A view into what Socialized Medicine really looks like…
In the UK the government sponsored healthcare is provided through a network of hospitals called NHS., National Health Service and it’s a mess, a ticking timebomb.
Hospitals are in debt and borrowing to keep afloat. Interest payments cut into benefits and staffing. With net expenditures doubling since 2004, the total reported debt is accumulating faster than anticipated with a projected 2.2 billion euro expected this year. But the debt is cumulative as more than 77% of the hospitals operate in the red. It has to end. It will implode. But it has now become “political”. As in no one wants the blame.
But the greatest stumbling block to socialized medicine is the wait time. In Denmark, they measure time in increments of yearly quarters. For example if they can get their wait time dramatically reduced to 3-6 months, that is considered a success.
The UK still has more physicians per person than the US, but far less than it’s neighbors, Germany, France, Denmark and The Netherlands. (Side note: Cuba has the largest number of physicians per capita – 68).
France is no different than the UK facing a $10 billion deficit. The notion that ones taxes covers the entire cost of medical care is not exactly the entire story. The guidelines that these hospitals follow prescribe who can get what based on factors such as age, life style and obesity. In addition, co-pays are common. And private hospitals pick up the slack for the ‘elite’ or wealthy. Given that the healthcare withholding is wage based, many in France who are self employed are opting out of the system and purchasing private insurance for far less. And while paying the 15% is compulsory, tens of thousands – don’t pay anyway.
Average physician and specialist salaries in the US are over 50% higher than the UK and France. But the education requirements are significantly different. In the US, a medical degree takes roughly ten years after high school. In Europe, it is six years at a cost of $60-$90,000 total. By contrast, 2 years of residency, 4 years of medical school, and four years of undergraduate and the cost dominos to half a million or more.
Cuba may become an option.
After being alienated for decades, Cuba put all its resources into churning out a host of doctors with a completely different mentality – its called cure the patient. With nearly 3 times the per capita doctors as the US, Cuba as emerged as a exemplary example of humanitarianism. Having sent over 185,000 healthcare professionals worldwide, including to Ebola countries, they are the first to arrive and the last to leave. While the government makes about $7 ½ billion annually in loaning out their doctors, the physicians only make about $30 per month. A number that may change dramatically as foreigners go there for their medical treatment given it is far less expensive and more aligned with curing rather than medicating.
By far the biggest dilemma for every healthcare system worldwide is the aging population. Age means more health care needs, means greater cost, means greater debt and fewer young people paying into the pool. In the US, the percentage of people over 65 now matches the percentage of blacks in the US – 13% and is expected to grow to 25.5% of total US population by 2050. Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people in the US over 60 is expected to double. Costs for the elderly are 5-6 times higher than for a teen, the cost for 85+ is 3-4 times greater than for those between the ages of 65-74. In other words, the exponential is somewhat like the magnitude of an earthquake…
Who is going to pay for that healthcare?
There are limited options:
- Cure rather than medicate. But US physicians make money for every prescription and the pharma industry has massive clout! Take away that income source, and we’ll need to either lower the cost of medical school, or lower the education requirements.
- Deny benefits for certain procedures after a designated age.
- Tax the youth and middle class more dramatically to prop up Medicare for retirees.
- Actually tackle Medicare and Medicaid fraud which estimates claim costs taxpayers anywhere from $60-$250 billion per year.
- Fly to Cuba for all your most expensive procedures (the UK and French go to India)
While for-profit hospitals are posting their largest gains ever topping out at over $5 ½ billion per, non-profits are failing.
And while hospitals are posting ever larger profits, insurance co-ops are closing doors faster than ever. Of the 23 created for Obamacare, 12 have already shut down since opening shop in 2013. That means a greater than 50% failure rate in two to three years. In the businessness world, that is not considered ‘healthy’…