Belfast, N. Ireland – A strike by doctors affiliated with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service was to begin here Thursday, but public outcry caused an estimated two-thirds of those who planned only to offer emergency care to rescind their threat. The planned strike was to protest a government decision to cut unsustainable health care costs by raising the retirement age for NHS doctors from 60 to 68 and offering them lower pension amounts, while requiring they make larger contributions to their retirement fund.
Sounds like what Wisconsin recently went through with their unionized state employees and retirees, doesn’t it?
Anyone wishing to predict how a nationalized health care system would work in the United States should look no further than the one that has existed for many years here in the UK.
Long waiting periods for routine surgeries such as knee and hip replacements are the norm. More serious procedures can take months just to get on a schedule. People here often envy stories from Americans of how we can get quick appointments with our primary care physicians, noting they often have to wait weeks just for an appointment and then even longer for treatment. There are legions of stories reported by the newspapers of people who have died while waiting for surgery.
In the US, supporters of “ObamaCare” have attempted to play down talk of waiting times, increased bureaucracy and most of all, rationing, to control costs. But all of that – and more – is occurring now throughout the UK and if it isn’t working among smaller countries like England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, why would anyone think it could work better in America, which has a much larger population?
And there’s worse coming. Remember the talk about “death panels” that angered many supporters of ObamaCare and the supportive media as being outrageous and impossible?
Consider what is happening now in the UK. As the London Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday, “NHS doctors are using end-of-life care to help elderly patients die because they are difficult to look after and take up valuable beds.”
Professor Patrick Pullicino, a senior consultant at East Kent Hospitals, told the Royal Society of Medicine of his personal intervention to save a 71-year-old man who had been removed from treatment for pneumonia and epilepsy after the hospital decided his life wasn’t worth saving. Pullicino said he encountered “significant resistance” from hospital staff, but after he persuaded them to resume treatment, the man recovered and was discharged to his home.
This is what America’s health system is likely to become if ObamaCare, or a significant portion of it, is imposed on a properly skeptical country. Polls continue to show a large majority don’t want it, but President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and others who favor government-run medicine (for others, but assuredly not for themselves) can be counted on to impose it in one way or another, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.
If you believe the U.S. government has done a fine job with Medicare and Medicaid, which are facing the same pressures and unsustainable costs as the NHS, you are going to love ObamaCare.
Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor. For more visit his website: CalThomas.com. Follow him on Twitter @CalThomas.