Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Health Care Blues

Angry Bear, another of my favorite stops on the blogosphere, has a couple of good posts up. One is on our rotten health care system, and I choose the adverb carefully.

We frequently hear in this country how our health care system is the envy of the world. This makes folks in other countries either stare or laugh outright. Because, frankly, our health care system (a) sucks and (b) is famous for how it bankrupts its citizens.

(I remember reading about this in a book written for university students who were visiting our country: there was a whole section devoted to dealing with our bizarre health care system, and the authors had to explain over and over again that our health care system was scarily expensive, that every student had to buy insurance, no matter how bizarre the cost seemed, because if they got sick or had an accident, the hospitals and doctors would demand huge amounts of money from them, and so on. You could see the authors were writing this to an audience that was assuming a much saner system.)

Anyway, here’s the post:


He’s got an excellent chart showing how much we Americans pay per capita for health care, compared to other countries, and how little we get for it; and then some commentary.

Well, sure, says my boy from Johnny Rockets, they might get "free" health care in Canada, but their taxes are sky-high!

Look at the chart, American-Fries boy. You’re paying over five thousand a year for your health insurance. Folks in Canada? Half that.

(Oh, and by the way? Just because you snort and say, hah, no, I’m not – I’m 22 and I don’t pay for health care, I don’t have health insurance, I don’t go to the doctor? The hell you ain’t, Johnny Rocket boy. You’re paying for the health care of your grandma and all the folks who work at Wal-Mart and can’t afford health insurance. And when you grow up a bit? And get a wife and a couple kids? And need to buy some health insurance and health care and dentistry and such? Oh my, Johnny Rocket boy. Are you in for a rude surprise then. )

Okay, well, says Johnny Rocket boy: maybe their health care in Canada is cheaper, but they have to wait months to get to a doctor and when they get there the care is awful.

I just love this one, myself. You gotta wonder when the last time the folks who say it actually went to a doctor in the United States. I dread waking up to find the kid has a fever: I know that means six or seven hours in the urgent care waiting room, sitting among the workers comp cases and the junkies and people sneezing and moaning and dripping pus, unless I get astronomically lucky and her actual doctor has a cancellation and can squeeze her in. (We can only see her actual doctor, of course, with two week advance notice, not to mention a $20 co-pay, and then only 80% of the visit and tests will be covered.)

(And did I mention what I pay for this excellent health care I get? Nearly six hundred dollars a month in insurance, plus a thousand dollar deductible, rolling over every January, with a hundred-fifty dollar deductible on our drugs -- fifty dollars per person. And many things aren't covered, like mr. delagar's sleep apnea.)

But ANYWAY: apparently none of this is so in Canada, or Europe. For elective surgery, yes, surely, there is a waiting period. (My father's heart surgery? My father needed surgery on his heart. Six months waiting list here in the USA for that surgery. Hmmm.) But for basic health care? Apparently very little waiting time in Canada for basic health care. Imagine that.

Oh, but socialized medicine is e-e-evil!

Oh, but the system we have? It’s bankrupting our citizens. It’s an enormous burden on our businesses. It’s seriously damaging our health as a nation. (Think about what happens if you can’t afford to do wellness checks – which something like 40% of our citizens can't -- and so don’t find out that you have diabetes, or high blood pressure, or cervical cancer, or an STD, or TB, or you don’t find out that your two year old has been ingesting just a bit too much lead.)

I’ll tell you what’s e-e-e-evil. Putting the desire to make insurance companies and drug companies and a few doctors – not even very many doctors, not anymore – filthy rich over the welfare of our nation. That’s what’s evil.

Mr. Johnny Rocket.

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