During our visit to Cuba, the thing the people were most proud of was their healthcare system, despite the older equipment and difficulty in getting medication (because of the embargo). I had to go to the hospital while there, and because I wasn’t a citizen, I had to pay — about 15 bucks in American dollars. In England, people complain about their health care until they hear about America’s.
The US is one of the only countries in the industrialized world without universal healthcare. No system is perfect, all systems have their problems, but ours lags behind and is one of the most unnecessarily expensive in the world.
From the LA Times last November:
Op-Ed I had a health crisis in France. I’m here to tell you that ‘socialized medicine’ is terrific
Let’s get to the bottom line. In addition to my surgery, I underwent an MRI, had a probe inserted in my upper thigh and extended into my heart, twice had a camera shoved down my throat to take photos of my valve, and more blood tests, electrocardiograms and sonograms than I can count. For all this, I was charged nothing.
I did have to pay for my hospital beds, TV, telephone, WiFi and meals. I spent a total of 47 nights in hospitals and rehab. During the second half of my stay at the Grands Prs, I switched from a double room to a single so that I would have more privacy to write. Naturally, that was a bit more expensive. In the end, this entire ordeal set me back about 1,300 euros, or $1,455.
Granted, it’s taxes that make such low out-of-pocket costs possible. My individual burden, however, is far more reasonable than an American might assume. I pay an annual income tax of about 23%. All things considered, that’s fine by me.
I sometimes wonder how my health crisis would have played out had I returned to America instead of deciding to stay in Paris more than 20 years ago. Me, a journeyman writer with no university or corporate insurance coverage. Would I have been kept under observation in intensive care for two weeks? Before Obamacare, my valve problem could have been considered a “pre-existing condition,” allowing insurers to deny me support for the surgery.
Of course, I will never know what would have happened had I chosen to settle in my native country instead of in France. But the choice I made might well have saved my life.