My wife works in cancer support, and she told me this evening about a case of a British woman who wrote into one of the online groups with which she works. She had had limb salvage surgery for bone cancer, replacing her humerus with a titanium prosthetic bone (my wife had the same type of surgery years ago). But the surgery was botched and her shoulder dislocated. Since that time, she has been unable to get another surgery. My wife showed me a picture: the titanium prosthesis is NOW PROTRUDING FROM HER ARM through the skin. It’s horrible. She has had an appointment with a plastic surgeon for a year, but it keeps getting put off. And a plastic surgeon is not whom she needs at this point. “I don’t have the heart to tell her, but her arm can’t be saved,” my wife says. The woman has small children and is now in such pain she can no longer work. She doesn’t go to the media because she’s afraid of losing the appointment she does have.
P.S. When I write about the horrors of Britain’s NHS, I often get snarky comments about the bad state of American health care. Yes, the U.S. has a health care payment system problem, but our problem is roughly the opposite of Britain’s. We spend far too much on health care, but the overall quality and quantity of health care Americans receive is world–beating. Single-payer systems “solve” the overpayment problem by setting up a monopsony, but monopsonies have their own inefficiencies. A free market in health care would solve the overpayment problem without appreciably reducing quality, by relaxing medical licensing (increasing the supply of providers) and ending subsidies of excessively generous health insurance (giving customers an incentive to shop around on price).