Monday, February 20, 2006

Every Now And Then, A Glimpse of The Real Picture

A comment left by a poster named Mara (No. 64), at Phil's Finland For Thought site, provides an insight as to how state-rationing of universal health care really works in Finland:

“On the health care front, the state declared that the municipalities have to provide a “guaranteed access to care” within 6 months of first patient contact. In a caricature of implementation the guaranteed response turned out to be a phone call between the health provider and the patient within 6 months from the moment of contact. The outcome of the call was that the system now recognizes the patient’s need for care, and the patient will hear from them later on.

Some municipalities have transferred people in queues for hip or knee operations into physiotherapy, explaining that the better muscular condition will help them to recuperate after the operation. But after a while the patient finds out that his health has been officially re-evaluated to require the operation, but not immediately. And so the patient is back to square one in the queue for the operation. All the time everybody agrees that the patient clearly needs the operation, but the system can postpone it by few years, while the patient lives a very limited life. This “queue shuffle” with its variants seems to be a smash hit among the public admins. And private hospitals, which have no shortage of patients.”


Anonymous Matti M said...

At least selling of your home and liquidatig your life savings is not requirement as is the case many times in that piece of heavenly real estate called USA.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Wrong, Matti. Liquidation is due only to those who fail to insure themselves while building up assets. If you're smart enough to own a mortgage and build up a retirement account, then you can also understand the concept of insurance.

Why should the rest of society have to pay for the mistakes of the few? As far as I'm concerned, I don't want my tax money to fund the folly of others.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Matti M said...

Oh, I got it now; let's spend the dough in aircraft carriers so we can efectively hunt those Al Queida bastards down in any desert of the Arabia, while somewhere between 35-40 million our fellow countrymen don't have any health care.

Why should my tax-money go to pay somebody elses's problems? How about, because it is decent to be my brother's keeper!

6:04 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Spending money on defense has been of huge benefit to the US, as thousands upon thousands of our enemies have been put to death, and two former enemy nations have been democratized as a result.

It is also a lie to claim that 35-40 million of Americans don't have any health care. What they don't have is any additional discretionary health insurance, on top of Medicare. A wholly different issue.

And health care remains a personal responsibility. The state should only ensure equal market access to health care providers (which it cannot do efficiently if welfare statist legislation is in the way). The notion that "I am my brother's keeper" is a wholly Christian one, and at odds with a secular society.

It is a mark of Finnish perversion to equate taxation with morality.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Matti M said...

Time, place and sex might be different but you are starting to remind me about Maria Antuanette who is supposed to have said, when told that the hoi-poloi don't have any bread;"Let them eat cake".

It's one thing to have one's convictions but another to twist the facts, here and there, in order to bend them to fit one's biases and this you seem to be doing unfailingly.

I don't think that there is an other country that spends more money on health care than the US. In light of that, it's totally mystifying why the bang for a buck is so small? The US has, undeniably, the best hospitals and doctors in the world but one should not confuse this as a sign that everything is peaches'n cream over there. The vast and ever increasing number of her citizens don't have an adequate medical coverage, no fault of their own, and those poor saps will not get by the first line of the defence, the coverage check counter, of any decent hospital over there. What I am trying to say here is that Medicare is woefully inadequate and the discretionary supplement, which without employer benefits, can easily run to $900/mo with the easily predictable consequences.

As far as the bang for the buck is concerned with the US military, I have to disagree with you again. Even a cursory examination tells me that the "bullet to body" ratio is a stinker. There is not too much clearer example of the wrong war fought with the wrong weapons in the wrong place. Furthermore, as a resident of the US you must be aware of those famous armament manufacturer scams, with their Navy toilet seats costing in a neighborhood of $3000 each. The only bang around there is the toilet lid slamming on the taxpayers balls.

Taxation is a morality issue, among other things. Those who are lucky enough to be wealthy should carry their proper share of national finances and wealth redistribution should, at least in some measure, be carried out. This is not only good for the poor but also for the upper middle classes. Now they wouldn't have to go and play hide and go seek with the hoi-poloi by buying their houses in gated communities, with their own police forces, to keep all the wealth related goods in and the poor buggers out. See, this has only a tiny bit to do with the Christianity and is absolutely perfect fit for a just and secular society.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

You keep forgetting that it is not the US government that opposes universal health care: it is the majority of the American voters. Why? Because most Americans know that health care is best kept to an individual choice.

