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OT- nationalized vs. private healthcare

OT- nationalized vs. private healthcare

After reading the "domestic partner benefits " thread and rather than getting off topic there, I would like to know if someone who lives in a country with socialized or national healthcare could comment on the quality of care that offers. I've lived in the US my whole life and while I see the vicious cycle of rising prices in the healthcare industry (and firsthand as I work in the pharmaceutical industry), I wonder if we switched to nationalized healthcare, would the quality of care plummet? Would the rich would still benefit anyway because they would afford to still get healthcare outside of the system? It seems like it might bring the availibility of healthcare up a notch for low income families, the quality down a few notches for middle income families and the cost up in taxes for everyone. I don't want to make this a political debate, but as I think this will be a debated issue in the next presidential election, I would like to hear what people in countries with nationalized healthcare think of it or if you reccommend it. Thank you for your comments.

Fri. Apr 6, 8:19am

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I've heard that Canadians who live near the US border will stay where they are if they don't mind waiting for care, but that they will cross the border into the US and pay if they want to be treated quickly. It will be interesting to see if any Canadians near the US border will comment on the care they've received in Canada vs. the US.
An interesting thread. Thanks.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 10:02 AM

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the keys to solving the healthcare crisis in America are 1) Jesus and 2) water filtration.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 10:46 AM

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Friday, April 06, 2007, 11:13 AM

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Good question. I have spoken with one Canadian about this and he said he purchases extra health insurance because the helath care given is not satisfactory. I'd like to see others opinions on this in Canada.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 11:36 AM

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Every system has it's pros and cons. I lived in the UK with nationalized health care for too many years, and even worked on the inside (admin capacity) for a couple of years.

The Cons: They are unlikely to run diagnostic tests because they're expensive and "eh, you're too young to have any real problems yet". Yes, I was told this, and it took a trip to the ER in an Italian hospital to sort out the misdiagnosis. If you need to see a specialist, you sit on a waiting list for up to a year just for the initial consult, and then up to another year for the procedure. This applies to anything from a tubal ligation to heart bypass. I am totally speaking from first- and second-hand experience, not urban legend or scary news reports. It's actually reported with pride when waiting times are down to 10.5 months.

The Pros: I really appreciated that health care benefits were not linked to your job. I truly hate that about our system. I also found the general practitioners I went to more responsive than the ones I've had here, and very easy to get appointments with. I was also impressed with their progressive way of dealing with birth control - all other prescriptions have a fixed price no matter what it is, but birth control pills are free (or at least they were when I lived there in the 90s), woohoo! Think how that compares to the way a few plans here still don't cover contraceptives. Also, there is a way around the waiting times through private health care - and insurance to cover that is pretty cheap, like the annual premium is about the same as my monthly premium here in NY. I had this through my then-husband's employer, which got my wisdom teeth surgically removed about 6 months before they otherwise would have been.

The Funny: I could not stop laughing at the wheelchairs at my local hospital (in a major city, not the back of beyond). Perfectly functional, don't get me wrong, but they looked like Victorian museum pieces. Picture your dining room chair with little wheels on each leg. Seriously. They were wooden.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 11:45 AM

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OP here

11:45 poster - thank you for your comments, very insightful. The wait time is what scares me the most. You hear so many cases in the US even now of doctors catching something in the nick of time, what if we had to wait another year for a diagnosis?

10:46 Thanks for the laugh :-)

Any other experiences out there?

Friday, April 06, 2007, 1:05 PM

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OP again

One more thought, there is so much freedom right now to go see a doctor for any little thing (which can be good or bad). Some worriers will obviously take this to the extreme and go to the doctor everytime they have a cough, but if wait times were up and the chances to see a doctor was limited, things that people might otherwise just get up and go to the doctor for (ie. depression, weight issues, UTI [Oh goodness, I would hate to wait for that!], and minor symptoms that could be warnings of a bigger problem) might get put on the back burner to save the hassle and time.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 1:09 PM

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Just to make it clear, the NHS in the UK gives you total freedom to see your general practitioner, who handles most things. I find that that the system here relies unnecessarily on specialists - I see it as "harvesting" as many appointments as possible out of each patient. My regular doc was very good at seeing the bigger picture I went in for insomnia and after a bunch of questions he diagnosed mild depression, which, as much as it killed me to admit it at the time, was correct. My previous doctor was downright nasty about my weight problem though - I went in for a goiter/thyroid check after a doctor in another country noticed it while treating me for tonsilitis. I never even mentioned my extra 30 lbs. Anyway, the system works like a POS here - you see your general practitioner for everything, and they refer you as necessary. It's just that you can't choose your specialist and you have no control over how long it takes to get that appointment.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 1:32 PM

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I live in Israel and health care here is paid for and supplied by the government. Since I work, I pay a monthly sum (not small!) based on my salary. People who don't work (housewives, retired people, etc.) pay a minimal amount. Most care is handled by a GP / family specialist / internist. When s/he think you need to see a specialist, s/he provides you with a referral and usually a recommendation, e.g., Dr. X is really good - try him. You can see some specialists, such as gynecologists + orthopedists, without a referral.
Usually, one gets to see one's family doctor the same day or the next day. If you have to wait 2 days, you start to complain. For specialists, the wait can be from 1 week to much longer - maybe 1-2 months.

I've lived here 19 years and have received treatment in hospitals twice and both times I was very satisfied with my care. In neither case was my wait unreasonable.

Overall, I think I get excellent medical care. I must admit that I also pay for private medical insurance, in case we need something not covered by the government basket of services or an unsubsidized drug. We've had the insurance for about 6 years and never used it in spite of having been sick with various illnesses / situations (pneumonia, broken toe, flu, lupus, arthritis, gout).

I am an American citizen and all I can say is that every time I meet Americans, either visiting here or when I'm visiting America, I listen to an amazing litany of complaints from them about their medical care and I mutter to myself: I'm glad I get my medical care in Israel.


Friday, April 06, 2007, 2:02 PM

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I live in Canada (I was the one to say I'm glad I'm living North). I don't have any additional health care coverage right now. But I'm quite healthy and only 26 years old. I can see my doctor for anything I want- but granted, at the clinic I'm at, it's usually a month of wait time if you don't ask if there's any cancelled appointments to take. But as I've been there for 20 years, I don't want to go to a new doctor who doesn't know my history.

I've been referred to specialists for my feet, to check my moles, and for minor surgery on my toes. I paid $50 total each time I had part of my nail bed removed on my big toes. That's about it.

When my bodyfriend got a NASTY virus he was hospitalized for 3 days. They wouldn't let him out. He was on IV the entire time and had several blood tests and other tests trying to figure out what was wrong with him. He had no coverage, there was no bill.

My mother is diabetic and has congestive heart disease. She has an endocrinologist, a heart specialist, a nurtitionist and her GP she sees, all for free. Tests? Oh yes, she has to do tests. Are there wait times? Yes. Though that *may* be because in my province there is a bit of a shortage of medical professionals... many go south or way north where they can make more $$$. Usually however, it is the first appointment with the specialist you wait for- if they take you as a new patient, then there's not usually lengthy wait times, and they'll see you if an emergency comes up.

I assume there are people who suffer from rarer forms of diseases where either the treatment they seek is not covered, or professionals in this country haven't had much experience with it, or those who have an impatient attitude may not be happy with it. I love it. I do my best to stay healthy, and for the few times that I have needed medical help I have recieved it in a timely and satisfactory manner.

Friday, April 06, 2007, 2:08 PM

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