Chuck Colson on socialized medicine

There was an interesting BreakPoint commentary today about socialized medicine in Britain.

Bruce Hardy probably doesn’t have long to live. But he could live longer, if it weren’t for the attitude and policies of the British government.

As recounted in a New York Times article, Mr. Hardy has kidney cancer that has spread to his lung. His doctor wanted him to take an expensive but effective new drug that has been shown to delay cancer progression for six months.

But Her Majesty’s government refused the request. The Times reports: “If the Hardys lived in the United States or just about any European country . . . Mr. Hardy would most likely get the drug, although he might have to pay part of the cost. . . . But at that price, Mr. Hardy’s life is not worth prolonging according to a British government agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.”

(In a supreme irony, the institute’s acronym, NICE, is the same acronym C. S. Lewis used for the evil institute in his classic novel, That Hideous Strength.)

The Hardy case highlights many of the problems with socialized medicine: government rationing of health care, a lack of options, and an ultimate devaluation of human life. Remember, in most other countries, Mr. Hardy could have his treatment if he paid for part of it—but Britain isn’t even giving him that choice. The government makes the health-care decisions. It’s all out of his hands.

And the really scary thing is that other countries are starting to look to Britain as an example of how to manage health care!

Read the rest at Breakpoint.

Update: Based on information provided by my friend John, who actually lives in Britain, the NYT article on which the commentary was based was inaccurate. See John’s comment below.

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20 Responses to “Chuck Colson on socialized medicine”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    Interesting post Casey.

    I don’t think that all government health care is that way though. I know that a friend’s recent chemo treatments were mostly covered by Medicare.. I think they had to pay 10% of the Medicare negotiated cost.

    Of course everyone over here knows that insurance companies do things similar to the British government :(

    What is health care like in Japan?

  2. casey says:

    As an outsider, I don’t think it’s good in Japan. I certainly wouldn’t want to fall ill here, anyway. I don’t think they’re to the point yet where they would refuse life-saving treatment once you actually got to the hospital, though.

  3. John says:

    Of course, in the UK there is also a thriving private sector for health care.

    “Remember, in most other countries, Mr. Hardy could have his treatment if he paid for part of it—but Britain isn’t even giving him that choice. The government makes the health-care decisions. It’s all out of his hands.” simply isn’t true.

    In fact, your page as viewed by me even carries an advert for one of the big British private health companies – BUPA. He can’t get that drug in an NHS hospital (and yes, I disagree with that – I think that a top-up system would be better), but if he went to a BUPA hospital and the drug was legal for use, I’ll bet they’d give it to him if he paid enough…

  4. John says:

    I guess that explaining the British system by comparison with the US, taxes pay for decent-quality healthcare insurance for everyone, with fewer exemptions than I’d guess most US policies have. In addition to that, some people choose to pay for private health insurance, but that’s very much seen as a luxury. And yes, those people essentially pay twice for healthcare.

  5. casey says:

    Thanks for the input, John! I was wanting to ask you about this. That’s what we get for believing anything written in the New York Times.

  6. Great article. It is indicative of a growing problem in America. We are becoming a country made up of two basic groups. Those who believe in self-reliance and those who believe in government reliance. I am afraid that the “government reliance” folks are winning the race.

  7. Mike says:

    The social health program is there for those who choose to use it.The fact is he has the option in the UK system.There are 47 million Americans without health insurance in this country.They have no choice but to die without any treatment.Which system is better?

  8. casey says:

    Mike, I assume you’re getting your figure from the Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005,” which puts the initial number of uninsured people living in the country at 46.577 million. The problem is that that report includes 9.487 million people who are “not a citizen.”

    Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million. According to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.

    Subtracting non-citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, about 20 million people are left, or less than 7 percent of the population, most of which do not have health insurance because they are between jobs or in “good health.”

  9. Mike/Roadrunner says:

    That is still 20 million people that don’t have that option. Lets add the 600,000 that lost their jobs in January and the 2.6 million in 2008 and who knows how many more in the coming months.Now that brings us to at least 23.2 million. As for those in “good health” in 1976 at the age of 19 I was in “good health” when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.Fortunatly I had health insurance through my job.Those in “good health” today can clearly be involved in an accident or be diagnosed with an unexpected illness tommorrow.

  10. casey says:

    Can you show me a single case of an ER in the US refusing to treat someone involved in an accident because they lacked health insurance (hint: it’s illegal)? Can you also show me that those 20 million cannot afford insurance and yet do not qualify for Medicaid?

  11. Mike/Roadrunner says:

    When they go to the ER they still get billed it is not free.

    When my daughter was working 1 day a week as a server in a restaurant so she could make a car payment while she was in nursing school she was diagnosed with abnormal cysts which needed to be removed. She was turned down by medicaid because she made to much money.

  12. casey says:

    They still get billed. Hmm. But earlier you said they would have no choice but to die. Your daughter made too much money for Medicaid, but she did not take out insurance on her own? How did she afford housing?

  13. Mike/Roadrunner says:

    So I can assume from your discussion you support socialized medicine when someone needs it.

    She lived with me and I covered all of her bills except her car.

  14. casey says:

    So your daughter did not qualify for Medicaid because she was a dependent. What was the point of bringing that up? Did you think I would miss your attempt at deception?

