Monday, November 23, 2009

Healthcare Reform

I'm so confused by all the BS being reported, denied, and shared on the news about Healthcare that I feel like shooting something or someone. I'm fearful about the reported changes in in PAP smear and Mammogram eligibility and the gap between testing. How many women will die because of this?

I'm angered over the Senator I just learned took a $300 million dollar bribe to vote in favor of healthcare reform. And even more pissed that the government is soliciting donations to help defray the escalating deficit.

What has gone wrong with this country? We're bringing terrorist to our shores to try them with constitutional rights and attorneys who will plead their cases for them despite the fact they've already admitted to their crimes. They're war criminals, and the fact that we've given H1N1 vaccine to Gitmo detainees and other inmates when I myself haven't been able to get a dose makes me madder than you can imagine.

But...in this time of such confusion, I decided to solicit a few friends from aboard who partake of Government run or shared healthcare for their opinions. Actually, these responses I received were uplifting and made me feel not quite so helpless, although my own healthcare benefit is doubling in 2010, I would still rather be the boss of my own destiny.

Testimonies:

I'm from Germany
, as you all know, and we have universal health care. It's a mix of government/private insurance (actually mostly government regulated private insurance). It was a total shock for me to come here to the US and not be able to afford/get health care. I have it now finally that I'm full time after 20 years of being adjunct faculty without benefits, but many things that I should have taken care of I couldn't, and I'll pay the price for that in the future, or actually right now. You should see me limp on my bad ankles.... At least I was lucky enough so far not to require any serious procedures.... Haven't been to a doctor in over ten years....

In Germany, dental and vision is included (I need new glasses!!!). The way it works is that everybody gets a certain basic level of health care that is heavy on preventative care (for example, massages are paid for by health care - they prevent a lot of unnecessary back surgeries...). In other words, you are encouraged to get regular check-ups, etc. Leads to less catastrophic care and peace of mind. If you want to, you can buy more expensive private plans on top of that. My parents did that and reap the benefits now - my mother has major health issues and has spent quite a while in the hospital. She now needs in-home care, and a health worker visits her twice a day to help with whatever she needs from rewrapping bandages to personal hygiene. If they didn't have both the basic and the private level of health care, they'd be bankrupt. They still have to contribute something to the most expensive stuff (my mother got some experimental foot surgery), but it's nothing they can't afford.

If you work, your basic insurance contribution is taken directly out of your paycheck, just like taxes/social security benefits. You don't miss it, I found, just like I don't miss my regular stuff taken out of my paycheck here. If you're unemployed, it's part of your unemployment benefits - no fear like here that if you lose your job you will be left without insurance. So many people here (and in Germany) don't lose their jobs in this economy because they're lazy bums, so how do they deserve to be all of a sudden without any recourse if they're ill? There's no cap on the services, and pre-existing conditions can't exclude you. Neither can the insurances kick you out if you get sick - my mom would be in dire straits in the US.

The argument in Germany is that we're all in this together, and that no person should go bankrupt or die for want of basic health care. Doesn't matter whether you're a native or an immigrant either; after all, they work, so they can get health care. Hey, even prostitutes get it *grin*. The argument is that catastrophic health care (which cannot be denied - you can't let people croak on the emergency room stairs, after all, right? Hippocratic oath and all...) is beaucoup more expensive than decent basic care for all. Call it socialism, or whatever - give me socialism then.... Besides, what about Christian charity???

Read an interesting article about that not long since - the idea that the collective well-being is considered important in Europe, whereas rugged individualism is more treasured in the US, which leads to everybody being left to fend for him/herself - the motto is: I worked for it, it's mine. You want it, work for it yourself. I'm not paying for you. It's a philosophical difference. But universal health care is also better for the labor market - a healthy workforce is better for the economy than one that's always taking time off for preventable illnesses....

