Week 3 Numbers vs. Dave
Same judge, same time frame, Razor is affirming.
Resolved: Public health concerns outweigh budgetary concerns.
Healthcare is a debate that has emerged recently on both sides of the Atlantic. There is no doubt in my mind that when a government is obliged to look after it’s population on all fronts. It doesn’t matter whether it is publically funded or privately, the health concerns of the population have to come first.
And even in the most recent economic downturn, where countries have been forced to revise their lavish expenditure, health is one aspect of a nation’s service that should never be allowed to suffer. A nation’s government, no matter to their leanings, has a responsibility to uphold a safe and healthy environment for their populace.
I expect the arguments weighted against will be obvious. However the advantage that the rich and the poor are able to receive the same level of healthcare has to outweigh the negatives. The alternative, the American option, of receiving treatment if you cannot afford to pay for the insurance or being left without because the insurance won’t cover the costs or having treatment half assed because the hospital will only do so much because of the insurance is scary to me.
The NHS has been described as a black hole due to the money that seems to cause these budgetary concerns. But it is not a lost cause due to this and the general public do not deserve to suffer because the government put too many procedures and employ too many administrators, causing a bloated service to strain and splutter as a drain on the nations resources.
For such an interesting subject, I can’t wait to debate this with Dave. It should be fun.
It seems familiar now that I am apologising for coming in late to a debate and I have to do it again. Numbers, I am very sorry that I haven’t been able to post up a debate that we can both be proud of but real life comes first and that has been the case again, I am afraid. I was in London for the first part of the week and have been having some problems at work. With that being said, I am here now and hopefully we can do this thing right.
As Numbers and I are both from the UK, I would very much like to isolate my argument to the NHS and medicinal care in the United Kingdom. In The UK, we are blessed with healthcare that is “free”. If we are hurt or injured or sick, we are allowed to see a doctor for “free” and we can even have some treatment to help us get better. All of this for “free”. It seems like a perfect system. However, this is not a utopia. In fact, it could not be further from that. People do not realise that every cost needs to be covered. The NHS is the single biggest drain on the public funds and every “free” visit to a doctor or “free” treatment at a hospital need to be covered financially. In the UK, we rarely think of the money that is being thrown at the NHS every year, all in the hope of making people healthier.
On average, the NHS costs the British government £800 million a year. The average life expectancy of the British people has steadily risen since 1948 and we are thankful for that. The public, in general, is much healthier. William Beveridge, when he created the NHS, thought that it would be a quick fix to cure disease, one of the 5 great evils of the British citizenship. However, what he didn’t expect, was that people get accustomed to things. Beveridge suggested to the government that the NHS and free health care should only last 10 years. After that, people would no longer be sick and medicine would go back to being costly because no one would need it. However, he was wrong. You see, whilst we are becoming healthier as a people, we are becoming lazier when it comes to disease prevention and good healthcare. Diseases like polio and meningitis have all but been cured and we are getting rid of disease that plagued people in the past. Yet, the NHYS is becoming a much bigger drain on public resources. Why?
Well, it is because people expect the NHS to be there to clean up there mess. Whilst genetic and airborne diseases have been steadily declining, heart disease and cancer have gone up in the last few decades. People expect to be treated to great medical care for diseases that they have brought upon themselves. They eat themselves into congenital heart disease and smoke themselves into lung cancer. They drink themselves into liver failure and they drug themselves into mental illness. All the while, the NHS is expected to front the bill for addictive substance abuse. Why is it that the government should have to foot the bill for people being abusive to their bodies? Over the last few decades we have seen a rise in obesity in children and liver failure. As the effects of addictive substances catch up with the user, the NHS have to pay to get them better. At the end of the day, these people brought the diseases upon themselves.
Over the last few decades, the need for private health care has risen in Britain. It is becoming more popular to be treated to the best care in a minimal amount of time. Now, this seems odd that a country with a “free” healthcare system needs private health care. Why wouldn’t the government step in and say that it is unnecessary? The fact of the matter is that the government are encouraging private healthcare. They have realised that finances do not lie and that the NHS is draining the public coffers by the day. In fact, in some cases, governments have been known to team up with privately funded hospitals to help foot the bill of a more prevalent wanting of medical care.
Little do people realise that they are paying for everything. You pay taxes that do not nearly cover the costs of the NHS. It is making a loss with every patient who enters the hospitals and we are all fronting the bill of people who abuse the system and people who abuse themselves. Why? Well, it is because the NHS is a flawed system. It is a financial black hole and the government realise that. That is why they are trying to wean people off of substances that cost them money. It is a little known fact that a person will only get £5,000 worth of medical care. After that, you are on your own.
At the end of the day, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the NHS is a prime example of this.
