Health Care. Though it has recently been overshadowed in the U.S. presidential campaign, it’s still one of the major issues for voters in my home country. And for someone considering changing their country of residence, its a factor that can weigh heavily in their decision. I can say personally that the day I first thought about staying in Europe, this is one of the first thoughts that occurred to me: “Wow, I would never, ever, have to worry about the possibility of bankruptcy from being sick. Ever. Doesn’t happen.”
And those of us who have experienced different systems can only sit back in awe that the question of whether to pursue universal care is even still on the table back home. For most of the rest of the “civilized” world, it’s not a question of if, merely of how.
Of course, everyone should do their homework. Part of my homework about how health care works was this Frontline documentary I just came across: Sick Around The World. They check out health care systems is five advanced capitalist democracies (so, comparable, one assumes, with our own country’s development). They weigh the pros and cons of the systems in the U.K., Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and Taiwan. It’s a good breakdown of the different types of systems that exist, totally socialist, mixes of public and private. I think many Americans don’t realize the variety of systems out there – it’s like it’s U.S. style or a suffocating nationally own, nanny-state system.
At the end, the reporter sums up the three common requirements of these systems (all of which worked substantially better than ours and for less money):
1) Everyone must be accepted, and they can’t make a profit on basic care.
2) Everyone is mandated to buy insurance, and the government pays the premium for the poor.
3) Doctor’s and hospitals have to accept one standard set of fixed prices.
Sounds like a good place to start at the very least.