Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obamacare = JOBS!

Now I get Obamacare!! I heard EU MP (HT Laura!) Daniel Hannan say this the other night in an interview: "The British healthcare system, NHS, is the THIRD LARGEST EMPLOYER in the WORLD." Of course he said it with that cool British accent. He went on to say that only the Chinese Army and the Indian Railroad system employed more people. "Naaaah, that can't be right," says I. Nope, it's true. Here's a link to the piece in the UK Times Online headlined: "NHS is World's Biggest Employer after Indian Rail and Chinese Army." This from the article:

Almost 1.3 million people — or the combined populations of Birmingham and Coventry — work for the NHS, which is one of the world’s biggest employers.

Since 1997, the number of NHS staff has risen by nearly 230,000, with a record 59,000 people — enough to fill Old Trafford football stadium — joining last year alone.

According to the latest workforce census, the NHS employs 386,400 nurses — matching the entire population of Edinburgh — 109,000 doctors and 122,100 scientists and other therapists.

An extra 18,800 nurses were employed in 2003, up 5.1 per cent on the previous year, and there were 5,600 more doctors — an increase of 5.5 per cent. Although the number of managers rose by a relatively modest 3,000, this amounted to a 9.4 per cent increase in a year — almost double the growth rate in nurses’ numbers.

Absorb this for a moment folks - they have MORE people working in their healthcare system than almost anywhere else on earth and they still have abysmal waits, lack of care and dreadful survival rates. But then I got it! Obama's healthcare plan is not about healthcare, it's about job creation! At last I understand!

NHS workers await patients for treatment.

OK, kidding aside - is this what we want to do to our country? Is this what we want to do to the most innovative and effective medical system in the world? I think not and the increasing majority of Americans think not too.


Laura said...

1.) I really wish people would stop referring to Hannan as a PM. PM stands for Prime Minister, which he most certainly is not. Daniel Hannan is an MP - a member of parliament.

2.) The reason the NHS employs so many people is that it employs every health-care worker in the UK, as well as all the management, catering, cleaning, administrative, accounting etc. staff (apart from those who work in private health-care). If the NHS didn't run such a huge percentage of health-care providers, those jobs would still be performed - it's just that the people who did them would be employed by several different companies.

3.) I don't want to judge the US health-care system too much, because I've never experienced it - but I don't see how it can be described as the most effective system in the world when so many people have no or insufficient coverage. At least in the UK - where, believe it or not, health-care IS of a good quality - EVERYBODY receives care. You can be as innovative as you like, but if only the rich can afford to take advantage of that innovation, what's the point?

Rumbler said...

Laura is correct - my flip-flopping of PM and MP is duly corrected.

To the meat of her disagreements:

1. The point about numbers of NHS is fair enough, but then, every bureaucracy is inefficient and overstaffed. I have never been in ANY government office - codes, mayor's office, city council, Representatives' offices, DMV, DOD...none, that I could not look around and see a number of people doing NOTHING. The added burden of the employment cost drives up the overall cost. Further, my friends from across the pond have told me that the increased number of nurses and doctors sited in the article are mostly foreign. British students aren't moving on to medical school and those that do are moving to the US.

2. EVERYBODY in the United States receives care. Hospitals would be sued to the bejeesussocks if they refused care to anybody. The uninsured go to the emergency rooms or neighborhood clinics and receive the same quality of care as anybody else. The 48 million number that is bandied about as the "uninsured," is a straw man. Estimates say that 10-15 million of those are illegal aliens (and those numbers are down dramatically with the recession), another estimated 11 million are young, healthy folks that don't think they need insurance and want to spend their money elsewhere; another 2-3 million are self-insured wealthy; another 5-6 million are "structurally uninsured," i.e. they are between jobs and benefits plans.

There is no question that the rich, like Ted Kennedy, can afford better quality of care. They can also buy bigger houses, fancier cars and more bling for their wives...but that is no reason to tear apart a system that works pretty darned well - higher survival rates than the UK, MUCH lower waiting times etc. Life sometimes isn't fair, it is not the role of the government to make it so.