One of the frequently heard criticisms of other countries where universal health care is available is that "patients have to wait forever to get taken care of". The number of Canadians and people from other countries coming to the US for treatment is usually cited as evidence of what seems to them a self-evident reality.
Via Dr. Science at Obsidian Wings here is a snip from a Health Affairs report.
In this paper we examine experiences during 2000-2005 of measuring and managing waiting times in five countries: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, and Wales. Each of these countries has universal health insurance, with rationing occurring through waiting lists. Although such rationing is sometimes viewed as an efficiency approach, waiting may result in poorer health status and reduced ability to benefit when elective care is provided. Waiting lists are not a feature in the United States, where uninsured and underinsured populations experience rationing through financial inability to access care, medical debt, and use of inappropriate services such as hospital emergency departments.
The R-word (rationing) is used in this report in a matter of fact way. We live in a time when the concept is viewed in America as a great evil rather than the responsible stewardship of valuable resources.
I'm sure everybody has his own example of wholesale waste. I recall after a career in the food business that for every pound of food we sold we sent easily ten times as much garbage and waste to a landfill. Many products are far less costly than the packaging in which they are sold -- plastic, boxes, jars and cans which are almost never recycled.
I almost destroyed something last week attempting to get it out of the tough plastic package holding it captive for packing, shipping and display. And somewhere among the family keepsake trivia is a ration book from World War Two with my Dad's name on it, with a couple of ration stamps for sugar still unused when those ration books were no longer needed.
We have read about Peak Water, Peak Oil, Peak Phosphorous and other examples of profligate use resulting in critical shortages. Welcome to America where we now we face Peak Medical Care.
And those who cite the fear of rationing as a reason not to change what we have are in deep denial that rationing is already an essential part of how we do health care in America.