Anti-health-care loon says Stephen Hawking wouldn't stand a chance under British health care system

From Dispatches From the Culture Wars' "Dumbass Quote of the Day" file, an anti-health-care op-ed that says that Stephen Hawking wouldn't get any health care in the UK because our "socialist" system doesn't value the lives of disabled people. As Culture Wars notes, "Stephen Hawking was born and raised in the UK and has lived there all his life. He teaches at Cambridge. That's in the UK. This ranks up there with the French not having a word for entrepreneur."
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
How House Bill Runs Over Grandma (via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)


  1. *sigh*

    I am still contemplating moving to a cave in the hills. I do not care to share a country with people this fundimentally stupid.

    Between this article and the jerks in the homelessness thread, I’m about done.


    Maybe its a fundimental lack of sense of humor on my part, but I dont find this funny at all, I find it chilling.

  2. I have occasionally wondered whether Stephen Hawking receives only the benefits that other ALS sufferers do under the NHS, or whether he (or his college, or the university) shells out extra for special treatment. Anyone know?

    1. He gets the same treatment that anyone who uses the NHS receives. He pay his taxes just like I do, or anyone else in the UK. He doe not have to shell out extra money, etc., he get the same….period.

  3. Is it time yet for truth in news reporting laws. We have laws for truth in advertising. Editorials are one thing but so often the average viewer cant tell the difference between the news and the editorial. that coupled with horrible fact checking and generally poor investigative reporting.

    If the news agency reports falsehoods or misrepresents the truth, do they get fined or some type of violation? Someone please tell me , I honestly don’t understand the system

  4. Interesting too, that all of a sudden being smart is praiseworthy. During the last presidential few elections, being professorial or intellectual was considered a detriment.

  5. It also highlights how arrogant some people in the United States are. Because obviously only “americans” are the best of the best. It sure takes a lot of stupid to pull this one out of your a$$ and not even check the facts. Sort of like the “birther” thing. I mean where the hell do these idiots come from anyway (yes the south, I know, but still, FTW!) Perhaps there should be another Civil War but this time the south should be kicked out instead of roped back in. I often wonder what it would have been like if the outcome of that conflict were the opposite, human rights issues aside.

  6. Lovely they used the UK as an example. You know, the place where you can actually get some form of health care even without insurance. Why do some Americans so resist overhauling the health care system? It’s very common to single out a % of the tax you pay for health care for everyone regardless if you need it or not. Because you just might one day.
    The current system seems patently unfair and too expensive for a lot of Americans and yet some want to keep it that way? Let me guess, the ones who can afford insurance…

  7. Every time he opens his mouth, he brays. Except that is an insult to donkeys, the animals are more intelligent than that. And why would he care about Stephen Hawking. Stephen’s one of those intemelectuals that overthink things.

  8. It would be the funniest thing I’ve read all day, if it wasn’t so sad.

    If a nation cannot care for the health of its own people above anything else, can it call itself civilized?

  9. Yeah, that’s JUST what we need, #6. A government agency dedicated to making sure what someone writes is true. I can’t imagine a single problem with this!


  10. Awesome. This is made doubly ironic by that fact that Prof Hawking has refused to upgrade his voice synthesiser to a newer model because he doesn’t want an American accent.

    Andrewslayman – I imagine he’s disqualified from most health insurance policies but he’s probably wealthy enough to afford private treatment outright. It’s a safe bet that he tops up or replaces his NHS treatment with private treatment.

    He certainly maintains a private staff and has access to equipment beyond what the NHS offers. His current wife used to be his (privately employed) nurse, who spent much more time with him than an NHS nurse could.

    A few years back I saw a job posting for a weird combination of postdoc (newly qualified scientist) and engineer. The new hire’s job would be split between research in Hawking’s lab group and the improvement/maintainance of the computers and equipment that Hawking relies upon to communicate and get around.

  11. I’d be happy if the editorial content was given its own show (ala Olbermann or O’Reilly), or moved to the back end of news’ broadcasts where it belongs.

  12. i really didn’t believe you. i checked the date and it’s NOT april 1st. so i clicked on over to the link and sure enough, right therein front of me they in fact said professor hawking would NOT have made it in britain.

    ummmmmmmm i’m rather at a loss for words here (which is rare)

  13. Maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t Dr. Hawking in fact British? If this story were true (to be honest, I couldn’t stomach much of it and didn’t read all the way through), Dr. Hawking wouldn’t exist and since he’s the subject of the article, it wouldn’t exist either. I think we have a paradox here. Maybe Dr. Hawking can help us explain the ramifications of it (assuming he really exists)?

