The realities of socialized health care: share your experiences

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by russmuller, May 24, 2016.

  1. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin' Contributor

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    As an American, I've lived all my life with private health care and insurance (and very little interaction with public hospitals or health services). I truly believe that our current health care system and legislation in the states is a scam that serves to enrich insurance and pharmaceutical companies at the expense of patients and medical professionals.

    There are a lot of people in the states (like myself) who believe that universal, socialized health care is the right thing to do, but our exposure to it comes almost exclusively through media outlets. As a result, people succumb to all kinds of propaganda and misunderstandings as to the reality of socialized medicine and how best to execute it.

    I just got back from my first trip to Europe where I stayed in Ireland for a week. They have socialized health care, but our tour guide talked at length about how they have a shortage of nurses because of poor pay, hospitals and emergency rooms closing at 8PM, and hundreds of patients on gurneys (or trolleys, as they call them) for their stay instead of getting a proper bed.

    While that doesn't necessarily convince me that socialized medicine is an inherently bad idea, it highlights the fact that there are probably better and worse ways to implement it. I was hoping that perhaps some of our forum members who live with socialized health care could share some of their experiences and perceptions of what it's really like. I think this would at least help me to form a more educated opinion about the issue. So please, do share!
     
  2. MoshJosh

    MoshJosh SS.org Regular

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    To my understanding there is a nursing shortage in the US as well but I don't think it's related to low wages as I know of many establishments that pay very well. At least in the US I think it has more to do with an increasing population with longer life spans(ie people are living to be much older than they once did) leading to more people in need of care. Also certain other things like the rise in obesity and related health issues probably contributes to the number of people in need of health care and therefore nursing care.
     
  3. Randy

    Randy Ooh, Degrasse Tyson-son Super Moderator

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    My mother's been an ER nurse for 40+ years and I can tell you all (besides the 8pm thing) are issues here as well. She left two different hospitals because patients were being left in hallways for DAYS and people were showing up to the ER and sitting in the waiting room for 5 - 8 hours without being seen. And that's pre-ACA.
     
  4. ferret

    ferret Not worthy

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    I have this feeling that a tour guide's statements might need to be taken, at least partially, with a grain of salt. I mean, to a degree, they are meant to cater to the customer, right? I'd tell the customer things they want to hear, and they're well aware "we" Americans think they have death panels and decade long waits for organ transplants.

    My family has dealt with a ton with healthcare due to illnesses, so no one is going to convince me that our healthcare doesn't have these same issues. When my son has trouble (I'm not going to go into the full details, other than to say we have a lot to deal with and worry about) and the TICU has been full for over a week so they put him on floors not capable of dealing with things....

    For myself, I'd still take a gurney over a life time of debt though.
     
  5. zappatton2

    zappatton2 SS.org Regular

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    Certainly every system has its flaws, but as someone who has had a myriad of health issues since the moment I was born, including several surgeries, I can't fathom the idea that were I to live somewhere where health care was viewed as a purchased product rather than a right of citizenship, I would either be broke or dead.

    One complaint a socialized system often gets is with regards to long waiting lists for common procedures, and that can certainly be true, but it's also a triage system; if your life is in imminent danger, you will be tended to right off that bat. I know a couple of friends diagnosed with cancer who are slated for surgery, though they were only diagnosed recently.

    Keep in mind, I am no expert, this is all me talking from personal experiences, so all of it is anecdotal.
     
  6. VBCheeseGrater

    VBCheeseGrater not quite a shredder

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    I'm an american citizen these days. Born in England. If you want to get me angry, bring up private health insurance in the US.

    My experience aside from birth in england, etc - went back to england around 2004 and my 3 year old at the time daughter got chicken pox on the ride over to England. So we ended up having to go to the equivalent of the emergency room.

    First of all, we did not wait. We were seen pretty much promptly. We got great service, and instead of handing us a prescription for some pricey meds to go pick up and fight with the insurace over whether we actually needed them, they gave us the medication we needed before we left.

    So in short, my experience with socialized healthcare makes me that more angry when over here in the U.S. I show up to the pharmacy, wallet ready to be drained, only to be told "Your insurance needs pre-authorization and won't cover their portion until you jump through 10 hoops.....dance boy, dance!!!"

