Deadly Wait Times for “Free” Healthcare

Deadly Wait Times for “Free” Healthcare

April 4, 2016

The political left has a habit of decrying the supposedly free market capitalistic American healthcare system.  They allege the system costs too much, leaves people out on the street and is ruled by profit-driven insurance companies.  They argue Americans would be better off adopting a European model.


Setting aside the validity of their American criticisms, it’s troubling how they cite European or Canadian systems as models of efficiency, fairness and ideal health outcomes.  There is seldom any recognition those systems have any shortcomings at all.  Honest observers with knowledge of these systems often point out that the government-run healthcare of other countries leads to price controls, central planning, long wait times and maltreatment of patients with often fatal results.


A recent story out of the United Kingdom highlights the incredible costs of “free” healthcare with the most unlikely victim:

A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation - at her own hospital.


Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.


But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.


Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust - the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

One of the most widely believed economic fallacies is that the cost of something can be lowered by government decree.  Price controls, because they reduce the incentives for investment and production, reduce supply and lead to shortages.  In the context of healthcare this means fewer doctors and hospitals, longer wait times and people dying before they receive necessary medical care.


One of the concerns of those who argue for free market solutions to healthcare have is that if the government is in control of healthcare it could ration the healthcare in a way that favors those who are politically connected.  This story refutes that concern but in the worst way possible.  It seems that no matter who you are, even if you’re a former NHS director, the government run healthcare system is willing to let you die as you wait for care.

It's Time for an American Encore