The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Free Health Care!...for the right people

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up (Link via Instapundit), and you should check it out if you're sick of the same old stuff.  Topics are all over the map, and there are usually a few keepers.  Like this one, about the workings of socialized medicine, and how it has affected Canada.  The good bits:

Another and more insidious method of rationing health care in a "zero price" system is denying health care for reasons other than price. As Williams points out, "Another way is to have a medical czar who decides who is eligible, under what conditions, for a particular procedure -- for example, no hip replacement or renal dialysis for people over 70 or no heart transplants for smokers."
Denial of service sets parameters which decide those not 'worth' the scarce service be denied that service. Again, as rationing is inevitable in any health care system, this particular form of rationing is especially likely in a "zero price" system once the queuing mechanism finally becomes to unwieldy (and delays too long to further tolerate).

Read the whole thing.  This post also mentions a newly enacted law in British Columbia that may criminalize opting out of the Canadian system.  In other words, if you are Canadian, and require surgery, and you would like that surgery to take place sooner than the standard waiting period, you may not pay for the service. 

There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.  By the way, did you know:

Robert Heinlein's 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress does lay out a way in which the Moon could be used for military purposes. In the future, convicts at a penal colony on the moon mine minerals that are transported to Earth via a catapult that fires the products "downhill," in gravity terms, to manufacturing facilities in Earth-orbit. The convicts take over the catapult and refit it to hurl huge boulders at Earth's cities--essentially, creating artificial asteroid strikes. Faced with this threat, Earth grants the Moon colony independence. The phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch" originates in the novel. The most popular café at the moon capital's has a huge sign that says FREE LUNCH, but the drinks cost twice as much as in other cafés, and drinks are mandatory.

Emphasis added. 
(From Gregg Easterbrook)


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