2017-06-22 / Letters

In America, we pay more for health care and get less

To the editor:

If you’re interested in cutting through the partisan noise and getting some useful insights into how other developed countries provide universal health insurance coverage, I recommend “The Healing of America” by T.R. Reid.

Some of what I learned from reading it: In most countries one can see any doctor one wants to. Private insurance companies play a role in many of these healthcare systems, but they’re not allowed to reap billions in profits. Employers pay part of the premium in some countries; if you’re unemployed, the government picks up what an employer would pay. Advantages of having one unified system include simplified administration and billing, which significantly reduces costs. There’s a lot of variety in the ways these countries get to universal coverage; it isn’t all “socialized medicine.” And every one of these healthcare systems is more cost effective than ours, some by leaps and bounds. We pay more, and get less.

Of course, it’s not all unalloyed wonderfulness. The struggle to contain rising medical costs is pretty much universal. Canada has had problems with wait times, though these have been substantially mitigated. People who need immediate care get it; those who can afford to wait often do. (Not that different from here: many doctors schedule non-emergency appointments months out.) Doctors make less than they do here, though there are trade-offs: they don’t emerge from medical school with massive debt, and medical malpractice insurance costs a fraction of what it does here.

Here are the biggest takeaways: in every one of these countries healthcare is considered a basic right rather than a for-profit business, and paying one’s fair share of the cost is considered a personal responsibility. These are the preconditions for success in creating universal coverage. Everything else can be worked out.

Tom Gutowski
S. Lakeview Rd.
Elmwood Township

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I agree with most of what the

I agree with most of what the writer says until it comes to personal responsibility. Seventy-six percent of those in nursing homes or care facilities receive Medicade and Republicans want to that that away. It sounds, from what I have read, Republicans expect these people to work in order to receive Medicade.