Perhaps at some time more Americans will really look at health statistics and reach a slightly different conclusion about how good American health care is compared to other OECD countries, especially considering what we pay.
To date, the big gripe I have heard is "You have to wait!" To be fair, others on the right are ready for some change.
This may be valid, but it turns out that tradeoff could be one most folks could embrace - especially if they have no insurance at all due to unemployment. And more importantly, if first-hand stories like this got more exposure:
There’s all this talk in the United States, mainly from conservatives, about how woeful a public health care insurance option would be in the United States. They talk about “socialized Medicine”, and use “Canada” and “France” as curse words.
And they speak of the government getting between you and your doctor. The government paying a proportion of my fee in no way “gets between me and my doctor”. I have lived in the US with really good quality health care coverage*. But I have never, ever had a doctor like my current one. She knows me, she cares about my health in a holistic way, not just in diagnosing a particular problem. She wants to know about my past, and my lifestyle, and integrate it into her understanding of my health. On my third visit to her, I broke down into tears about something not directly related to my health, and she listened, and said that it was probably affecting me more than I realised. She gave some advice about how I might deal with me problems better, and assured me that any time I needed her, she was there.
We have a wonderful balance here in Australia. If you need health care and can’t afford it, you can get it. Everyone can get it. There are a multitude of doctors who bulk bill. And you can use the public hospital system. But if you have a little more money, you can choose the extra cover. The government doesn’t decide what access I have- they just set a level of access, and everything beyond, I have to pay for.
Is that “rationing”? Perhaps. But at least we all have access to pretty good basic cover. At least a major illness will not bankrupt us. But, at the same time, if we have access to the extra funds, we can use them and pay for extra cover. Oh, and if a particular treatment isn’t available here, the government will pay for us to have it overseas- a fact Glenn Beck grossly misrepresented in his recent rant (Do Australians go to the US for certain treatments? Yes. But he neglected to mention the fact the federal government provides funding for that).
I am thankful for a system in which I can access a basic level of care regardless of my income, where I can choose to spend additional funds if I have them available, and where I have both public and private hospital options. For that, I’m happy to pay an extra $1.50 tax for every $100 I earn. It’s worth it. [More]
I appreciate many of you have written me off as a turncoat socialist, but try to look past that label to the actual product. For what we pay we get too little - and it could be better.
The argument of cost is valid, and I think the best way to contain it is to a) offer a public option to make insurance companies competitive, and b) utilize comparative effectiveness analysis to allocate (OK-ration) what public dollars will be spent on, allowing individuals to either pay for private coverage or just buy the care themselves.
We had a story this weekend on USFR about how Nebraska rural residents are postponing health care due to the recession. Their problems may heal on their own, or they could end up costing the sufferers and the rest of us a whole lot more.
If you have good health insurance now, it is understandable how you could discount the problems of those who don't. But more of us will fall into the latter category as health costs mount and employers balk. Meanwhile, advanced screening diagnostics will declare more of us "uninsurable" each year.
Few would support the idea of only having private schools, allowing the free market to decide who gets education or not. This analogy holds for me in that a parallel private system should always be an option while basic needs are guaranteed by the public purse. I would suggest health care falls into the same fundamental rung of the economic and social mobility ladder as education.Competition and freedom of choice would be tonics for the health system, the thinking goes. But there may be a problem. Findings from a survey of individual insurance shoppers show that 15% of people looking for insurance online were deemed “uninsurable” for standard coverage by most insurance carriers.The survey, conducted by Norvax, an online service for health insurance, analyzed data from 446,500 online insurance shoppers who either requested a quote or to be contacted by an insurance broker this summer. The people deemed uninsurable either had a pre-existing medical condition or provided height and weight information that produced a body mass index of 39 or higher, indicating serious obesity.The report’s authors point out that the findings don’t necessarily mean the uninsurable will never get health insurance. But if they do, it would be extremely expensive and probably wouldn’t cover the pre-existing condition at issue. [More]
This whole issue will likely push to resolution as fewer of us can feel comfortable we can afford to be sick.