Wednesday, October 03, 2012

How to get health care in a socialist country: Swedish man fakes stroke to get approved for an X-ray

Mats Johannesson suffered from debilitating headaches, requiring 47 ambulance trips to the hospital, and Swedish medicine would only give him painkillers.  Finally, he fakes a stroke so that Sweden's government medicine would approve him for an X-ray.  The X-ray showed that he had a brain tumor.  Sweden's The Local reports (h/t Lucianne):
Johannesson, who is in his forties and was working as a truck driver, fell ill some five years ago. After seeking medical help from his local clinic in Mellerud he was referred to the nearest hospital, the Norra Älvsborgs lasarett, but was sent home again with some painkillers.

“I asked for an x-ray but they didn’t think there was enough reason to carry one out,” Johannsesson said.

This continued on and off for the next five years. By last summer, Johannesson had gone to hospital by ambulance 47 times. Every time he was sent back by taxi – and without the x-ray he asked for....

On the May 20th this year, Johannesson collapsed again but was sent home once more without an x-ray. When it happened again on July 19th Johannesson was determined not to be brushed off.

“I thought to myself ‘ I am going to get a scan this time’,” Johannesson told The Local.

When the doctor came to check him over, Johannesson therefore pretended to have had a stroke, making himself go limp on the left side of his body . When the attending physician asked him to touch his nose with his fingertips, he missed on purpose.

“And then they got worried and I was taken for an emergency x-ray straight away,” Johannesson said.

When they had performed the scan the doctor told him that there was no haemorrhage but that they had detected a tumour in his brain.
Sweden has had socialized medicine since 1955.   The single payer system led to waiting lists.  Waiting lists can lead to increased costs, as the National Center for Public Policy reports:
One study that examined over 1,400 Swedes on a waiting list for cataract surgery found that 5.2 million kronas were spent on hospital stays and home health care for patients waiting for surgery.28  That was the equivalent of what it would have cost to give 800 patients cataract surgery.
It also leads to higher mortality rates:
A recent study that examined over 5,800 Swedish patients on a wait list for heart surgery found that the long wait has consequences far worse than pain, anxiety or monetary cost.29  In this study, the median wait time was found to be 55 days.  While on the waiting list, 77 patients died.   The authors' statistical analysis led them to conclude that the "risk of death increases significantly with waiting time."30  Another study found a mean wait time of 55 days for heart surgery in Sweden and a similar rate of mortality for those on the waiting list.31  Finally, a study in the Swedish medical journal Lakartidningen found that reducing waiting times reduced the heart surgery mortality rate from seven percent to just under three percent.32
Swedish politicians have tried some free-market reforms but they didn't seem to understand what is needed for a free market to work. For example:
[A]lthough patients were free to choose which hospital in which they could get treatment, there were few penalties on providers that failed to attract patients.  For example, in Stockholm, the county council did not permit any emergency hospital - public or private - from shutting down.
Welcome to America's future under Obamacare.

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