Friday, April 18, 2014

What Sweden Can Teach Us About Obamacare?

Per Byland tells us in the Wall Street JournalByland is a professor in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. He is also a citizen of Sweden, so he knows of what he speaks. He explains that, because a centrally planned and controlled healthcare system has neither a price system nor competition, health care services must be rationed by waiting. And waiting to receive health care can often be life threatening.

As Byland reports:
Sweden's problem is access to care. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2013, Swedish patients suffer from inordinately long wait times to get an appointment with a doctor, specialist treatment or even emergency care. Wait times are Europe's longest, and Swedes dependent on the public-health system have to wait months or even years for certain procedures, or are denied treatment. . .

Stories of people in Sweden suffering stroke, heart failure and other serious medical conditions who were denied or unable to receive urgent care are frequently reported in Swedish media. Recent examples include a one-month-old infant with cerebral hemorrhage for whom no ambulance was made available, and an 80-year-old woman with suspected stroke who had to wait four hours for an ambulance.

Other stories include people waiting many hours before a nurse or anyone talked to them after they arrived in emergency rooms and then suffering for long periods of time before receiving needed care. A 42-year-old woman in Karlstad seeking care for meningitis died in the ER after a three-hour wait. A woman with colon cancer spent 12 years contesting a money-saving decision to deny an abdominal scan that would have found the cancer earlier. The denial-of-care decision was not made by an insurance company, but by the government health-care system and its policies.

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