Now I'm not saying everything's perfect in good old Germany (not all hospitals/doctors are equally good - but neither are they here -, and Germany has its share of snafus), but the old canard about everybody having to wait forever to see a specialist or stuff like that is plain wrong. If you need emergency treatment, you get that. If you don't, then you're behind the ones who came in before you. Not a problem in my eyes. Also the claim that older people don't get treated, or that health care is rationed: what is it here??? Rationed by who can afford what. If you want all the bells and whistles, you have to pay for it, both in Germany and here. That's the same everywhere. Example: basic health care will get you a hospital room, but not a private room. You'll share it with others. If you want a private room, you pay for it - privately, with extra insurance or cash. That's what my mother got with the extra coverage - but my parents have paid into the system for a long time now, and now they get it back in spades.

The fear here that government controlled health care would lead to the extinction of private insurance is manifestly false in Germany (and even in England, which is often cited as a model here in the US). Private insurance does just fine, but is compelled to play by the rules. That is what the for profit insurance companies here fear the most.... My roomie was an attorney for years for an insurance company, and they're in the business to take your money, not to give it back to you, according to her. Honestly, when it comes to the choice of a government or a private insurance bureaucrat to take care of my health decisions, I'd rather have the government one - he/she is not motivated by profit.... And incompetence exists everywhere....

Give you another example: the swine flu crisis. Here distribution of the vaccine is problematic, people wait in lines, can't get it, tempers flare. You see it in the news all the time. In Germany, everybody is in the system. So people in the high risk groups get notified by mail when to come in for a vaccination (by appointment). No lines, no confusion. Pregnant women, people with pre-existing conditions, health care workers, and children first. No preference by company, money, whatever. Unified/shared medical records make that possible. Again, doesn't always work perfectly (even in the case of my mother, who has the bells/whistles private supplemental insurance, not all records arrived where they needed to be in all cases), but still, much better than the opposite.

What amuses me the most is to see the protesters against government sponsored health care: mostly middle-aged to older people, many of whom are on Medicare (government health care) and don't want anybody to touch it, much less take it away....

Honestly, can't really give you any cons against government sponsored health care - always worked ok for me. I don't expect perfection, after all. And it certainly worked for my parents. I like the peace of mind it gives you - you know that you'll get treated if something goes wrong. Got kicked by a horse in Germany in my university days. Had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, and had to stay for a week. I never even saw a bill. I wasn't asked before I was treated who was paying for this. Now that's peace of mind. My only thought here has been not get ill - though I suppose I'm judgement proof. Paid for stitches twice out of my own pocket in small payments (broke grad student), and it took forever. Consider the fact that the US pays more per capita in health care than any other civilized (whatever that means *grin*) in the world, but gets less for it than other countries and leaves so many millions uncovered.

My roomie is now a bankruptcy trustee, and what she sees, how many people lose everything because of medical bills, is heartbreaking. That shouldn't happen, esp. not to older people who have worked all their lives.

Oh, well, I could go on for a long time. Let me know if you want more info. I can get more specific. But you probably get the idea. Like most Europeans, I don't understand why Americans can't get it together on health care and cover everybody. Quote me if you want to - nothing to hide :-)

Carolin Walz

Australia is a lot like Germany, same sort of system.
One difference is that here you must pay for the use of Ambulances, unless you're on a senior's pension or unemployed. You can pay $100 a year Ambulance cover and that' s all you pay no matter how many times you call one.
The Australian government healthcare system isn't perfect, but it is better than many other countries and I'm grateful for it. I'm not in a private health insurance, and haven't missed it. I've had three babies and my kids have broken bones, etc, and we've all been seen to and never had a problem. Josh has been to ER/had hospital stays 13 times in 15 years and we've never had to pay for it. I wouldn't live anywhere else.



