Letter to the Editor

Medical care in U.S. is still the envy of the entire world

Friday, December 7, 2007

To the Editor:

I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.

Whether or not national comprehensive (referred to as "free" to the uninformed, socialized to the rest) medical care should be further pursued in this country is a non-starter to those who believe that the federal government is obliged to deliver subsidies of all sorts to everyone -- citizen or not. Be that as it may, even those in authority, who promote such a further disastrous plunge in socialism admit that it is not free -- far from it.

To provide some level of comprehensive coverage will require huge tax increases, even exceeding the confiscatory levels of the Carter era. "Insuring" their promises will require rationing of even essential services. Proponents of this particular entitlement point to the "successes" in Canada, England, and France, whose model they would follow.

To "ponder" the idyllic view of this tentacle of Marxist socialism let me give you just two examples to which I am intimately familiar:

About five years ago my mother-in-law, a citizen of Quebec, Canada, was suffering from severe angina, which rapidly deteriorated to angina at rest -- an ominous symptom and a frequent harbinger of myocardial infarction and sudden death. It required no less than nine months for the government-controlled health care system to provide her with care. In our system, with this type of illness, care is provided immediately, without regard to ability to pay. (If one believes that sick folks are turned away from our medical care one has only to read the thousands of dollars of "charge offs" each month just at our little county hospital.)

More recently, my sister-in-law, also a Canadian, was diagnosed with cancer of the colon with metastases to the liver. She was advised that her life-expectancy was six months without further treatment. She sought an appointment with an oncologist. She received this appointment (I'm not making this up) ... in six months -- not only an example of medical care rationing, but abject governmental cynicism.

My sainted father, a physician of many years in this community, once remarked that Medicare at least paid him something for services he previously did for free.

It is clear that medical care costs are high and rising. Some of this is due to consumer demand for technology for earlier diagnosis and better treatment. Much is due to "defensive" medical care, promoting a sort of "shotgun" approach to diagnosis to protect practitioners from tort claims. Some is due to consumer refusal to adopt life-style changes: smoking, gluttony, drug and alcohol abuse, sedentariness, etc.

"Healthy foods" are not more expensive than "food on the cheap" (sic). Healthy eating involves avoiding certain foods, foods high in some fats and simple sugars, ingredients consistently found in fast foods and processed foods. Obesity occurs when calories consumed exceeds calories spent. In addition, some of those "Americans ... on a fixed income" (what normal American retiree doesn't live on a fixed income? It's called a budget.) have bet their entire retirement on another government hoax: Social Security. And, of course, the consumer needs always to avoid quacks, charlatans, and crooks.

Few would opt for 1950's medical care (even at 1950's costs) in exchange for 21st Century medical care. Our medical care system does have its problems, many of which have been brought on by clumsy governmental meddling. Medical care in the United States, however, remains the best -- the envy of the entire world.

God bless America,

Thomas E. Bailey, M.D., F.A.C.S.