  14. The scariest/saddest/stupidest part of the whole thing is that this comment is not from some random nutter on the intertrons, but from an unsigned editorial in Investor’s Business Daily.

  15. I’m just curious to know how much private health insurance would cost Dr. Hawking in the US, if any company would deign him worthy of coverage in the first place (since he does have a pre-existing condition).

  16. @ #14 – I think you have it backwards Bugs. He has one with american accent now and doesn’t want to change.

  17. About a decade ago, Dr Hawking’s medical costs were several million dollars (US) a year.

    This comes from various grants and other income he has, and some of it is essentially free for research purposes. (His wheelchair and speech systems, for example, have advanced the state of the art.)

    So in one sense, the people using him are correct: NHS doesn’t pay for the amount of care that the Nobel-laureate receives.

    That doesn’t mean they have a winning or correct argument, however. It just means that even in a country with government-run health care, you can still buy even better care.

  18. I have a dreadful memory for these things, but I seem to remember watching a TV bio of Hawking in about 2000 that said that until the publication of “A Short History”, he received little or no help for his condition other than that he got from the NHS.

  19. Yes Stephen Hawking does have private health insurance through Cambridge University. But I doubt they would have hired him as a beginning professor if he had not been already covered under the national plan, yes he was diagnosed before being hired as a professor. The private plan offers him more nursing help and better equipment.

    Yes I know we are not suppose to discriminate under the law, but all the very qualified disabled people I know are NOT working because they can not get any health insurance if they work. And since they have a previously existing condition they can not get insurance under an employers plan.

    I often wonder how many outstanding people spend their days at home doing nothing just so they can get medical care. How much brain power are we wasting?

  20. I’m British, My father is British. We have in our lives both paid our national insurance contributions when we where working. It is not as much as income tax. My father is now 81 and is suffering from Motor neurone disease. To help with his care, so he can stay in his own home, he had a stair lift fitted (free). He has a chair, with controls for position (free), he has a medical bed with similar controls. Now that he can no longer walk, he has a hoist to get him from his bed to the chair. He now has two care assistants that visit in the morning to get him up and wash him. Another two arrive in the evening to see to his toiletry needs and put him to bed. He has to pay for the care assistants, but because of his condition he gets an allowance from the government, which covers the cost. He can spend the allowance on what he thinks suits him and his condition best. For his medication, he gets free drugs as he is retired. There are a whole raft of other pieces of equipment that he can have when the need arrives.ALL FREE!!! He recently had fitted pneumatic cushions that move the weight of the body about to avoid pressure points and bed sores. My mother feeds him and the rest of the family do their best to keep him amused. It is not really free, as we ALL pay into the fund when we are working, when we are not working and sign up for unemployment benefit, the government pays our contributions, whilst unemployed we get free prescriptions, dental care, etc. This saves us having to pay the standard charge for prescriptions that is £7.20 regardless of how expensive the drug is.

    When we see the Americans argue about national healthcare, it just confirms to us that America is the land of greed and stupidity. Corporate greed! Civil stupidity.

  21. @Akula971

    “When we see the Americans argue about national healthcare, it just confirms to us that America is the land of greed and stupidity. Corporate greed! Civil stupidity.”

    So the UK is what? The land of hate and myopia?

  22. Take heart Talia – They are a minority. They’re mostly old, white and accustomed to their privileged status. That is going away. These old white racists won’t be around much longer.

  23. Difficult to m say this without sounding very anti American:

    It seems that no matter who the US public elects their government will not be allowed to change health care. Too much profit in private healthcare.

    Your government was designed to be near impotent (checks and balances) because your quasi-divine Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of a government.

    Shame they didn’t (and could never from their position in history) foresee that the government is no longer the most dangerous enemy.

    Ho Hum.

  24. He may be a loon, but he is sort of right.

    Hawking *was* written off by the British healthcare system because, frankly, he was expected to die relatively quickly.

    Also Professor Hawking does not exactly get standard healthcare, he is now a rich man and much of his support comes from that.

    His equipment is very far from the standard given by the NHS.

    Further, his celebrity status means he gets rather more from the NHS and other parts of the state than would a less famous person.

    For instance he has (successfully) demanded many changes to Cambridge pavements to allow wheelchair access.