As a country, we are losing more and more money on the NHS and the government realise that it cannot go on this way. More and more regulations are being passed to try and get people off of public sector health care. You do have to pay for prescriptions and more often that not, you will not meet the criteria to get free healthcare from the NHS. You do pay to see doctors when you pay your taxes and you do pay examinations and urgent treatment at hospitals when you pay your taxes. If the government did not implement these taxes and regulations, the country would sink into a financial black hole and the NHS would have ceased to exist decades ago. Businesses who create the prevention drugs to disease do not subscribe to the idea that healthcare should be free and because of this, neither can a government. Whether this is ethically right is a different story for another day. However, we all need to see that if the government treated all of the citizens to free healthcare across the board, their would simply not be half of the amenities that we enjoy elsewhere. Medicine is not cheap and people do not realise how much the government loses on free healthcare.
To argue that all healthcare should be free to everyone is pure ignorance. It shows an ignorance of how the world works and how everything rotates around money and price. Making healthcare free would drive this country into the ground and the people would not accept it. The UK have a hybrid system that means that people do have to pay fro treatment both directly and indirectly and without this, the “free” treatment that some enjoy, would not exist.
That was some comeback Dave. This is proper debating in my opinion. He didn’t use a single word of my post and managed to craft a superior response. Awesome stuff.
Like Dave pointed out in the ideal world, budgetary concerns would not dictate the health care that would be supplied does not exist. And while he rightly pointed out that the NHS is a financial black hole, when the direct (albeit worst case) alternative is a system similar to that in the US, then I prefer what we have.
A great point was made about alcohol and drugs being the result of many of the NHS’s problem. Weaning an addict off of heroin and coke is an expensive and thankless task that often ends in failure. But when you have a cancer sufferer whose fight may also end in failure, is that a thankless task? Is that a black hole of a case which is not worth pouring thousands of pounds worth of treatment into?
I say that while we pay National Insurance, we are entitled to the healthcare and doctors visits that it affords. Whether that means going to the doctors surgery for a check up or a minor health concern or an emergency visit which leads to longer treatments and repeated visits, we should not have to worry about insurance or not being able to afford treatment.
With life expectancy increasing all the time and social ills like alcohol, drugs and smoking readily available and relatively cheap, the NHS will naturally come under more strain. It’s simply an unfortunate necessity, a fact of what life in a developed society has become.
It is socially acceptable to drink yourself silly two or three times a month. There are less reasons to participate in physical activities with videogames and television. Now I don’t participate to the ridiculous propaganda of computer games and television being evil, far from it and it would be highly ironic of me to do so. But they are a common feature of a child’s development and they are blamed from many parties for childhood obesity.
Obesity is in no way, shape or form down to just computer games. Lazy parenting and poor diets are the likely reasons. But while parents are not financially encouraged to take up exercise and healthy foods, the cheap option will always be the easy option.
My solution would be two fold: Fill the black hole. Increase taxes and levies on cigarettes and alcohol. Reward purchases of fruit and vegetables by making them easier to grow and cheaper to buy. Families and schools should all be encouraged to participate in physical education and walk to work and school.
Secondly would reduce the functioning cost of the NHS without compromising the healthcare being delivered. Simply put, there are too many administrators and middle men that clog up the system. The decision makers need to do their job without worrying about other things. A simple audit would show what is necessary.
I’m not arguing that total healthcare should be totally free. As Dave pointed out, it’s ignorant and short-sighted. I simply believe that the nation should be made to pay for what it uses. We should be rewarded for healthy choices and punished for the negative and lazy. Prevention of the abuse of resources is absolutely key and as I have discussed the solution is relatively simple.
I certainly believe prescriptions should be more expensive. Newly developed medicine should be made more widely available, especially those that help illnesses which place a greater burden on the service. Cancer treatment and other long-suffering, long term illnesses which place a heavy burden on the service should be available to all. There are currently too many cases where people are being allowed to suffer because their regional authorities refuse to pay up. The companies which develop this medicine should be encouraged or forced to supply it cheaper because illnesses like cancer place a massive strain on the system.
The black hole that is our National Health Service is never going to close up completely and the British public may never fully appreciate how lucky we are to have it. But budgets should never drive who gets what treatment. The government need to find a way to make the public help fund the deficit. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is just one way to ensure that serious illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer (both caused by social excesses like smoking and drug abuse) will cause a strain on the services that the NHS can provide.
This is both my rebuttal and final summary. Good luck Dave.
For example, if a university was to create a cure for cancer today, you can pretty much guarantee that the government would buy that cure from them. Would it be cheap? Hell no! The university would hold the government for ransom and would get billions of pounds out of the sale. You see, cancer care is not cheap. It costs millions of pounds in a year and is completely thankless in most cases. If a cure is discovered, it certainly won’t be by the government and they will have to pay for it to entered into public use. Think how many people are affected by cancer each year and think of all the money the government would be shelling out on that, if the medicine were free… It’s ignorant to think that free cancer cure and research does and would exist.
