Man vs. Mutt

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dalrymple hilariously compares Britain’s human health care system with its veterinary equivalent:

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog.

As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.
Read the essay.

h/t Dave L.

8 thoughts on “Man vs. Mutt

  1. Kent Kruse

    As a former practicing veterinarian and now the Vice President of a company offering health insurance for dogs and cats, I was overjoyed to read and appreciate the logic and humor of Theodore Dalrymple’s Wall Street Journal article. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Leopold

    I think Dalrymple’s humour and wonderfully dry sense of irony are very much underrated. It never fails to bemuse me when people cast him as strident and misanthropic.

  3. Kate

    Interesting article, with mixed messages.

    If life expectancy in Britain is higher than say Americans, then they must be doing something right. I’ve been told the French system is excellent too.

    In this article the doctor appears to be advocating that the seperate states of the U.S. be responsible for the health of people who live within those states. Let fifty flowers bloom the doctor writes, but within Britain this is exactly what is happening , as I mentioned before under devoloution. It is not a total uniform stystem nation wide, as it once was up until the last decade or so.

    I think the dog analogy is used merely as satire, and the doctor does tend to fall into his own complexities. It’s an attemt to enlighten on the dangers of a uniform system of health care free at the point of use, (not free, only free at the point of use). But its written by a doctor not an economist (or even a vetenarian).

    It’s a good article and well written, and he does point out the dangers of a cash only system. I’ve read some horrific stories from Americans who have paid for surgery where it was either un necessary or had gone wrong and of both combined. Look at Michael Jackson for example.

    There is a certain adulation of America from British and European commentators on the right that can draw a wry smile on certain occassions and this is one of them.

    I do agree with the doctor that it is a matter of organisation rather than a totally uniform free at point of delivery vs cash driven system. It’s finding that balance I think.

  4. Steve
    From Mark Steyn on the life expectancy issue:

    Life expectancy in the European Union 78.7 years; life expectancy in the United States 78.06 years; life expectancy in Albania 77.6 years; life expectancy in Libya, 76.88 years; life expectancy in Bosnia & Herzegovina, 78.17 years. Once you get on top of childhood mortality and basic hygiene, everything else is peripheral – margin-of-error territory.

    Regarding unnecessary treatment, I think the question is who should determine what is necessary: the doctor and patient or the government?

  5. Kate.

    Steve, if I were forced to chose between Daniels and Steyn, I would opt for Daniels when he writes:

    “Even here, though, there is a slight paradox. About three quarters of people die of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and therefore seriously inferior rates of survival ought to affect life expectancy overall. And yet Britons do not have a lower life expectancy than all other Europeans; their life expectancy is very slightly higher than that of Americans, and higher than that of Danes, for example, who might be expected to have a very superior health-care system.”

    I doubt that is margin of error territory. Would you not agree it is paradoxical?

    Re the un-necessary treatment. Is it really that straight forward between doctor and patient? I don’t think governments anywhere determines what is necessary, even in nanny state Britain, but a patient can not always determine what is best either,although I’m sure treatment is best when both agree, and as regards the medical profession Dr Daniels himself quotes Shaw, “if you pay a man to cut of your leg he will”.

    As to the governments role, I believe that is merely to facilitate treatment that is necessary rather than diagnosis.

  6. Steve

    I really enjoyed those articles, Tayles, especially his arguments about the elimination of choice and fairness by state-mandated “entitlements” that are actually mandates. I will look for more of his writing.


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