    Bastards.
     
  7. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    I have a few not necessarily linear thoughts on this subject, so here they are in somewhat random order.

    I'm in the US, but have family members that have lived in Canada for a few years due to their company transferring them there briefly. They mentioned that the health care was as good as they expect in the US, but non emergency procedures would take longer. Not decades as ferret joked, but a month or three to have the procedure as opposed to a week or two in the US.

    The company I work for has employees around the world, and when we hire someone in a country with social health care, we have to buy private insurance for them in order to bring their overall standard of care in line with what our US based employees have. I don't know if that is because our insurance is better than most or if the social healthcare provides less "coverage" than typical US based private insurance, but it's an interesting data point.

    The US health care system is a bit different than other countries' systems.

    First, our society as a whole is much more sue-happy than are other countries' which leads to the insurance companies writing professional liability/malpractice insurance to charge the doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc. more in premiums to offset their much higher payouts. These doctors and institutions have to pass these higher insurance costs on the patients which results in higher healthcare costs.

    Second, the US healthcare system is very research focused (new procedures at hospitals and clinics, new drug development and testing by pharmaceutical companies, new equipment development and testing by various health care product manufacturers, etc.). These research costs are not necessarily paid for through taxes, so much of the costs we pay for healthcare here in the US go to offset research and development costs incurred in developing these new products and procedures.

    Q: What do you call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his class in medical school? A: Doctor.

    So it stands to reason that hospitals, clinics and doctors are not all created equal. If you are in need of treatment beyond the typical every day procedures, it makes sense to seek out the best doctor and hospital you can, and this applies to the US, too. For example, if you have breast or prostate cancer, those are common cancers that are easily treatable if caught early, so you will likely recover just as well if treated in a regional hospital as you would if you went to a major cancer treatment facility like MD Anderson on Houston (the world's leading cancer treatment facility). But if you have Leukemia or Lymphoma, you probably need to come to Houston so you can work with the best doctors and nurses and have access to the latest and greatest research, techniques, equipment, etc.

    Last, the US has experienced a shortage of nurses primarily because the largest generation in our history, the baby boomers, are at the point of retirement and death. With that comes an increased demand for nurses and doctors to help care for them. However, after the baby boomers pass away, there will be an oversupply of health care workers so I would expect their pay levels to decrease across the board after 2030 or 2035 or so.
     
  8. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    Free markets will always develop the best products. Not everyone's service is equal (ability to pay, skill of doctor etc.) but the end result is a continuous "ratcheting" up of quality of product and lower of price (increased value). These are due to economic forces CREATED by competition and choice.

    Socialized anything is a race to the bottom in terms of quality (more money for administration if they have ....ty docs or offer limited procedures).

    Have any of you been to a DMV, post office, VA hospital, or other govt run business lately?

    Socialized medicine is a great IDEA. Socialism is a great IDEA. There are troves of real-world evidence that it does not function in the ways we anticipate. Quite simply, it lacks COMPETITION and CHOICE, the only mechanisms with which we improve our lot. It might work for awhile before grinding to a halt.

    I would like humans in 100 years to have better medicine than we have today. Socialism will not provide this. Mark my words.
     
  9. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    The worst thing our government has done to healthcare in the past 10 years is partially privatise it and made it possible for insurance companies and health care providers to cut deals. Costs went up and service went down.

    Every company that went out of government hands so far (our railway - which has since been plagued by delays, defects, endless maintenance and excuses, postal services which though improving were absolute bogus for a few years, etc) have turned out worse.
     
  10. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I lived in the US until shortly after I graduated university, then moved to the UK and have been here several years now.

    In the US I was always on my dad's insurance (teamsters, which apparently was pretty good cover). Never had a problem with that, always easy to deal with from my end, quick to be seen, etc. Though there were costs involved. I can't remember the benefit in kind my dad was taxed on, but it was a lot.

    Here in the UK I've never directly paid for any kind of healthcare (taxes sure are a lot higher here though). Wait times for things kinda suck but I imagine it depends where you live. I dont like any General Practitioner I've seen here, I really get the feeling they don't know what they're doing. Again, probably depends on who you see. in the 6ish years I've been here, I've been to the GP maybe three or four times, and seen a different person each time.

