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Thread: What do you think of Socialized Medicine?

  1. #1

    Default What do you think of Socialized Medicine?

    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?

  2. #2


    Actually, less than 20% are uninsured.. but it's still not good. I spent the summer without health insurance because I'm too old to be covered by my parents' plans and my employer didn't extend that sort of benefit to interns. Right now I have health insurance through my university.

    Anyway, if it happens, Obama's middle class tax cut will probably be thrown out the window. But I do kind of like the idea of having a national health care system like that. I think right now we have a problem that all the motivation for insurance companies is to not pay and they actually staff lots of people who have the specific task of finding ways to get out of paying. To me, this seems counterproductive. I think the money could be handled more effectively by governemtn who won't be in it to turn a profit. Of course.. government has its own problems, but I'll save that post for later.

  3. #3


    No healthcare system is perfect, and I'd most certainly be lying if I said the National Health Service in the United Kingdom is flawless, but it's certainly better than a system that cares only about getting money off people, rather than treating illness. I know there are initiatives like Medicaid in the United States that are designed to deliver healthcare to low-income families, but the idea that these things would have to exist just for the sick poor to receive treatment is frankly disgusting.

    Sure, socialised medicine (I can't stand the word 'Socialized' by the way, since it seems to be used more often than not just as a scare-word by conservative pinheads) means higher taxes, but will you really be getting that much worse of a deal than with private insurers? And what's more, there's always the fact than when you start feeling poorly, you can just, you know, go to the doctors.

    But hey, socialised medicine in the United States is still a long way off, even if Obama is elected. I mean, the US has cruise missiles to buy. Those things are damn expensive!

  4. #4


    The idea of not having to pay insane prices for healthcare or insurance is appealing. That's probably as far as it goes for me, having personal experience in the UK. I knew people who actually traveled to France for their healthcare because the care they got in Scotland was poor, sparse (at best he could only be seen around once a month and he was in severely poor health) and typically untrustworthy.

  5. #5


    I opt to stay in Canada and hopefully we will retain or improve the healthcare we currently have.

    This example of the differences between Canadian and American healthcare systems drove the point home to me:

    10 years ago, I had friends living in Oklahoma with 3 children, I was living here in Nova Scotia with 2 children (and my husband at the time). At almost the same time my daughter broker her arm, and my friends' son broke his arm.

    They took their child to the doctor who ordered an x-ray and put a cast on the boy's arm. He went back to the doctor 6 weeks later and had the cast removed. Cost: $1000

    We took our child to the doctor who ordered x-rays (several) and put a cast on her arm. She had another visit with the doctor at 4 weeks, more x-rays were ordered. After 6 weeks she returned to the hospital where she saw the doctor, yet again, and the cast was removed. Cost: $0

    Now, you tell me who has the better system!

  6. #6


    Sorry, but we all know the cost isn't really $0 . You just pay it in a different way. You spread out the burden to all people, so that an incident as minor as thta really is not felt by anyone (which is nice).

    Anyway, to those complaining about doctors' salaries: doctors make a lot of money. But, I'd argue that they deserve it. We only want the best of the best, and we want them to be highly trained and educated. I don't know about you, but I really don't want a doctor working on me who just scooted by with that C in Anatomy.

    It's very difficult and expensive to become a doctor. It takes a long time, and med school is super expensive. All in all, it's quite an investment in many ways. So, I have a hard time saying that doctors don't deserve the pay that they receive.

    I think the biggest culprits in expensive health care are malpractice insurance and health insurance in general. Since in many places I don't believe there's any cap on "pain and suffering" damages, you end up with ridiculous payoffs. I mean, how can you quantify that in terms of money? Well, when someone sues a hospital for millions of dollars... malpractice insurance has to pay out. As a result, it costs a ton of money to hold a malpractice insurance policy. This is one of the main expenses that doctors have (and therefore that we have to pay).

    And, anyone who has had a health insurance policy in the US knows that usually they restrict which hospitals you can go to and which doctors you can see. This isn't random at all -- your health insurance company has wrangled deals with these places so that they dont pay the full advertised costs. As to what they actually pay, I'm not sure. But, expect the advertised price to be ludicrously high.. so if you don't have insurance that has some deal with that hospital or doctor's office.. then you're going to be feeling pain where the sun don't shine.

  7. #7


    The German healthcare system dates back to December 1st, 1884. Ironically, it was introduced partially to overcome the social problems of the industrialization and partially to protect the monarch of that time from socialists, who were gaining popularity. The basics of the system have remained unchanged ever since.

    The simple idea was to make health insurance mandatory for all workers (excluding self-employed people) and to regulate the services medical insurances had to provide to the insured customers. Mandatory health insurance had been around before 1884 in some states or towns for low-income workers, but since 1884, it has been nationwide. Originally, the employer had to pay for 1/3 of the insurance premiums and the worker for the remaining 2/3. Over time, the rules changed such that the costs were split equally between employee and employer, although that has yet again changed recently, so we're at something like 60% for the employee and 40% for the employer again.
    Until last year, self-employed people and those without any kind of income could still choose whether or not they want to get medical insurance. This option has now been eliminated, i.e. health insurance is now mandatory for every resident of this country.

