With the upcoming election and the increasing likelihood of Barack Obama becoming President, we here in the States are faced with the distinct possibility of our medical system becoming Socialized over the next several years, much like it is in other "First World" nations (Canada, the UK, Germany, etc.). I would like to know what your opinions are on this... especially you Canadians and Europeans.
For those of you who don't know how medical care in the USA works I will do my best to explain it to you now.
Medicine here, like most everything else, is capitalized. Healthcare is insanely expensive... a typical doctors visit for a physical can run from $100 to $500... and if they have to run any kind of tests or take X-rays you are easily looking at over $1000. An Emergency Room visit or a stay in the hospital in the case of a grievous injury or accident can easily run $10,000. Perscription drugs are also rediculous... with many costing over $100 per refill.
The vast majority of Americans don't have this kind of cash laying around... so we have invented this thing called Health Insurance. Just like on your car you pay a set amount per month (typically $100 per person), and your Insurance Co. gives you benefits like covering doctors and ER vists, discounts on medication, & etc. There are many different plans and many different costs... but the long and short of it is that you need this insurance to be able to see a doctor should you need to... especially if you have a family and children. There are miles and miles of associated paperwork... and your Insurance Co. may not always pay the cost up front... many of them like to reimburse you for the cost of treatment after the fact, which means you need the money anyways or the collections agency comes after you.
This Health Insurance doesn't necessarily cover everything either... for example, many plans will not cover disposable incontinence supplies (diapers) for those that have a medical need for them. Some plans will only allow for X amount of visits to the doctor or hospital each year... some don't cover dental or eye care, so that has to be bought seperately, costing even more. Sometimes you get lucky and find a good job where healthcare is provided for free by your employer... but this is typically not the case. Most employers will not provide healthcare for their employees or famalies so the majority of Americans are left to fend for themselves and try to pay several hundred a month so little Johnny can get his asthma medicine.
It breaks down like this... if I had to estimate I'd say half of working Americans simply cannot afford health coverage for themselves or their famalies. If they get sick they simply suffer through it, or if they absolutely need a doctor they put it on their credit card and try to pay it off that way. If something tragic were to happen such as a broken bone or an accident at home that required hospitalization, these people could never hope to afford the care that they require. Many people die every year simply because they don't have the money to get proper healthcare... and in the mean time the doctors are all out there with their million dollar homes and driving BMWs.
Up until this year I did not have health coverage myself... thankfully I was able to get a job where my employer provides insurance free of cost. However LuvsGurl's employer does not provide free benefits... and as long as we are unmarried my employer will not cover her (the case for gay marriage rights could be stated right here)... so she has to pay $150 a month out of her already meager check to get insurance.
So... Canadians... Europeans... Austrailians... would you rather have the system that we do, or have what you do now?