In Queensland, Australia, for a few days. I picked up Wednesday's The Courier-Mail and read, on page 3, the headline Long waiting lists stretch patience.
A Brisbane plant operator has been told he may have to wait up to 10 years for surgery at a Queensland public hospital, with almost 15 months of this time spent waiting to get on a waiting list for the operation...
Health Minister Gordon Nuttall this week defended Queensland's elective surgery waiting lists, saying 5000 additional patients were provided surgery in hospitals throughout the state in just five months of last year, on top of normal surgical workloads.
The Courier-Mail asked Mr Nuttall to provide documents to support this claim, but his office declined.
Queensland Health also has declined previous requests to provide documents that woud identify the number of operations being performed in Queensland each year.
It all sounds depressingly familiar. In Queensland, as in New Zealand, the standard of health care in pubic hospitals is poor and deteriorating. The government of the day hides or fudges the figures and lies to the public.
What will cure public health system woes? A cash injection? That's the common policy of nearly all New Zealand's political parties. But, turning to page 5, I read the headline Workers pay second-highest tax in world. The obvious conclusion to draw is that high levels of taxation = low levels of health care.
The real cure is to get the government out of the health care business entirely. Stop throwing good money after bad, and leave tax dollars earmarked for health care in tax-payers' pockets. Let health-care consumers shop around to find the health-care provider with the shortest waiting list. Liberty is the best medicine.