Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guidelines For Survival Under Socialized Medicine

A friend who asked to be identified only as "Christian W" recently posted this excellent essay on Facebook. Christian used to live in a country with socialized medicine. Hence, he has some valuable advice in case America goes down that path.

I originally found Christian's essay here at ReasonPharm, Stella Zawistowski's blog. They were both kind enough to grant me permission to repost his piece in its entirely (along with one parenthetical note by Stella).
Guidelines for Survival Under Socialized Medicine
by Christian W.

Folks, socialist medicine is likely inevitable in the United States. I think that it will either be implemented by means of sweeping bills like the one now approved by the House, or by a continued gradual strangulation of freedom in healthcare. The trends towards fascism and socialism have grown increasingly stronger over generations, and little will change their essential trajectories in our lifetimes. (I hope to be proven wrong.)

I think that it is still very worthwhile to wage an intellectual battle against the collectivist juggernaut, but it is also time to consider some personal strategies for coping with the coming deterioration of healthcare in this country.

Here are a few general practical guidelines for personal survival:

1) Rationing and shortages are inevitable under socialism. Therefore you must plan your life as if no healthcare will be available for you at all except in cases of acute trauma requiring ambulance transport. (There are some other exceptions, but this is the essence of health care in countries like Sweden.)

Absence of modern medical services means that you have to take meaningful steps to minimize the risk of acquiring a chronic illness or disease of aging and/or lifestyle. You will have to become your own doctor, primarily focusing on disease prevention. Special emphasis should be put on proper diet and exercise. Know these fields as if your life depends on it.

Note: Don't become overly reliant on supplements as a way to mitigate less-than-optimal dietary and lifestyle choices, because supplements that are in any way effective will gradually be outlawed, as they already are in Europe. The pharmaceutical industry lobby, in collusion with power-lusting congressmen/bureaucrats, will ensure this.

2) Treat your body as a delicate vintage automobile that you must take exquisite care of, since spare parts and/or access to a professional mechanic are either nonexistent or excruciatingly expensive. Many organs and systems of the body have good self-repair mechanisms, while others, unfortunately, have not.

Thus, for example, participating in sports that may wear down joints or cause other permanent damage should be minimized. (Services like hip replacements will not be readily available.) Many health-conscious people are unaware that the modes of exercise that they are applying may have short term health benefits, but could be detrimental in the longer term. Be informed, and always apply the ancient medical maxim "First, do no harm."

3) Avoid contact with the public healthcare system as much as possible. It can be deadly to be sucked into the machinery even for a minor issue. Misdiagnosis and faulty, dangerous, treatments and medication regimens are commonplace under socialism (just as in Dark Ages "medicine").

In many areas of medicine, particularly those related to especially politicized areas like CVD and other "life-style" diseases, government-franchised practitioners are often dangerously ignorant of essential facts. Remember that the worst aspect of socialist medicine is that medicine as a rational science is epistemologically destroyed by eliminating the role of the doctor as a sovereign, independently thinking, professional.

[SDZ: I consider that last point an incredibly important observation that needs to be spread widely.]

4) Don't trust at face value any pronunciation or recommendation that comes out of organizations like the FDA, USDA, NIH, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, the medical industry lobby, or your medical insurance company.

I deliberately lump together government agencies and some influential private entities here, because these are all primarily (or, in the case of the private organizations, to a very significant degree) vehicles for dissemination of propaganda having scant to do with the furtherance of objective health information.

Obtain your health information from honest clinical practitioners with proven track records, and from primary scientific sources. The latter can be done either directly, for example, by reading research papers (if you have the time and appropriate background knowledge to do so) or by finding experts that apply sufficiently rigorous epistemological standards to interpret and explain the content of such scientific sources for the layman. (Aim to get a second opinion on all important issues.)

5) Consider becoming a "medical tourist". Medical services are already cheaper, safer, and provided with better care for the patient in many former third world countries. (Thailand comes to mind.) If you'll ever need to travel overseas to save your own life, swear to never forgive those of your countrymen who let America deteriorate to such a despicable state.
To this excellent advice, I'd also add this suggestion from Dr. Steve Knope:
My advice: Maintain your private medical care if at all possible. If you are relatively healthy, look into a high-deductible health insurance plan linked to a Health Savings Account (HSA). Start putting money away in that HSA for a rainy day. Find a "concierge physician" or doctor with whom you can establish a direct financial relationship; someone who will act as your medical advocate in a system that is broken and will only get worse. You get what you pay for and medicine today is no different.
Of course the best way to protect yourself from the dangers of government-run universal health care is to stop it in the first place. So let your friends, family members, co-workers, and elected officials know that you don't want it! After all, it's your life that's at stake...