This may seem silly but this is another way of the Government trying to save money on prescriptions. People are being put second to money and this is exactly what is wrong with the country. However, it is financially reprehensible to think that this is the wrong way to go about things. In some cases, Doctors have been told to stop giving out antibiotics to patients when they are suffering from coughs and colds. You see, everything in the NHS is regulated and comes down to cost. It is also true that people who see specialists are generally those who ask. GP’s have been told not to suggest a specialist until the problem the patient is suffering from gets to a point where it cannot be ignored any more. However, it is your right to see a specialist on the NHS and if you ask, they have to give it to you. However, again, it comes down to cost. It is cheaper for the GP to treat you incorrectly than it is to send you to a specialist.
I mean, I totally agree but this last paragraph is exactly my point. If you increase taxes, then you are not putting your people first, you are putting their money first. The fact of the matter is that people are not going to accept a tax increase. This is especially true of right now, when we are in the middle of a recession that leaves people scrimping and saving just to feed themselves.
The fact of the matter is that the Government have put fantastic policies and regulations into place to try and make people healthier and the people generally do not accept it. With every budget meeting that comes along, you can almost guarantee that import duty on alcohol and tobacco will increase. This is not for them to be seen as villains, it is because they are trying to make people healthier. Yet, it will be sensationalised in the nation newspapers the next day and people will kick off about it. It is the government’s way of thinking that if they make these things harder to get and more expensive, people will just simply stop. You see, the Government spend millions upon on a year in treating disease and ailments caused by harmful and addictive substances that would decrease if people stopped doing it. Hell, it was half the reason that smoking was banned inside public places. The government saw them as a hotbed of passive smoking and cut it out.
The government also have introduced policies that are supposed to make people healthier. They subsidise the cost of baby milk and yet childhood obesity is at it’s highest in our history. Let me make it clear that the biggest cause of childhood obesity is squalor. It has been identified to the Government that affordability is not the issue with healthier food, it is the availability. This means that low-income families cannot make it to supermarkets to get the healthier food. So, they become content with going to corner shops and buying frozen foods with additives that make children overweight and who can blame them? Would you attempt to take your kids and a pram on a public bus to get a pack of apples? Some would but the majority wouldn’t, I’m afraid.
You can reduce the cost of healthier foods and it wouldn’t make a difference at the end of the day because the people who really need it would not be able to get to it.
The problem with being punished for lazy choices is that who is going to regulate that, the local government? Well, since health is not devolved officially but relies on location, that seems a little silly. You see, every region in the UK has a localised health budget. A term that has been coined by the tabloid newspapers describe it as a “postcode lottery” and that is exactly what is happening. In areas where conservatives rule and council tax is lower, you can bet that health is going to be better. It mainly comes down to the fact that richer people are going to be healthier. This means that they are not taking as much out of the NHS for treatment and hence, their area is more likely to get the best treatment when it is needed.
A highly publicised case was Mrs. McLeod vs. the NHS. Mrs. McLeod was not allowed herceptin, a drug that generally reduces the size of tumour is victims of breast cancer. She took the NHS to the supreme court to complain that she should be allowed her drugs and that a specialised unit that was lying dormant because of “budgetary restraints” should be re-opened. She won the case but lost her life to cancer. My point is, that if she lived 50 miles in another direction, in a richer area, she would have gotten the drugs without fuss. The NHS is full of inequalities and whilst this may be ridiculous, it exists and has to be accepted. The cancer drugs are expensive and if a budget cannot afford to give it to people who are most at risk, then my point is proven.
Personally, I have had a hard time debating that we should not come first as a populace but it is completely the right way of approaching the problems. To let people continue on with their abusive habits is doing more harm than good. You see adverts funded by the government that try and get the right message across and this is a correct way of doing things. It is certainly cheaper than allowing people to eat or drink themselves into a mess that needs to be mopped up in 10-15 years time.
It is a sad state of affairs but the government is not the top tier of medical care or authority. They are secondary to the companies that develop new drugs and treatments that allow people to get better. At the end of the day, they have purchase these drugs and they are mightily expensive. It would not make sense to then pass them along for free and as medical care becomes more expensive, the government are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They simply cannot afford to put us first and we will always come second to financial gain.
Thanks for a great debate, Numbers.
Jesus, I don't know who to give this to. Convincing arguemnts from both of you here and both provided more than enough to win. Living in the US, I'm not as keen on the British way of things, but I think I still got the main points. At the end of the day, I think I'll have to give Numbers the slight edge for being a little more convincing, clear and concise, but Dave did a fine job as well.
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