The 15% of Americans who choose to be without additional health insurance have done so mostly by choice. It is easy to see this, because there is already a labor shortage (due to very low unemployment) at many corporations who willingly offer additional health coverage. If jobs and health insurance are so easy to come by, why aren't they being filled? The answer is simply because most of those 15% have prioritized their needs differently in life. It's a hard concept for welfare-statists to understand, to be sure, as they struggle with high unemployment and "universal" but rationed health care, but Americans prefer freedom of choice (and better services), rather than the dictates of the state.

President Bush's excellent HSA (Health Service Accounts) initiative has also changed the playing field completely, as it brings more market forces to bear on admittedly high costs. Of course, if European welfare states would share in the costs of medical R&D, American health care costs would be lower, but once a freerider, always a freerider...

As to American military expenditures, I find it absurd that a Finn might take issue with that, as Finland has been an essential freerider to the American security umbrella throughout the Cold War, even as a neutral nation. However, $3000 toilet seats aside (which, by the way, is a complete lie: those kinds of citations factor in the costs of complete contractual services), the bang for the buck has been excellently rewarded in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we have seen nothing but progress. Of course, a Finn might be completely unaware of this, given the state-sanctioned distortions in the Finnish media.

Your distortions of reality in America are understandable only because of an underlying bigotry. The bigotry, of course, is encouraged by the welfare states, who are threatened by a model that is more viable than the exploitative ones offered by the welfare states. The bigotry is all the more worse in Finland, where inane concepts as your "taxation is a morality issue" form the basis for the perverse premises of the welfare state.

Taxation is only needed for certain necessary government functions. It is not needed for income redistribution (the market takes care of that), nor for the welfare of citizens (citizens know better than the state as to what's needed). To imply otherwise is a sign of long-term indoctrination processes that disguise political agendas by a governing elite: a model which most European states are all too eager to prolong.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Matti M said...

I don't know if anybody reads this blog or these comments of mine but something just came up that I feel should be told about. Those of who are intrested in the American health care would get a ton of information by visiting The 60 Minutes' site. The newest edition, to my delight, exposed the horrors of some of the 45 million uninsured Americans.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

And you cite 60 Minutes as an authority? That CBS show is known for its biased reporting.

The only irony is that at least there is some kind of contrapuntal reporting in America. In Finland, the regular failings of universal health care are routinely swept under a media rug.

Every once in a while, one does come across an illuminating anecdote: a friend of mine told me that his father was waitlisted for a heart bypass operation in Finland. The letter from the health services that announced his turn had finally come... was found by his son on the day he had died.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Finnish language posts will be deleted.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Mikko Sandt said...

The letter from the health services that announced his turn had finally come... was found by his son on the day he had died.

And of course, there are plenty of similar examples.

When I was in high school, there was this cancer patient who, according to her doctors, got rid off her cancer. Because our public hospitals are crowded with patients, waiting in line for years to receive special treatment, the doctors didn't have the time or motivation to check with her condition after she had gotten well. A bit later, the symptons reappeared, she returned to a hospital and was told that she has got less than a year to live.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

If that would have happened in the US, the doctors would have been sued, and the hospital insurance companies would have made sure the hospitals got rid of the lousy doctors.

In Finland, such doctors would simply continue to practise.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Hobici said...


Very nice blog...

Did you visit my blog??

Have a nice day

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...


8:08 AM  
Anonymous FutureTense said...

Finnpundit we miss you, come back!

I would just like to add a word (even if nobody's going to read it) about matti m's comment in this thread re: a 60 Minutes report and I quote:

"The newest edition, to my delight, exposed the horrors of some of the 45 million uninsured Americans."

I repeat: "to my delight"

I find it interesting that Finns (like most Europeans) "delight" in seeing/reading/hearing stories about alleged shortcomings in the American system.

But as Finnpundit points out, 60 Minutes is far from an unbiased news source. 60 Minutes has been pushing for nationalized health care in the U.S. for decades.

What most Europeans don't know is that "uninsured Americans" might not receive private insurance help, but they are covered by government programs in the event of serious illness. I am a living example of this. I was laid off from my job and had no health insurance. (I was offered to keep my plan but in my young foolishness didn't think it was worth the cost so I refused it.)

To make a long story short, I promptly got sick and found out I had cancer. News programs like 60 Minutes had drummed into my head that there's nothing worse than being an American without health insurance, with a serious illness, so I thought I was a goner.

