One patient in Oregon got a letter that made this all too clear, when in the same letter rejecting her request for life-extending chemotherapy, Oregon offered her “physician-aid-in-dying”. In other words, Oregon offered their customer a heapin’ helping of death:
Yikes, *sorry, no drugs for you, but we can help you commit suicide*. I think this is what Obama was talking about when he said maybe a pill is best?
When it comes to health care reform, I have listened to both sides of the debate, and can agree with portions of both arguments. Living in Italy, where we have socialized medicine, I also see the good and the bad with this type of system. For the most part, I have stayed out of the health care reform issue. I believe the American people should be *the deciders* on this important issue. But, I am pissed when the Senate scoffs at reading the bills, and I worry about the attempts to pass this so quickly.
I have had a lot of discussions with family and friends, and hear opinions from all points of view. I think the most important thing is that people fully understand what these changes mean - financially and as far as actual coverage. And when members of Congress, and Obama don't even know what is being proposed, that worries me.
Supporters of the health care reform like to say that people go to Canada for healthcare, and deny that people travel to the US for care. People travel to the US ALL the time seeking better care. Some Americans may travel to Canada for healthcare, and I would bet those would be the uninsured Americans, or someone who was denied care by their insurance company. But I bet most would be people without insurance, and want to get some free care in Canada. Also, to take advantage of the cheaper drugs in Canada.
But, people from ALL over the world do travel to the US to receive the best care.
So, what do I think about socialized medicine? Well, for starters, it is paid for with taxes. Europeans pay +50% of their income in taxes for the socialized care. It can work efficiently and can be a great system. It can also be a nightmare. It depends on the area, the actual doctors and medical personnel. Socialized medicine seems to be great for caring for massive amounts of lower income people, people who just want the bare minimum in care. When I say bare minimum, I mean be prepared to supply all of your own comforts/supplies in the hospitals (from tvs to maxipads.) There are no private rooms, no fancy birthing suites. Yes, it's cheap (not considering the taxes you pay), and perhaps you may not care, but it is a no frills system.
Patients are responsible for their own health history, and carry around their own x-rays, samples and files from doctor to hospital, to doctor. (This includes all biological specimens, etc.) Also, you have to give yourself your own shots.
There seems to be very little funds for maintaining the hospitals, and I have seen hospitals with conditions as bad as those we saw at the Walter Reed hospital. Most are old, and in all stages of decay.
You also have to be very pushy with your health care provider. My BIL was suffering from what I thought was an aneurysm due to his symptoms, loss of balance, slurred speech, unable to walk straight, loss of vision in one eye, strange taste in mouth, upset stomach. The doctor wanted to test him for GERD... My FIL got very assertive, and went to the hospital and found his doctor, and explained his sons condition. The doctor ordered an immediate CAT scan and they found a huge brain tumor. Now, the Dr. was awesome, and he got great care. But, had the family not pushed, he would probably be taking Pepto Bismal or something.
My MIL was misdiagnosed for three years, and given steroids which destroyed her bones. She waited four months for a knee surgery to repair the damage to her cartilage caused by the roids. My FIL was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and received fairly quick care. Overall, expect for a few bad experiences, I have personally witnessed a pretty good system in Italy.
Another strain on the system is people use the emergency room as a doctors office. Doctors office visits are *private* but you pay ~150 euro. So, many people prefer to just go to the emergency room, where it is *free* (there is usually a small fee for tests, though).
Private doctors and dentists will send you to the hospital for tests, including blood tests, and e-rays, (since most don't have the capability/expensive machines in their office), where you take a number, and wait. If you are in line at the hospital before the doors open, your wait is only a couple hours. If you arrive there late, you can wait many hours.
When my brother in law was diagnosed as having a tumor with the CAT scan, he was then transported to another hospital for the MRI. He was then transferred to another hospital for the surgery, where the surgeon for tumors worked. The hospitals can't all afford to have all of the many machines that are needed for diagnosis. These machines are very expensive. Now, I assume a hospital in Milan or Rome would be fully equipped, but from my experience, the smaller ones where I live are not.
There are advantages and disadvantages. A big plus is you do not go in debt when you get ill. But, you have to pay a lot of taxes, and the health industry does suffer. And from what I have seen, there is a big difference in care depending on location, and the quality of people working.
One thing someone pointed out to me is small business owners who provide health care are at a disadvantage when bidding against companies that don't provide insurance. The bids by companies that have to factor in their health care expenses are at a disadvantage because their job bids are usually more expensive because the competitors aren't paying health insurance. So, mandates on companies that don't provide insurance will help level the playing field with small business owners.
Although, I wonder if, when cutting costs, small business owners will choose to drop insurance all together, knowing there is a government option available? (Why is it required that businesses provide insurance, anyway? I can see the benefit of say, a Microsoft, to offer health care to their employees as a benefit, and they probably get a great package, based on the number of employees they have, but for a small business? Do they get more of an advantage, or are they strapped paying for the healthcare?)
I have heard horror stories in Europe and in the US. I hear about long waits, denied care, and botched surgeries in both Europe and America. I hear about people dying, and people being cured in both places. As I said, you won't find yourself strapped with hundreds of thousands of dollars in dept in a socialized system, but you may find yourself denied care.
One nagging thing that worries me about moving to a government run system is that the US currently has the system in which people from all around the world turn to. How would a government run system affect the system as a whole?
And, as I brought up below, how will the Health Care reform reconcile the costs of Medical School with the new govt. subsidized Doctor salaries.
In American, doesn’t med school run upwards of $100,000+? My husbands cousin spent around $3000 - $4000 for her entire university and med school in Italy. Doctors graduating in America, with massive debt, I would assume expect to earn salaries that will allow them to repay their loans. Under a gov run plan, I don’t see that happening…?
I think there is definitely a need to fix parts of the system - the insurance companies denying/determining care, not your doctor. We need tort reform. The price of medicine is crazy. They need to examine what doctors charge insurance companies for their services/tests. My husband, a dentist, is stunned sometimes when he finds out what dentists bill for procedures in the states. Let's just say, it is a wee bit more pricey than in Italy.
So, what do you think about the health care reform? And if you are an expat, what are your experiences with health care in Europe vs. America? I have had a good experience with the system here. My husband has some doctors in the family, and friends, so we know the quality of doctors is excellent. :O) But, as I said, we also hear the horror stories.
My point in all of that, is that I do believe the goal of the Obama administration/Democrats is to get to a single payer, government run universal health care system.
I am not trying to influence one way or the other, just offer my personal experience, and opinions.
I think the American people need to demand the facts, educate themselves, and figure out what they believe is the best system for America, and be the *deciders*. For every article I read about how great healthcare is in Canada, I can find two that talk about the horrors. Same goes for the current care in America.
Whatever type of care you think may be best, at least find out the facts of the proposed reform. And demand that members of Congress read the bills! And be prepared to expect your taxes to go up. I can not imagine this system having any chance at success without raising taxes.