    The NHS is vastly more cost effective than the US system, and healthcare is not the jobs destroyer that it is in America.

    Don’t kid yourself that America can have a European style healthcare system.

    Britain got the NHS when it was already largely an atheist / secular /don’t care society.

    America is vastly more religious, and superstitious people will lobby hard and effectively to screw it up.

    A large % of the NHS is reproductive issues, from infertility treatments, through contraception to abortion. Imagine how the Catholics and evangelicals will cope with that.

    The NHS treats criminals even if the injuries were incurred in the crime. Much of the US doesn’t even allow them to vote, easy to see the horrors here.

    The NHS does a *lot* of medical research. Again superstitious people don’t like stem cells, transgenic treatments, etc.

    For instance we have “Gillick Competence” where a girl under the age of consent can be given contraceptives. She is deemed to be competent to decide on medical treatment *because* she has demonstrated competence by asking for it.

    DominiConnor headhunter of old London Town

  25. Looks like the article has been corrected. There’s an editor’s note that states they’ve removed the portion “implying” Dr. Hawking doesn’t live in England. Nice choice of words there.

    We were always at war with Eurasia…

  26. #3 Andrewslayman, #14 Bugs.

    This reminds me of another misrepresentation of the UK health system that I often hear trotted out in the American press….

    In truth, no one is forced to accept NHS treatment in the UK if they don’t want it. They can buy private medical insurance (e.g. Bupa), or pay for treatment outright at a private hospital.

    So, you have a pretty damn good free option. You can supplement/replace this with private medical insurance. Or pay in cold hard cash. How is this scary?

    The only grumble I suppose people not used to this might have is that if you completely eschew the NHS you don’t get a tax cut. But since private doctors are likely NHS trained, and put through university heavily subsidised by the UK government anyway, there is still some measure of justice in it. Plus, if you can afford to ditch the NHS, I say you can afford to support those less fortunate than yourself a little anyway!

  27. @ENERMO

    I get free glasses and eye tests cost me £15, for my Myopia. Yes we are the land of hate*, we hate everyone, the Scots hate the English, the Welsh hate the English, and well the Irish…. you get the picture and we hate them all, we even hate each other. Hell is other people (John Paul Satre). However we don’t hate the French and German now, as much as we did before and we positively love the Scandinavians and Italians, a little cool on the Spanish and Greeks.

    *Mind you hate is a very strong word, we prefer the use of disdain or contempt. These words seem more appropriate.

    ps civil stupidity because Americans keep voting for a system that is not to their benefit. Like Turkeys voting for Christmas (or thanks giving in the USA)
    Where as most of Europe has “social” health care, and ooooO such taxes to pay for it all. (not really)

  28. Re: #27, Enormo.

    “So the UK is what? The land of hate and myopia?”

    I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Here in Scotland you can get your eyes tested for free (i.e. NHS) and if you’re unemployed/retired/a child you’ll get a basic pair of glasses for free too. (Or money towards a snazzier pair.)

    The hate might be more awkward. You could get anger management and counselling on the NHS though.

  29. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

    The Right has somehow convinced the American people that having their health care controlled by a profit driven system is better than one aimed at providing care equally for all. Eighteen thousand Americans die each year because they have no health care. Any politician that supports this system should be considered complicit in their deaths.

    The measure of a society is how it cares for the least powerful within it. In that regard America is a miserable failure.

  30. @8

    I live in TN. You sound like most of my peers.

    Ignorance is ignorance, regardless of which side you take.

  31. I love that people actually think that we are going to start letting people die.

    I also find it funny that people are freaked out about having to fill out a living will.

  32. I’m not old enough to have very good point of comparison, but WTF has happened to Americans in the last 10 years. Why are so many of you so freaking “special” nowadays?

    Is it the example of G. W. Bush, 9/11 or just that the Internet makes sure every moronic thing an American says can be made fun everywhere.

  33. The USA famously put Americans on the moon, and brought them back safely, “within the decade”.

    Now you have the opportunity to create the world’s greatest healthcare system for your whole population.

    Do it.

  34. Slightly OT:

    “Shame they {US Founding Fathers} didn’t (and could never from their position in history) foresee that the government is no longer the most dangerous enemy.”

    Well, Mr. Jefferson did warn about and rail against “these moneyed incorporations”, and Mr. Lincoln also warned about the growing power and influence of corporate interests in *his* day as well, just over half a century later. But besides that, basically your critique is spot on.

