The worst health care reform ever?

Perhaps Turkmenistan takes the prize:

In 2003, "President for Life" Saparmurat Niyazov decided that poor,
landlocked Turkmenistan's medical costs were too high and that its
healthcare system urgently needed reform. The country had already
suffered from a shortage of doctors, and the only qualified ones were
in cities, Niyazov said on a public radio address.

So, in a
frankly insane healthcare reform effort, he restricted the public's
access to care by replacing up to 15,000 doctors and nurses with
unqualified military conscripts. The next year, he ordered hospitals
and clinics outside of the capital, Ashgabat, to close — even though
the vast proportion of Turkmenistan's population lives in rural areas.
The BBC quoted him as saying, "Why do we need such hospitals? If people
are ill, they can come to Ashgabat." He also implemented fees and
created an "unofficial" ban on the diagnosis of certain communicable
diseases, like hepatitis.

As a result, an epidemic of the bubonic
plague reportedly broke out (Turkmenistan's highly secretive government
does not allow in organizations like the WHO) and existing rashes of
AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis worsened. At the time of Niyazov's
death from a cardiac infarction in 2006, Turkmenistan had one of the
lowest life expectancies in Asia — less than 60 years.

The full story is here and it lists some other very bad health care reforms.

Comments

Sounds like a perfect storm of Hope & Change, Turkmenistan style. ;-)

Well, Speedmaster and Zephyrus, it looks like you did not finish reading the linked article. It lists United States as having one of the "least-functional" health care systems, in part because our insurance market is "under-regulated".

It repeats oft-heard nonsense about per-capita deaths by lung cancer, bemoans the fate of HillaryCare (which would have fixed everything), etc.

Frankly, I don't see why this was even blogged. The fact that the U.S. was lumped in with China, Russia, and Turkmenistan (the first two received criticism for partial privatization) leads me to doubt the accuracy of the article. The agenda was to disparage the U.S. system.

People in the United States are as likely to die from diseases like lung cancer as citizens in all OECD countries -

And they're even more likely to die of cancer than people in Turkmenistan!

Sarcasm apparently doesn't translate well over the interwebs.

And Peter K, even though our health care system obviously gets significantly better results than Turkmenistan, that doesn't mean it's good or even average. You've got to look at the value we get for it. Which, if you do, comes out making us look like a train wreck. If Canada spent the money we do on health care, it wouldn't know what to do with it all.

This is an indisputable fact. It doesn't mean that we need single payer, or Wyden-Bennett, or Obamacare (though I think all of them would be a significant improvement over the status quo, in decreasing order); I'd be quite happy even if we simply dismantled employer-based healthcare and had a Milton Friedman-esque universal catastrophic health insurance system. But something simply must be done.

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