Scott Burgess has an op-ed in the UK Times today. He talks about how the National Health Service in Britain is in the midst of a financial crises so severe that they are removing every third light bulb to try and keep their electric bill down. Yet the government agency still funds alternative medicine as a viable option for their patients, even going so far as to shell out the cash for five homeopathic hospitals.
Scott wonders how this can be, and seems to think that it is an unnecessary drain on an already tottering system. I disagree, and I think that it is a very clever way for the British government to relieve the pressure.
You see, it is hardly unknown that these alternative treatments do nothing to help the patients that opt for them. Even if the snake oil doesn’t actually do any harm, the afflicted don’t get the treatments based on science that might just prolong their life. So those who embrace quackery tend to die sooner, which results in less patients demanding resources.
I really don’t think that the bureaucrats in charge of the British health system are so cold blooded that they have a scheme to hasten the deaths of the very people who they are supposed to look out for. Instead I think the funding for alternative medicine is more a political move, as the government attempts to head off criticism by providing something that a segment of the voting public demands.
But, scheme or not, the result is the same.