    As for the main story, it’s almost as dumb as President Ronald Reagan proclaiming there is no Russian word for “Freedom”, except, of course, that there is (Svoboda). *facepalm*

  35. Look at it this way:

    If your goal is to prevent health care reform, you have to convince a critical mass of people that it is a bad idea.

    It is far easier to convince stupid people using emotional arguments and hit-and-run anecdotes than to lay out a logical argument.

    Even stupid people are probably aware of Dr. Hawking. He’s appeared on The Simpsons and Family Guy (mmmm, or was it American Dad?). If you can catch just a few idiots, the editorial has done its job. Other idiots will respond to other specious arguments and anecdotes.

    The Army of Duhhhhh!ness marches on.

  36. @#35

    Fearmongers about an expanded government role in healthcare say that not only can government not cover everyone for every possible problem (which is a straw man argument since no one is claiming it can) but also that government healthcare will crowd our or eliminate private options. The fact that Hawking can use his wealth to pay for additional services undermines the IDB’s argument as well.

  37. Blithering@36

    Ha! They’ve actually removed the section about (and any mention of) Hawking, altogether; making the original point worthless and the editor’s note nothing but a reminder of the lie (and an indication of shenanigans to anyone who didn’t read the first draft).

    Even more brilliant!

  38. I think now that I’ve moved back to Canada, I’ll volunteer for one of the Death Panels. It’ll give me something to do on a Thursday evening.

  39. #51: Sorry, you have to be a member of ACORN and a secular humanist to get on a death panel.

    * * *

    I’m thinking of sending out a fake chain letter with a list of totally unbelievable scare stories about the health care reform bill, like:

    “A hidden clause in the Health Plan requires white males in southern states to be castrated at age 13, supposedly to prevent prostate cancer but really because HILLARY CLINTON HATES NASCAR!”

    “Language inserted by Nancy Pilosi will allows illegal immigrants to approach American citizens on the street and demand they give up a kidney for transplant. They don’t even have to have a need for a new kidney!”

    “When the health care plan is signed Obama will reveal himself as an arab and demand all government doctors to covert to muslim! They’ll have to wear unhygenic turbans and you could die on the operating table when they interrupt surgery to pray to Mecca!”

    I need to think of some that involve Wal-Mart, pickups, and handguns.

  40. @ #30 Akula971,

    Here is the difference.

    I pay my National Insurance, and I am happy to, as it helps YOUR father.

    In the US the situation seems to be FUCK EVERYONE ELSE.

    Odd, that on this little island we all seem to understand that we all pay in and we all benefit, but in the worlds only hyperpower they would happily nay gleefully allow people to die for the illusion of a dollar saved from the worst enemy in their world…their fellow americans.

    I simply do not understand Americas cock-eyed view of this issue.

    Akula971 all the best to your dad and I’ll keep making the payments mate.

  41. @46, barjoe:

    I’m sure most of the people here would love to revise health care. However, we all know the only reason we got to the moon within a decade is because we were fighting them Ruskies. Once we got there, we landed five more times and then called it quits because funding was slashed. This is like driving across the United States and spending five minutes in the Pacific before heading home convinced you’ve seen the whole ocean.

    If health care was a competition with China, we’d be all over it. Probably. Unless they just made it better, faster and cheaper, then we’d just buy it from them.

  42. Error404 seems to sum up our current view very well in his third sentence. I can see it on a bumper sticker already.

    It’s like we forgot about the 1980’s and that Gordon Gecko wasn’t the hero of the movie Wall Street.

  43. I’m thinking of sending out a fake chain letter with a list of totally unbelievable scare stories about the health care reform bill

    The healthcare shortfall will be financed by a fake birth certificate registry for incoming terrorists.

  44. At least IBD had enough journalistic ethics to put in the editor’s note when they corrected the article. They didn’t go into detail as to the extent of their error, but that’s more than one might expect from a magazine that shares its name with a disease of the lower intestine.

  45. Hwkng gts bttr thn vrg cr, y cn bt tht…my grt-grndfthr ( WW vt) hd thrmbss fr thr yrs n th 50’s bfr th NHS gt rnd t fxng t.

    My grndfthr hd hrn nd wr trss fr thr yrs n th 60’s bfr th NHS gt rnd t fxng t.

    nrly brk my nck n th 70’s nd ll gt ws nck cllr nd slp n th bck. Th NHS fxd bggr ll.

