We can learn from America

NRT is one crazy dude.

One of the goals of the National Party in the 90’s was to move New Zealand towards a more American style of healthcare, cutting public provision and running down the public health system in an effort to force people to go private or get health insurance. It’s a goal they still retain today, though they seem to have got it into their skulls that it will never fly with the public, and so have switched the focus to enriching their donors in other ways instead.

Let’s translate that onto a paragraph that is actually true. It’s so warped that it’s just impossible to fisk phrase by phrase.

One of the goals of the National Party in the 90’s was to move New Zealand towards market based approaches, which generally deliver services more reliably and at lower cost. This was partly due to the fact that in the early 1990’s there was little public money to go around.

This did not work in the health system, in spite of the allowances made for vulnerable users. New Zealand has a deep dislike of American style health-care, and the changes created many high profile protests (including among their membership base) that embarrassed the party to the point where the policy was permanently dropped.

National continues to peruse private sector options where these are reasonable, particularly in areas where facilities are largely private at present. They are also considering options to reduce overhead in government bureaucracy, which under Labour has grown massively.

As for why we should never consider a US-style healthcare system here, we have only to look at the results of a study by Ellen Nolte and C. Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “Measuring The Health Of Nations: Updating An Earlier Analysis” (abstract, summary). This found that the US was last among rich nations in deaths from treataable disease (meaning their death rates were higher),

Because they actually identify more diseases, instead of people dying on waiting lists like they do here.

and improving at a much slower rate (4% over 5 years vs an average of 17% across the 18 countries studied).

When you have the best care in the world, it tends to be harder to improve!

The difference translates to an estimated 101,000 deaths per year which would be avoided if the US health system was as good as France’s, Japan’s, or Australia’s (or, as Jerome put it, each year, 101,000 Americans die needlessly because they’re not French).

Funny they don’t mention Britian’s NHS… don’t bother with the link, it’s to a site even more extreme than his own.

Alternatively, we could simply look at bang per buck. The US spends more on healthcare than any other country,

Because they want spare capacity in their system, so they don’t have to wait like us. Spare capacity costs. Think House could diagnose that fast in France, with all the CT scans etc he does?

and yet ranks poorly amongst developed nations on basic indicators such as life expectancy, and infant mortality.

Like all rich nations in history, Americans are fat. If only they had the government looking after them…

And the reason is the inflated cost of private provision. The lesson is simple: if you want an efficient, effective health system which benefits the public rather than shareholders, you need strong public provision.

Efficient?!? Effective?!? “Benefits the public”?!? Clearly written by someone who has never waited months for treatment!

Frankly, there are problems with both systems. It’s this sort of anti-private stupidity (my supermarket somehow manages to look after its shareholders while providing me with food when I want it) that stands in the way of making real changes to our system.

What do I mean by that? Americans don’t wait for health-care. I bet very few people in this country realise that. They also have good insurance provided by employers, schools tertiary education institutions etc. Yes, the system has issues, but it also solves really well serious issues we have in ours.

But all we know in this country is the cost of the American system (which few people pay). Yet while we point at that, we are actually re-implementing charity hospitals that were originally supposed to be done away with by the public system.

Idiot shows massive hatred towards the National party. Some is perhaps justified – hard decisions were made in the 1990s.

Most however is not – Labour did exactly the same, but has now changed while it’s front bench showed most of the same faces. National has completely changed it’s front bench, but somehow (and with no proof whatsoever) they’re more eager than before to cut services – in spite of the fact that there is no longer any justification to do so, in spite of the fact that National massively increased public spending in the later 90’s when the money started to become available. In fact, it was their first priority if memory serves.

Idiot/Savant should watch out, he’s going the right way to experience the issues with a public system in the worst possible way – on a cardiac waiting list.


  1. “Americans don’t wait for health-care. I bet very few people in this country realise that. They also have good insurance provided by employers, schools etc.”

    You’re joking right? As an American, I have to say you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

  2. Sorry, JMS – I used the word “school” because that was the word the guy I was talking to used to describe how he previously got insurance.

    I have corrected this to more accurately reflect what he actually said.

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