Cuban Health Care Stinks According to the New York Times

Like the proverbial broken clock, even the New York Times is occasionally right. Although the psychic pain of doing so must have been immense, the editors of the Gray Lady allowed Anthony DePalma to include a couple of actual facts in this piece on Sicko and the Cuban health care system. Particularly poignant are the passages relating to Leonel Cordova, a Cuban physician who defected to the U.S. in 2000:

Having practiced medicine in both Cuba and the United States, Dr. Cordova has an unusual perspective for comparison … [In Cuba] if I diagnosed something simple like bronchitis,? he said, “I couldn’t write a prescription for antibiotics, because there were none.?

This situation, the article goes on to say, is typical of what ordinary Cubans can expect from their “free? health care system:

For the 11 million ordinary Cubans hospitals are often ill-equipped and patients “have to bring their own food, soap, sheets—they have to bring everything.?

But not everyone in Cuba has to put up with such inconveniences. You see, that Utopian isle has two health care systems: one for the proles and another for the big shots:

[The latter] is for party officials and foreigners like Michael Moore … “it is as good as this one here, with all the resources, the best doctors, the best medicines, and no one pays a cent,? he said.

This is what the advocates of single-payer health care want for us. People like Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore will continue to enjoy high quality medical treatment. The rest of us will endure purgatorial wait times and lousy care.

On the bright side, the “care? will be free—even if we aren’t.

Comments 3

  1. Robert Maddox wrote:

    But why would Dr. Cordova want to prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis, a self-limiting illness? The cochrane review gives NNT’s between 6 and 13 (depending on subjective or objective improvement) at 1-2 weeks and a NNH of 15. We are harming as many as we are helping. So maybe Cuba is no further behind by not having the antibiotics in this case.

    Posted 29 May 2007 at 10:15 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    Being a finance guy, I can’t speak to the clinical implications of Cordova’s comments. But I think his basic point had more to do with the dearth of resources than with any particular treatment strategy. It’s hard to take seriously the suggestion that such shortages are an advantage.

    Posted 30 May 2007 at 10:08 am
  3. Frustrated Canuck wrote:

    Bronchitis is not necessary a self-limiting condition. I’ve required IV antibiotics to treat bronchitis associated with my pre-existing lung disease. Bronchitis has also caused my lungs to go into respiratory failure resulting in an ICU stay, so it can be very serious, especially for those who already have a lung condition.

    Posted 30 Jan 2008 at 10:04 pm

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