As a most recent recipient of the UK's NHS, I cannot praise it highly
enough.
Whats good about it?
-The expertise, among the best in the world
-It's free at point of use
-Available to all
-It is interlinked.
eg I went to my GP complaining of chest pain in May 09. After routine
tests - cholesterol, resting ECG, reaction to sprays etc, she sent me to my
local hospital for a treadmill ECG which alarmed them enough to book me in
for an angiogram on 30th June at another hospital. Went in, had that, saw
the results on tv screen, appreciated what alarmed them and was told I neede
bypass surgery. All this relayed to my GP, and to the Freeman surgeons
(centre of excellence for heart surgery on Tyneside). Saw the consultant on
7th August who told me what they would do (if I agreed) and said I would be
called within 18 weeks. I waited, was called, had that date cancelled
because patients were not moving as quickly as expected out of Intensive
Care (they were elderly, and slow to recuperate) but in I went on 30th for
pre-assessment tests (lung function, ECG and X-ray plus checks for MRSA etc
etc) Into the ward on 1st Nov, op next day, out on 7th and home. In two days
the District Nurse was on the phone wanting to visit, and the Cardiac
Rehabilitation Centre sent me an invitation to join them on a date in
December. All this has been relayed to my own GP and I sit here typing this,
recuperating nicely six months later and I shall see the consultant in a
fortnight's time for checks and to be signed off, given the green light.
Every step of the way has been explained to me by the most friendly people,
I don't expect to see a bill and if I have any queries or questions, however
small, I have a number to ring and get immediate attention. Counselling is
available if I need it (I don't think so, but evidently some people feel
they do need it) and extra help with physiotherapy or just simply managing
on a day to day basis if I have problems. What's not to like?
The media focusses only on the downside and gives the NHS a bad name. People
complain that the have to pay to park their car in hospital car parks, or
that they can't have the most expensive drugs to keep them alive. Bill used
the bus to visit me some of the time. Someone complained that they had to
pay to use the tv in the ward, but really, you don't need a tv to get
better. A tv, in my view, is a luxury, and the money is better spent on
medication. As for the cancer drugs, so expensive, is it better to keep one
person alive for three months or do 30 hip transplants with that money?
The money to pay for all this has been taken out of my salary over my
working life, and I don't, and never have, begrudged it. It's a good system,
which I haven't really had to use until now. But when I need it, it is
there. And no one ever knows when they or their nearest and dearest, will
need it.

As a Canadian, I love my universal health care. I can't imagine having an insurance company between me and my doctor deciding what treatment I can have and what I can't. That offends me terribly. I never have to think of money for a doctor's office visit or for a hospital stay or for a treatment. We simply go, talk to the doc and come out without any financial worry. Everybody knows that it's always best to eliminate the middle man whenever possible.

How can anybody love having insurance companies when they refuse to cover you if you're sick, or dump you when you're sick. No one loses their homes here in Canada if they get sick with cancer.

I've always had great health care - immediate, timely, great. Most recently I had 3 doctor visits in one month because I broke out in shingles. I was put on 4 prescriptions which cost a total of $34.00 and which I can get my money back on the private portion of my health care or I can use it as a tax deduction.

Elective surgeries in Canada may be delayed up to one year, but that's because of a doctor and equipment shortages. Many of our doctors move to the U.S. because they can make more money there in the private system, not that $200,000 per year here in Canada is much to scoff at.

The only private health care we have is for dental, vision, and prescriptions, ambulances, and for private rooms during a hospital stay. My company paid for this while I was working. Now that I've retired, I continued with it for my entire family at $168 per month. My husband has diabetes and a heart condition which requires regular medicine. I wear glasses now and we can get most of our dental work paid wkith that $168 per month.

2 comments:

Sue McK said...

I'm sorry, but I can't think this type of medical care in the United States would be better than what we have now. What they're not even considering is that we'll lose doctors (what's the incentive to stay?) and the pharmaceutical companies that make a LOT of the drugs used in the world have no incentive to stay in business. Sorry, but I don't like socialized medicine with death panels. Even your testimonies show that the time to get treatment isn't good, and rationing would happen. I don't trust the government to take over any industry and make it work.

And no, I haven't given up the fight yet.

Ginger Simpson said...

I think managed healthcare could work with a government who knew what they were doing. But our government has proven with Medicare and Medical that they can't even do that right. Why would they want to pour more mistakes on top of the ones they've already made? I just don't get it. I keeping hoping things will improve, but I just don't see how a handful of us blogging and discussing our preferences can compete with people getting enormous bribes to vote on something they normally wouldn't. This is what our elected officials have come too. HOw friggin sad is that?

WARNING: I support the office of the President, not the person currently holding it!