British health system: IVF eligibility a whole six months
posted at 12:55 pm on June 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
For those who still think Canada and “England” have great health-care systems where patients can just walk into clinics and get treatment, this story from “England” should remind those as to what a single-payer system actually does. It limits costs by rationing treatment, not by making it more available, and Britain’s NHS gives us an object lesson. They have now limited in-vitro fertilization access to women of a specific age range — and a very, very narrow one at that (via The Corner):
Infertile women have been told they can only have IVF treatment if they are aged between 39 and a half and 40.
The ‘cruel and bizarre’ restrictions were put in place by NHS managers in North Yorkshire struggling to deal with a huge deficit at their health trust.
It could mean women with severe fertility problems to wait years for one cycle of IVF treatment. …
The rules were greeted with incredulity by charities.
Susan Seenan, from Infertility Network UK, said: ‘This policy really is one of the worst we have ever encountered amid the postcode lottery for IVF.
‘We have seen some bad policies in other parts of the country, but this is not just cruel, it is bizarre, and it flies in the face of the medical evidence that the best treatment for fertility is to start early.’
Bizarre is certainly one word for it. The six-month window means that women can at best only get one cycle of IVF treatment before their expiration date. Few women have the fortune to only need one cycle, though, which means it will mostly be useless. It also forces women with diagnosed fertility issues at young ages to wait years just to get that first cycle.
Why did they put these restrictions in place? IVF treatments cost a fortune, thanks to the high cost of technology and the lack of specialists in the NHS system to provide it. Instead of using free-market mechanisms to increase supply, though, the NHS in this area has rationed the treatment into virtual non-existence. It saves costs by denying treatment to patients who need it.
Get used to that approach as ObamaCare gets applied in the US. That’s exactly what “comparative effectiveness” mechanisms are meant to do — deny care based on the decisions of beancounters in Washington rather than decisions made by doctors and their patients. It’s the ultimate in elitism, where self-apppointed mullahs of medicine tell you whether treating you is worth the bother, or as in this case, whether you’re worthy of assisted reproduction.