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If Theresa Schiavo had lacked health coverage fifteen years ago, would we ever have heard of her plight? With a view to the right wing's anguished insistence on the tax-payer financed life support of one person against her will, I have translated an op-ed from the Norwegian Aftenposten. The author, Torgrim Eggen, is a novelist spending a lot of time in the USA, whose health care system he here explains to his countrymen. While the bare facts may be familiar to many, hopefully some will find his outsider's view refreshing.

Land of the healthy

By Torgrim Eggen
Aftenposten, 26.03.05
[From the Norwegian by Sirocco]

My last visit to the doctor in Norway cost me about 150 kroner, and I recall joking to my physician: "That's a bargain compared to what I spend on ruining my health." Image hosted by TinyPic.com
    A $1,235 bill is not as easily shrugged off. At yesterday's course it amounts to 7,570 kroner. This does not cover any stay at a hospital, ambulance ride, or medication - no, it is owed for a brief examination, a routine check really, including ultrasound and a series of required tests. (I was not the object of examination.) For this, the private American health care system charges what is to many a net monthly wage.
    It remains to be seen if the bill will be covered by a standard Norwegian travel insurance. Possibly it will, yet the thought occurs to me: What about the uninsured? How in the world would they manage this?

"Don't call for an ambulance"

My girlfriend tells a story from her job at a Manhattan book store. A female co-worker fell ill at work and fainted. As colleagues rushed to her aid, the first thing she said upon regaining consciousness was: "Please, do not call for an ambulance! I'll take a cab!" Then she fainted again, and meanwhile someone had called for an ambulance anyway. As she had no health insurance, she was stuck with a $500 ambulance bill on top of the doctor's bill. A cab would have cost $20.
    If you collapse on the street in an American city, the first question you will hear is not, "Are you OK?" or, "How are you doing?" Rather it will be, "Do you have a health insurance?" If you cannot answer affirmatively, you are unlikely to be brought to the nearest hospital. In case your condition hinders you from replying, you are well advised to carry documentation. I have been counseled always to carry an insurance policy in my pocket. That is easy to forget when you come from a welfare state.
    45 million Americans, or 15,6 percent of the population, lack any form of health insurance. The number dates back to 2003 and has presumably grown since then. This means that 45 million Americans cannot in principle afford to fall ill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are also the segment of American society with the poorest health.

Not a matter of pennies

A significant proportion of these are unemployed or have jobs where the employer does not pay for health insurance. Thus we are talking about the low-paid, people looking for work, and many of the self-employed. 60,4 percent of Americans get most of their health insurance covered at work; however, the remaining share of the bill has increased by over 50 percent in the last five years. For a policy covering the employee's family, he or she would in 2003 be charged an average of $2,414 (about 14,800 kroner). This does not include the 'user fee' demanded for treatment or hospitalization. The proportion of Americans with health benefits decreases every year, in part because fewer employers offer it, in part because employees cannot afford it.
    And what if your job offers nought? As there are online services for these things, I tried to calculate the cost of a private insurance for myself and a hypothetical family of four, ticking the box for 'smoker' just for fun. (Other health-related questions did not come up in the primitive service.) The price was $837,78 a month or roughly 61,000 kroner a year! It does not cover consultations with a physician, nor routine health checks, X-rays, or indeed any tests not conducted by a hospital. If we stay fairly healthy, the insurance is worthless. And evidently, it is not a matter of pennies.

The young and non-established at risk

Thus young and non-established are especially at risk. A family insurance expires at the children's 18th birthday. Most 18-year olds have other things on their minds than illness - and fortunately, most aren't ill. For serious illness without insurance may lead to ruin. Consequently, young people often eschew getting diagnosed before the disease has gone too far, causing thousands of deaths every year.
    The USA has a program called Medicaid that finances health services for the poorest. The problem is that due to the stringent requirements, most working people do not qualify. And if you are supported by Medicaid, you cannot freely choose your hospital or physician. Nor can you expect to get priority when you need important surgery.
    50 million Americans, among them many disabled, are supported by Medicaid, which has a $300 billion annual budget. At the moment the President is arguing with the Senate over the budget, as Medicaid is a money drain in a society with a tight economy and a galloping rise in medical expenses - precisely why Medicaid has grown by 50 percent during the last five years. It is a vicious circle.
    How healthy do you get by being unable to afford ill health? Not very, according to statistics. Although people in the USA spend much more on health than Europeans do, the public health is inferior. Where one sees a tempting skiing slope, the other sees a potentially ruinous broken leg.

Originally posted to Sirocco on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 02:21 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  it is a travesty (4.00)
    and a national disaster, economically, sociallly, and medically. there is no excuse for it. the next time we get a shot at power, we have got to push single-payer national health insurance through. why we aren't trying this in states we control boggles the mind, as it could be sold as a business lure ("move your business to california, and your workers are covered!") to boot.
    •  It's worse (4.00)
      Those who do not have insurance and pay for their own care are subsidizing those (more well to do) who do have health insurance.  Insurance companies have negotiated discounts.

      The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

      by TarheelDem on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 03:11:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's stranger than that (4.00)
        Yes, managed care companies (HMOs and PPOs) negotiate discounts with hospitals. It can be over 50% less than the rate you get walking without insurance. In effect, those without insurance are paying extra to keep up the profit margin of the hospital or doctor.

        However, people with insurance and taxpayers also subsidize those without it. They are the ones who go to the emergency room, get billed, and can't or won't pay. The expenses are then shifted to people who use the hospital and can pay, 90% of whom have insurance (but almost half of that insurance is Medicaid or Medicare).

        So, the people who get it worst are the working poor who can barely pay and do out of a sense of obligation.