I couldn't have been further from the truth. I checked into a county (government-run) hospital and received excellent care. The longest wait I had for anything was the first day, when I had to wait about 6 hours in the emergency room. Once they figured out how serious my situation was, I never waited more than an hour or so for anything, including MRIs, CT scans, chemo, you name it. (Imagine that in any nationalized healthcare system.)

The punchline? I never received a bill. I didn't have to pay one penny for anything. Take that, Europe.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Sophie said...

if america is indeed the land of the 'middle class' - what on earth are you doing in a socialist democratic country?

secondly, if you define having two cars, three tv sets, and ten gazillion types of cereal as having a better standard of living, then you'd be right. if on the other hand, you factor in health insurance, paid vacation, low rates of crime, cost of living, and a rich social life, then europe takes the lead. sorry, bud.

you said in my blog:

You've cited an irrelevant study. American income disparity will always be great, because America permits the accumulation of wealth to a greater degree than other nations. Lop off the top millionaire classes, and you'll find that the income disparities are not that great, after all, and that average Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than Europeans.

What matters is if the middle class has increasing income levels, which it has, increasinly so.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

if america is indeed the land of the 'middle class' - what on earth are you doing in a socialist democratic country?

Good question. Most of the time I spend outside of Finland, considering Finland's hostility to entrepreneurship, and anyone who wants to make money.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kid felt a bit sick a week ago and I called the local health care center here in Finland. The receptionist wanted to know if he wanted to see the doctor right away, but we decided to wait for a day to see if the symptoms went away. Then the next day we went to see the doctor. The service was excellent. I don't know why "Mara" is lying but he obviously is.

Finnblunder again is obviously a mental case. Luckily enough he can consult a psychiarist for free (if really is a Finn, I doubt it a bit).

"Finnpundit" (a joke, obviously) will delete this message soon, so read it before it's too late!

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Pave said...

to FutureTense:

If I understood your comment correctly, you in fact did have nationalized healthcare.

"I checked into a county (government-run) hospital and received excellent care."

And if 60 minutes is biased because "...60 Minutes has been pushing for nationalized health care in the U.S. for decades" then anyone with any opinion on the matter is biased. It's not my intention to defend the program nor do I claim to be aware of their reporting on the issue.

Now there are some questions I want to ask FinnPundit and I hope he replies even though it seems that he has abandoned this blog...

1. Do you think that every citizen (or even better, every human being) should have equal access to professional healthcare if possible? No matter how one would realize this. Do you think it's a universal right for everyone to be healthy when society has the means to do it? Or do you support "every man for himself" kind of attitude because some people aren't worth it?

2. Why do the U.S. allow Europe to freeride? You accuse Finland of it constantly but if Europe is doing it, shouldn't it be also of the interest of Americans? They are the military and economy leaders of the world. Why aren't they doing something about it? Everything in the world is so connected that it's very hard to say which state is taking advantage of which. Aren't the U.S. (and therefore Europe etc. too) freeriding on "third world countries" which produce most of the world's raw materials? And so on.

I would really like an answer because I didn't get an answer in Phil's blog and I'm interested in different ideologies if you may. And if you would leave that "you're a Finn so you wouldn't know about this..." kind of rhetoric out it would be much appreciated. You have interesting ideas and observations, you should stick to them.


10:26 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

1. Healthcare is not a human right. It is an economic desireability, but not a human right. Its elevation to a human right is just a strategy employed by welfare states to insure their own survival.

2. It's not a question of the US permitting Europe to freeride: the US has asked Europeans constantly to carry their fair share of responsibilities, but that simply hasn't happened. Furthermore, the US remains the most efficient enabler of resources all around the world, and recycles the wealth directly back to the developing world as much as possible (the US worker-consumer has single-handedly lifted hundreds of millions of Asians out of poverty).

Contrast that to Europeans, who close their welfare states to efficient recycling of resources (and I'm talking about the most important resource of all: capital) through high taxation levels, in order to ensure preferential conditions of consumption only for their citizens. In other words, the welfare state hoards time and wealth, consumes it, and recycles very little of that back into the developing world.

Remember, short work weeks, universal health care, cradle-to-grave social security are forms of hoarding, which rarely result in any kind of resource reciprocity back into the world economy.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Finnpundit is a fox news watcher and a big fan of billy bob orielly and sean hanidiot.

12:01 PM  

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