Monday, March 17, 2014

Isolated incident? Meaningless anecdote? I wonder.

Yeah, an anecdote is not data, it's just . . . an anecdote.  But anecdotes can make one wonder.

Like this anecdote from New Zealand:

"But at the start of May the couple were told they must leave as Albert’s health was no longer acceptable . . . [Immigration New Zealand's] medical assessors have to consider to what extent there might be indications of future high-cost and high-need demand for health services."

This anecdote suggests New Zealand is deporting people it considers health risks, as a tactic to manage costs within its socialized medical program.   Who knows if INZ uses this tactic a lot? Or for that matter if other countries do the same?

Well, we do know other countries (e.g., U.K., Canada) ration medical services either thru explicit rules, or global budgets, or by queue.  We do know Germany has been using a different creative tactic of its own: "one way Germany has contained its health care delivery costs has been forced labor at under-market rates."   And we do know that European Union countries under the Schengen Convention have “rejected the notion that their citizens areobligated to pay for medical expenses of foreign visitors.”

Even a collection of anecdotes may not be “data” but at some point is there enough to make you wonder?

I think our media have generally done a poor job reporting information - such as the anecdotes above - which illuminates the actual experience in other countries, pro and con, with governmental control of medical delivery and finance.  As a result, the American public was not well-informed during the health care debate and therefore susceptible to smoke-blowers.   So now, sadly, the only practical way for most Americans to anticipate how Obamacare is likely to work is to accept it, so that we can find out what is in it.

Sound familiar?
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