    Wait times are long though, took 9 months to get an appointment with the dermatologist for a moderate/severe skin condition I had. That was not super fun.

    On the up-side, I injured my elbow at one point and I couldn't straighten my arm fully without stabbing pain, got an appointment the next day at the hospital where they X-rayed it to see if I broke anything (I didn't, luckily).

    I'm currently waiting on an appointment to get a possible tendon injury in my hand checked, and I'm sure I'll get a 'just take it easy' as usual.



    There has been some stuff in the news about junior doctors strikes, NHS funding, etc. I get the feeling that the government wants to privatize, so they're pushing for ....ty contracts with doctors, too-long hours, cutting funding, etc. so when complaints go up and waiting times increase, they can point and say, "See? It isn't working, we need to privatize!" I really hope this doesn't happen though, since I'm certain taxes wouldn't go down if I suddenly needed to pay out of pocket for healthcare.

    Also, regarding wait times here, I think you can pay to go private and be seen by a specialist right away, though I'm not sure what is involved with that or what the costs are.
     
  11. coffeeflush

    coffeeflush SS.org Regular

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    This might not seem about health care but bear with me.

    I was in a job (entirely different industry but same working conditions) where I had to work insane hours for low pay. The experience was enriching and I had to deal with lot of emergencies all the time , after 2 years I got burnt out and left the job.

    Doctors and Nurses in public sector have it worse , lot of good ones either start private practice or move onto other fields. Nurses as well.

    In India , while healthcare is somewhat affordable, it is affordable at the cost of making life for medical staff tougher then it is in 1st world countries. Currently I am in Germany and though healthcare I have heard is much better here, I am happy I have not yet had to experience it.

    But the cost of even basic medicines/procedures is staggering.
     
  12. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The USA is on a continual decline. Health care here got awful before the ACA, and the ACA didn't change much, from what I can tell.

    When I was younger, things were great. I had great insurance through my parents, then through my 20th century employers. If I was sick, I would call the family doctor, make an appointment to see the doctor within 48 hours, be seen by said doctor, talk to the doctor, usually receive my diagnosis and something to help, but sometimes be sent directly somewhere else for immediate testing or treatment ... whatever. It wasn't cheap, but compared to now, it was affordable.

    Then the economy started crumbling in my area, so I moved away. Long after, I had an accident and broke my arm. My employer fired me and cancelled my insurance immediately when they heard. I was left with no insurance and a broken arm, requiring surgery. The family doctor referred me, and this other guy I didn't know didn't give a ..... I ended up getting, in writing, a quote from the doctor and the hospital that ended up being a complete farce when the bill was over 2000% higher than the quote. The payment options the hospital offered were reneged when the cost soared, which was the hospital's fault and had nothing to do with me (aside from being allergic to one kind of medication, which I was given, despite telling several nurses and having in writing that I was allergic to it), nor anything unforeseen. I ended up being completely ruined, financially. I went from being days from putting a down payment on a house in a nice neighbourhood to being tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I went from working two full time jobs with good benefits to working just as much at one salaried job with no benefits. And that was beside going from healthy to crippled.

    Now, when I get sick, I have nowhere to go. No family doctors in this area are even accepting people to go on waiting lists. I took my wife to the ER, and had a doctor tell her she was being a wimp, and she needed to toughen up, even though she clearly was injured and has an infection and needed antibiotics.

    So, health care in the USA is a pile of dog...., but not because of the ACA, and not because of capitalism, but because of scammers and shady business practices.
     
  13. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    'But the cost of even basic medicines/procedures is staggering.'

    This. This right here. They shouldn't be.

    The ACA benefited ONE group: Pharmaceuticals. It was suppose to work for insurance companies too, but that isn't going so well. Double digit annual price increases for all paying customers. My employer has moved health plans twice since the passage, TRYING to keep our costs manageable.

    If you think that our current government works in YOUR best interests, on ANY level.... You are a lost cause at this point.
     