        One lesson in all this: no one should play off the insurance companies against the hospitals, as though one were wearing the white hat and the other the black hat. What we have is a horribly inefficient health care system which has almost no internal price controls. What that Norwegian writer didn't make clear is that the 175 Kroner office visit almost certainly didn't use all the latest fancy, hi-tech equipment that the thousand dollar American visit did. They use an X-ray where we use an MRI at 100 times the cost. Does the MRI catch more problems than the X-ray? Yes, in some cases, no in others. Now, are we better off, or are the Norwegians?

        the spirit is restored by wounding

        by jd in nyc on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:15:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If (4.00)
      If the Dems had been bolder about addressing health care in 2004, they would already be in power.  When I read Kerry's and even Edwards' plans, I thought they were either copouts or completely divorced from reality outside the beltway.
      •  i agree (none)
        even dean's plan was pretty weak for a party out of power. we might as well aim high and see what kind of a response it gets. my feeling is that if you told people that their healthcare costs would go down and they couldn't be denied insurance, and that their kids were covered, and that they wouldn't have to provide insurance for their employees when they hired someone new, we'd have a winning issue on our hands. my wife and i are thinking about having kids in not too long, and even getting that covered, in this era of nonstop "for the children" political sloganeering, is a royal pain in the ass, assuming no complications (and then you're screwed). the foreign students we talk to are baffled at how retarded and inefficient a system we've got.
  •  Norway is a bad example (1.76)
    because they are rich beyond belief from North Sea oil. I believe in single payer health (unlike our friends on both sides of the aisle in Washington), but being lectured on ANYTHING by Norwegians is ridiculous.

    How about comparing our system to the one in England, where they have bad teeth due to lack of dentists?
    http://www.whitehaven-news.co.uk/news/viewarticle.asp?id=192905

    •  If you don't like (4.00)
      Sirocco's "lecturing you" then why did you read this diary and bother to comment on it?

      I (heart) the anti-Europeans on this site!

      </sarcasm>


      One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures. -- George W. Bush

      by Page van der Linden on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 03:21:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does that mean... (4.00)
      ...bad teeth aren't a problem in the United States?

      Presumably because something else will get you first.... </sarcasm>

      "Salvation is by way of the truth, not by way of the fatherland" -- Chaadaev

      by sagesource on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 03:35:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree (4.00)
      Although you may think Norway is the jewel of the crown of socialized medicine there are many other countries with very much similar services or better; Spain, France, Italy, etc.

      England (number 18) is actually the wrong choice for a comparison because after Margaret Thatcher the system was left strain, and is still recuperating. Also is a short of co-pay system if I'm not wrong (any brit around?).

      I really don't get is the single payer idea. In Spain you have socialized medicine and then if you want you can buy your private health policy. Actually they are quite cheap because they have to compete with the socialized system.

      From the WHO (World Health Organization) report of 2000
      Report

      1         France
      2         Italy
      3         San Marino
      4         Andorra
      5         Malta
      6         Singapore
      7         Spain
      8         Oman
      9         Austria
      10        Japan
      11        Norway
      12        Portugal
      13        Monaco
      14        Greece
      15        Iceland
      16        Luxembourg
      17        Netherlands
      18        United  Kingdom
      19        Ireland
      20        Switzerland
      21        Belgium
      22        Colombia
      23        Sweden
      24        Cyprus
      25        Germany
      26        Saudi Arabia
      27        United  Arab  Emirates
      28        Israel
      29        Morocco
      30        Canada
      31        Finland
      32        Australia
      33        Chile
      34        Denmark
      35        Dominica
      36        Costa Rica
      37        United  States  of  America
      38        Slovenia
      39        Cuba
      40        Brunei
      41        New Zealand
      42        Bahrain
      43        Croatia
      44        Qatar
      45        Kuwait
      46        Barbados
      47        Thailand
      48        Czech Republic
      49        Malaysia
      50        Poland

      •  That's exactly right (4.00)
        I really don't get is the single payer idea. In Spain you have socialized medicine and then if you want you can buy your private health policy. Actually they are quite cheap because they have to compete with the socialized system.

        It's the same in Australia, anyone can buy private health insurance. The national system acts as a brake on the costs of the private health insurance since if private plan prices become too high people drop it.

        One very important step they made was to forbid "gap insurance". You can not insure the difference between what the national system pays and what a health provider may charge. Very smart. If you buy private it covers the whole shebang and it's still very inexpensive compared to U.S. prices.

        •  I choose to go public health in Australia (4.00)
          I've never regretted that decision. We are all taxed an extra amount to cover public health and that seems the only civilised way to go as far as I'm concerned.

          I've had two children and once had 11 days hospitalised with asthma -- not a cent needed to be paid out of my own pocket to cover these costs on any of these occasions.

          I could pay extra and get private health insurance, everyone in Australia has that option, but I'm not a fan of private health insurance companies and I'm a great believer in public health.

          Of course, the system has its problems but I'd take it any day over the US system which leaves some people without treatment at all and means families who get hit with serious illness often go bankrupt. I can't think of anything more cruel.

          As for the snide comment upthread about Norway being rich from North Sea oil? wtf? The US is one of the richest countries in the world. The Norwegians just have their priorities straight. And, I think they're probably taxed a lot more than Americans.

      •  Spain is good (4.00)
        I had to get stitched up while I was studying abroad.  I had passed out <dehydration>, and took a cab to the hospital chin busted wide open with my 2 friends.  

        I got my stitches, xrays, and blood tests for 125 euro, at the time about $146.

        The only thing that I thought was strange is that they sewed me up without a sedative.  It was only 3 stitches so it wasn't that bad.  Overall a positive experience.  My friend had worked as a medical engineer in some gov't health program, and was pointing out the differences between how an American hospital would be layed out and how this Spanish one was.  Mainly it was just things like not having windows open to the outside.  The  hospital was really basic, no carpet (which is pretty unusual to begin with in Spain, just a plain old white coat of paint on the walls.  I never have understood the dressing up of the rooms that goes on in the US.  I have to wonder how much money keeping it simple saves.  

        I know that if I'd gone to a hospital in my home town it would have been a whole hell of a lot more than $146.  I was able to get my finger around the whole Spanish healthcare system, but I think that we could learn a lot from them.  The program where I was at had been devolved from the central gov't to the gov't of the autonomous community, I know that in Canada the system was orginally started at the provincial level.  I don't see why US states couldn't do the same.

        To start with, I think that you could make a real economic stimilus argument for extending Medicare coverage to the 55+ people.  So many people aren't retiring because they need the health coverage, extending coverage could move these people out of the job market, opening up millions of jobs to younger workers.  The money spent on extended Medicare would be the cost of creating jobs.

        •  Yes (4.00)
          I know that in Canada the system was orginally started at the provincial level.

          Yes, by a socialist Baptist minister (try wrapping your head around that one), Tommy Douglas, in Saskatchewan. He had to break a doctor's strike to do it, though.

