Ys

Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

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Speaking my piece on healthcare (links via kebechet)
Ys
ajodasso
Why are people being such morons about healthcare reform?

I think they're missing the point. If you still want private healthcare under a nationalized system? YOU CAN GET IT. It's not completely an either/or situation. For instance, here in the UK, where there's the National Health Service, there are still private hospitals. Which you can go to if you damned well please. And pay for the service. Which most Americans do anyway, and gripe about how much they pay.

Seriously, folks: this is not difficult or doom-bringing. I'm an American who has been living abroad for four years now. I've never once experienced any of the horror stories at the hands of the NHS that I hear flying around in droves in the States ("Oh, they have to wait in long lines!" / "Oh, they have to wait too long to get treatment!"). Um, really? When I had a non-malignant cyst in my right breast that got slightly bigger and started hurting me, within two weeks, I was in the hospital having it removed. I barely have a scar. I received treatment that's every bit as good as I would have gotten at home, and it didn't cost me anything.

Yes, nationalized systems have their problems. Just like our current pay-for-your-own-insurace-or-treatment-straight-up system does. And if you were to ask me which one has fewer snags, I'd have to say, from what I can see? It's the nationalized system.

However, as I said, private hospitals and such will not go away. They exist here, they exist in Europe, and they exist in Canada. If you want to continue paying through the nose and gripe while you're at it, you can totally do that. Just don't punish the rest of us.

ETA: lbilover has pointed out an enlightening column...

[T]his is something new and ugly. What's behind it?

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But then oh noes, they'll be paying for something they're not using! Like public schools, the police and fire department, roads and bridges they don't drive on.

Literally! We all contribute to those things with our tax money, but not all of us use them. And there haven't been mass uprisings. I fail to see what's so wrong about adding something as fundamentally important as healthcare to the rota!

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Depends on the nationalized system. In the Netherlands, I'm not sure if they have private clinics or hospitals; I haven't heard of them at least. You can pay at a regular doctor's office (as I did, before my national health insurance kicked in) but you still get treated the same. I suspect that they really don't have them or that they're extremely rare; the Dutch are really devoted to the polder model. And we have heard a few stories of people having to wait too long for treatment for such things as tonsillitis or a heart condition.

But, as I keep saying, there's no reason we can't do it any way we want. I do get annoyed with people (not you, other people) pointing to the UK or Canadian system as if all nationalized systems are one monolith.

Taiwan *does* have private clinics and I go to one - not to get better health care (the usual standard is excellent, I think) or shorter waits (there really don't seem to be any waits to speak of) but to get clinic personnel who speak English, and to be seen by appointment rather than waiting in the usual chaotic, noisy waiting rooms that are standard here. (They are great for people-watching, but not something I want to deal with while sick.)

I'm discussing the UK system because it's the one I've had firsthand experience with (and yes, there are those few cases where people have had to wait, but they're not as rampant as the majority of the U.S. seems to think they are).

Are you originally from the U.S., or somewhere in Europe?

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God bless the NHS! While there were signs up in the GP's surgery about how non-residents might have to pay, when I asked the doctor was all kinds of indignant about the thought of people paying in emergency situations, as were the hospital staff. (Tell EU resident friends, though, that from October 1st people without an EHIC card - the old E111 form - will have to pay, rather than the money being recouped under the bilateral agreement. The EHIC card is free, and applied for through doctors' surgeries or social welfare departments, there are no restrictions on it, AFAIK).

Believe me, I'm incredibly grateful that, while I'm here as a student, I'm eligible for care. My family doesn't have to worry about whether or not I'm insured (keeping me insured through undergrad university was really a constant worry, since I wasn't a child anymore and couldn't be covered under my parents' policies, yet couldn't afford to pay for my own, either), and I can worry about...well, more important things, like actually finishing this degree.

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We have nationalised healthcare here in Belgium, and there's some services that have longer waiting lines (depends on the hospital, on the quality of treatment,... just like *GASP* in private practices). I can choose to go to a private practice, and I'll still be reimbursed a part by the healthcare office, I'll just pay a bit more.

It works, and I haven't died yet of anything urgent :P

Most of the UK/Europe haven't died of anything urgent, it would seem. And the majority get their general healthcare needs met in a timely fashion. Fancy that :)

Hear, hear!

I've had my bad experiences with doctors, but I wouldn't give up the NHS for love nor money. I know there's no way I could afford private health care. I'm not even paying home insurance at the moment, or for a pension, and I really wish I could afford those things. If healthcare had to come out of my pocket too...? Frankly I don't think I could have it. Which would mean no depression diagnosis, no talking therapy, and, most significantly, no anti-depressants these last three and a half years... which would probably mean me dead, by now. Instead, I'm almost off the anti-depressants, I'm on a degree programme, and I have a future. I'm pretty sure that without the NHS I wouldn't be here.

In all my experiences so far whilst living here, I'm joining the hearty chorus of "Bless the NHS!" And if I end up living here more permanently, well, thank goodness. I can't imagine what kind of nightmare I might be going home to if this reform doesn't pan out...

