Some thoughts (some mine, some not mine) on health care

I read this op-ed piece on Huffingtonpost, and I think that the guy who writes it makes some really valid points about the whole deal. I especially like how he addresses the many arguments and concerns surrounding health care reform. Of course there is the obligatory anecdotes about his experience with American health care and his wife’s family’s experience with Italian health care, but so what? Just because it is anecdotal does not make it untrue, and living in the Czech Republic, I have first hand experience of how state sponsored (subsidized) health care works, and you know what? it’s not too shabby.

When I was mugged and had to go to the emergency room (here in the CZ) I was without insurance. This was only because I had not yet received full time work visa and my traveler’s insurance had expired. At the ER they asked me if I was insured. I told them no. They then asked me if I was employed in the CZ. I told them yes, but that I was not quite fully legal because of the pending visa. They treated me anyway, giving me an x-ray and charging me 90kc for the copay trip to the emergency room (that’s about 4.5o US dollars at the time). They then told me to return to the hospital on Monday (the incident happened late Saturday night/early morning) for a follow up exam. They wanted to make sure that no serious damage (aside from the broken nose) had been done.

So on Monday I went to see a general practitioner at the hospital because I did not have a private (clinic) doctor of my own. They treated me, found that there had been no permanent damage done, but wanted me to come back in a few days just so that they could really be sure that there was no jaw/cranial damage.

Then they asked me to pay for my visit. This time it was a little more than the 90kc I had been charged at the ER. In fact it was something like 1500kc, which was about 75 US dollars. This price included the uninsured trip to the ER that I had taken a few days earlier. I told them that I was not able to pay because I had not yet received my paycheck. They told me that was fine, but that I needed to pay as soon as possible.

A few days later I returned to the hospital for my second check up. Again, nothing was wrong, and again they asked me to pay. This time the total bill was around 1800kc (closing in on 100 US dollars). Again, I told them that I couldn’t pay, but I would as soon as I got paid. They agreed, but were unhappy, and told me that I could no longer receive treatment at that hospital until I paid my bill. I thanked them and went on my way. When I did get paid a few days later, I went ot the hospital and paid what I owed. Their response was: good, now you can get treatment here again.

I now have health insurance provided by the government (I pay taxes for it, of course) and thankfully have not had to use it. It is nice to know that it is there when and if I need it though. I will say that if I could speak the language I would use it more. It is not that I like going to the doctor, but it is a good thing to do. It has been a while since I had a check up, and while I think everything is running smoothly with my body, it would be nice to know for sure. Oh, and dental insurance is included in my health care as well, and considering I haven’t been to the dentist in forever this is something I would (and should) take advantage of. But again, I kind of need to know the language for that. I mean, I could bring a friend along, but the doctor (and the dentist to a lesser extent) are private things that I really don’t want to share with anyone, which would be unavoidable if I had a translator there with me (especially one who happened to be a friend of mine).

My point here is that I paid about 100 U.S. dollars for a trip to the Emergency Room, and two follow up trips to the hospital, and that was when I was uninsured. I do not know how much it would have been if I’d had insurance, but it is a safe bet to say that it would have been much much much cheaper.

So, like Evan Handler, I am having a difficult time understanding why America cannot have a government option (subsidy) when it comes to health care. It just doesn’t make sense to me, especially considering that the current system is broken and will continue to get worse as time goes by if nothing is done to fix it.

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