          "Salvation is by way of the truth, not by way of the fatherland" -- Chaadaev

          by sagesource on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:28:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  seriously though (none)
            why isn't this being made an issue at the state level. Particularly those states that have the referendum process.  A referendum vote brings the issue out, and you can use that to fight for legislative action.  Like's been done with minimum wage increases in Florida and elswhere. Give the people what they want, and have the referendum there to back it up.  Why won't Republicans do what the people want?
        •  Cost of 3 stitches (none)
          3 stitches on the face cost about $850 if they are done in a hospital ED by a plastic surgeon, about $300 if done by a regular ED attending (provider).
        •  asdf (none)
          You were charged because you weren't a beneficiary of the system (although most foreign students in exchanges or grants are cover at least all the Erasmus for sure), and you could pay for it. If you had your social security card you would have walked out with no charge, and if you couldn't pay for it and stated so they would have let you go with out charge too.

          Actually some people in Spain are critiquing how easy is to get treatment, even if you are not part of the system, and pointing that people are flying from some countries to get the procedures done. Although some of that might be real I think they are very few punctual cases, and anyway we should be proud that our system works good enough that people from other countries fly to get treatment.

    •  It cost me (4.00)
      $110 to take my 3 year old for her first dental visit. It took 15 minutes to get her half-mouthful of teeth cleaned, & then she received a "little mermaid" toothbrush for that amount. My husband and I just don't go. No dental insurance, can't afford it (the insurance OR the dentist). He's from the UK. He was able to see a dentist there for regular maintenance and anything else he needed free of charge.

      We're surely not the only family in this position. The English may have the reputation for bad teeth now, but tomorrow it will be us.

      "Elsewhere, oil prices reached record highs, sending shares in Dick Cheney soaring on the New York Stock Exchange." --Borowitz Report

      by JRowan on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 03:54:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have dental insurance (4.00)
        but still haven't been to a dentist in 4 years... The last time I went because I had a toothache and the dentist found a cavity so deep that I nearly needed root canal. Sometimes I wish our teeth had tiny sensors like the ones they have on auto brakes to let us know something is wrong before any real damage is done. I have a feeling that by my next visit I'm probably going to have to have my rotors replaced!

        We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

        by The past is over on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:42:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  that's interesting (4.00)
      presenting the facts = "lecturing"?

      The fact that you discount ANYTHING Norwegians have to say says EVERYTHING about you.

      "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

      by catnip on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:32:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow! (none)
      I've never had so many troll ratings!

      All I was trying to say is that while the medical system in the United States is a mess, you can't really use Norway as an example of how to do it "right." Norway is the third largest exporter or oil in the world, and as a result, has an extremely high standard of living and is able to support a socialist economy that few other countries can.

      Other countries with well-established single payer health systems have big problems--problems with funding and problems with providing services. Canada and Britain and France all have problems with their systems. I put the reference to England in there because people jump on you here in DK-land if you don't provide references. Sorry if it offends you to find out that dentists are rare in Britain.

      Personally I think that the U.S. should move towards single payer, and I'm frustrated that neither major party agrees, but one also has to maintain some reality to the discussion. It is a tough problem to solve, and using Norway as an example isn't very helpful.

      •  Thatcher's Purge of the Dentists (none)
        It's true. Thatcher essentially eliminated dental care for most people in the country so that she could give a tax cut to the rich.

        There are still dentists in the UK, of course, but you have to be very lucky to get routine dental care on the NHS. (They will try to put yout teeh back together afetr an accident or emergency, of course: Not even Thatcher was that evil.) The rest charge just as much as in the US, but have a lot fewer customers as there isn't a system of employer-subsidised insurance.

        •  i lived in the UK for a while (none)
          I don't think one can blame Thatcher entirely. Labour has had many years to fix this up.

          The British siimply elect to spend less (fraction of GDP) on health care, and the system is somewhat more decrepit and overburdened than the US system. I found it OK, but I had only a couple of visits.  The UK has substantially higher cancer mortality than other wealthy countries, for example.  And the UK rich have a parallel private system. The US system is better for the majority who have insurance, but the UK system would undoubtably be better for the uninsured.

          NHS has a hard time finding dentists because they pay very little. This is after years of Labour government. In a sense, the people have spoken, and they prefer bad teeth to higher taxes. There are endless promises of reform, and public/private partnerships, and local control, but the truth is that they just don't spend enough.

      •  Inappropriate Troll Ratings (4.00)
        are my Peeve of the Week.

        I disagreed with your post, but felt morally compelled to rate it a 4 to help keep it visible and to counteract the would-be censors who troll rated you.

        PEOPLE, PLEASE CONSIDER THAT WHEN YOU TROLL RATE SOMEONE, UNLESS THAT PERSON IS ACTUALLY A TROLL, YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO SILENCE DISSENT.

        I don't CARE if it's an irretrievably stupid comment in your estimation, if it OFFENDS your sensibilities or if you just think the commenter is an overall dick and you relish the chance to troll rate him/her.

        If the person isn't a bona fide troll, the only justification for troll rating a comment is if it is made SOLELY to sow argumentation and discord.

        PLEASE, CONSIDER WHAT YOU'RE DOING WHEN YOU TROLL RATE SOMEONE WHO ISN'T A TROLL!

        Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

        by Maryscott OConnor on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:14:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Canada's problems? (none)
        You very quickly dismiss three national health programs by saying they all have problems. I can't speak from personal experience about France and the U.K., but as for Canada...

        When I need to see the doctor, I make an appointment, arrive a bit before time, sit for a few minutes, see the doctor, shake hands, sign at the front desk, and walk out.

        The emergency rooms I've been in have sometimes been crowded, but everyone has received the needed treatment, and those who need it most get it first.

        I've read about long waits for elective surgeries.

        So, yeah, Canada's system "has problems", but so does any other system of any sort--transport, electoral, water purification, you name it.

        In my experience the health system in Canada works very well, and beats the shit out of the alternatives that Americans face.

        Of course, Canada is a huge, super-wealthy country where the ponds freeze in the winter, so it's hardly a good comparison with the richest nation on earth.

        Eh?

        Cela est bien dit, répondit Candide, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.

        by d52boy on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 12:21:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed -- I'm impressed by Canada (4.00)
          And when I had to go to the emergency room in the U.K. on Boxing Day (and then again on New Year's Eve) I got seen within 20 minutes.

          Since then I've been having all kinds of tests, scans, etc., and haven't found NHS to be anything but efficient, kind, helpful, well-organised and set up, and free. Let me repeat that -- free. In the last three months I've been x-rayed, brain-scanned, had lots of blood work, and had my eyes very thoroughly checked out -- and the only thing it's cost me is a taxi fare on Boxing Day. And if I'd known to get a receipt, it wouldn't even have cost me that, because I would have been able to get the fare reimbursed.

