Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Rant - healthcare

sraun wanted a rant on US Healthcare. Please note that this *is* a rant, and thus more opinion than anything else, and I might get things wrong.

US Healthcare is...huh. We have some of the best and some of the worst healthcare in the world. We have cutting edge, groundbreaking research and techniques. We're also #36 in terms of infant mortality, with countries like Malta and Slovenia ahead of us. Not to mention the UK and Canada.

If you have the money, or decent insurance, the US is...less than it used to be because of the rise of the HMOs, so you might not have consistency of medical care even if you can afford it, but it's still excellent. You'll get quick and effective treatment and surgery, even cosmetic surgery. Except that things are deteriorating even then - one of the most effective tools medicine has is nursing, but nursing is not a place to be anymore. Hospitals are hiring fewer of them and working them longer hours, and using cheaper aides, who may not have the skills to notice real problems and who cannot give the same care that nurses do.

But the worst of it is for those who cannot afford medical care. They can't afford the routine checkups, both medical and dental, that catch problems when they're small and treatable, as opposed to big and either only treatable with more expensive and drastic means or untreatable. If the choice is dentist or food, doctor or rent, there isn't a choice. And then it costs them more money and drives them deeper into debt, or, with no other choice, they have to go on public assistance. Yes, of course, there are those who take advantage of the system, but mostly it's there for what it should be - backup.

It's galling to me that people in what was the richest country in the world die of treatable illnesses because the treatments cost more than they have. Yes, I know that in countries with socialized medicine or national health insurance (not the same things), one might have to wait a longer time for non-emergency surgery, and that there are other problems or abuses. However, it means that even the poorest person has access to a decent level of care, and the wealthy can, if they wish, pay for more immediate care.

An example - my sister-in-law lives in Tel Aviv. She has, unfortunately, a rare form of cancer, although, thank God, she's doing very well. She was ready and willing to pay for private care, but the physician she wanted to use was able to take her on as a subsidized patient. Her care will be identical,except that the taxes she already pays will pay for that.

And yes, I know that that's the downside - much higher taxes. But the countries that pay these taxes seem to accept this. I don't know.

ETA: My information about infant mortality came from here.

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