First off, let me say that I think that many of the conservatives, who I agree with in many other areas, are completely off the mark when it comes to healthcare. If there is anything worth saving about our current system, I wouldn't know what it is.
We have health insurance through my husband's company. He is an executive so I am going to take a leap and make the assumption that our insurance is above average for the private sector. (It most likely doesn't compare to what government employees have, but that is another story.)
- Our health insurance never seems to cover much of anything - unless you follow the strict guidelines about which doctor you can see, get approvals for this, that. or the other. So, when people complain about losing the ability to "choose" their doctor and their treatment options, they either need to clearly specify which insurance company they have so we can sign up too, or just keep their mouths shut.
- I watched an aunt of mine die of cancer while battling the insurance company to get various treatments and procedures approved. I really don't see the difference between having a bureaucrat make decisions about what treatments to authorize and some schmuck who works for Blue Cross and may or may not get a bonus based on how much money they were able to save by refusing to cover treatment. Do you?
- My aunt, btw lived in Carmel and also had "pretty good insurance" or so they thought. What I am trying to say here is that even if you are well off, it is by no means certain that you will get the treatment you need. It just so happens that when a person is seriously ill, they are least able to summon the energy and persistence required to stay on top of the insurance companies. Guess what? Insurance companies know this.
- I have lived in Germany for a total of 5 years. One year as a college student - and I enrolled directly at the University so my experience was the same as that of the German kids. I was a bit of a hypochondriac in those days, so I actually saw quite a few doctors and also had occasion to land in the hospital.
- See one day I was over at my boyfriend's house watching a soccer game when I found myself doubled up in pain which was coming from my abdomen. It hurt like the dickens. 15 minutes later I am being carried out on a strecher by some really cute German paramedics and taken to the hospital. I get poked and prodded and ultrasounded and they figure out what is wrong with me (ovarian cyst - not that serious - but gosh darn painful), stick an IV in my arm and put me to bed.
- The room had no television. I can offer that up as a criticism.
- The one thing I did find odd is that they didn't seem to want to let me out of that hospital. Once I felt better, I wanted to split like a banana but they kept telling me I needed to stay and be observed.
- On the third day, I snuck out when nobody was looking.
- On the fourth day, I felt bad about sneaking out when nobody was looking so I went back to wrap things up properly and talk to my doctor. She wasn't even mad at me and even gave me a prescription for the pill, which apparently will take care of an ovarian cyst in no time flat.
- Then, like a month later, I got the bill in the mail. It was for DM 15. Which at the time was about $5.00. I paid it.
I would take the German system over the mess here in a heartbeat. And guess what - German doctors make plenty of money - and their practices are usually very modern and stylish. Overall, it is a very good healthcare system.
There may be countries which have screwed up their healthcare systems, but I can't speak to those. I do know that done right, the only complaint we Americans will have is:
Why the hell did we wait so long?