    My ncl hd hrn fr tw yrs whn th NHS clld hm n fr srgry. Th bstrds bkd th srgn, bt nt th thtr. Bck n th lst fr nthr yr bfr th NHS gt rnd t fxng t.

    Dtctng ny pttrn hr, y smg nglsh bstrds nd pthtc slf-htng mrcns.


    #2 Tl: ‘d hv lt sr tm ccptng yr tff-nsd nt-fndmntlsm f y cld spll th wrd crrctly! Prhps y wr lkng n th mrrr whn y wrt “fndmntlly stpd?”

    1. OneGod,

      The fact that you had to reach back three, four and five decades for your anecdotes is a tribute to their irrelevance.

  46. @ OneGod:

    It was my understanding that UK residents who are unhappy with the care provided by NHS can go to private doctors as long as they have the money to do so. Is this not the case?

  47. #53, @Error404

    In the US the situation seems to be FUCK EVERYONE ELSE.

    Yes, exactly. At some point The American Wayâ„¢ changed from “Liberty and Justice for all” to “Fuck you. You’re on your own.” The obvious reason why is money, but what I can’t figure out is how the Real Americansâ„¢ got tricked into believing this.

  48. Here in the UK, anyone can pay for treatment, if they want, just as in the US. You’d probably have to go to a different (private) hospital though. Equally, you can get private health insurance that ‘extends’ the NHS coverage, e.g. you can ask to see a specialist if the NHS can’t give you an appointment within a certain amount of time.

    Here in the UK, the assumption is that you’ll get healthcare – if I go into a hospital with a broken arm, nobody has to check who I am or whether I’ve paid my insurance (or tax for that matter). If you’re there, you’ll get treated.

    The NHS does a good job – it’s not perfect, but it’s considerably more efficient and inclusive than the American system.

  49. I wrote in haste and a degree of upset earlier.

    I have nothing but affection for the US, you just confuse the hell out of me.

    You are on the whole pretty damn smart, but persist in getting scammed by the 3 card monty schiesters of private medical insurance.

    Yours is a country of near boundless wealth, you could have universal health care and free tertiary education simply by scrapping nukes, let alone any form of fiscal reform, but nowe the US… it has the feel of the descent of rome, there is a smell of rot in the air.

    You won the cold war, you rule the world, and decided to celebrate by fucking over your fellow Americans.

    pardon me, truly, I am from a small faded state in the north sea who still despite the political shambles the place is in actually thinks the first question asked of an emergency patient should be

    “do you know your blood type”


    “do you have medical insurance”

    There is a LOT to admire about the US, your avowed despisal of each other is not that list.

    I do wish you all the best.


    and as an aside

    @ Onegod, you make examples of single incidents over several decades as if this is the norm.

    It’s not.

    Anecdotal evidence is no evidence, it is the bleating of an angry sheep.

    You were unlucky is all.

    I was not diasgnosed with a fairly common bone disease in the early seventies and now I have to have, at the age of 40, double hip and double knee replacements, which could have been averted if diagnosed before puberty.

    And I would not have the NHS, who a single doctor of which did indeed fail me, scrapped, or changed.

    There is such a thing as human error, and white coat syndrome.

    I’m sorry you broke your neck, but if your answer is to destroy a system that saved my sisters life, that saved my girl friends life that saved my dads life that saved countless lives…

    and I suppose that comes back to my central point, It is not about YOU. it’s about US.

    seeing beyond your own squalid concerns.

  50. F.U.D.Master alert.

    Stanford science historian Robert Proctor (as quoted by Clive Thompson):

    “People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out. But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what’s true and what’s not.”

  51. #52 Stefan Jones, *PLEASE* don’t do that!!

    Lord knows I don’t need to hear the conservative talk-show hosts using your fake chain letter as evidence…or for it to show up in the email my goofy Southern Uncle sends me!

    I wish I were kidding…

  52. to those who live in countries that have sane health care policies and know very well that they work, having lived successfully with them for generations: I have a warning.

    Be wary of the organized power of evil emanating from America. Do not presume your past success protects you from an aggressive, top level, well financed and highly organized all-out assault on your own health programmes led by insurance companies and other vested interests. Never forget that your own government has no doubt sold you out in the past in the name of oil and other trans-national business. Be on guard and keep a tight leash on your elected “representatives”.

    It is far easier to go backwards than you think.

  53. Error404, I thought you were actually right on target with your earlier comments, as angry as you think they might have been. I have awesome health insurance through my job, I love it.