          As for comparisons with the U.S. there is no comparison. I had insurance while I lived in the U.S., but except when I was working for the university, it was the crap health insurance that foreign students are forced to buy as a way of clawing a few extra dollars out of them. In terms of providing actual health coverage, it was utterly pathetic and worthless. If I had had the health scare there that I'm currently going through over here, I would have had no choice but to abandon my studies and leave the country, because I wouldn't have been able to afford the diagnostic tests.

          But the Queen lives in England and everyone knows she's super-rich, so it's hardly fair to compare the U.K with the country that consumes 25% of the world's resources despite only having 6% of the world's population.

          I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth and I am a citizen of the world -- Eugene Debs

          by dove on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 04:15:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Problems (none)
        All countries with socialized medicine have problems. They main ones are:

        • You can't choose doctors
        • Lengthy wait lists
        • Lack of really expensive machinery or latest treatments
        • The cost of the whole thing

        About the choosing doctors I can tell you are that things are changing, in many places you can choose with limitations. I never though that was an important reason to oppose to it, and eventually here the insurance companies also limit some how what doctors you can see. If you have a private policy (ASISA and SANITAS, around 50 euros month each for basic coverage, are the bigger providers in Spain), you can choose in between the doctors who worked with those companies.

        The waiting lists thing is very true, but consider that the length comes from people being able to go to the doctor for free and being able to afford procedures, all the citizens. The things you wait for generally are minor not vital interventions, or for follow-up visits. The wait can go in the better case just some weeks to 4 or 5 months, in some rare occasions even more.
        A lot of people bypass the system having just the intervention done through private practice; because of the competition of the socialized medicine, those interventions have such a low price you wouldn't believe it.

        In regards of the lack of really expensive machinery or latest treatments, I can assure you that are mostly exaggerations of the people who are against the socialized medicine,  the more vocal of them the companies who produce that kind of equipment. We can talk a lot about this; of how in the US doctors afraid of litigation overuse certain scans and other analyses, of how you don't need the latest technology in every single hospital, on how private hospitals like to keep up with the Jonses, etc.
        I may recognize that in a perfect world I would love to have the latest technology used in every single patient in every single clinic, but for day to day operations I find that
        is an overstatement to say that most of socialized medicines are in a rudimentary state like some republicans love to say.

        The last thing is the cost of the whole thing and how many taxes do Europeans pay. The tax thing is a hoax; if you add the cost through your live or medical attention you'll see that in Europe middle classes, and definitely the lower one, pay the same or I'll dare to say less. The rich and very rich certainly pay way less taxes here.
        Nationally the cost takes a good part of the GDP but is not like here in the US the politicians are doing great with our tax money and deficits anyway, and in Europe at least you get your health cover in exchange.

        As some one who came from a socialized medicine to the American system I'm appalled of how things work here. The republicans, and actually a good bunch of democrat legislators, believe that health care should be a meritocratic system based on your income and that oligarchic idea was abandoned in Europe, even by the extreme right, long time ago.  

      •  I responded to your previous post elsewhere (4.00)
        - but perhaps you didn't see it. Anyhow, you do not seem to know whereof you speak.

        First of all, the article primarily discusses the US health care system; only in passing does it make comparisons to Norway. Thus your summary dismissal based upon the author's and translator's nationality is irrelevant twice over. What's more, you get your facts wrong.

        Per capita GDP in the US and Norway are about the same; in fact, as late as 2003 you led us by $100. Furthermore, much of the oil revenue is saved and invested (google the 'Norwegian Government Savings Fund') for future generations. Thus current public expenditure is to a large degree financed through taxation of income and consumption - the effective average tax rate is probably around 70-75 percent. Third, the Norwegian public health care system is unexceptional compared to European nations with no petroleum revenue.

        But I guess I am 'lecturing' you. So sorry for pointing out the facts.

        Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

        by Sirocco on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 09:23:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  15% (4.00)
    is one in 6 people.
  •  Important issue! Thanks for the diary!! (4.00)
  •  I would like to see universal nationally funded (4.00)
    health insurance for all.  It won't happen right now but I also really like Kerry's "Kids Come First" act that is to provide healthcare insurance for uninsured children.
    •  Kids Come First? (none)
      Yeah that's really sweet, but my wife and I are now in our forties and are more likely to become ill than our children.  When we do, our children will be just as bankrupt as if they were covered.

      Kerry's plan is a moronic half-measure, totally counter-productive because it lures people into a false sense of security that this issue has been addressed.  Either a family is protected from a health disaster or it's not.

      America is insane.

  •  On Dolans Unscripted (4.00)
    They had a bioethicist to discuss the Schiavo case, and he was brilliant.

    He kept saying how 40 million Americans couldn't get the care she had, how hypocritical it was for Congress to "slash and hack" at medical aid one week then force this woman to have a tube the next.  

    The whole interview was quite interesting from that perspective.

    •  More than 40 million (4.00)
      Its not just the uninsured that couldnt get the long term care that Sciavo got (all though some of us might consider that a blessing).  Insurance through work and medicare don't cover long term care. And there arenot only draconian income restrictions for medicaid, you would not get anything resembling top line care either.  Terri got what she got because of Michael suing for medical malpractice, the lawsuit financed much more advanced care for a longer time than would be available to someone sick from a disease or traumatic injury.

      Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

      by barbwires on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:02:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Medicaid is a bit strange... (4.00)
        My mom was on Medicaid before she died, and it was really good in some areas & completely useless in others.  Except for anesthesiologists when she had surgical procedures (locally, none accepted it), hospitals & doctors were covered.  She was only covered for four prescriptions per month, but they paid for some incredibly expensive stuff, like Procrit (usually not covered on private plans, at least at the time).  Since then, of course, a lot of people have been dropped, although since she only enrolled when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer she would probably still have been eligible.

        Overall, we were reasonably pleased with the coverage-- like the Social Security disability claim, it was a huge pain to get into the system, but it worked pretty well after that was done.  There was some juggling involved, but it didn't seem any worse than all of the rigamarole of private insurance.

        Whenever a Voice of Moderation addresses liberals, its sole purpose is to stomp out any real sign of life. -James Wolcott

        by latts on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:40:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  xxxx (4.00)
    My brother-in-law, S., died at 5:30 this morning.

