CNN earlier this week reported some English citizens have resorted to
pulling out their own teeth. In the land of the National Health Service aka socialized medicine, six percent of 5,000 people surveyed confessed to using pliers and glue to treat their own dental needs. Another three-quarters of those polled said they had been forced to opt for more expensive private treatment. A culprit is the rapidly decreasing number of dentists willing to participate in the assembly-line mechanism of the NHS.
According to an article in the New York Times last year, 2,000 dentists left for private practice in just one month of 2006. That might be expected in a system in which providers are required to perform in terms of “units of dental activity.” A former NHS nurse noted she’d worked with a dentist who completed cleanings in five minutes flat.
A problem for the British, as for almost everyone everywhere, is how expensive a dentist is. Rising to meet a need are companies that offer treatment packages overseas. One enterprise advertises that a patient, by going to Budapest or Prague, can save up to 70 percent on United Kingdom prices.
It’s evocative of foreigners traveling to the United States because their own country’s socialized medicine scheme doesn’t work as promised. Rudy Giuliani touched on that in a recent GOP debate: “If we do Hillary care or socialized medicine, Canadians will have no place to go to get their health care.”
President Bush is widely censured for vetoing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This broadly expanded program, which added hundreds of millions of dollars to increase dental services, now covers families with incomes greater than $60,000 per year. “Children” are individuals up to 21 years of age. In some instances, funds can be used to cover non-pregnant, childless adults. Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) points out that Wisconsin spends 75 percent of its SCHIP money on adults. People who already have insurance can drop it and let taxpayers carry the load. Illegal immigrants could also qualify for coverage.
Naturally, opposition to this careless extension of a program that’s already appallingly dysfunctional is portrayed as a cruel, coldhearted attack on children. In truth, it’s fundamentally another big step toward socializing medicine in the U.S.
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