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Mayo Clinic - A Place of Hope and Healing

Mayo Clinic – A Place of Hope and Healing

Before you answer yes or no, did you know that the foundational moral principle of all developed countries (around 40 out of world’s 200 countries) is to provide health care coverage to all of their citizens, irrespective of age and financial status?

All developed countries, that is, except us.

In the past few years, I’ve heard so many cons, and some pros, about our new Affordable Care Act that I decided to take the OLLI course, U.S. Health Care: Promise Unfulfilled, that I wrote about a few weeks ago, with the hopes of getting facts. So often, I think we spout off without knowing what we’re talking about. So I want to give you a few quick facts that I’ve learned from T.R. Reid, a researcher and health policy expert, in his book, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care (published in 2010 by Penguin).

1. “…the primary issue for any health care system is a moral one” (p. 3).

Indeed, much of what I’ve heard has been, Do we as Americans owe health care to our people? And, the follow up, Is health care a right or a responsibility?

2. Most of the countries that have guaranteed health care have longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and better recovery rates from major diseases, plus spend far less that we do (p. 3).

Scary, huh. What if we could get better outcomes for less money?

3. All of the organized health care systems that guarantee health care to all their citizens are based on or modified from four basic patterns:

a.) Bismarck Model: the health care payers and providers are private (Germany, Japan, Belgium, and Switzerland).

b.) Beveridge Model: the government finances and provides the health care (Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and most of Scandinavia). Great Britain’s plan probably most closely resembles what we in the U.S. view as socialized  medicine.

c.) National Health Insurance: uses elements of both the Bismarck and the Beveridge Models (Canada).

d.) Out of Pocket: the other 160 countries where their citizens either must pay out of pocket with no government or insurance assistance or go without healthcare entirely (Cambodia, rural India).

Now, I found this interesting (p. 20):

a.) For most of us still working and under 65, we’re Germany or Japan.

b.) For Native Americans, military personnel, and veterans, we’re Britain.

c.) For those of us over 65 and on Medicare, we’re Canada.

d.) For the millions of us still uninsured, even after the Affordable Care Act, we’re Cambodia or rural India.

One last thing: how many people do you think declare bankruptcy from health care expenses in countries with organized health care systems that guarantee care? Here’s the answer: zero for Britain. Zero for France. Zero for Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland.

How many bankruptcies are declared in the U.S.? According to a study done by Harvard Law and Medical schools, the annual figure is about 700,000.

So I give you these tidbits of health care information today. Draw your own conclusions. Think again about your plan. Happy or not? If not, what would you rather have, or suggest, for you, for the less fortunate, for our nation as a whole? Who do you think should provide and pay for health care?

I suggest Reid’s book as a starting point to read more about each of these plans, and countries, and when and why employers in the U.S. got stuck with providing health insurance, and more. An enlightening read.

I hope I’ve perked your interest to find out more before your next bragging or complaining session about your health care plan. I won’t be telling you much more here, because, as life goes, other opportunities are crowding my schedule, and I’ve had to drop this course.

Once again, my crave for learning was bigger that my calendar.