    Last weekend, he cut his leg while doing yard work.  It didn't seem too bad, so he cleaned it and carried on.  It didn't really bother him in the following days, except for the fact that it just wouldn't heal and go away. He didn't go to his doctor because he didn't have one.  He was self-employed with a struggling small business, and health insurance was out of the question.  His health insurance consisted of getting by without routine care, and assuming that the emergency room would take care of him should he ever really need it.

    On Thursday, he had severe shortness of breath, and his son took him to the emergency room. He was admitted to hospital, where the doctors found he had lost 90% of his lung capacity and was showing signs of heart failure.  The staff at the hospital was wonderful and diligent. They stabilized his condition, and by Friday night he was still clearly very ill, but able to joke with his visitors about whether they were going to take out his feeding tube(!).

    This morning at about 5:00am, S.'s heart stopped beating, and attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.  There will be an autopsy tomorrow, but unofficially it seems he died of multi-organ failure arising from "[word missing] toxic [something] syndrome".  Sorry I didn't catch the proper name - it is a rare condition that arises when an untreated flesh wound becomes infected.  

    S. was 43, with two teenage children, and our whole family is stunned.  It is just unimaginable that this is real.  

    I don't want to make a big political rant out of this, especially as we don't have an official cause of death, and there might be lots of contributing factors.  And yes, one of them would be S.'s decision not to bite the bullet and pay out of pocket for non-emergency medical treatment when he was first injured.  So I don't want to point the finger at anybody.

    But when you have no health insurance, and you are already in debt, it is the most natural thing in the world to try to struggle through a condition that doesn't seem to be life and death.  

    This is the richest country in the world.  If we can blow $111bn on a stupid missile defense system that isn't even going to work, and $200bn on turning Iraq to shit over nonexistent WMDs, we should be able to come up with a way to provide ordinary people with access to affordable, routine medical care, rather than having them rely on the emergency room, where they might only show up when it is too late to help them.

    •  Peace be with you (none)
      and your entire family, Diane.
    •  My heartfelt condolences, Diane. (none)

      Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

      by Sirocco on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:06:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am so sorry to hear of this, Diane-- (none)
      my thoughts are with you and your family during such a sad, sad time.

      ...the White House will be adorned by a downright moron...H.L. Mencken

      by bibble on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:18:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so sorry for you and your family (none)

      No more stolen elections, ever

      by digdugboy on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:23:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A 4 seems pitiful... (none)
      with what you're going through. Condolences to you and your family.

      Part of the next liberal generation

      by Diego on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:24:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so sorry for your loss (none)
      And please feel free to rant as much as you need to. (hugs)

      "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

      by catnip on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:29:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diane (none)
      So very sorry to hear about this, something that should never have happened. The very same thing happened many years ago to a dear friend, who cut his leg with a saw and in a few days his body was overwhelmed by a terrible infection. In his 20s with a baby on the way.

      Sending hugs to you and your family.

      Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

      by bumblebums on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:14:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry for your loss... (none)
      It is a tragic event and my heart goes out to your family.

      It sounds like septic shock but the true problem is not feeling you can have a medical problem dealt with because of lack of resources or the fear of not being able to work.

      Thank You for sharing this it points to the human cost of our system of care.

      Lots of people see the world in Black and White. It is mostly just shades of grey.

      by Davinci on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:15:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you so much (none)
      Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and comments.

      And thanks to Sirocco for doing the translation and posting it here. It seemed like a very appropriate diary for today.

    •  Sincere condolences Diane (none)
      and prayers to you, your family and his wife and children.

      Your brother should have been able to go to a doctor without having to think twice.  What happened is such a tragedy, it makes me ashamed that I, personally, am unable to help.  All Americans should feel this way.

      In a civilized society, I believe healthcare is a basic human right.

      •  Absolutely. (none)
        Your brother is blameless. He should have been able to get examined without sinking into debt.  He could not, so he was trying to be responsible and not saddle his family with another bill.

        So rant and don't hold back.  

        "Sir, we've already lost the dock." A Zion Lieutenant to Commander Lock, The Matrix Revolutions

        by AuntiePeachy on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:45:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm very sorry for your loss, Diane (none)
      My thoughts are with your family.

      Always be yourself. Unless you suck. ~ Joss Whedon

      by lunacat on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:11:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so sorry to read this (none)
      My heart goes out to you and those children and the rest of your family.
      It is truly a sad comment on the American system of health "care".

      Two weeks ago I was at a relative's funeral.  She died of something similar to what struck down Mrs Schiavo.  Since I've come back and this has blown up on the news, I've been grateful that she died (completely) before anyone had to deal with any issues of long term care.

      "The world is a church and life is its service." Norman Andrews

      by Bionic on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:29:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diane, I am so terribly sorry (4.00)
      about his death.  It is so wrong that in this country a man cannot simply get medical attention at the start.  Instead, because of the cost, we "diagnose" ourselves, and hope we are right.  

      I would love to see a single payer health insurance plan in this country. But remember what happened when the Clintons simply tried to formulate a health plan?  Remember the ads?  The insurance companies would fight this tooth and nail because they would be put out of business by this legislation.  The doctors would probably fight it too, along with the hospitals, medical supply companies, you name it, they would all come out of the woodwork.  The fight would be ENORMOUS.

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:54:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am so sorry. (none)
      I hate to be crass, but I wish you would send this comment, as is, to a bunch of publications.

      This is exactly the kind of story that sends people into shock when they realize how extraordinarily simple it is to suffer enormously when one is uninsured or underinsured.

      Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

      by Maryscott OConnor on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:17:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  His decision to skip treatment is not uncommon (none)
      Even with those of us who pay for our own insurance. I've been self employed for 20+ years and have always paid for my own health insurance. A strange thing happens when you make any kind of claim... it immediately goes up. If for some reason cash is a little shy and you slip a month and have filed a claim ( any claim) in the prior year or 3 your insurance is summarily canceled. No appeal. Now you are uninsured (as in canceled- which in the health insurance biz is like bankruptcy) so it's pretty hard to get any insurance with a pre-existing condition. But Wait: Just like in the loan shark biz, there are short term emergency major medical health plans that are good for up to 6 months that you pay out the butt for with Huge deductibles and massive restrictions. Then you wait 6 months with your policy from Scumbag Insurance Inc and apply for Health insurance from a rated company with a high deductible...around $2,000 to start will get you in the door. Here's a word of advice for anyone who contemplates living with out health insurance. Don't do it. Even if you have to get a high deductible ( $5000-$10000) etc, your hospital bills will go to the insurance company first and you will only have to reimburse at the rate the insurance company pays which as mention about is 50% or even 30% of what the non-insured are charged. There may be people who think ....well screw that...I'll skip the hospital bill. Not so fast. The hospitals are now suing the uninsured. Since the uninsured usually work at some crappy job and can't afford a lawyer they can't show up in court. So they are arrested and jailed. Yes...there is a debtors prison and with this new bankruptcy bill it's gonna get worse. So for you younger folks who put cable or eating as a higher priority than a high deductible health insurance plan. My advise is to cancel one of them...and get what insurance you can at the cheapest price you can. Just so we're clear. Here's a real story of a friend who had all his assets in his house. He had no health insurance and found himself with a little stomach ache. Like most of us, he blew it off. Turns on his appendix was going bad. It blew and it took close to a quarter of a million in hospital bills to fix him. He was semi-smart though. He quickly sold the house. Bought a R.V and is currently incummicado and on the run from the debtor police. But I'm guessing running might get old after a few years and he'll want to see his family & friends again What then? What if he gets sick again? So...what happened here. Happens all the time...Many people dying from the fear of HBD (Hospital Bill Disease)- 1000s everyday. I'm sorry for your loss, but hopefully it'll wake a few people up a save a few lives.
      •  Shit-The formatted version-sorry (4.00)
        Even with those of us who pay for our own insurance. I've been self employed for 20+ years and have always paid for my own health insurance. A strange thing happens when you make any kind of claim... it immediately goes up. If for some reason cash is a little shy and you slip a month and have filed a claim ( any claim) in the prior year or 3 your insurance is summarily canceled. No appeal.

        Now you are uninsured (as in canceled- which in the health insurance biz is like bankruptcy) so it's pretty hard to get any insurance with a pre-existing condition. But Wait: Just like in the loan shark biz, there are short term emergency major medical health plans that are good for up to 6 months that you pay out the butt for with Huge deductibles and massive restrictions. Then you wait 6 months with your policy from Scumbag Insurance Inc and apply for Health insurance from a rated company with a high deductible...around $2,000 to start will get you in the door.

        Here's a word of advice for anyone who contemplates living with out health insurance. Don't do it. Even if you have to get a high deductible ( $5000-$10000) etc, your hospital bills will go to the insurance company first and you will only have to reimburse at the rate the insurance company pays which as mention about is 50% or even 30% of what the non-insured are charged.

        There may be people who think ....well screw that...I'll skip the hospital bill. Not so fast. The hospitals are now suing the uninsured. Since the uninsured usually work at some crappy job and can't afford a lawyer they can't show up in court. So they are arrested and jailed. Yes...there is a debtors prison and with this new bankruptcy bill it's gonna get worse.

        So for you younger folks who put cable or eating as a higher priority than a high deductible health insurance plan. My advise is to cancel one of them...and get what insurance you can at the cheapest price you can.

        Here's a real story of a friend who had all his assets in his house. He had no health insurance and found himself with a little stomach ache. Like most of us, he blew it off. Turns on his appendix was going bad. It blew and it took close to a quarter of a million in hospital bills to fix him.

        He was semi-smart though. He quickly sold the house. Bought a R.V and is currently incummicado and on the run from the debtor police. But I'm guessing running might get old after a few years and he'll want to see his family & friends again What then? What if he gets sick again? So...what happened here. Happens all the time...Many people dying from the fear of HBD (Hospital Bill Disease)- 1000s everyday.

        I'm sorry for your loss, but hopefully it'll wake a few people up a save a few lives.

  •  Perhaps I should add (4.00)
    - that Steen's original title is (deliberately) ambigious: 'De friskes land' could also mean 'a land for the healthy.'

    As to the commenter who complaints about being 'lectured' by Norwegians because of our oil revenue: much of that is actually saved for future generations. The welfare state is in no small part financed through taxation. Besides, the other Nordic countries have comparable public health services without the benefit of oil revenue.

    My mother and grandmother have both survived breast cancer lately. Both were diagnosed in free mammography checks offered to all women, and upon being diagnosed with cancer, treated within days at an excellent hospital, free of charge. Call it 'socialized medicine' if you like, but it's not the worst arrangement I have heard of.

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

    by Sirocco on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:01:32 PM PST

    •  I said Steen? (none)
      Ack, a mental short-circuit. I meant Eggen, obviously.

      Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

      by Sirocco on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:24:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Physicians? (none)
      Just out of curiosity, how do the salaries of physicians in Norway compare to salaries of others? In this country it's a ticket to wealth for many, and the number of doctors is controlled by the medical schools. Training is relatively expensive and long (4 years undergrad, 4 years med school, residency 1-3+ years).

      Thanks for translating and posting this!

      •  Physicians make a good living (none)
        - but few of them would qualify as rich. I suppose the better paid among them would make $100-200 000.

        Training is 6 years minimum, but there are generous public scholarships afforded all students as well as state-sponsored loans on decent terms. 2 years paid residency, if memory serves me.

        Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

        by Sirocco on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:07:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Important to also note (4.00)
          that the loans and stipends are to pay lodging, board and living expenses (also text books) - there is no tuition to pay as it is provided for free by the state (apart from a nominal reg fee every semester).
          •  Free medical training ??!! (none)
            Here residents get stipends, many of them paid by Medicare, but everything else costs (medical school tuition, books, etc.). Sounds like a country that cares about the health of its people!

            Thanks for the information. What a contrast!

            •  I'm not kidding (4.00)
              My youngest sister is an oncologist.  No tuition.
              Another is a dentist, same story.  (I have an MBA, paid $20 registration fees per semester - this was about 25 yrs ago).
        •  There's part of our problem (none)
          Thanks. That's comparable a lower paid MD here -- as of about 10 years ago when I last knew such tings. I'm sure doctors salaries are up by now.
  •  So Let's All Quit Paying Our (4.00)
    Health Insurance

    We will go on strike. After all we are the customer.

    And it seems as though having insurance is a sure way to go broke, either by paying the premiums or by paying the premiums plus the cost the insurance doesn't cover.

    We can all work at Wal-Mart and sign up for Medi-Caid.

