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Americans Wait Plenty

July 16, 2007

You’re probably aware that forty-some-odd million people in America do not have health insurance at any given point in time. You’re probably aware that the cost of health care is astronomical here compared to other countries. (We pay about double what they pay.) But you’re also probably aware – because you’ve been told – that people in these other countries have to endure long waiting lists for medical care, and that for all the problems in our current system Americans would never stand for that kind of thing. Right?

Wrong.

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  1. Yeah, no kidding. Although one doesn’t need an article to realize this. Just try getting an appointment especially when you’re new to a town and don’t have a doctor yet. Good luck!


  2. Hey, as soon as Democrats come up with a national or state plan that cuts my costs in half and is still as good if not better than my current mediocre care, I am all for it. If, on the other hand, their proposals double my costs again or increase my taxes by double the amount I currently pay for my mediocre care, I would rather stay mediocre.


  3. From the article:
    There is no systemized collection of data on wait times in the U.S. That makes it difficult to draw comparisons with countries that have national health systems, where wait times are not only tracked but made public.

    So, they’re taking anecdotal evidence and using it to draw a comparison & conclusion against something that is actually tabulated and adjusted for proper statistical margins of error, etc.

    Can anyone say, “biased reporting”?

    The one “study” they cite (a survey – i.e. collection of anecdotal evidence) was from people trying to see their own doctors. Total apples & oranges comparison to the reality in universal systems. The reality is that I can wake up in any city in this country, go to an urgent care clinic or emergency room, and be seen that same day. Period.

    More flaws with the “news” article: What they’re calling a lack of access to “basic care” would actually have nothing to do with insurance or the ability to pay for it. They’re trying to make the case that a person can’t call up and see their doctor the same day because, of what? It wouldn’t happen to be because the doctor is booked up would it? The writer is implying that the doctor’s offices are just sitting there empty day after day just waiting for some rich, insured patients to show up.

    Such B.S.

    Since they are so up on anecdotal evidence, here is mine: I have moved several times in the last few years. I have never had a problem getting in to see a doctor. And I’m not “rich” either. I’m middle class, with basic health insurance coverage.

    When I moved to NYC, I actually lived in an area that boasts the highest percentage of immigrant population in the U.S.: the Jackson Heights section of Queens. You want diversity? Jackson Heights is the living definition of diversity. Pluck two random residents from Jackson Heights, and there is a greater likelihood of them being born in different countries than there is anywhere else in the U.S., and possibly the entire world. And most of the folks who live there are your low-income, unskilled labor types who work in jobs that provide no insurance.

    So here I was, white guy from Wisconsin, and loving it. I thought the place was awesome. Then about a month in, I got real sick. So, I walked two blocks to a corner clinic and asked to see a doctor. The waiting room was full, but they said ok, and warned that it would be a while. I filled out the requisite paper work and waited. A little while later, I saw the doctor. She examined me and wrote a prescription for some medication. I paid a $10 co-pay on my way out the door. Then I walked another block to the pharmacy and had my prescription filled.

    And what if I had had no insurance? Well as I was sitting there in that Jackson Heights clinic waiting room, I observed what happened to people without insurance. They got to see the doctor as well. They were not asked to pay anything up front either. Maybe they were billed later, but that’s beside the point. They still got to see the doctor.

    There is also a free public health bus that goes through JH and other parts of Queens. We called it the “Bunny Bus” because it was painted in bright colors with cartoon rabbits on the side. REAL doctors staff it, and it is free for anyone who wants to use it. They do basic exams, write prescriptions, and will refer you to a specialist if necessary.

    Wow. What a “horrific” system we live under.

    So, that is my anecdotal evidence. But I doubt you will find stories like that in the biased reporting like the article.


  4. Then I think you’re sold on tax-funded health insurance. The entire world is full of examples of it being cheaper. And it’s also full of examples of it being quality care, too. The last holdout – those much-talked about waiting lines – appears to be a bogus argument after all.

    I think it’s silly to think that it’s going to instantly halve our per-capita health care expenditures, but some cost savings will certainly be immediate as the government negotiates lower prices and fees with hosipitals, doctors and drug companies – like they do everywhere else. Some cost savings will likely be over time, in holding back price increases that we would otherwise have to suffer more of.


  5. If anything, the U.S. government should start by overhauling the HMO system. HMO’s are the same thing as government-managed health care: central authority that dictates prices, access, reimbursement, etc. And they’re allowed to collude on prices and access to customer information – something that other industries are no allowed to do. That type of legal oligopoly is why you don’t find any true competition between HMO plans.

