Stupidest Health Care Lie Yet

Investor’s Business Daily made the dumbest comment I’ve yet seen on the issue of government sponsored health care. The screenshot is below, but the money quote, so to speak, is this:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

The British are praised for spending half as much per capita on medical care. How they do it is another matter. The NICE people say that Britain cannot afford to spend $20,000 to extend a life by six months. So if care will cost $1 more, you get to curl up in a corner and die.

Stephen Hawking has of course been taken care of by the British National Health Service his entire life, including over 50 years of treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which has a mean survival rate in the US of about 5 years.  At 67, he is the longest surviving ALS patient in the world, and gives every indication of being good for several more productive years.


With fact checking like that, I don’t recommend following investment advice from these people.

(h/t MLDB on Daily Kos)

Screenshot, in case they come to their senses:



~ by B.T. Murtagh on August 10, 2009.

11 Responses to “Stupidest Health Care Lie Yet”

  1. That’s the best skewering of IBD that I’ve seen…bravo!

  2. Thanks, but that was absolutely self-skewering… I’m still shaking my head at the sheer stupidity of it. It’s like they found the intellectual opposite of Stephen Hawking to write their op-ed.

  3. I’ve been sitting here staring at this post in disbelief… I don’t even know what to say.

    Have they been contacted about this that you know of?

  4. Yes, they’ve been sent letters by at least three people besides myself (I wrote yesterday, the others had written before me) who have pointed out how unbelievably stupid their op-ed is, and how badly it reflects on their fact-checking.

    It hasn’t been corrected as of the time of this comment. Oh, and – are you sitting down? I hadn’t noticed this myself at first, but one of the other people who previously wrote to them pointed it out to me.

    The article is dated July 31st. It’s ten days old.

  5. It doesn’t really matter if an anecdote is true, just whether it supports their readers’ opinions…at least to the extent that they continue to buy the paper and patronize its advertisers.

    If you don’t like the Hawking example, I’m sure their editorial writers would be happy to make up another one.

  6. IBD has removed the reference to Hawking from the op-ed, replacing it with this:

    “Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.”

    That’s not much of a correction.

    • Kind of misses the whole point, doesn’t it? It sure would have been nice to see something more like this:

      “Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that the British National Health Service was willing to let physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, UK, die because his health care costs too much.”

  7. The man himself:

    “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

  8. REALLY stupid op-ed. Although the NHS is crappy. I know, I lived in England for most of my life. And Stephen Hawkins is an exception – I don’t think the prognosis for most patients in the UK is any better than in the USA.

    • Well, crappy’s a relative term. I lived in England for over a decade, and much of my family still lives there, so I’m fairly clued in to what the NHS is and isn’t. It’s certainly not perfect, but I’d trade for my current American medical coverage in a heartbeat, and I’m one of the lucky ones in that I have insurance subsidized by my employer; to the nearly 50 million Americans without any coverage the NHS would be a dream come true.

      You’re absolutely right that Stephen Hawking is an exception in this as in so many other things, though; it’s deeply remarkable that he’s survived so well for so long.

  9. […] today they’ve been discussing the Investor’s Business Daily story I wrote about on Monday. One commenter’s personal story debunking the notion of Britain’s National Health […]

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