My youngest bullied me into a haircut and as it was a warm day, I stripped down and perched on a high stool in the sun, telling the world I still had enough hair for it to matter. She had a look over my back and poked a spot she didn’t like. “Get this looked at, Dad.” Now you don’t mess with Jessica, she’s a cop, so I did and a biopsy later, I am booked in to have it removed.
Don’t worry, it is a basal cell carcinoma so it is not dangerous to health or pocket. The cost of consultation, pathology and operation are all bulk billed. To my friends across the Pacific, that means my wallet stays in my pocket. The doctor is paid from the public purse, (a little less than the standard fee) for all patients seen that day according to a formula, so there are no charity cases and paper work is minimised.
Negative publicity following Obama’s proposal for a universal national medical scheme got me thinking about a discussion I heard recently that was prompted by a question asked on radio about eye health in New York, USA.
The question, asked by an Aussie tourist upon her return to Sydney was; “Why do so many people in New York have cross eyes or splayed eyes? Why are there none here?”
The answer from Dr Norman Swan, radio presenter of medical programs was: ‘If a child is born here with an eye muscle defect, testing is done and if the parents agree, surgery is performed before mother and child leave the hospital, all free of charge. If the same child were born in a public hospital in New York, the condition would most likely not be treated because the operation would cost the already cash strapped parents many thousands of dollars and the same operation on an adult costs tens of thousands.’
Now, you can argue all you want that publicly funded health is socialism, which it is, but so are 'free' roads and bridges, not to mention parks and public schools. All these publicly funded facilities pay a dividend to the community and so does public health. Good eyesight is clearly an advantage in the workplace and people who are limited by less than optimal health are less productive. Public funded health here is not the first step towards totalitarianism, but is an investment in a more productive society.
However, idealism of any colour encourages us to defend nonsensical positions and that is what I think is happening in the US health debate.
Having visited the USA myself, I have experienced the similarities with home, the friendliness and help generously offered by individuals and the support Americans give to each other. So I am amazed at the anti-anything-collective rhetoric that seems so out of place in a caring society!
Obama is spoken of in the same sentence as Stalin and Lenin! But I guess we need to ask; who is saying it? Here, family doctors and doctors in the public hospital system will never be super rich. So, I guess a system that has many doctors on salary must pose a threat to those who are mainly there for the money and are terrified their income might be reduced from fabulous to merely high.
Our total health cost per capita is way below that of the USA, despite much of it being publicly funded and universal. Every doctors know he/she will be paid, so they go ahead and do what is best for the patient. The system does suffer from overloaded demand for elective surgery, but in any emergency, comprehensive treatment is available, free of charge, to anyone who needs it. I don’t think any President ever achieved that, but neither did Stalin!
Monday, 21 May 2012
Getting your Mit’s on Public Health.
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A blogging friend from the States often posts about their Health Services and I shudder. I am the first to admit that our system is not perfect but we have so much to be thankful for with our NHS.ReplyDelete
(Glad that your daughter is keeping you in line!)
They will never get a health system like ours or the UK or France because to do so would impact on the Medical Insurance gravy train. That's the real reason there's opposition to a national health scheme. Even those who pay insurance can have the treatment their doctor recommends vetoed by the insurers. It's all about the shareholders - again!ReplyDelete
I don't remember, when I was growing up - well, really until the last 20 years or so - there being any mention of the stock exchange on the news. Now it's often the first thing mentioned.
I'm working on that one, Sue. Just watch this space!Delete
We're so well looked after here in Australia (though the conservatives tried to knock back medicare), not that you would think so listening to all the whinging about how bad things are. This is a great post Stafford - can't believe people still go on about the socialist bogey man.ReplyDelete
... do you have room for one more citizen in the Land of OZ? Maybe two? Sue is right about the state of affairs here in the US! I wish I didn't have to be concerned about medical care as I continue to age.ReplyDelete
Returned to see what other readers had to say on the topic .. realized 'continue to age' is the oxymoron of all time!Delete
I lime the Ulysses MC Club motto. "Grow old disgracefully". I think you qualify.Delete
Marvelous post, Stafford. We of the more liberal side feel as you do about the right wing crazies fighting so hard against Obama's health care program . . or anything else he proposes. I think it is a tribute to our failing educational system.ReplyDelete
Excellent post, Stafford. My American relatives who visit here are always amazed at our access to health services. And I agree with you about the incredible friendliness and helpfulness Americans extend to visitors who are strangers. Yet they vehemently resist extending the same hand to their own needy. That defies understanding.ReplyDelete
Maybe it is a bit extreme to say, but it appears to me that if one is sick, poor, homeless or long term unemployed in the USA, the only decent thing to do is to die!Delete
Also, one wonders if there is a connection between the need to survive and succeed in any way one can, and the crime rate.
Here, indigenous males are vastly over represented in our jail populations. They are the people who find it hardest to 'make it' in mainstream society, so turn to crime for both income and relevance.
Now that our 'us and you' culture is entrenched, it is very difficult to turn around.
Great post Stafford- another issue is the cost of educating a doctor- they end up with enormous student loans-bet that doesn't happen in other countries.ReplyDelete
You are right. Students here are subisidised, so the pressure to charge a lot because it cost a lot is lessened. The attitude that Medicine is a community responsibility, as is the training of doctors, seems to almost totally remove the greed factor.Delete
Yes, US university costs are incredible. My American niece, a lawyer, married another young lawyer and they started married life with a combined student-loan debt equivalent to the cost of a house.Delete
The right wing so and so's always going on about socialism know absolutely nothing about political ideologies. Don't get me started - I am so tired of being called a socialist because I care about the environment and things like social justice. The fascists who keep calling me a socialist can bite me.ReplyDelete
My sister lives in the States and it cost her 25 grand to have a baby (there were complications.) She also needs to have her wisdom teeth out but it will cost around ten grand, so she just puts up with the pain. That sucks in anyone's book. We are extremely lucky in Australia to have the healthcare system we have. I would protest naked in the street to hold onto it if I had to (only partly joking - har har...)
I guess that means you support public funding of cosmetic surgery!Delete
My Mum, a student is Tasmania in the 60s attest to this amazing healthcare she received in Australia. When my brother was born, the doctor offered to do the circumcision after he was born too to avoid the pain in later years (My brother was not too happy about this back here in Malaysia as it was a coming of age rite to him when he was a teen - but that is a different matter altogether)
In Malaysia it is not too bad now, affordable heatlhcare is okay if only the rich would stop complaining and really look around.
Haha! I guess it was a problem, but once he gets past the 'strutting his stuff' stage, he might at least privately be glad not to have had to go through the pain!Delete
I am happy with the health care our family gets...ReplyDelete