    Services for the insured members include:
    - payment for any doctor visits and medicine prescribed by the doctors
    - payment for any hospital bills
    - payment of 60% of your monthly income in case you're off work for more than 6 weeks (your employer has to pay for up to 6 weeks)
    Some things have been excluded recently, such as dentures, glasses, and deductables have been introduced a while ago. The deductables are a complex system as they depend on the type of medicine (brand name or no name), size of the package and whether it's a chronic disease or just a temporary problem. Generally, your personal expenditures on medicine (excluding heath insurance premiums themselves) must not exceed 2% of your annual gross income. Anything on top of that you can get back from the insurance again (kids and adults with an annual income of less than 7.664 Euros are excluded from deductables anyway).

    The health care providers are still essentially private companies, although most hospitals are run by either the church or the city/town. However, doctors can't write bills at their own discretion. They need a license to treat patients from the state-governed medical insurance system and the rates they get for certain treatments are fixed. Plus they are allocated a budget for prescriptions - when the budget is used up, any medicine they still prescribe more or less comes out of their own pocket. So the system is not open for gigantic profits by doctors or hospitals, which is why doctors and hospital workers recently went on strike because doctors think they're underpaid and the hospitals lose billions each year and have to cut back on workers and quality of service.

    Incontinence products are included in the insurance, but I'm not sure if you can actually get the name brands or have to make do with some cheap crappy (pardon the pun) products, or fund the difference between the cheap and name brand products from your own pockets. From what I've heard from incontinent people, it has gotten worse over the past years, i.e. they have to pay more and more out of their own pockets.

    Personally, I like the system the way it is, even if it becomes more and more expensive over time as the population gets older. As of next year, the cost of medical insurance will go up to 15.5% of the gross income. The employer will pay 7.3% of that, the employee 8.2%. In addition, the government throws some extra money into the medical insurance system to cover children of insured people (children without an income don't have to pay any premiums) and other people who won't have to pay any premiums. Still, it's better to know that you get the necessary treatment and that the people around you do too.
    Generally, those who think they don't need medical insurance and thus wouldn't get any voluntarily may at some point become really sick and regret their decision. Not to mention it's generally considered fair not to make the lives of people who have some serious medical problems harder still by making them pay for their treatment themselves - spreading the risk of personal illness over the entire population means that the individual citizen has to pay less and can benefit from medical treatment in case they need it. I'd rather pay 8.2% of my income and be lucky enough not to get sick than die young with an extra few thousand Euros on my bank account that can't buy me anything when the worms are gnawing on me!


  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by chevre View Post
    Anyway, to those complaining about doctors' salaries: doctors make a lot of money. But, I'd argue that they deserve it. We only want the best of the best, and we want them to be highly trained and educated. I don't know about you, but I really don't want a doctor working on me who just scooted by with that C in Anatomy.
    You do realise that a growing number of American doctors are being trained overseas now... right?

    Also... I've heard it said this way... "Even the guy that graduated at the bottom of his class in Med School is still called Doctor."

    I'll agree that they deserve a high compensation for the work they do... but I don't think it should cost $100 just to go in and get a perscription for something to treat the common cold.

  9. #9


    Well I am in the US myself and I think socialized medicine is a bad idea. The main reason is somewhere along the line someone is not going to pay yet they WILL reap the benefits. This already happens to welfare and unemployment and social security to some extent here in the US. Over this summer my mom was not actively looking for a job after she quit her only one in the spring yet she lied on the paper work saying she was. Even my own mother plays and screws the system over which is admitted was bad.

    I could get a paycheck every month from social security for my disability (my speech impediment) yet I can still function as well as anyone else. You just might have a slightly hard time understanding me.

    Anyways I can agree with that it shouldn't cost 100 dollars for antibiotics or 1000 dollars for a X-ray. Onetime they made my dad stay over night in a VA (Veterans Associates) hospital since they were worried about his heart I guess. The stay was something like 2000 bucks.

    Also when I was in that car crash over this summer the ambulance ride ( when I rode up in the front seat) cost 985 dollars and 65 cents. This was for about a 4 mile ride to the hospital downtown. Lucky my school had insurance for things like this and I had insurance for my two sessions of physical therapy.

    I will admit if I did not have any of this I would be crying for free health care as anyone else would but my dad pays for our health insurance and we get some VA benefits as well.

    The main thing I don't like about socialized medicine is the government once again forces their way into our lives, the exact thing America was founded to get away from. I guess even the best of intentions go wrong.

