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No, It Doesn’t Work in Sweden

by Keith Koffler on April 18, 2014, 5:39 pm

No doubt you’ve had an argument with one of your liberal friends about Obamacare or some other bit of Socialism, and they proclaim, Well it works in Sweden! . . . or some other place in enlightened Europe.

Well, it doesn’t work in Sweden. Socialism doesn’t work anywhere. It can’t work. Oh, it can work for a while, quite nicely in fact, until, as Margaret Thatcher once noted, you run out of other people’s money.

Because you can’t design and command human behavior. Because God gave us free will, and the capacity for avarice, as well as for love and compassion. If He wanted someone else to take care of ourselves and others for us, He would have created government instead of resting on the seventh day.

Actually, it would have taken Him longer than a day.

The Wall Street Journal today has an article by Swedish professor Per Bylund describing the miracle of socialized Swedish health care and the inevitable future of Obamacare, about which President Obama thinks he may now rest his case.

Sweden’s problem is access to care. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2013, Swedish patients suffer from inordinately long wait times to get an appointment with a doctor, specialist treatment or even emergency care.

For example, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare reports that as of 2013, the average wait time (from referral to start of treatment) for “intermediary and high risk” prostate cancer is 220 days. In the case of lung cancer, the wait between an appointment with a specialist and a treatment decision is 37 days.

This waiting is what economists call rationing—the delay or even failure to provide care due to government budgetary decisions. So the number of people seeking care far outweighs the capabilities of providers, translating into insurance in name but not in practice. This is likely to be a result of ObamaCare as well.

Free markets allow companies and entrepreneurs to respond to demand by offering people what they want and need at a better price.

The Affordable Care Act does the opposite by centralizing health care, minimizing or prohibiting differentiation in pricing and offerings, and mandating consumers to purchase insurance. It effectively overrides the market and the signals it sends about supply and demand.

Stories of people in Sweden suffering stroke, heart failure and other serious medical conditions who were denied or unable to receive urgent care are frequently reported in Swedish media. Recent examples include a one-month-old infant with cerebral hemorrhage for whom no ambulance was made available, and an 80-year-old woman with suspected stroke who had to wait four hours for an ambulance.

Never has a statement so true been so ridiculed as Sarah Palin’s remark about Death Panels. What the idiots who think she is an idiot didn’t understand is that she was speaking metaphorically. She meant that ultimately, rationing health care kills us, and that someone will have to decide what health care to give and when to give it.

The Death Panels are coming for you. Or your children or grandchildren. Those like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the rest of our wealthy, ruling class liberals will simply pay doctors directly and get health care when they need it.

As for the rest of us, well, when we attempt to make an appointment, the phrase “die trying” is going to have a whole new meaning.

{ 32 comments }

Owen_Kellogg April 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Because you can’t design and command human behavior.

CORRECTAMUNDO !!!
The biggest flaw of socialism is that it ignores human nature. The biggest success of capitalism is that it fully accounts for human nature.

I once engaged a London socialist in a discussion about socialism. He argued that man had an inherent need to work. I corrected him by saying that man had an inherent need to be compensated for his work.

Consider a man who was faced with the task of cutting down a tree. He has the choice of using either a hand saw or a gasoline-powered chain saw. According to the dictates of the socialist, he will choose the hand saw since he has a need to work. According to the capitalist, he will seek the greatest reward for the least amount of work and will choose the chain saw.

As for the liberal, he may demand you use a herring instead.

DMcG April 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Rationing is not likely under Obamacare, it is invevitable. Of course there will be bureaucrats deciding who does and doesn’t get care! There’s no other way to do it under this top-heavy, non-market-driven system.

Some of the youngsters here may not recall, but in the Hillarycare proposal back in 1992, the was NO way to go around the system! Hillarycare made it a crime to privately pay for healthcare. It was a bizzare rule, but one focused on the fact that care was going to be poor, and people of means certainly wouldn’t put up with that poor level of service. So the “everyone is equal” types made it illegal to work outside of the system. I’m pretty sure Lenin would have approved.

Star April 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

We already have rationing under it–and not the “Death Panels” or IPAB either–the fact that the big cancer centers won’t take it.