    However, if the we can get coverage even half as good to everyone out there and I have to pony up a little more to keep my awesome insurance, then let’s do it. I have massive taxes already from those that use the ER as free medical care without the proper care and treatment from a consistent doctor, I’d like to put that same money to better use, namely to all my freelance friends who skate a dangerous edge walking out their front door.

  54. We are four countries bound together by a written constitution that few of us have actually read.

    One quarter of us are ignorant.

    One quarter of us are silly.

    One quarter of us are mean.

    (it is possible, indeed likely, to be all three)

    And one quarter of us struggle to survive and prevail in their midst. We are reluctant elitists paradoxically in love with democracy.

    We may be mad.

  55. @ #53 & #62 um, guys… “America” (USA) was FOUNDED on FUCK YOU!.
    We claim this land.., Whats that? Oh, there were Already people here?-FUCK YOU!
    What, pay tax to England?-FUCK YOU!
    All men created equal. What, Not a rich, white, male?-FUCK YOU!
    California/Vegas need water. Mexico was down-stream?-FUCK YOU!
    World won’t help invade Iraq?-FUCK YOU!
    Control my gun-rights?-FUCK YOU!

    sorry to F*Bomb, But here is the point. We have always had a very independent, Look out for #1, Worry about yourself attitude. “I don’t want MY money going to pay for OTHERS!”

    Many of us under 25 are waiting for the day that enough of those with that selfish opinion die off. (Don’t worry, those still yet living will be well cared for under our NATIONAL HEALTH CARE)

  56. I find it curious that any nation that gleefully spends hundreds of billions on war, and that bails out failed (dare I say, fraudulent) businesses to tune of trillions, yet baulks at offering basic medical care to its own citizens in need, could ever think they are the best in the world at anything of merit.

  57. Doh too slow. They’ve ‘corrected’ their error…

    Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.

  58. So, @OneGod, you ALMOST broke your neck and expected the same care as if you did? Are you the sort who also expects cough medicines to fix coughs and tablets when you get a cold?

  59. You know, I have always thought that free, government run healthcare should be the sort of thing that right wing free marketeers should love.

    Why? It gives them access to a healthy workforce.

    They can pick the best employee for a job safe in the knowledge that their healthcare needs are being dealt with and it is something they as employers need not worry about.

    There would be no more negotiating about health care plans with unions or subsidising health costs. A chunk of everyones tax would pay for the system and everyone would be taken care of. Simples.

  60. I wonder if these sado-politico deather freaks are familiar with the work of video artist Bruce Nauman, specifically his Clown Torture films

  61. Hawking has responded to it, but it’s not being very widely publicised at the moment it seems.

    “We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

    There’s various stories around the British press today about this. One article I read was saying about the British embassy in the US not really doing enough to correct the inaccuracies being told.
    I think if you asked a British citizen about the NHS they’d say it’s not the greatest, but at least it’s there.

    Daniel Nisbet

  62. @71

    Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.

    Nice how they still manage to imply that Stephen Hawking is not a Brit and hence of course is American.

    Camrbidge has Addenbrookes, a superb NHS hospital and all those all those claiming the Hawking survived only because he is rich should be aware that Addenbrookes kept him going long before he became rich or famous.

    I like the slanderous claim that atheist Britain has managed to put a price on life by selectively quoting from the NICE practices, while conveniently neglecting to mention that exactly the same has been done in the US by the insurance companies. Do you really believe that their actuaries don’t have precise costing for everything that they come across?

    Frankly this issue more than any other makes me despair of the USA as anything other than the most selfish, greedy and morally bankrupt civilisation.

  63. #54 MCCRUM

    I think the USA will bring in good healthcare for all its population. (What that would be, of course, is a huge question but one the USA is capable of resolving).

    It might also require a lot of people reminding their senators that their ultimate responsibility is to their electorate, not the lobbyists.

    PS @TAKUAN #67 Evil? or just money saving / money making schemes.The big question is always are you willing to pay for the poor. The poor are always with us and they can vote.

  64. the poor are NOT allowed to vote. Frequently even the working and middle classes don’t get to vote. Until lately anyway.

  65. Strangely, the Government “Death Panel” idea has been explicitly supported by bio conservatives:

    Brian Alexander (author): So then, you would argue that the government has a right to tell you that you have to die?

    Francis Fukuyama: Yes, absolutely.

