My Personal Experiences with Rationed Health Care

Many people think nationalized health care sounds great, but they haven’t experienced it themselves, and since Obamacare will have profound implications for the economy as well as the debt load of our country, I want to share with you my own experiences.

A number of years ago, my father and sisters were in Paris, France preparing for a bike tour. My father was acting strangely, so my sisters took him to the emergency room to evaluate him, only to be told by the doctor, “He’s old. Go home.” Of course, my sisters were outraged and refused to leave until the doctors scanned my father and discovered the cause: a severe subdural hematoma.

The physician then admitted my father to the allegedly “best neurological hospital in Europe.” I then flew over to see how I could help. Upon arrival, I was told he “wasn’t there,” that they couldn’t find him, and finally, that he had checked out; all false. We finally found him in the ICU.

Over a five-day period, here is what we experienced with a government-run health care system: Breakfast in the ICU consisted of a large bowl of caffeinated coffee (for a brain injury, no less!) and bread; providing proper nutrition to patients wasn’t on their radar. We quickly learned to bring in food from outside the hospital.

Used needles and other sharp, contaminated objects were haphazardly discarded in an open cardboard box set below the sink where anyone could accidentally step into the box when washing their hands. The toilet room was not handicap accessible; it was only about two feet wide and four feet long, and as such there was literally no way another person could assist him into the room.

Inexperienced orderlies were not using gloves (or washing hands) until we insisted they do. Then we observed one orderly putting used gloves back into the new glove box. Hospital employees smoked in the hallway, with smoke being blown into my dad’s room — no help for his breathing (or mine!). Keep in mind, this was inside the ICU.

After only three days, the ICU nurse announced that the hospital needed my dad’s bed and he had to leave. “Leave?! What do you mean, leave? Where is he supposed to go?” we asked. It didn’t matter; they needed the bed. Later, when I returned I was again told my dad “checked out,” or “couldn’t be found,” etc., in spite of a computerized patient admissions system. After an hour, I found him and my sister, exhausted. They had spent the day being trucked around the hospital complex to various other units and beds, until finally, at the end of the day, he ended up in the exact same bed he had started out in that morning!

At this point, things might seem to be getting comical, except that his life was at stake. This hospital, we were told repeatedly, was “the best in Europe.” The scariest part of the ordeal was that there was no recourse, no ability to redress your grievances or to seek a second opinion. If you accidentally offended the nurse or the doctor by disagreeing or by being insistent on receiving proper care, they could just walk away.

When we asked to see a more experienced doctor for a second opinion, we were told there were none, because when a doctor gains enough experience, he or she typically leaves the government run system to work in the private sector for cash-based health care providers, which usually occurs when doctors hit their mid-30s.

At the Paris hospital, monitoring his vitals consisted of taking his pulse and blood pressure. Only later, when my dad’s private insurance company flew in a Med-Flight doctor and nurse, did my dad receive serious care. That personnel conducted the first complete medical examination of him in the five days since he entered the hospital. They brought more portable medical equipment on their small plane than the Paris hospital had in its entire ICU.

“Health care for all” is really rationed health care. The cost of providing “free” health care for everyone in the country is simply too expensive to do without the government cutting back on services and costs.

Eventually only those with life-threatening emergencies receive immediate treatment, while everyone else waits, regardless of the pain, suffering, or inconvenience. The government also becomes the final arbiter of who lives and who dies, because the government has the final say, which it then formalizes into rules, regulations, and policies.

When I’m sick and in need of medical care, I don’t want to hear about policy; I want someone who cares enough to help me get better.

Recent polling shows that 85% of Americans have health insurance and are perfectly happy with their health care provider, and why shouldn’t they be? We have the best health care system in the world. Those who say we don’t haven’t experienced the alternative. In our system, health care workers actually care about their patients.

In spite of what Obama and many in the media are trying to portray, our system is not “broken.” Maybe we spend too much to evaluate patients and do too much testing, but the system can be tweaked without dismantling it. Allowing consumers to comparison shop and requiring publication of prices in advance are two examples of easy changes that could be made. If 15% of Americans don’t have health insurance, let’s focus on a solution that gives them access without regulating, denying, or changing the excellent care that 85% of us already receive.

In terms of costs, by comparison Medicare now costs 10 times what Congress originally estimated when the legislation was passed.

And if you are not convinced that under a government-run system you will be much worse off, just watch Congress. Did you notice that the Congressional committee that reviewed the Obamacare legislation voted to exempt themselves from the system?

That should tell you everything. If our elected representatives, who have crafted this legislation and know what it will do for health care in America, are not willing to participate in this government-run option, why should we?