    I’m not entirely opposed to some public health funding. But I don’t want a situation like they have in Canada (and elsewhere) where it is illegal to run a for-profit hospital or clinic.

    Overall, I don’t think the U.S. system is that bad. Needs some fixing. But the fixing should be in the form of forcing hospitals and HMO’s to abide by the same rules that other business have to. Not by giving them favorable treatment like our laws currently do.


  6. HMO’s are the same thing as government-managed health care

    They still operate on a for-profit basis, and they don’t have the negotiation power that a single-payer system would have.

    I don’t want a situation like they have in Canada (and elsewhere) where it is illegal to run a for-profit hospital or clinic.

    No, me neither. But there are dozens of other countries who’s plans aren’t like this.


  7. Maybe they were billed later, but that’s beside the point. Tell that to the thousands of people who have had to file bankruptcy because of it.


  8. I agree it is silly to expect to have my costs halved immediately. I think it is ridiculously silly, not to mention irresponsible for any Government to offer a plan that doubles costs for the citizens that already pay double what other Countries pay. With our bi-polar nation, I don’t think a responsible plan will be offered. Conservatives don’t want it and liberals don’t want it off the table. There is no way for one party to get a good plan passed without cooperation from the other. If the Dems can’t take credit for it they will continue to offer things like the garbage that is in the Wisconsin budget, for the political capital.


  9. I think it is ridiculously silly, not to mention irresponsible for any Government to offer a plan that doubles costs for the citizens that already pay double what other Countries pay.

    When did this happen?!


  10. I used the term ‘any Government’ to include state Government to include the current proposal in Wisconsin. It would at least double my(our family) out of pocket spending on healthcare. I believe a successful Government run health care plan would have to be National instead of state to state. But the precedent I see in the proposed health care plan for Wisconsin, I fear will mimic national proposals in the future for the reasons I stated above.


  11. My understanding of the state proposal is that it’s generally cheaper than private insurance. Wrong?


  12. I happened to be able to take the example given more or less and fit it to my life. It stated a person making an average of 42,000 (I made 42,000 last year, the example actually had 42 thousand and change)would pay about 140. per month in taxes (assuming I could take the Government estimate at face value and that there would be no additional costs involved). There would be reasonable co-pays averaging 10. per visit, etc.
    Currently I pay 144.60 per month for my wife and myself combined. In addition, my company negotiated a higher deductible of 2,000. and with the savings is paying the first 1,000 in deductibles for us. So if we have less than 1,000. in out of pocket expenses, we pay no copay, nothing extra. If there is an expensive emergency we will pay 1000. before our hundred percent coverage kicks in. Innovative by my company I know and not everyone works for a cool corp, but centralized health care takes away any innovative possibilities. Maybe for the average person it would save or at least cost not much more, but I have a feeling that the two person household will be hit the worst.
    Even assuming the plan worked with no shortfalls my family would pay 280. each month in taxes and then whatever copays and other deductibles that may apply. Actually I don’t know, is there a deductible on the Wisconsin health plan?


  13. Tell that to the thousands of people who have had to file bankruptcy because of it.

    Filing bankruptcy over a bill for a walk-in clinic? “Thousands” of people you say?

    I’m not sure what kind of walk-in clinics you’ve visited, but the one I was at in Queens doesn’t charge bankruptcy-range rates for a visit.

    I am of the view that basic & preventative care should be paid for out-of-pocket, and that the more serious procedures, medicines, and debilitating chronic diseases – the stuff that takes more time and expertise to treat – should be covered by insurance.


  14. I’ll spend the better part of a year making monthly payments on the MRI I had with my last ER visit. Still making payments to the neurologist as well. My asthma medications alone are well over 300 a month. A single dose of migraine med will set me back 100. After I’m done budgeting for new tires this winter I’ll be setting that money aside to go in for a pap and mammogram. I haven’t had one in four years. My grandmother was diagnosed with uterine and breast cancer when she was 10 years older than I am now. Part of me figures that perhaps I’d would be a waste of money to go in for the screening because there’s no way I could afford treatment if they found anything.

    I’m just one person, not thousands. No bankruptcy but I can no longer afford the house I’ve lived in for seven years. I’m sure it’s a moral deficiency on my part because certainly a single mom working a full time job shouldn’t be so irresponsible as to lose everything making sure that my migraines weren’t actually an aneurysm. Hell, not just a moral deficiency, a downright really poor choice in genetics because not only did grandmother die at 50 of cancer, grandfather dropped dead of an aneurysm a dead age. Why the hell should the rest of the hardworking upstanding Americans have to pay $0.75 more a month on universal health care just so *I* don’t die at 50. Too bad I’m not still a fetus.



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