    People vote for sunshine, not for gloom and doom!

    by missliberties on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:10:25 PM PST

  •  confusion (none)
    Ok. I entirely agree that the US system is flawed, but I haven't ever found the answer to "what do you propose" to be quite simple. I'm in university in Montreal right now and have spent some time exploring their health care system - and i'm not quite sure if its the solution. If you go to the emergency room of a hospital, 6 hours later you're likely to still not have seen a doctor. Furthermore, the care is free but theres a lot of loopholes. The ambulance to the hospital isnt free and the medicine isn't free. Now, I know the medicine is much cheaper than in the states, but the tax rates are also much higher - so its not a clear cut issue. Anecdotally, I know people who have funds and choose to go perform operatioins in the states because they'd rather not wait a year/or two in canada. Along these lines, Quebec recently had to send some very ill patients into the US for treatment because there weren't enough facilities in Canada.

    Please don't interpret this as an endorsement of the US health care system. I'm just wondering if anyone can clearly explain how we can avoid these problems with a larger population and geographic area.

    •  Year or two? (4.00)
      I'm having a hernia operation (not at all life threatening) after five months. Since I'm self-employed, if I were in the United States I'd probably have to wait until I was wearing my guts for garters.

      Delays in Canada are a result of the level of funding. Thus, if Canadian taxpayers want a faster system, all they have to do is lean on the politicians to feed more money into the system. If that's not democratic, I don't know what is.

      If you want to see a doctor, why don't you just go to a clinic? You rarely have to wait more than an hour in one of those. Emergency rooms are for midnights and holiday Sundays. At least that's the way it is in BC; don't know about Quebec.

      And what gave you the idea Canadian tax rates were much higher than American ones? You have to take all levels of taxation into account -- property taxes here in Vancouver are far lower than they are in many American metropolises, for instance.

      "Salvation is by way of the truth, not by way of the fatherland" -- Chaadaev

      by sagesource on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:41:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Employer contribution (4.00)
        In response to something a while back I started looking into OECD figure for taxation.  I was suprised to see that in many countries while the overall rate of taxation was much highier, this included the employer social security contribution.  And while the employee and employer contribution in the US were equal in the Nordic countries the employer rate was 32% of income, while the employee paid only 8% or so.  For that matter, according to the OECD figure I'm look at here, excluiding employer contriubtion tax rates are actually lower in Canada.  See the difference between the "All In" and "Total Tax Wedge".  As for the theory that all employer contribution is income that otherwise would have increased the income of the worker, I'm more than a little dubious.
      •  interesting (none)
        hmm.  interesting.. i'm going to have to crunch some numbers to try and figure out tax rates. .thanks
    •  I have extensive experience with both (4.00)
      the Canadian and American health care systems, plus my husband is a physician in the U.S. (and an American--he is not a Canadian who left Canada to make more money in the U.S.).
      I have many Canadian relatives, most are middle class, some are genuinely wealthy, and all use the Ontario provincial health care system without complaint. The baby boomers are inquisitive and knowledgeable and tend to engage with the system in the city or the nearby suburbs where it seems to work very well for them. It is less than stellar in the in outside in more rural areas where development is just starting to happen (this is the kind of area where my elderly parents live and it is not working out that well because in their county the services are not as well developed).
      There are shortages of doctors (but that could be alleviated almost immediately by immigration). The government just announced an big increase in the number of spots for GPs in medical schools. Unfortunately, there is a brain drain to the U.S. When the U.S. finally gets a national health care system, then Canada will not have so many problems keeping doctors. Finally, the government has rationed care by not having enough equipment such as MRIs. This was a deliberate decision and a bad one. People are very angry about it and they have started to deal with it. (Note that in the United States there is already plenty of equipment so if we were to change to a single-payer plan, this wouldn't pose the same kind of problem.)

      However, the United States is no panacea for a doctor. I do not mean to imply that it is not a good living, but in my husband's case he is on the staff of a well-known hospital and he is in one of the lowest-paying specialties, psychiatry. Please hear me--the salary is not the issue. The conditions of work and the priorities of the health care system ARE the issue. Pediatrics and psychiatry are very labor-intensive and are therefore not profit centers for hospitals so they don't see them as valuable. (In fact my husband's hospital just got rid of their pediatrics department. They prefer to do glamor medicine like transplants.)
      The most wasteful part of the whole system is the mixtures of health insurance that people have. Health insurers are DEDICATED to finding ways to DENY YOU COVERAGE. My husband often has to go on the phone for hours to patch together some kind of continuity of service for someone who is very sick. He gets a lot of automated answering systems and a lot of bureaucratic guff. He has to fill out extensive forms from health insurers and the government repeatedly on patients. (Do you think this is a good use of his time?) Plus they are asking him to see patients in ten minutes and make decisions about complex cases very quickly and NEVER make a mistake.
       

      •  My son just got a bill today (4.00)
        forwarded to my address, For an ER visit last month in Berkeley. It was for a mental health issue, no tests or Xray, just trying to manage a serious panic/anxiety attack. He was there 5 hours, saw a doctor for ten minutes. The bill was $780 for the ER and $220. for the doctor.When he graduated from college last year, he was no longer eligible for our HMO plan, so this hospital bill will not be covered by insurance.He moved back here to Boston shortly after that ER visit. He now has two part time jobs (so no health insurance) and is trying to get his life back together. He has hardly any money for food, so I am not even going to show him this bill right now.I dont want him to feel he can't go to a hospital if he has a future emergency.
           I plan on calling The Berkeley Medical Center and see if I can negotiate a lower amount and then pay it off over time. I would hope they go for it since the alternative is they send this to Collection to try to collect from a young man with no steady income and a somewhat fragile emotional psyche right now. So they would get nothing. I feel they should be paid and I will take care of it somehow...but,I do hope they will work with me on it.
           He called me and asked if I could find him someone to talk to , since he has been feeling 'bad' lately. For him to ask me for help tells me he is feeling more than just "bad".  He doesn't qualify for any assistance and there is quite a waiting list for free mental health care and I think he needs to get started seeing someone soon. I told him I would take care of it.( I haven't got a clue how, but this is my kid and he needs help!) He told me again how thankful he is to have me  and of course, I got all choked up. If my love could cure him, he would be all better because I have an endless supply of that....just very limited funds. I'm neither poor nor rich, but after paying my own family health insurance  plan at $1350. per month ( the one that used to include him), it seems wrong that he can't get what he needs. He has lots of friends his age...none have health insurance.
           An employer based health insurance system is wrong. His two employers told him they keep everyone under 25 hours so they don't have to pay health insurance. Can't say that I blame them....as small business owners, we are in the same situation. Sigh...sorry for the rant...and all the details....I'm just worried about my kid.
        •  I am sorry you and your son are (4.00)
          having such a hard time getting reasonable health care for him and that it is costing so much. I have heard many stories like this (and the coverage for mental health is not even good when you have insurance). There are many studies at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Dept. of Psychiatry and they are always advertising. If your son could go there he might be able to get into one and get some care for awhile. It must be very hard to have him so far away when he is going through this.
          •  Thank You (none)
            for your thoughts. Luckily now he is close in Boston...I am also in Massachusetts. When he was in California and going through the emergency, that was very difficult, not being near. I wanted to fly out there immediately but just couldnt afford to. I'm glad he wanted to come closer to home. We have had some good talks and he has improved greatly. I'll look into the Mass General thing....thanks. One way or another I will make sure he  gets what he needs. I feel bad for those who don't have a support system.
  •  the best attribute of socialized medicine (4.00)
    is the fact that it forces the state to rely heavily on PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE. That is the key to keeping healthcare costs down. Catch the flu or a disease early lowers the cost of the cure. Visit any emergency room in any major city on any given night and you will see dozens of people without health insurance seeking treatment for something that could have been taken care of weeks earlier with one doctor visit and a couple of pills for 1/100th of the cost.

