Lessons of the VA scandal: This is what government-run health care looks like

But, if the experience of other countries is any guide, a single-payer health-care plan or even government-managed care brings all kinds of waiting lists with it. In 2012, it was discovered that more than 7,000 patients in just a few Scottish hospitals had been wrongly removed from waiting lists for surgery in order to pretend to meet government targets for treatment. One trick was offering to perform surgery on a date when hospital officials knew a patient would be away on holiday, then dropping the patient from the wait list for “refusing” the date.

Sarah Boyack, a member of the Scottish Parliament, called the figure of 7,000 “astonishing,” given that “an extra five million pounds [$8 million] has been pumped into the NHS [National Health Service] to help cut the waiting list” in the affected hospitals.

Not that NHS patients in hospitals without waiting-list scandals are that much better off. In all of the United Kingdom, NHS patients wait an average of about eight weeks for treatments that require admission to a hospital, four weeks for out-patient treatments, and two weeks for diagnostic tests. While NHS patients have a choice of hospitals, they cannot always choose their specialist.