We spend 2-3 times as much on our healthcare as most of the countries that now have “socialized medicine”. Yet, every country with socialized medicine has much better overall health statistics. As a matter fact, we are hovering around 32nd in the world. Even some “third world” countries are ahead of us.
How can this be? The richest country in the world, spending more than any other country, yet the health is one of the worst! What’s wrong? How have we come to this state of affairs?
There are a variety of reasons. Let’s look at some of these, and look at the alternate answer:
1. There’s a lot of talk about 40-50 million “uninsured” people in the US. “Uninsured” doesn’t mean that they aren’t taken care of. No Emergency Room can turn down anyone who comes for “treatment”. (Although many hospitals try to shift “poor” people to county or state facilities for profits sake.)
There’s also Medicaid for the very poor. But, that still leaves the great majority of “uninsured” swinging in the wind. They make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid, or the state they live in has run out of money and facilities. (Under the Bush Administration, the cuts in Medicaid have limited this coverage in virtually every state.) A severe medical problem bankrupts many of these families every year.
Who pays for Medicare and Emergency visits? The usual – US taxpayers! So, like it or not, we already have a “sort of” socialized medicine.
By the way, when did the phrase “socialized medicine” become a bad phrase? (Was it another “spin” fostered by “vested interests”?) How often have you heard “just ask a Canadian about their socialized medicine”?
Ask 100 persons from any country(s) that has socialized medicine two questions: “How do you like it?” and “Would you like to get rid of it”.
The answers to the first question are often a lot of individual complaining. Yet, the answer to the second question is an overwhelming “Never”. Could this dichotomy be the reason that so many people in the US “think” that socialized medicine is bad – those “bitching” (and very human) answers. Most people ask only the first question, NOT the second. I’ve asked both, and have yet to find a Canadian or a Brit who answers “yes” to the second question, but many, or most, will find something to complain about.
Isn’t it interesting that all the “civilized industrial nations” in Europe and elsewhere have some version of socialized medicine? Even in almost bankrupt Russia and Georgia, healthcare is free to all. And, even their health statistics are better than ours. (FYI, they also subsidize any “bright” student all the way to a “doctorate” if they are smart enough. College tuition in the US is prohibitively high for mid and low income families – are we wasting a major resource? You bet!)
2. Why is our health care costing so much? Simple – the insurance companies are running it. They make huge profits for this “service”. Cut out the middleman – the insurance companies, and cut the costs by an impartial estimate between a third and a half!
What other benefits would this have? Doctors would have more time to talk to patients, and spend less time, and office staff filling out forms to get paid. When was the last time your MD spent more than 2 minutes with you?
Let’s not overlook the fact that prevention is always better than catastrophe! All too often, when a poor person winds up in an Emergency Room, the cost of their problem is much more than it would be if that person had had insurance that allowed doctor visits to head off catastrophe with some prevention. This is a major factor favoring socialized medicine.
There’s still another factor in this equation. Malpractice insurance (more profits to insurance companies)! We do need to limit this. Some formulas have to be developed for how much any doctor can be sued for. And, medical boards need to oversee MD’s (and their mistakes) much closer. Doctors do make mistakes! And, the injured have a right to be compensated for such! What do the other countries do about this problem? Has anyone made any study of this?
3. There is another often overlooked problem. We, as a nation, have a terrible diet! We eat “fast foods” way too often. We eat too few “healthy foods”, and too many “high carbohydrate” foods. The statistics show clearly that a poor diet on the part of a mother results in a baby that is not nearly as healthy as it should be.
Take a look at some “poor” natives of African countries in photographs. Look especially at the wide mouths full of very strong, very even, teeth. Compare this to the US “standard” of two very prominent front teeth, a high narrow arch to the roof of the mouth, and crowding of the rest of the teeth. Dr Von Hilsheimer of Maitland Florida wrote a book years ago detailing the various “abnormalities” and “anomalies” of children of poor diet mothers. There is a definite correlation between these children and increasing allergy and sensitivity in our children
Recently I read a very interesting article about a school that changed the diets of the attending students, and by this simple change only, the entire attitude and moral outlook of the students was changed. It was very simple! They took out all the soda machines, and replaced them with water fountains. They eliminated hamburgers and fries, and similar poor diet foods, and emphasized fruits and veggies. Lo, and behold, the school which had previously been shunned by teachers because of unruly students was completely changed! Students were calm, quiet, and learned more and better than other schools in the area. Acts of violence or vandalism were eliminated. There are several other similar studies which school boards do not pay enough attention to.