Human Exceptionalism

NHS Meltdown: Only the Rich to Receive Best Cancer Care

Yikes.  The former cancer head of the WHO has warned that soon, the best cancer treatments will be restricted to the rich. From the Telegraph story:

The most effective cancer treatments could become the “preserve of the rich” with the cost to the NHS rising towards £1 million per patient, a leading health care expert has claimed. Professor Karol Sikora said it was no longer viable to provide the best treatment to all patients free of charge, and that delivering new anti-cancer drugs would render the NHS penniless. Speaking at a pharmaceutical conference in London last week, the former head of cancer at the World Health Organisation said: “Over the next few years the best cancer care is probably going to become a preserve of the rich everywhere.”

See, that’s the problem right there. First, universal health care tries to cover everything, and for free.  Nice thought, but it can’t.

Rather, we should strive to protect all against catastrophic situations–like cancer treatment–and even then, never for free, even if it’s a $5 fee.  Sliding scale co-pays and deductibles should be part of any healthcare package–however funded.  People need to be responsible for the bulk of the costs of their own general health care–via employer provided insurance (middle class tax benefits!), health savings accounts, aided by point of access price competition, subsidized urgent care and community clinics, a competitive interstate private group and private insurance market, means tested voucher premium support, and subsidized high risk pools–which will help all of us be more responsible managing our own health care (and perhaps, health).  No government bureaucrats can do as well for us what we should be doing for ourselves.

I once supported single payer.  But I have become convinced it is the road to budget breakdown, invidiously-based rationing, long waits for care, reduced quality, significant loss of patient choice, and a collapse of funding accountability.  The NIH’s many travails vividly reveal the peril.


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