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I like being an American. I love America and Americans. But one of the things that bothers me about living here is this very odd belief many of us have about individuality; that somehow the lives of others don't affect us or impact us at all. I think this is pretty much the basis of our loneliness as a people* and these arguments against any nationalized health care system. Liberty doesn't mean freedom from obligations or from the fact that all human life -- and, indeed, all life -- is interconnected. I don't think that we're going to continue to progress as a nation until we can deal with this truly toxic idea.

I really can't even read that link right now, for reasons you know :(.

*Well, at least among whites, European-descended US Americans; I can't speak for members of other ethnic and cultural groups because I don't belong to them. But I'm guessing they're not entirely unaffected.


I like being an American, too, and I also love my adopted country. I think that the U.S. has a lot to learn from the rest of the world. I'd simply like to see the actual learning happen in my lifetime *wry grin*

Yeah, probably better to look at kebechet's post when you're on a slightly more even keel. It's infuriating, really.

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I've wondered about this for some time; is there any substantial movement in the UK to end the NHS and switch to a system like that in the US?

This is kind of off topic, but maybe not.

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You know what I love about our system? The 900 kronor ceiling. Meaning that because my knee broke down like that and I had to be examined three times and have MRI and PT, I have now reached the point where I don't have to pay for ANY healthcare until April.

Um. Anyway. Am extremely grateful to not have to pay vetenarian-type prices or rely on insurance. (My insurance company insists that dislocating one's knee doesn't count as an accident.)

I've heard about that; it sounds like a very sensible way of doing things. I was talking to some Belgian friends recently, and I think they have something similar, or their government is in the process of implementing it.

People with a vested interest in killing health care reform are fanning the flames and trying to shut down debate. Paul Krugman had an excellent column in yesterday's NYT about all this. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=1

Oh, interesting! Thank you, I'll go read that.

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I completely agree with you.

I had one friend in Scotland who couldn't get dental care in a timely fashion through the NHS and ended up having to pay for a root canal when she got back to the U.S., but that's the only situation I've heard of, and I think there are ways to fix that glitch in the system. And while the people I know who work for large companies have great healthcare, the private care I get now on my crappy work insurance doesn't do much good. It pays for basic medical care, but not dental insurance or the care I need for an ongoing medical condition, so I still end up shelling out a lot for healthcare.

It's fascinating, how different the LJ responses to this post and the Facebook responses to this post are. If you can see it, have a look at my note mirrored on FB. Wow.

(And yeah, none of the delays I've known of have been fatal. To be honest, I think those horror stories are very rare indeed.)

The people I love the most are the ones screaming the loudest for the government to keep its damn hands off Medicare. Let's let that sink in for a moment.

Seriously, if any of these people heard a fraction of the stories I have, working in health care advocacy for the past year and a half, I think they'd care a little more about getting everyone some gesture of being covered. Women who can't afford genetic testing for cancer predisposition genes or diagnostic exams, so they just wait around to die at 34 like their mothers? You can't know about that and not think what we have now is unspeakably broken.

I know; it's really inexplicable *sigh* Seriously, I can't get over the fact that most of the shrieking is over a perceived cultural difference, that something like even partially nationalized healthcare would be...un-American. Get overyourselves, people. Our country is suffering. Something has to give, and fast!

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Yeah; I think a combination system is the way forward, and, as I understand it, that's really what the reform is aiming for at this point. And as for the legitimacy of illnesses, honestly, I know of plenty of people with chronic problems that are recognized without any difficulty under nationalized or partly nationalized systems. It's the system's job to recongize something is wrong and provide the treatment on whatever terms.

I honestly don't know how Americans cope with the worry - even if they're confident about never being in a position to lose their own health insurance, there's that of parents, siblings, grown up kids, friends, pretty much everyone they know and care about.

The NHS has always done me well, both as a patient with a manageable chronic illness and, briefly, as an employee. It's flawed, but at least it's democratically accountable to all of us for those flaws.

Plus, surely nationalised healthcare equals better public health. For one thing, it makes cost-benefit sense for the state to invest in prevention stuff, as it saves money on treatment in the long term (in a private system, the cost-benefit to the companies weighs in favour of people getting sick, so they have to pay for treatment). Plus people will seek help earlier if they aren't worried about cost, meaning there aren't many people wandering about with, eg. untreated TB.

Plus, surely nationalised healthcare equals better public health.

This seems to be the one thing that people will either not get through their heads, or can't. I wish I could explain it, but...yeah. I'm at a loss. America: land of irony and fading common sense. I love my country, but I want to thwap it. Hard.

Also: Keep Our NHS Public.

The NHS is not as safe as some of the comments here suggest. Yes, it would be politically impossible to take away the free-at-point-of-need health service at this point, but plenty of healthcare companies would like to change that. And meanwhile, they're taking over behind the scenes.

Another link for me to look over when I'm not eating up time on my husband's co-worker's dongle 'net access. Thanks :)

People are just crazy, sometimes. I think it would be beneficial.

That does seem to be the broad sentiment.

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