    Now this comment was made in the context of discussing conjectural Life Extension therapies, but it is interesting to note that in principle exceptionally right wing folk – not just Fukuyama – are in favour of Gevernment control of lifespan. For instance the Dean of Bioconservatives, Leon Kass has written frequently about the moral rightness and desirability of death. What if the next decade or two sees the emergence of drugs that can materially extend healthy lifespan ? Looks like a future hard-right administration would be more likely to consider Death Panels.

  66. My fellow Americans,

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but after eight years of Jar Jar Bush and Darth Cheney, this might be the final straw. I’ve started thinking about moving to France on account of the health care “debate” in this country. Seriously, I need to brush up on mon français maintenant.

  67. It’s quite a simple argument. The current US system costs your X. A public system as in the UK costs you Y, taken via taxes. The care levels are much the same, anecdotes on either side notwithstanding.

    If Y < X then you have the wrong system. Y < X because thousands of people are being employed to waste their time working out how to screw people out of money for insurance, how to prevent fraud and how to avoid payouts when they are in fact morally justified. The UK system is truly socialist, and it's not a dirty word.

  68. @59 Mdrtr:
    Y mn lk vryn ls s plyng nc? Y mn tht nt-mrcn tttds nd ‘F’ r ky, bt pntdly pntng t tht Tl hs n Spllchckr n hr cmptr r ntv rny dtctn sklls s nt ky? lrghty, thn… gt t.

    @60 Brnspr:
    Sr, nglsh flks cn g t prvt dctrs whn thy dn’t gt wht thy nd frm th NHS. Thy’r (r wr whn lvd thr) phmstclly grpd ndr th cllctv ttl f “Hrly Strt” dctrs nd thy r cmpltly t f th rch f rdnry ppl. dn’t mn ” cn’t ffrd th 50″ t.v. scrn, s ‘ll gt th 40″ scrn” rng. ‘m tlkng bt cmpltly nffrdbl. Dspt th cmmnt n @64, whn y shw p t prvt dctr’s n nglnd, h wll sk y bt mny, y cn b sr f tht.

    @61 Mdrtr:
    My ncl hd hs psd n th rly 2000’s…r y tllng m tht th 60 yr NHS trck rcrd mrclsly prkd p n th lst 5 yrs r s? Rchng bck shws th trck rcrd.

    @64 rrr404:
    my “wn sqld cncrns”, “nlcky”, “nt bt m”…s tht hw y hndl vdnc f cmplt ncmptncy, rtnng, Dcknsn hlth systm, Svt-typ cncrn fr th cstmr? ky. Y’ll nvr b cnvncd f nythng, bt yr wn pnn.

    1. OneGod.. do you get it?

      ‘Nice’ has little to do with whether I say ‘fuck’ or not.

      Disliking the American health system is not anti-American, any more than you dislikng the NHS is anti-British.

      404 came back and apologised for his initial tone and comments, even though they were descriptive of an attitude rather than personally or nationally attacking anyone. Some Americans agreed with his comments.

      There is no need to personally attack anyone here, least of all sniping over spelling errors.

  69. @64 rrr404:

    jst r-rd yr cmmnt. Fr smn s gng-h bt ths nt bng bt m nd my sqld cncrns, why shld nyn b wrrd bt th systm tht svd YR sstr?

    s t jst pssbl tht y’r nvstd n ths s hvly tht y cn’t s bynd “ptty” cncrns sch s yr sstr? Pnt bng, w’r ll tryng t cm t sm ccmdtn bsd n r wn xprncs. Mn jst hppn t hv lngr sttstcl bss.

  70. OneGod, I strongly suspect that you’ve been lying about your experiences and your family history from the moment you showed up here. I have real trouble believing you’re British.

    Every other first-world country has national health care. Their citizens are fiercely defensive of their health-care systems. All of them pay less than we do.

    You want personal anecdotes? I’ve been treated by both the Canadian and British systems. The quality of care was just fine. The random British ER I wound up in was easily better than three-quarters of the ERs I’ve known in the United States. Both the routine medical care and the high-end diagnostic procedures I experienced in Canada were as good or better as anything I’ve seen in the States.

    Here are the two biggest differences I’ve observed:

    1. In their ERs and clinics, the first thing they ask you is what hurts, or what symptoms you’ve been having.

    2. Their citizens don’t have to beggar themselves to get their illnesses and injuries treated.

  71. “Harley Street” is a phrase one associates with the sixties and seventies, the era of Doctor in the House and Carry On movies. These days Bupa advertises private medical insurance on TV to the hoi polloi. I was offered a Bupa scheme at my last proper job (I turned it down, for ideological reasons).

