Free Health Care Shortages

, Deidre Almstead, Leave a comment

Katie Brickell’s new life as a twenty-five-year old newly-wed was all but completely halted when she discovered she had cervical cancer, with only a few years left to live. Her hope for survival was placed in receiving cancer treatments through the United Kingdom’s government-run health care system.

Katie claims that her cancer could have been prevented or at least identified at an earlier stage had she been allowed a pap-smear, a common screening test for cervical cancer. Now all Katie can do is to continue to fight for the health care she needs, and dream of the lost life where she and her husband could “have children naturally.”

Katie’s story as well as the testimonies of many others were documented in a film produced by Conservatives for Patient’s Rights, a non-profit organization pushing for the establishment of a free market health care system. Americans for Tax Reform played host to a June 3rd screening of this documentary, followed by a discussion of the current and future health care structures in the United States.

The Obama Administration, in its passage of the stimulus package, created many government organizations and programs similar to those present in the Canadian and British single-payer health care systems. The appointment of Dr. David Blumenthal as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology assisted with the formation of a national, governmentally-run database housing the medical records of all Americans. In addition to this formation, the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (FCCCR) was established to “help coordinate research and guide investments in comparative effectiveness research funded by the Recovery Act.”

These two programs have many similarities to the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which claims to be “responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.” The documentary described many of the effects this British run program on British health care patients.

For patients with cancers deemed terminal by NICE, such as that of the mother of British patients’ advocate Kate Spalls, necessary medications are commonly withheld. This is due to their quality-adjusted life year (QALY) ranking, which is calculated based on the severity of disease along with other individual quality of life factors. This calculated score determines when and if a patient will receive medicines for specific illnesses. Many times these medications are prevented from being administered until they are critically necessary.

Deidre Almstead is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.


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