Take a vacation this year, or have surgery. This is the question thousands of Britons are having to ask themselves this year. 70,000 to be more specific (and 200,000 by 2010), fleeing to countries all around the world in search of prompt medical attention and a safer medical environment. Boy oh boy, I sure hope America can get universal health care so we can stop taking vacations.
Record numbers of Britons are travelling abroad for medical treatment to escape the NHS – with 70,000 patients expected to fly out this year.
And by the end of the decade 200,000 “health tourists” will fly as far as Malaysa and South Africa for major surgery to avoid long waiting lists and the rising threat of superbugs, according to a new report.
The first survey of Britons opting for treatment overseas shows that fears of hospital infections and frustration of often waiting months for operations are fueling the increasing trend.
India is the most popular destination for surgery, followed by Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain. But dozens more countries are attracting health tourists.
Traveling to Spain or other neighboring European countries would be no cause for alarm. But with India being the favored destination, this is symptomatic of panic more so than options. The more affluent can also consider America when making their decision and many will. And they’ll join
And of course, what this shows is that those who have the money will have the resources to get medical care — and they know better than to use the NHS. People who can afford the double hit of their taxes (which fund NHS) and private medical care manage to do so, and they don’t stop at British private medical resources to get it. They have “globalized” medical care by shopping for services, using competition to drive down cost and improve delivery of services.
If Britain would allow those kinds of market forces to work in its health industry rather than impose the kind of top-down government management that NHS represents, they might keep that money in Britain. If the US wants to keep from creating its own surgical tourism industry as an export, we should learn this lesson, and quickly.
The left likes to say that these waiting lists, et al, are only in regards to non-emergency issues. Now, I’m no doctor, but it doesn’t get much more serious than heart surgery, does it?
Check out this loyal liberal’s reaction:
I’m going to ask Cernig to jump in with any insider commentary he may have on the leanings of the Daily Mail, because today they’re running a scare article that seems to suggest that Britons are fleeing England for quality Malaysian health care, except that the numbers cited represent some tiny fraction of 1% of NHS users. What the reporting does show is that people of means will always have more options than those of lesser means.
But isn’t the purpose of universal health care to equalize the have-not’s with the have’s? This gal doesn’t understand why she’s a liberal. If your beloved government programs actually worked, the rich and poor alike should be able have access to their same doctors and the care they need. After all, the rich are footing most of the bill. They should be able to get care too. Now they’re having to pay for the poor and pay again for their own needs. And don’t forget to rationalize it with low percentages. It’s easier than dealing with a number like 70,000.