Annals of Government Medicine

Nature dictates that young people incur little in the way of medical expense, on the average, while old people incur a great deal. Thus every government scheme that strives to supplant the obvious, fair alternative–everyone pays for his own medical care, with the aid of whatever insurance he may have purchased–attempts to do two things: 1) force young people to contribute far beyond their own medical costs, and 2) limit the amount that is spent on health care for old people. This is absolutely inevitable, once you get away from the principle that has guided the health care industry for centuries; namely, that people are entitled to as much health care as they are willing and able to pay for.

Leftists have sold socialized medicine to various populations on the fraudulent premise that government-run health care can do the impossible: reduce costs while simultaneously providing all the care one wants, especially in one’s old age. The reality has been entirely different. Socialized medicine has resulted in spiraling costs and reduced services, much like government-run post offices.

The United Kingdom, home of one of the first and most comprehensive socialized systems, remains a beacon for leftists. Unfortunately, the reality of government medicine demonstrates the futility of liberals’ magical thinking. The Telegraph reports that under Britain’s National Health Service, more than one-half of those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities “are being denied basic health services while staff are failing to to do enough to preserve their dignity.”

Some older people routinely have to wait up to three months for formal checks for painful conditions such as bed sores, according to figures from the health care watchdog.

A quarter were not given a choice of male or female staff to help them use the lavatory and more than a third of care homes surveyed admitted delays in getting medication to residents.

Campaigners blamed NHS bureaucrats showing a “lack of interest” and failing to provide expert assessments for conditions as basic as incontinence.

The findings emerged after almost 1,000 elderly people yesterday descended on Parliament to lobby their MPs calling for a radical overhaul of the social care system.

Of course, this is what inevitably happens when voters succumb to the temptation of getting something for nothing from the government.

Fresh evidence of the failings in the system was detailed as a raft of previously unpublished data gathered by the health care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was released. It was drawn from the first ever nationwide review of how the needs of needs of care home residents across England are met.

The CQC report discloses that people suffering from incontinence have to wait more than two weeks for an assessment of their condition in almost 40 per cent of homes for the elderly surveyed. But a separate detailed analysis of the CQC data carried out by the British Geriatrics Society, also found that more than 40 per cent specialist providers set themselves a target as long as 90 days to carry out such assessments.

Such delays have led to elderly people being denied the treatment they need or forced to wear incontinence clothing when they do not need it.

The CQC research also says that 30 per cent of nursing homes investigated had no clear policy on when to attempt to resuscitate patients who suffer a serious deterioration in their health. …

The Geriatrics Society study showed that only 57 per cent of Primary care trusts ensure that all elderly people under their responsibility have access to key services including continence assessments, physiotherapy, pressure sore checks and mental health services. In 40 per cent of cases trusts set no specific targets to ensure the services were being delivered.

Far from being a panacea, government medicine provides the worst of all worlds: extraordinary costs that can only be controlled by skimping on care for the most vulnerable patients.

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