Top 10 Ways UK Rations Healthcare to Save Money
WALL STREET JOURNAL -- Speaking to the American Medical Association last month, President Obama waxed enthusiastic about countries that "spend less" than the U.S. on health care. He's right that many countries do, but what he doesn't want to explain is how they ration care to do it.
Take the United Kingdom, which is often praised for spending as little as half as much per capita on health care as the U.S. Credit for this cost containment goes in large part to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Americans should understand how NICE works because under ObamaCare it will eventually be coming to a hospital near you. NICE has established the principle that the only way to control health-care costs is for this panel of medical high priests to dictate limits on certain kinds of care to certain classes of patients.
1. In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer.
2. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs -- including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 -- that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients.
3. In 2007, NICE restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other.
4. NICE has limited the use of Alzheimer's drugs, including Aricept, for patients in the early stages of the disease.
5. NICE rejected the use of Kineret, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis.
6. NICE rejected Avonex, which reduces the relapse rate in patients with multiple sclerosis;
7. NICE rejected Lenalidomide, which fights multiple myeloma.
NOTE: Private U.S. insurers often cover all, or at least portions, of the cost of many of these NICE-denied drugs.
NICE has also produced guidance that restrains certain surgical operations and treatments.
8. NICE has restrictions on fertility treatments.
9. NICE has restriction on procedures for back pain, including surgeries and steroid injections.
10. Several young U.K. women developed cervical cancer after being denied pap smears by a related health authority, the Cervical Screening Programme, which in order to reduce government health-care spending has refused the screens to women under age 25.
Bottom Line: Rationing = Lower cost = lower quality healthcare
HT: Bob Wright