    As far as anecdotes from decades ago go, my Dad mashed his face up pretty bad after an encounter with a jammed winch and a crowbar, back in ’61 or so. When the trawler put into the nearest Cornish harbour, a Harley Street plastic surgeon who was on holiday there fixed his face up for free, so he ended up with nothing but a small, rafish scar on his lip. What does this story prove? Bugger all.

  72. Onegod, I notice your reference to private healthcare being unaffordable in the UK. It is actually as affordable or unaffordable as private healthcare in the US.

    You say you left the UK some time ago, I guess that was before the rise of the big private health firms like BUPA, who run a lot of their own Hospitals and nursing homes. As such, you effectively concede the point that private healthcare is expensive and can price people out. You can choose to spend money on BUPA, which can be good for non-life threatening problems which might have a waiting list on the NHS.

    The fact is that the NHS, being so large, has a massive degree of variation within the system. I personally have had only positive experiences with the NHS. Similarly, my parents and grandparents have used both private and NHS and had good and bad experiences, there will always be some variation. Even within the private healthcare sector, there will be poor nurses, and doctors will make mistakes, they’ll just make them in posher surroundings.

    The fact is that for anything serious the NHS will be there no matter what, and I know that I will never be made bankrupt by medical expenses. For non-urgent services the delay is understandable, there are a lot of people in need. At least in the NHS everyone will get seen eventually.

  73. #92NELSON.C Harley street has been a focal point for up-scale doctors for a lot longer than you imply.In 1860 20 doctors had set up practice, by the time NHS came into force 1948 there were 1500.The “Doctor in the House” movie was shot at the University College campus on Gower street.There was a Monty Python skit on brain surgeons,complete with knotted hanky for headgear and the obligatory wellies, that was allegedly filmed at Harley street but J Cleese may be teasing.

  74. Bandages and Circuses:

    Leaked Email: CNBC Went To Tea Partiers Looking for Angry Protests
    By Zachary Roth – August 12, 2009, 12:21PM

    CNBC approached Tea Party activists, looking for angry protest events that would make good television, according to a leaked email from a Tea Party discussion group. And one Tea Bagger responded by flagging an upcoming event that, he said, “should be a riot … literally.”

    Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin sent an email, obtained by TPMmuckraker, to a Tea Party google group. Martin told the group: “We have a media request for an event this week that will have lots of energy and lots of anger. This is for CNBC.”

    She then asked: “So, where are the big events this week and where can TPP best be represented on the news?”

    Later that day, a Tea Bagger named Pat Wayman responded with a suggestion, also obtained by TPMmuckraker: “This one should be a riot! literally….” he wrote.

    Wayman then posted information for an upcoming town hall meeting hosted by Rep. David Scott (D-GA).

  75. WizardofPlum, I was responding to OneGod’s characterisation of Harley Street as the sole face of private medical care in modern Britain. Of course it’s been around since Victorian times, and only as an option for the well-heeled. These days, though, Bupa is the more common face, by virtue of being accessible to the middle class, and Harley Street has relatively little currency in the popular imagination. It’s likely that one would only refer to Harley Street at all if one’s sole exposure to British culture were through old media such as the Doctor movies. Or been frozen alongside Austin Powers….

  76. …or knew that “toffee-nose” wasn’t a complimentary term, but otherwise wasn’t sure what it meant.

  77. I am from Tennessee in the U.S. and I have to say I stand in amazement of my fellow Southerners. The protesters at the town-hall meetings do NOT represent a majority, even here. All of this is racism, fear, and ignorance. Please bear in mind, however, that what you are really seeing is that long decades of severe poverty and poor education in much of the south can crush a person’s spirit to the point that they rabidly defend what little they believe is theirs. Unfortunately this means they are constantly used by savvy political operators because of their ignorance and predisposition to an “us” and “them” mentality. This makes them no different than the lower class of any nation. That the poorest parts of the U.S. are the most afraid and angry of health care reform only proves that when you feel you have almost nothing, it’s easy for someone to scare you with the vaguest of threats. Very sad.

  78. The REALITY is:

    Hawking would’ve been dead by now if he is born in the USA, and his parents and relatives will all be bankrupt and be saddled with millions of debt.

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