Monday, August 17, 2009


“In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false. ... [O]ur own Veterans Health Administration, which is run somewhat like the British health service, also manages to combine quality care with low costs.” Paul Krugman (yesterday)

“Dawn Halfaker, a former Army captain who lost her right arm in Iraq, says negotiating the [VHA] bureaucracy to get treatment for all her medical needs has been frustrating at times. She had to wait eight months for an appointment at the Washington hospital to get her teeth cleaned. Even so, she says, the care ‘is not as bad as I thought it would be.’ ” Time magazine (2006)

Until the Clinton Administration reformed the veterans health-care system in the 1990s, VA hospitals had a horrible reputation... notwithstanding Mr. Krugman’s blithe equation of socialized medicine and “quality care.”

Just sayin’.


odocoileus said...

Apples and oranges.

I grew up under the military health care system - not the VA system for wounded vets - and the care was good, though certainly not the latest and greatest. My parents are covered under this system, and they get good care.

Under the current system, only a minority of Americans get the latest and greatest, like people with those suh-weet Guild health plans.

I'm not covered by the WGA health plan - yet - but the care I got under the DGA plan was better than what I got as a military dependent. The military system was good, but basic, no frills.

Kaiser, in my experience offers about the same level of care as the military system. Decent, but nothing fancy.

Doctor Memory said...

This is all somewhat moot: none of the various reform proposals in play in congress are even slightly similar to Britain's NHS.

But that said? Ask any Brit what they think about the NHS? You'll most likely get a litany of complaints and annoyances. Now as a folllowup, ask them if they'd prefer that the UK have a system like ours. Plug your ears carefully: the laughter will be deafening.

No system is perfect. Few systems are even defensibly good. The current american system is merely the worst of all of its peers.

Geneva Girl said...

Doctor Memory is right. My British friends may complain all day long about the NHS, but they'd never trade it for the American system.

Those who can afford it buy supplemental health insurance, e.g., BUPA. They then get private hospitals and no waiting lists. At least the poor and working class have the safety net of the NHS.

The NHS can employ doctors at surprisingly low salaries because doctors don't come out of med school $400Gs in debt. Med schools and universities are very low cost. Doctors don't have the stress of having to pay down massive debts.

I don't know what Americans are whining about. If you have money, you'll always get care. said...

The military is nice little exercise in protecting democracy, but not practicing it.

Lower pay, but state housing (or housing allowance), food allowance, and health care.

The first thing military dentists tell you is you need to have your wisdom teeth removed. It must be training for them. After five people told me they were told they needed to have their wisdom teeth removed, I told them they weren't removing mine, just because.

They let medical technicians close during surgery and the military can have doctors who aren't able to practice outside the military system.

The first I heard from someone who did it, the second I saw on Primetime Live 10+ years ago. On the show, there was a doctor in the military who got out and got a job ordering pizzas. He was black, so of course they showed his picture.

Aside - The guy with the rifle protesting is black right? On the Chris Matthews show last night they didn't show the guy, ONLY closeups of the rifle. Didn't show his face, his arm, or hand. If that guy was a Johnny Reb cap wearing, tobacco spitting, pot-bellied buffoon they would have damn sure shown his face. WTF is that all about? I guess this guy needs to rob a liquor store before they show his face?

Anyway, I've been out of the military system for over 10 years now and I'm in Kaiser and I think Kaiser is better, primarily because they are profit driven and thus try to put some focus on prevention.