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Nationalized Healthcare

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Old 10-08-2002, 09:50 AM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Location: northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes from Chicago, IL
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With the closing of the steel mill I retired from, we lost all health insurance that was provided by my employer. We could have picked up the policy for a little over $1300.00 per month. That was not possible, and we haven't found insurance of lesser coverage that we could afford, and seemed like a reasonable alternative. So now, if my wife or I should *have to be hospitalized*, we are able to get hospitalization (it's law that medical *emergencies* be treated). But we would have to make small monthly payments, which would unlikely ever get the bills paid in full. The high cost of medications my wife takes on a regular basis is not covered, but for the time being, we have been able to pay for it. She is in bad need of having her knees replaced, but that's not an emergency. So she has to live with pain until she reaches the age where she can get Medicare (our government provided health insurance). The insurance provided by employers is beginning to be a thing of the past. So if an employer offers coverage, many people, like Jak, work as much for the benefits as they do for the wages.

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Old 10-08-2002, 10:18 AM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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This is one of the few times in my life that I've worked for an employer that provided health benefits. And, the pay I'm working for now is less than half of what I've previously made for other employers (not even what I would consider a "living wage"). I guess they figure health benefits (along with other benefits) are a part of the "wage package". It's a good thing I love my job and the people I work with I guess (and, am expecting a promotion soon).

The other thing about the health coverage I'll get (not eligable for another 3 months yet) is that there are quite a few rules for using it too. For example, if I have a pre-existing condition, I can't have it treated under this medical plan until I've had the insurance for a year. That's 6 months of working before I'm eligable for the medical plan and another year after that until it does me any real good if I have a pre-existing medical problem...

There's also a $350 deductable per year (the "excess" Leah mentioned)...

Since I'm never really sick or go to the doctor on any regular basis, I don't spend $350 on medical in a year. That means that my insurance coverage only helps me if I'm desperately ill and must be hospitilazed or require lots of office visits.

But still, being at the age when something medical is bound to happen, it's the only way to get insurance at all in reality.

Which brings me to another thought (this whole health care thing makes me angry, btw).

As US citizens, aren't we entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? If we are entitled to life, shouldn't it be the US government doing something to insure that that life is preserved by making sure that all of its citizens receive adequate health care???

(Don't get me started on this, it's a sore point... )
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Old 10-08-2002, 10:49 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Interesting topic Doug.

Where to start. As a consumer of health care services living in a major city in Saskatchewan, I am well-served by the government run system. Doctor visits are free, hospital care is free. If I'm poor enough drugs are free. If I'm not poor enough for the free drugs, I can get extra insurance for about $500 a year that will pay for drugs (except for pre-existing prescriptions) and other things like ambulance and eyeglasses.

We get very good care from our health system - those who work in the system are among the best in the world.

The problem is that our government now says it can't afford to pay these people what they are worth and they are leaving in droves for greener pastures to the west and south into the states. There is currently a 3 week old strike of hospital workers that threatens to close down the whole system if it continues much longer. Wages for these workers average $10 an hour less than equivilent workers in Alberta to the west. Alberta has a larger much younger population base and if I'm not mistaken, everyone pays a monthly "fee" for the "free" health care they recieve.

Is it working for us? Something will have to change. We have an aging population who require more and more health services and I agree with the government that we can no longer afford it.

Since I'm now on a fixed income which is below the poverty line and am unable to work, any change would be a hardship for me, but I can see that changes have to be made or we will lose it altogether.

I experienced a bit of "US" style health care when I signed up for extended coverage through a private insurer. As I understand it, I have dental coverage unless it can be proven that I had teeth before I went to the dentist and my antibiotic medication is covered unless I was ever prescribed an antibiotic any time in the past. If I take a ambulance to the hospital after an accident, it will be covered, but my insurance premium will double and ambulances will not be covered in the future.

What's the answer? I don't know. If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself....