    I just don't get the people who say socialized medicine wouldn't work in the U.S. What the fuck do they think we have now? Is anyone denied healthcare when the go to the emergency room? Who ends up paying for it? Why the fuck can't the Democrats be as stubborn and pigheaded about this issue as the fucking Republicans are on the tax cuts?

    We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

    by The past is over on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:32:36 PM PST

    •  This was (none)
      the sales pitch in the 80's when HMO's were being pushed.  Except what seems to have happened is the saving when into the HMO's pockets and costs keep rising faster than inflation.

      "You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment." Frances Urquhart (House of Cards)

      by Yankee in exile on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 05:50:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Funny how that always happens huh? (4.00)
        That's why nothing ever works when it's privatized. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Healthcare should not be a for profit business!

        We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

        by The past is over on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:05:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks to Iberian... (4.00)
    for posting those WHO rankings.  The "best care in the world" folk go into immediate denial when I mention where the US really ranks in terms of health care.  There are questions about the ranking criteria, where it was published and on and on in any effort to avoid admitting the truth.  

    What is more telling is the fact that the United States spends more on health care per capita than any other country for a clearly inferior product.  Care to guess where we rank in infant mortality?  How smart is that?

    Please visit my webby, www.stumpysfindings.com. A friend said, "I feel like I've entered a slick modern museum of cool stuff."

    by stumpy on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:25:56 PM PST

  •  DON'T JUST GET MAD (4.00)
    Organize!

    In keeping with my tradition of positive proposals, here is a set of three (count 'em) links of groups advocating for Universal Health Insurance in the USA.

    Since Terry Schiavo was unplugged from her tube, according to estimates by the Institute of Medicine (of the National Academies of Science), about 400 Americans have needlessly died.

    Not too many people read my diary about this. But follow that link and join a group and get involved!!!

    --- http://www.pnhp.org Physicians for a National Health Program

    by tiggers thotful spot on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:35:26 PM PST

  •  Join an advocacy group! (none)
    Physicians for a National Health Program

    The Campaign for a National Health Program NOW

    Just Health Care

    Or add your favorite.

    More stats: for infant mortality... the USA ranks between Cuba and Croatia.

    --- http://www.pnhp.org Physicians for a National Health Program

    by tiggers thotful spot on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:40:34 PM PST

  •  Amen! (4.00)
    The US has the worlds most expensive per capita health care and it is not that good.  Not only is this a terrible burden for all citizens, it is crippling our ability to compete in a global economy since much of this burden is also paided by US companies.
  •  Maximize health, not profits. (4.00)
    I believe one of the reasons for the skyrocketing healthcare costs is application of medicine to generate maximum revenue and not to treat the patients with as little waste as possible.

    Just think how common it is for people to be on a daily diet of several drugs?  Even people under 20 are often prescribed hardcore brain meds just because they can't sit still for seven hours a day in school.  As someone pointed out above, there is no incentive in a private health care system to improve overall public health.  In fact, it's undesirable because it would mean less business.

  •  Isn't it funny (4.00)
    how damned simple it all really is when you have the crystal clear perspective that being on the outside looking in provides?

    Our medical system is disgusting. If you ever want to see why, just watch who screams "Hillarycare!" when Kerry's universal health care bill comes up in the Senate. The screaming fatcat pigs who run the system are the whole problem. They live in perpetual panic over the idea that their income might drop by 100 bucks a year if we committed the sin of making sure that every child in this country had proper health care.

    Frist will be the first screamer, just you watch.

    Pigs.

  •  Hopefully, along the same lines (none)
    comes another story. In 2004 I was hospitalized for surgery to deal with an object growing in my head which, to say the least, didn't belong there. We have private health insurance, which did pay a substantial amount of the bill, but refused to pay for an EMERGENCY (shouting) helicopter evac as our little local hospital is incapable of handling anything to do with the brain.

    Due to, I don't know...incompetance, ignorance, just plain stupidity...they failed to maintain the sterile field while opening up and playing with my brain. As a consequence, I contracted bacterial meningititus, had to be evaced by chopper back to the same hospital and ended up almost dying in the icu there.

    Now, almost a year later, we are still fighting with the insurance company and the hospital over the bills. My insurance claims to cover emergency situations 100% but still refuse to pay the helicopter and some of the other listed procedures.

    And if you think ambulace rides are expensive, the helicopter went 176 air miles at a cost of just over 20k each. The hospital did agree, in return for us not suing the shite out of them to write off all of the expenses related to the problem caused by their piss-poor sterile issues, but we still get bills in excess of 500k from them for the first. This after the insurance paid a whopping 136k they felt was their part of it.

    Something really needs to be done.

    "If you want to kick the tiger in his ass, you'd better have a plan for dealing with his teeth"....Tom Clancy

    by DCSullivan on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 01:21:15 PM PDT

    •  Incredible (none)
      Your story leaves me almost at a loss for words. And this is what may happen with a private health insurance?

      How would this pan out for someone uninsured? Would s/he just be left to die? Or treated and rendered a destitute debt slave for life?

      Here you wouldn't be charged a dime, neither for the treatment nor the evacuation, insurance or no, even if everything went as planned. In fact, the gov't would refund your wage loss during your sick leave.

      I hope everything turn out OK in the end, both medically and financially.

      Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

      by Sirocco on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 06:54:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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