Quote from Jolie
Thanks, Kyrshamarks for opening a realistic conversation about the topic of government controlled healthcare.
Alfie's case (nor the other little boy earlier this year, whose name I can't recall) was NOT about preventing a slow painful death, or even about allocating money to patients most likely to benefit from treatment (at the expense of those not likely to benefit). If it had been about either of these things, there would have been no objection to the parents taking Alfie out of the country at their own expense for evaluation and possible treatment elsewhere. But that was not allowed. They weren't even allowed to take him home.
This. was. all. about. control. And if we allow our government to fully fund and dictate healthcare, it will happen here.
This is a false conflation. As MunoRN said, it was the judiciary that decided Alfie's fate, and that of Charlie Gard before him. Fortunately I was never involved in as desperate a situation as this during my time in the UK, but if our team of attendings had reached a point of absolute impasse with parents, they would have appealed to the courts, not to the government. And the government, for that matter, is only involved in the healthcare system in the broadest, financial sense; it is not involved in any way in patient care decisions.
In Alfie's case, the question was about prolonging futile medical interventions in the face of irreversible, catastrophic brain damage. For Charlie, his parents wanted to take him abroad and subject him to treatment that amounted to human experimentation, also in the context of severe brain damage. In neither situation did the parents' wishes align with what was in the best interests of their children, as loving and well-intentioned as those wishes were.
This next statement is not meant as a slam to the British. It is meant as a warning to us: I find it utterly inexplicable the extent to which people will willingly relinquish control of decisions pertaining to their own health, safety and well-being in exchange for the mistaken notion that they are not responsible for payment for the goods and services they receive. I am also dumbstruck by the number and seeming intelligence of people who think that because a bill does not arrive in their mailbox, they are receiving something for free.
Every tax-paying UK resident is well aware of the portion of their paycheck that goes to fund the NHS. What they are spared is the financial devastation that an unexpected diagnosis can inflict (Alfie spent 16 months in an ICU, can you imagine what that would have cost his parents in the US?). If anything, the single-payer system empowers people to explore every available avenue of care, if indicated, since they do not have to worry about how they are going to pay for it.