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Old 10-08-2002, 12:22 PM
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DJ Dubovsky DJ Dubovsky is offline
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Healthcare here in the US is killing us. What really pisses me off is an illegal alien can get medical treatment for free and we the taxpayers who can't get free medical pay the bills. We have so many crossing the border to give birth thus giving them citizen status and free hospitalization to give birth.
I think our medical costs are out of site due to the outlandish lawsuits brought against the medical profession and drug companies.
Then there's HMO Health Management Org which basically takes all your medical decisions away from the doctor and gives it to some pencil pusher who doesn't know a thing about medicine. There's so much to fix here I don't think they know how to even approach it.
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Old 10-08-2002, 01:09 PM
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G. Couch G. Couch is offline
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I'm not going to comment on this yet...too little time and so much to say! I will post a little info I learned last night. My brother's wife is expecting a baby in two weeks and has been reading everything she can get her hands on.

Apparently it costs FAR more to have a baby in the US than anywhere else in the world and yet we are about 20th when it comes to fatalities and/or complications during birth. (20th among technological nations). So, we have an enormously expensive health care system that can't seem to get the job done...
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Old 10-08-2002, 02:30 PM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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I'm so glad you brought this up, Doug, because I have wondered how the UK and especially the Canadian systems really work -- the Canadian system was discussed as a possible model in the early 90's during our last "national debate" over healthcare reform.

Got to looking via Google for some hopeful news about reform, and came up with some recommendations, and even more frightening data about our current system.

The human cost of medical errors is high. Based on the findings of one major study, medical errors kill some 44,000 people in U.S. hospitals each year. Another study puts the number much higher, at 98,000. Even using the lower estimate, more people die from medical mistakes each year than from highway accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE Division of Health Care Services
The majority of medical errors do not result from individual recklessness, the report says, but from basic flaws in the way the health system is organized. Stocking patient-care units in hospitals, for example, with certain full-strength drugs - even though they are toxic unless diluted - has resulted in deadly mistakes. And illegible writing in medical records has resulted in administration of a drug for which the patient has a known allergy.

Almost 40 million people in this country lack health insurance, more than the populations of Texas, Florida and Connecticut combined. The uninsured are more likely to have poorer health and die prematurely than those with insurance, but they do not suffer alone. Nearly 1 in 5 families have at least one uninsured member.
Institute of Medicine report -- Health Insurance is a Family Matter

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Old 10-08-2002, 03:23 PM
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Toad Toad is offline
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Well, as a Canadian who has lived in the US, here is my 2 cents.

The Canadian health care system is subject to some underfunding, debates between the federal and provincial governments over jurisdiction, and users can experience very long waits for non-critical surgery, and for routine health problems - i.e. showing up at a hospital with a broken arm.

Other than that it is pretty good. Everybody has care, and very few people die that might have been saved if they had insurance. Our record of false diagnosis - unintentional malpractice is about the same as the US, but we tend not to litigate unless there is obvious negligence.

So the long and short: if you have first class health care insurance through your employer, or you are wealthy, then the US system wins hands down - no contest.

If the above doesn't apply to you - good luck. You are better off in Canada.
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Old 10-08-2002, 04:40 PM
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Health care here in the US has become a vicious circle.

The insurance companies are "slow paying" the doctors and challenging charges.

The doctors are raising their prices because of the slow cash flow problem. Along with this malpractice insurance for doctors has sky rocketed because of the jillion dollar lawsuits.

I think a big help would be to limit the amount of these lawsuits.

Back in 1987 I had some major surgery. My hospital bill was about $21k. That was a lot of money in 1987. The insurance company decided they needed to audit the bill. Great!!! For the next 6 months the hospital kept sending me reminders that the insurance company hadn't paid yet.

After almost 7 months the insurance company paid all but $5.00 of the bill. Why on earth did this take so long?
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Old 10-08-2002, 05:08 PM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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My sister who has lived in the states for most of her life, was working in a surgeon's office as an operating room technician. She tells a story about one claim for an x-ray that was challenged by the insurance company. The x-ray was done while the patient was in the hospital and the insurance company claimed that it could have been done as an outpatient.

The insurance company wasn't convinced even when it was explained to them that the patient was under general anaesthetic at the time the x-ray was taken and the surgeon was in the middle of performing knee surgery.

I have to agree with Toad. Our various levels of government always squabble about who should pay, but somehow we all get looked after and despite what seems like long waiting lists for elective surgery, we don't hear much about people not being treated in a timely manner.

Take care,
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Old 10-08-2002, 05:54 PM
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DJ Dubovsky DJ Dubovsky is offline
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The American Medical system is a round about way that Lawyers get rich while everybody else goes broke!

I suspect that insurance was an HMO. Sounds like something they do.
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