To begin, it’s worth nothing that it was a government-run healthcare program that accomplished this. It was smart people looking out for the greater-good of the people, which is what government is supposed to be.
I am not a healthcare expert, but I’d say the reason this is not happening in the United States is because “greater-good” sits not in the back seat of our government, but in a trailer being pulled behind the vehicle. On the back bumper of the trailer. Basically, it’s the greed/ignorance problem all over again. Physicians in this country would face immediate repercussions if they were to tell a patient, “You’ve got a cold: take a Tylenol and suck it up.”
As I just mentioned, there are two components to this failure: greed, and stupidity. The stupidity is championed by the patient, where he/she becomes indignant at being denied powerful medicine (antibiotics) for a runny nose or body aches. This spirals into accusations of racism, classism, ism-ism, etc. First the business suffers due to word-of-mouth, then the lawsuits come.
And that’s where the greed comes in. Lawyers and drug companies have a vested interest in seeing the maximum possible drugs being prescribed. And the lawyers really like to hear about people getting sick when Doctor’s supposedly didn’t do enough to help them–especially if they’re poor or have a minority status. That’s lawyer lifeblood.
So, naturally, doctors choose to prescribe antibiotics for runny noses. They throw everything at a problem to make it seem to the idiot that they are doing everything the can, and to keep their lawyers from having anything to stand on. And the public suffers.
It’s a battle we’re losing. On one side is stupidity and greed, and on the other is logic and practicality. Norway no-doubt had similar pressures from some patients while family members were suffering from the flu, or a severe cold. I’m sure some of them accused their doctors of callousness or of withholding treatment. But those accusations never gained kinetic force because the general education of their peers was high enough to quell it. Basically, they went to their friends and said, “This damn doctor didn’t give me my antibiotics for my cold. He’s a bad doctor.” And their friends said, “Dude, you’re an idiot. If he gives you that many people might die from resistant bacteria.”
In the U.S. that doesn’t work because the complainer’s friends are much more likely to say, “We can probably get some free money if we sue him for discrimination.” Not necessarily even out of malice–so few people willing to make this lawsuit are educated enough to know that a doctor would be right to deny antibiotics. According to their view (which is wrong), they’d be justified.
And that’s the problem. The ratio of intelligent to stupid, educated to ignorant, and greedy to altruistic is crucial. This is the balance that is accelerating in the wrong direction for the U.S. And it’s this that scares me most. It’s the reason our politics are going sideways, it’s the reason our education system is in shambles, and it’s the reason our economy is on the edge of ruin.
Happy new year. ::