. There is rationing now, and there will be more later as costs (which doubled in the decade following 1997) gradually eat up the British salary through taxes.

    You will know the ugliness of the reality by the blandness of the euphemisms it inspires. Take the “Liverpool Care Pathway.” Doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe it means a visit from a Beatle? No, it means, “We are preparing you for the rubbish bin.” Because you’ve become too costly for the system. The Hippocratic Oath goes out the window and patients are denied food and water until they have the good taste to slip away.

    Topics: Europe | 8 Comments »

    8 Responses to “The NHS Mystique”

    1. CHNYC Says:
      August 10th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      I have no idea if you read these.

      But if you do, Fish Tank with Fassbender was great. This NHS sotry reminded me of that.

      I guess the UK still judges everything through a Dickensian prism and remembers vividly a history where the elite had martial, political, and economic privilege while the poor were quasi-serfs. Sad.

      Koch brothers rock.

    2. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      August 13th, 2012 at 4:15 am

      I have had operations in the US, Great Britain and Spain. I had a broken arm seen to in England by the NHS. I was seen immediately, the cast was set within 30 minutes and it didn’t cost me a dime. In Spain, I had a heart attack seen to by their their national medical services. I was seen immediately and had a stent installed within the hour and that operation plus the triple bypass three weeks later didn’t cost me a dime. In the US, I was given a tenatus shot after a dog bite. I had health insurance. I had to wai5t nine hours for the shot, was given the wrong one, had to wait three hours for the right one and was charged a thousand bucks. My wife has similar stories. Take it from someone who knows: the Us has the worst, and most expensive medical system in the world. You should be ashamed.

    3. Kyle Says:
      August 13th, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      If we have different opinions, how does it follow that I should be ashamed?

    4. Hedge Says:
      August 14th, 2012 at 3:27 am

      Yes, Hunter, you did not pay a dime in Spain, but a whole bunch of hardworking Germans did…why aren’t you ashamed?

    5. kishke Says:
      August 14th, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Take it from someone who knows: the Us has the worst, and most expensive medical system in the world.

      Uh huh. That’s why people come from all over the world to the US for medical care.

    6. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      August 16th, 2012 at 11:54 am

      They come from all over the world because most of the best specialist surgeons are in the US, because the surgeons are paid far more than any other country. To pay their colossal wages the US charges its citizens far more money for medical care than any other country. Until the drug corporations are brought to heel, nothing much is going to change in America. Obamacare is just a drop in the ocean.

    7. rebeccab Says:
      August 16th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      No way!

    8. kishke Says:
      August 16th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      because most of the best specialist surgeons are in the US

      Uh huh. So that if something is seriously wrong, the US is the best place to get it correctly diagnosed and fixed. Which is one reason its health care system is so wonderful.

      the US charges its citizens far more money for medical care than any other country

      a) Nonsense. Health care in GB is not free. It’s paid for with taxes, lots and lots of them. So you end up paying enormous amounts of money for inferior care. b) Everyday health care is not prohibitively expensive. It gets really expensive when something serious happens, and that’s what insurance is for. Unfortunately, some irresponsible people would rather spend their money on other things, and then whine about being uninsured.

      nothing much is going to change in America. Obamacare is just a drop in the ocean.

      I certainly hope you’re right. One thing is certain, any change engendered by Obamacare can only be a change for the worse in the long run. The changes we need are simple ones, and run precisely counter to Obamacare. They are: a) Allow purchase of health insurance across state lines. b) Don’t meddle in the insurance business by forcing the companies to cover pre-existing conditions, chiropractic and every other special-interest bogus treatment, thereby making it impossible to offer cheap catastrophic incident insurance. In short, less government meddling, not more.