Waiting

WAITING….OK, OK, I’ll never complain about having to wait three months for a dental checkup again. Mark Kleiman, who nearly died thanks to waiting times for his cancer diagnosis, sums up his post about his experience this way:

The claim that replacing the current insurance mishmash with a better-integrated payment and decision-making process would mean more rationing, or even more rationing-by-queuing, is the sort of palpable falsehood that people who are perfectly honorable in real life are only too willing to utter in ideological conflict, especially if paid to do so. Under a single-payer system we’d have an idea who was waiting how long for what, while under the current system no such data are available. In all my waiting, I was never in a formal “queue,” and if the cancer had gotten me before the pathologist figured out what it was no one would have counted that death as the result of rationing. But only in wingnut health-policy fantasyland is not measuring a problem the same as not having a problem.

This is a point that’s worth keeping in mind when you hear about waiting times in other countries. The only reason we even know they have waiting times is because they measure it. We don’t. That doesn’t mean we don’t have waiting times. It just means we don’t know how long they are, which in turn implies that we don’t have any interest in reducing them. After all, if we did, we’d measure them, wouldn’t we?

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