In Obamacare Omen, British Hospitals Report Drastic Delays in Emergency Care


By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

As Obamacare apologists continue to defend the law’s constraints on health care spending with claims that European health care systems provide better health care with less spending than the U.S., a report from Great Britain documents a crisis situation in United Kingdom (UK) hospitals even for emergency services.

According to a January 6, 2015 article in the UK newspaper Independent by Charlie Cooper, entitled,“NHS [Britain’s National Health Service]in critical condition as A&E [Accident & Emergency] waiting times are worst in a decade”, the UK has seen a “drastic decline in hospital performance.”

According to the story, “Despite mild weather and without a serious outbreak of seasonal illness, this week at least 15 hospitals in England have had to cancel operations, call in extra staff or limit A&E services [the British equivalent of U.S. hospital emergency rooms] to only severely ill or injured patients.”

Obamacare contains various mechanisms to ensure that not only will the government clamp down on health care spending of tax dollars, but also to impose on all Americans increasingly severe limits on spending their own money to save their lives and the lives of their families. To justify these limits, the Obama Health Care Law’s architects relied on the faulty premise that foreign health care systems cost less while delivering superior care. In effect, the administration sees other governments spending less money per person, and it would certainly like to see that same trend in America. But what does the British experience of such rationing teach us about the effect on human lives?

According to the Cooper piece,

Only 83.1 per cent of patients were seen in four hours at major A&Es in the week before Christmas – the worst week on record…. Latest figures show that in December, nearly 39,000 sick patients were forced to wait on trolleys for up to 12 hours after a decision to admit them to hospital – three times as many as last year.

The evidence that less money means worse care is not limited to British emergency services. Americans surpass European survival rates for common cancers. [1] Studies show that breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and is 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 457 percent higher in Norway, and 604 percent higher in the U.K.

Indeed, if one adjusts for two simple factors, deaths from homicide, which are much higher in the U.S. than in other nations, and transportation accidents, the U.S. has the highest life expectancy in the world. See:

As millions of Americans are attempting to start using their new Obamacare exchange health insurance plans, stories about denial of payment keep piling up. You can read more on this here.  A Congressional Budget Office report issued last April confirms that exchange plans are restrictive. What’s worse, this is by design.

Rarely reported in the mainstream media is an Obamacare provision under which exchange bureaucrats must exclude health insurers who offer policies deemed to allow “excessive or unjustified” health care spending by their policyholders.

Under the Federal health law, state insurance commissioners are to recommend to their state exchanges the exclusion of “particular health insurance issuers … based on a pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases.” The exchanges not only exclude policies in an exchange when government authorities do not agree with their premiums, but the exchanges must even exclude insurers whose plans outside the exchange offer consumers the ability to reduce the danger of treatment denial by paying what those government authorities consider an “excessive or unjustified” amount.

This means that insurers who hope to be able to gain customers within the exchanges have a strong disincentive to offer any adequately funded plans that do not drastically limit access to care. So even if you contact insurers directly, outside the exchange, you are likely to find it hard or impossible to find an adequate individual plan. (See documentation at

When the government limits what can be charged for health insurance, it restricts what people are allowed to pay for medical treatment. While everyone would prefer to pay less–or nothing–for health care (or anything else), government price controls prevent access to lifesaving medical treatment that costs more to supply than the prices set by the government.

While Obamacare continues to roll out in 2015, it is important to continue to educate friends and neighbors about the dangers the law poses in restricting what Americans can spend to save their own lives and the lives of their families. You can follow up-to-date reports here:

[1] Coleman, Michel P., et al. “Cancer survival in five continents: a worldwide population-based study (CONCORD).” The lancet oncology 9.8 (2008): 730-756; Verdecchia, Arduino, et al. “Recent cancer survival in Europe: a 2000–02 period analysis of EUROCARE-4 data.” The lancet oncology 8.9 (2007): 784-796.