    No, I don’t support socialized medicine. I want everyone to be able to go to the hospital and receive quality treatment, but I don’t think socialized medicine is the best way to achieve that, given its inherent problems as I have experienced first-hand in Japan.

    I also do not think the government should be in the business of protecting people from poor planning and poor decisions. I don’t want to live in a nanny state. If the purpose of socialized medicine is to force healthy people to pay for insurance, then I don’t think that’s the government’s place. If the purpose is to help those that truly cannot afford it and do not qualify for Medicaid, then they can simply expand Medicaid.

  15. Ash888 says:

    Look what a wonderful job the government’s doing with the U.S. public schools (sarcasm). I’m sure we can expect similar results when they get a hold of healthcare.

    Why is it that I never hear of any John Q.-esque horror stories happening in the U.S., but in the more enlightened countries like Canada and Japan, there are often headlines of people dying or nearly dying because of being turned down due to overcrowded hospitals and a shortage of doctors? The U.S. system definitely needs help, but government’s not the answer.

  16. Mike/Roadrunner says:

    The public schools in America are doing an excellent job. My son graduated from a high school in a small town in AZ. He went on to complete an Apprenticeship with The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. After completing his apprenticeship he continued on to train as a diesel mechanic. Today at 28 years old he works for one of the largest copper producers in the world making over $33.00 an hr. My oldest daughter graduated from the same school .She went on to graduate from a community college with a nursing degree. She is working as a nurse making $30 hr. She is 25 years old. My youngest daughter graduated from the same school and is now attending a community collage for nursing. My youngest son attends a beautiful brand new high school in Phoenix AZ. He plays football on a team that won the state championship in their division. Many of the players are honor students including my son. Their coach played quarterback at ASU. He sacrifices much of his time working with these kids. I am very grateful of the sacrifices of the teachers and coaches that helped my kids to develop into the well educated responsible people they have become. There are many more like them across this great nation of ours.

    Dear sir if you would come out from behind the walls of your anti-American cult (fundamentalist Christianity) you would see an America many of us are proud to be a part of. The only time fundamentalists are proud of America is when our military is blowing up some Muslim country killing innocent men, women & children.

    Sir you call yourself a Christian, you are anything but. I would encourage you to read your bible, entirely and in context I might add.

    Finally the only reason you don’t see the problems with the “American system” is because you don’t look past the walls of your compound.Try watching Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko.” Oh yes I know he’s a liberal and everything he writes is a conspiracy Let’s remember one thing Michael Moore has never been prison. (What was it Mr. Colson was in prison for?)

    Oh by the way your suggestion for those who are without insurance, should just go to the ER,this is already being practiced here in Arizona. In fact it is becoming so popular that many employers are dropping their health insurance for the same program. People are even coming from Mexico to take part in the program. (Remember it is illegal to turn anyone away including illegal aliens) In no time at all medical treatment will be so high that my company will be unable to pay for my insurance and I can join the program too.

  17. casey says:

    Your thoughts are totally incoherent, Mike, and you can’t even respond to my comments without setting up straw men and bringing up irrelevant points.

  18. Mike/Roadrunner says:

    For all you critical thinkers out there the following quote is from the original New York Times article.

    This quote describes how the drug companies are profiting off of the suffering of people with cancer.

    It is about the drug thalidomide used for a form of bone marrow cancer.

    “thalidomide, a decades-old medicine now used as a cancer treatment, which is so cheap to manufacture that a company in Brazil sells it for pennies a pill. Celgene initially spent very little on research and priced each pill in 1998 at $6. As the drug’s popularity against cancer grew, the company raised the price 30-fold to about $180 per pill, or $66,000 per year. The price increases reflected the medicine’s value, company executives said.”

    The fact is NICE and the other countries looking at adopting the same policies are forcing the drug companies to lower their prices so people can live.

    “Britain’s National Health Service has been among the first to balk at paying such prices, which has led many companies to offer the British discounts unavailable almost anywhere else”.

    The author of this article never read the NYT article if he did he was being clearly deceptive.

  19. Ash888 says:


    Thank you for giving me such a detailed description of your family life. I’m glad your kids were able to benefit so positively from the government school system. Unfortunately, they are an exception to the rule. As a product of the public school system myself, I received top grades in all my classes, yet later I realized what little I knew about history, science, the world, the list goes on, until I decided to study on my own.

    And I’m not about to see “Sicko.” This is from a man who glorifies the Cuban healthcare system, and only shows the nice part, which is the part that caters to rich capitalist tourists. Care that the actual citizens receive is more along these lines:

  20. Roadrunner says:

    My kids are not the exception to the rule. There are many kids that are doing just as well in public schools across the country. My job requires frequent travel across this beautiful country of ours. I meet many young people who are very well educated thanks to our school system. The common denominator is usually that their parents took an active role in their education. The ones that fail simply don’t apply themselves. With any program there is always room for improvement. The main things lacking in our system is funding and parent involvement.

    I don’t know where you went to school.

    I do know that my kids learned reading, writing, algebra, geometry, trigonometry the basics in earth science, biology, chemistry American History and World History. That’s quite a bit in 12 years. Now they have the choice in community colleges to advance their studies in any of those areas and a multitude of others if they so choose.

    May I suggest if you want to learn more about history and science that you check out your local Community College, I’m sure they would be glad to help you.

    You make a good point on The Cuba issue I’ll respond to that at another time. (It’s past my bedtime sorry)