Lee April 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm

People for this health mess and against it, are going to be put into
terrible situations.
Charles Krauthammer on Fox news yesterday, mentioned several things regarding the Health Mess yesterday.
Just one is terrible enough:
He said picture having your sick child and you are driving to the hospital. Instead of pulling over to the one near your home, you HAVE to drive further.
This does not get mentioned any more on the MSM:
All the people who sign for O Mess, should have been a PART of it!
They did not read it. There is so…. much more of this nightmare they we are not even aware of.
By the way O should have been first in line with his family to sign up for it as well.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Julie Brueckheimer April 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I hope Swedish Lady reads this post and comments. She has been telling us for a long while that socialism has not worked in Sweden and that Sweden has been reversing course for quite a while. It takes an awfully long time to undo what politicians make in haste.

Guillermo Grande April 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I was saving the link all day for the open thread. Esp since the full article is a available on line. Eager to read her comments.

swedishlady April 19, 2014 at 4:01 am

Julie and GG, I gave a quick comment just now. In addition, nowadays science has brought so many more methods to heal, and we are all thankful for that ,but it also means that the demand for this kind of healthcare explodes making it even more expensive and access even tougher. This is another aspect of it.

srdem65 April 18, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Several years ago, I tried to explain what MrsPalin meant with “death panels” and didn’t say it nearly as well as MrK does here.
Trying to explain “managed or deserving care” is impossible to a people who might have just popped into the ER for a deep cut, or assumed the ambulance would be there lickety-split.
The comeback was always something about old people using Medicare that some believe is “free”, or that they heard of someone going bankrupt because of high medical costs.

Every young parent still believes that modern medicine and health insurance will cover the multiple heart operations for their infant and months in the IC, or that if they should fall into a coma that no expense would be spared to keep them alive until they “woke up”.
The day of reckoning isn’t far away for America; we’re already deep in debt and Obamacare will be the final straw.

Shofar April 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

If anyone questions whether or not there will be rationing, waiting in line, and a whole host of other problems with Obamacare, just look at what is happening to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

I’m on both due to a multitude of medical problems too lenghty to delineate here. I have chosen to use our local public hospital vs. going to one of the private ones. The choice was mine, and while it is a huge frustration due to the over burdened system that is public healthcare, it allows me the freedom to be critical of the healthcare system, and to take a peek behind the curtain at what is down the road.

One of the problems I deal with daily are tremors. Sometimes slight, other violent. Last year, November, I was having one of my violent episodes, and twisted my right knee violently. I could tell that I screwed something up, and at my next doctor’s visit, a week later, I told her about it. She did an exam, and referred me to physical therapy and to have an MRI.

It took 45 days to get the MRI, and nearly 90 days to get into P/T. Why? Because of the backlog of patients waiting to get treatment. Turns out I tore both meniscus, have a bone cyst, and a ruptured Baker’s cyst. The P/T hasn’t helped, and I was referred to an ortho for further treatment.

In January, 2014, due to the tremors and now a screwed up knee, I lost my balance and fell. Catching myself with my fully extended left arm, I felt a sharp pop and heard a lot of swearing (still don’t know where that came from). The initial diagnosis is that I possibly tore the rotator cuff, and the bicep tendon. Another round of P/T for this, and the still standing appointment for the ortho.

The referral to ortho was made in January, and an appointment set for May 2. I received a letter from the ortho clinic today stating that the appointment had been canceled, and rescheduled for July 18th.

To sum up, as a Medicare/Medicaid patient I have had to wait a month and a half for an MRI, three months for P/T, and now will have had to wait eight months to see an orthopedic doctor to find out what my options are for both my right knee and left shoulder.

This is the future folks. Don’t believe it, just check out your local public healthcare facility. If a single payer system ends up being the rule of the land, all hospitals will be public healthcare facilities, and the waits will get even worse. The up side is that while you’re waiting, you can plan out your advance directives, and make your funeral arrangements.

MarjoJimbo April 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It is a very frightening glimpse into the future.

Guillermo Grande April 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Best wishes for your recovery. One thing for certain, by the quality of your comments, your fingers are working just fine!

Julie Brueckheimer April 19, 2014 at 9:53 am

And his mind.

gracepmc April 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

I wish you the best in your recovery. Thanks for this very clear look into what is happening.

I agree with GG — your fingers are working just fine!

Julie Brueckheimer April 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

Shofar, thank you for your comments. Everyone needs to hear ‘from the horse’s mouth’ about the system. We here on WHD are fortunate to have a friend who is so articulate to boot. I add my wishes to the others for your recovery or, if not possible, improvement and relief.

Mac Scott April 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Fabulous commentary, Keith.