  10. #10


    Some points:
    Prescription drugs - Generic drugs are MUCH cheaper in the US than in Canada (it's true, compare the prices some time), so only brand name drugs will be more expensive here, most brand name patents for popular drugs (allegra) are running out in the very near future, meaning the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US are soon going to be cheaper than buying them in Canada.
    Price of Care - Any way you slice it and MRI machine costs over $1,000,000, either you pay for that up front with your taxes or you pay for it when you need one, you can't make any cheaper by making everyone pay uniformly for health care. The price of medical school, and nursing school is not curently falling, in fact it's rising, meaning your doctor needs a bigger paycheck to offsite the $300,000 debt he had upon graduation (couple that with the fact that doctors make <$40,000 for the first 2-7 years of working. In fact the hourly wage for some residencies is less than $4), nursing school is sometimes a 6 year college degree, costing up to $400,000.
    Coupled with the high cost of becoming a doctor is the rigorous schooling, which takes 8-10 years to complete from highschool to graduation, and has arguably the toughest curriculum of any career path.
    Wait time: In countries with socialized health care as compared to the US the average wait room time in an ER can be as much as twice as long, this is due to the fact that since all health care is free, people go to the ER when their doctor isnt available to treat their cold.
    The government itself: Obama's current plan is pretty much offer everyone that wants it enrollment in the federal insurance program. That program is pretty nice right now, for several reasons, the federal government is not extraordinarily large, with 1.8 million employees excluding the postal service. This is a smaller number than the large insurance firms have as customers, which means it's currently efficient. That being said adding just the 16million people in Massachusetts alone on medicaid to that program will be an 800% increase in the number of subscribers. I don't know if you've been to the DMV or post office, but the rate of work does not increase just because they're busy, and adding the 60 million americans (20% * 300,000,000) is not going to make for efficient service. On the same note, as a libertarian, I don't want to pay for your health insurance, and if my company is already paying for me to have health care, why now must I take an extra deduction from my pay for yours? (this is really the only personal point I'll make)

    So in conclusion, the current health care system isn't perfect, but getting rid of it wholesale isn't that great of an idea either. I think the government should instead focus on preventative medicine, and health education (we suck as a nation at math and science) in order to lower the prevalence of preventable chronic conditions and put less stress on the health care system, which will allow better care, and hopefully cheaper care (since their won't be a premium on space) for everyone.
    So basically, what I'm asking is that instead of putting billions into a questionable idea, we go ahead and put the billions into teaching people how their body and the world around them works to prevent them from destroying it.

    Also to the person pointing out that their ER visit cost $0 in Canada, go back and check how much you paid in taxes from the time national health care was introduced until the time of the ER visit and what % went to national health care, and then come back with how much it actually cost you. National health care isnt FREE health care, its simply paying the bill upfront in many small collections, rather than at the time of service.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfinn View Post
    You do realise that a growing number of American doctors are being trained overseas now... right?

    Also... I've heard it said this way... "Even the guy that graduated at the bottom of his class in Med School is still called Doctor."

    I'll agree that they deserve a high compensation for the work they do... but I don't think it should cost $100 just to go in and get a perscription for something to treat the common cold.
    The guy called Dr. who was the bottom of his class, had a 3.7 gpa as an undergrad, and scored >30 on the mcat (the natl avg for all takers is a 24, the high is a 45, but no one has scored that in this millennium). The reason why many american doctors are now trained in the Caribbean is because american medical schools are filled with foreign students (I'm in a graduate program at a medical school, and the med class is roughly 65% asian ((all asia, not just the far east))) leaving no room for american students. However the majority of doctors in America were still trained in america, since most of the Caribbean schools are in the US Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico, which are technically America.
    As to why that doctors visit cost you $100? Well A) overhead of owning your own practice, you have to rent a space, and pay utilities on it, you also have to have a receptionist with medical archival skills, as well as a nurse (who will want to make at least $28/hr as the national average is somewhere closer to 30), as well as paying for any lab tests you have done, and the equipment needed for them(a strep test isn't free for the doctor, neither is the paper that keeps the table sanitary, nor or latex gloves). On top of that 50% of that doctors net revenue will go to malpractice insurance, because it's usually pretty lucrative to sue your doctor (John Edwards made his career on what are now known to be scientifically flawed concepts, blaming OBGYNs for CP and other congenital defects). The doctor then must pay off school loans which are generally at least $80,000, but the average is looking more like $130,000 (source: Medical - Best Graduate Schools - Education - US News and World Report)

    As to the person noting that an ambulance ride costs $900, think about it, for an ambulance to be there when you need it, and close enough to actually be useful, several ambulances have to be constantly out in the community ready to react. Which means a lot of miles have to be put on a very expensive vehicle being manned by 2 professionals with at least moderate medical training (not quite a nurse, but more trained than a lifeguard). That's a lot of overhead expense, but they're there when you need them, and that's the point.
    Last edited by Martin; 17-Oct-2008 at 22:45. Reason: Merging doublepost 1

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