  14. asher

    asher So Did We

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    So the multiple millions of previously uninsured people who now have health care didn't get anything? :scratch:
     
  15. flint757

    flint757 SS.org Regular

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    IME with my healthcare I rarely see the same GP (usually end up seeing the on staff nurse practitioner), appointments can take up to 45 days or more for me to get with specialists, major surgeries get pushed in favor of triage cases (even when your surgery seems significant), the doctors I have seen seem sometimes incompetent or can't be bothered, if something is wrong with your bill it takes months to fix and you have to jump through hoops, if your doctor fills your script wrong it could cost you 2-3x as much, and so on.

    I needed a bone density scan and MRI and it cost $2800 with my deductible being $2500. I've waited over 4 hours at an urgent clinic and everyone I've ever known who goes to the ER with something not immediately life threatening sits there for at least 5 hours.

    They also consider a great deal of things to be superfluous and/or cosmetic. Example: I'll need IOL's implanted in my eyes because I have rather severe cataracts. Not only will I have to likely pay at least 20% of that bill, but they base their coverage for the procedure on the bare minimum necessary to get me walking out of the door. So if I want implants that don't absolutely suck balls I'll have to pay any additional costs completely out of pocket, including the fees I already have to pay, the deductible, and the cost of holding insurance to begin with.

    We have a nurse shortage, doctors are being told to see more patients (thus less personal and way shorter visits), and wait times are only increasing (leading me to presume that how healthcare is paid for has nothing to do with any of these issues like it is usually presented when single payer is being brought up).

    This is US PRIVATIZED healthcare. :wallbash:

    On that topic, didn't a high court also just rule that the government can't appropriate funds without full congressional approval to pay the backdoor payment to the insurance companies for theoretically lowering their costs? I never agreed with that portion of the ACA at all. The idea of congress subsidizing healthcare (an extremely bloated industry) disgusts me, but the idea that they now can't even make those payments leaves me wondering what will happen next (unless something more recent has occurred).
     
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    ^ If someone is robbing you blind, whether you are in a democracy, or a monarchy, you still got robbed blind.

    I guess that's why this thread exists. If they are insured, but not getting proper medical treatment, then probably not.
     
  17. flint757

    flint757 SS.org Regular

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    Being insured isn't enough either because most people in poverty go for either high deductible plans or minimal benefits to lower the monthly costs. So when they really need to use their insurance often the insurance isn't even paying for it, you are.

    I had a conversation with someone who worked in HR and they said most young folk don't even ask what is covered or how much the deductible is when a company offers insurance. They just hear company paid for insurance and typically that's enough. Her boss was making a half serious comment that they could raise the deductible to $4000 and likely no one would care because no one would even look into it until they actually needed to use it.
     
  18. Hywel

    Hywel SS.org Regular

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    I think the NHS is one of the best things about the UK.

    I love the fact that I can see a doctor for any reason and I don't have to worry about how much it's going to cost or if I can afford it. Sure, there are some waiting times for less urgent problems but anything serious or urgent will generally get seen very quickly.

    I also love the fact that doctors can see patients and not have to worry about whether their insurance will cover tests they want to run or procedures. NHS doctors have no incentive to try and push expensive tests or procedures since they aren't trying to make a profit. I can't imagine anything worse for a doctor than telling a patient they can't help them because they can't afford it.

    Private healthcare still exists in the UK but is entirely optional and it's the same doctors as the NHS. All it does is skip some queues and it's generally still quite reasonably priced. Experimental treatments and non cost-effective treatments (such as some new cancer drugs) are not covered by the NHS except in special circumstances and they are assessed on an individual basis.

    There are some problems with the NHS. The changes to the junior doctor contract has tanked morale amongst existing doctors in training and medical students (and the BMA has somehow managed to negotiate it to be worse than before), there are long wait times for many non-emergency things, there's not enough staff and everyone clinical is overworked to name a few but I still think it's a far better system than what's found elsewhere.

    TL;DR - NHS is amazing. 10/10, would pay for though taxes again. :yesway:
     
  19. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    They didn't GET anything. They were legally required to BUY something. Its cost is subsidized by government funds (tax revenue), but no one GOT anything. They bought it, under threat of penalties from the IRS.
     
  20. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    Further more, why not end homelessness with threat of penalty from the IRS?

    Because we can't afford to tax/house everyone, and it wouldn't be fair to try.
     

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