Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Bad Forum For Socialized Medicine

Fire of Liberty

Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, has a great op/ed piece over at the NY Post that points out how the American Cancer Society has gone outside its traditional role of educating the American people on cancer prevention and the various medical treatments and is advocating the implementation of a nationalized health-care. Now as a group that strives for preventing cancer and curing people from its evil menace, you'd think the American Cancer Society would be very cautious in push a health-care system which is more costly to the cancer patient than our current system. Though the ACS hasn't taken the time to research the consequences of nationalize health-care on the cancer patients, Tanner has a provided a good set a of statistics from other countries that have nationalized health-care and reveals that the American Cancer Society is advocating a dangerous path for current and future cancer patients. Here's a look:

In the United States, there are no such government-set limits, meaning that the most advanced treatment options are far more available. This translates directly into saved lives.

Take prostate cancer, for example. Even though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their counterparts in other countries, we are less likely to die from the disease. Fewer than 20 percent of American men with prostate cancer will die from it, against 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men. Even in Canada, prostate cancer kills a quarter of men diagnosed with the disease.

A big part of the reason is that, in most countries with national health insurance, the preferred treatment for prostate cancer is . . . nothing.

Prostate cancer is a slow-moving disease. Most patients are older and will live for several years after diagnosis. Therefore it is not cost-effective in a world of socialized medicine to treat the disease too aggressively. The approach saves money - but at a high human cost.

Similar results can be found for other forms of cancer. For instance, only 30 percent of U.S. citizens diagnosed with colon cancer die from it, compared to fully 74 percent in Britain, 62 percent in New Zealand, 58 percent in France, 57 percent in Germany, 53 percent in Australia and 36 percent in Canada.

And less than 25 percent of U.S. women die from breast cancer. In Britain, it's 46 percent; France, 35 percent; Germany, 31 percent; Canada, 28 per- cent; Australia, 28 percent, and New Zealand, 46 percent.

Even when there is a desire to offer treatment, national health-care systems often lack the resources to provide it. In Britain, for example, roughly 40 percent of cancer patients never get to see an oncology specialist. Delays in receiving treatment under Britain's national health service are often so long that nearly 20 percent of colon cancer cases considered treatable when first diagnosed are incurable by the time treatment is finally offered.

In Canada, the Society of Surgical Oncology recommends that cancer surgery take place within two weeks of preoperative tests. Yet one study indicates that median waiting time for cancer surgery in Canada ranged from 29 days for colorectal cancer to more than two months for urinary cancers. Radiation treatment and new therapies, such as brachytherapy, are also far less available than they are in the United States. Consider this: seven out of 10 Canadian provinces report sending prostate-cancer patients to the United States for radiation treatment.

I just hope folks or family members of folks who have or had cancer to call on the American Cancer Society to return to their non-partisan/educational stance and move away from politics and issues like nationalized health-care. Such policies are best left for politicians, voters, and think tanks to discuss such matters rather groups like the American Cancer Society.

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