Girly1 April 18, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Treatment delayed is treatment denied. Period.

gracepmc April 19, 2014 at 1:05 am

Excellent. Thanks Keith.

OKLady April 19, 2014 at 2:10 am

I lived in the UK for a time (back when Hill and Bill made the first run for the White House), and I got to see national healthcare at work.Those who could afford it purchased private insurance, but the facilities and doctors were those in the healthcare system. The result: the privately insured went to the front of the queue while those in the NHS were bumped even further back.
The haves will have, and the have-nots will wait their turn.

aunty M April 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

While you were living in England we were living in Wiesbaden,
Germany. We had private insurance as well, and I really felt
badly for the elderly who were on national insurance. We who
had private insurance were always pushed to the head of the line.
I still cannot believe the dems voted this law in. It is devastating.

Ralf Pettersson April 19, 2014 at 2:26 am

Just a note from Sweden to tell you you´re full of SH*T

Keith Koffler April 19, 2014 at 10:29 am

Yes, but now I’ll have to wait longer to have it removed.

Star April 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Good one, Keith.

swedishlady April 19, 2014 at 3:50 am

I just peeked in for a quick look as I am in full swing, preparing an Easter brunch, but this interesting article I couldn´t resist commenting on, of course. Yes, I have written before that it feels like Obama is pushing the US in a direction that resembles our seventies, with a constantly increasing public sector. Since then, our welfaresector has had to shrink but at the same time the demand for welfare is even bigger since we have had an enormous immigration and we are all living longer years, we are getting older. And of course it affects the healthcare. Professor Bylund is absolutely right, access to healthcare is a big problem and this will mean even bigger difference between the the rich and the poor while those who can get private policies, often through their employers .
As to this “Ralf Pettersson” characters comment. Don´t bother about someone expressing himself in that manner. Is he really Swedish ? Then I am ashamed.

Ralf Pettersson April 19, 2014 at 6:20 am

Ja, jag är Svensk, bor i Katrineholm, och skäms inte för vad jag sa

MarjoJimbo April 19, 2014 at 7:39 am

Translation: Yes, I’m a Swede, living in Katrineholm, and am not ashamed of what I said.

Julie Brueckheimer April 19, 2014 at 10:21 am

Happy Easter, Swedish Lady. I hate to admit it, but Ralf Petterson sounds like an ordinary, garden variety lowbrow American, but the type is probably found all over the world.

Ano W April 19, 2014 at 4:38 am

Swede here, this article has not understood the real reasons to the health care problem in Sweden. It’s not connected to the way it’s financed at all, of course. Tje maim reasons

Ano W April 19, 2014 at 5:03 am

Hate typing on the phone.. The main problem with health care in Sweden are:

1. You more or less have to have a physician degree from Sweden to get hired. The admission to the physician education is controlled by something similar to the physician’s union (socialstyrelsen) , who have an interest in keeping the number of licensed physicians low, to keep the salaries high. A physician moonlighting in the countryside can easily double their pay after just a couple of weekends. Supply and demand at work..

2. Since the budget for hospitals are done per quarter or year, someone thought of the brilliant idea of firing all the secretaries and let the physicians do all the typing. Something they both hate and suck at. This results in crappy journals and physicians spending 50% of their time NOT seeing/treating patients.

Both these points lead to longer queues and worse service, and they are best solved by making the system more efficient, which also can be done with a tax paid system. A free market could take care of the efficiency problem, but the downsides are far worse. How long is the waiting time for a person not affording to pay?

Julie Brueckheimer April 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

Thank you for your additions to our understanding of how healthcare works, or doesn’t work, in Sweden. I think the largest problem for us in the United States is the exponentially growing number of people who think they are in the category of “persons not affording to pay.” When employment was widely available, most people were able to buy their insurance or were fortunate enough to receive benefits from their (private) employers. Of course there were always people who fell through the safety net, as we say here, and we have an inner impulse to do good and take care of people who truly cannot provide for themselves. I cannot speak for everyone but as for myself, I think our current government has no plans to bring back the economy for ordinary Americans and our future generations so Obamacare is but a sop to us to keep us in line. We had a fine medical system but we will end up taking a spoonful of some indeterminate brown medicine for all our ills as the Brits have done already.

Jerry Boyer April 19, 2014 at 7:02 pm

The response is more likely to be “Try dying”.

Keith Koffler April 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm

I may have to steal that one.

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