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May 21, 2009

Government Health Care and Your Health

As President Obama is promoting government-run health care, we Americans might want to think twice about it. In a recent issue of World magazine, in the Quick Takes section, is a blurb titled "Vision Quest" (subscribers only) that represents shades of things to come if Obama gets his way.

In real estate, it's location, location, location. Vision care in the United Kingdom apparently works the same way. Lesley Fletcher says the NHS, the government's socialized health-care service, is refusing to pay for medicine that will prevent her from going blind—just because of where she lives. Most local trusts will provide British citizens with Lucentis with a prescription, but Fletcher's local NHS trust west of Leeds is an exception. At $1,200 per treatment, her local NHS trust has deemed the treatment too expensive to be cost effective. And unless Fletcher can convince higher-ups in the bureaucracy to change their policy, her myopic macular degeneration will likely lead to sight loss.

I don't know about you, but I don't want the government involved in my health care.

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Interesting. My Canadian brother-in-law had a heart attack in western Quebec last year. This entailed an emergency visit to his small local hospital, a one-hour ambulance trip to North Bay, Ontario, and then a flight across the province to Montreal. Chance of he and his wife and two kids losing their home because of lack of health insurance: zero. Anecdotal, I know, but when it comes to medicine, call me a socialist if it makes your right-wing soul feel better. Will goofs, oversights and unfairness occur? Yup. Will it be better than what we have now for the majority of American families and businesses? Definitely.


On the other hand, I'd rather have my sight than my house. I suspect my family would agree in a heartbeat. Houses come and go. We can always buy another one. But if my sight is gone, or I'm otherwise disabled because I couldn't get the treatment that I needed, that puts a pretty hard lid on my ability to provide for my family.

Moreover, I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ would help provide in circumstances of financial hardship. But if the government says, "No expensive treatment for you," well, what options do I have then?

In short, I'd rather have expensive options that I couldn't afford than no options at all.

Ben W

Sure, but our citizens pay, on average, about twice as much as most countries, but receives worse care. Surely that means there's something wrong with our system?

Our governenment is already heavily involved in our healthcare. There's too much money involved not to be.

Ken Dunst

Yes well even in our countries with "socialised" medicine there are still private health care providers if one wants to pay for it or one can have one's own private health insurance. Generally we tend to look upon USA's health system with aghast despite the problems with our own. One has a reasonable piece of mind associated with knowing that in the event of an health emergency or crisis you dont have to worry about the financial cost

Rachel Coleman

The rural area where I live (in the U.S.) is medically underserved, but the best physicians we've had over the past 20 years are *always* Canadian docs who were fed up with their inability to provide their patients with good care thanks to government regulations in their home country. So they came south.

One I interviewed said that if the U.S. ever changed to socialized medicine, he would return to Canada in a heartbeat -- he's a Canadian at heart and likes life there much more than in the U.S., EXCEPT for the way he is permitted/required to practice medicine.

A cynic might assume the expat docs prefer the States because they can make more money here. I don't know about that, but the ones I've met are, without exception, more humane and patient-oriented than many of their U.S. trained counterparts. Sure, they are doing well compared to, say, a factory worker, but they also do a lot of reduced rate and Medicare work that doesn't really make them any money.

As for people getting care in an emergency -- have you talked to hospital employees in the States? It's not legal for poor people to be turned away from the ER, whether or not they have insurance, money or even citizenship in this country.

I think there's a disconnect about what "health care" is. If there is a real, life or death emergency, the system we have, although imperfect, is not nearly as awful as we are constantly told.

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