WAITING LIST HELL….As long as we’re on a healthcare kick, here’s the latest from the “best healthcare in the world” file:

In mid-2004, more than 1,500 Kaiser Permanente patients awaiting kidney transplants in Northern California got form letters that forced them to change the course of their treatment.

Kaiser would no longer pay for transplants at outside hospitals, even established programs with thousands of successes. Instead, adult patients would be transferred to a new transplant center run by Kaiser itself ? the first ever opened by the nation’s largest HMO.

….Kaiser’s massive rollout in Northern California endangered patients, forcing them into a fledgling program unprepared to handle the caseload, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation based on dozens of interviews, statistical analyses and confidential documents.

Screwups can happen anywhere, and organ transplants are in short supply no matter where you go. But it’s worth noting that this particular screwup is a direct result of the balkanized healthcare system we put up with in the United States. There’s simply no reason that patients who are already on a waiting list at one hospital should be forced to switch to a different hospital just because their insurer suddenly decides that’s what it wants to do. But that’s the system we have.

Don’t like it? Tough. After all, don’t you know that we have the best healthcare in the world?