A criticism often leveled at American health care is that our quasi-capitalistic system isn’t equitable, that poor patients receive poor care simply because they are poor. Implicit in this criticism is the assumption that a universal government-run system would be more egalitarian. However, the BBC reports on a new study that reveals this assumption to be nonsense.

The NHS is a “divisive influence” which favours the assertive middle classes over poorer people, a study says … “Much depends on where you live, how much you earn … and crucially who you know.”

And how does this class bias manifest itself in terms of treatment?

People in deprived areas were often more in need of treatment, but less likely to get hip replacements and key x-rays … those on lower incomes made more use of primary care but were less likely to be referred on for hospital treatment.

Britain’s system of socialized medicine contains fewer elements of capitalism than any health care delivery system in the developed world. If government-run health care could truly guarantee fairness, the NHS would be a model of egalitarianism. And yet it provides better medical treatment to the better off. 

I guess this means yet another “universal health care” myth has to be thrown over the side. 

Comments 5

  1. drmatt wrote:

    “often” more in need, “less likely” to get hip replacements, “less likely” to get referred. what does that mean? there are no numbers, no definition of study designs, no statistics or percentages? This might as well be writting on a bathroom wall, it is uselsess blaterh if there is no back up to assertions, but I forgot that you thrive on useless blather.

    Posted 29 Nov 2007 at 9:37 am
  2. Catron wrote:

    If you had truly been interested in more info, a 20-second search would have led you to this.

    Posted 29 Nov 2007 at 11:18 am
  3. Marc Brown wrote:

    So – the astounding finding is that people with money know how to access services better. That’s true for everything, especially education. As for the NHS, this weak research from a wingnut ring wing think tank does in fact find that working class people are heavier users of primary care.

    Now compare with the US, which has by far the biggest social and health inequalities in the western world, especially for black people, and where many millions have no access to care at all, and having money gets you the best doctors. In the NHS all can see the best and they do. The fact is though is that it can only mirror biases in society – and we really don’t want to go down the route of apeing the US any more, as those biases will only get bigger.

    Posted 29 Nov 2007 at 2:24 pm
  4. drmatt wrote:

    Come on David, that link provides no statistics, no outline of design of th studies, no percentages, only some vague “average” waiting times. Is that the best you can do? this information is as useful as the Sunday comics.

    Posted 29 Nov 2007 at 3:30 pm
  5. Catron wrote:

    Marc, drmatt, you guys are nothing if not consistent. Everyone who disagrees with you is a “wingnut” and/or a purveyor of “blather.”

    Posted 29 Nov 2007 at 4:31 pm

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