Saturday, 2 May 2009

Universal Healthcare -or- Reduced Quality For All

So at the moment I'm $900 out of pocket for medical/dental expenses, with much more to come on the dental side, and hopefully nothing for medical. About $100 of that is getting reimbursed to me from Medicare. Had the doctors and xray techs I'd gone to bulk billed, they would be getting reimbursed, not me, which would be preferable. I've save upwards of $300 on my dental bills with my private hospital & extras cover, which I pay $60 a month for, but that only covers a maximum of $500 total on major dental, and even that is a 12 month wait period, so if I end up needing root canals etc that's all on me. Had this occured in the US, I would have paid $20 total, which was the co-payment for seeing my doctor. My health insurance cost me about $60 per month through work, and my dental $4 per month, again through work. Had I racked up $10,000 in services from the dentist, do you know how much I would have paid? $0, nada! That type of dental insurance doesn't exist in Australia. I had some chest pain and was coughing up blood the other day, so the doctor told me I could wait and see, or go for a chest xray. I chose the latter of course, which turned out fine, and it seems all is well with the chest, both on the xray and physical symptoms, although there is still a need to take it very easy for a week or so, with no strong physical exertion. A doctor in the US would have sent me for some extra tests I'm sure, and maybe even given me some antibiotics to prevent any chest infections. Anyway, this whole rant brings me to the conclusion that if you haven't experience universal healthcare/socialised medicine, don't say you want it just because it gives you a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling to think to everyone being entitled to healthcare. What it means is that yes, everyone gets some coverage, but it will be reduced coverage and less quality care. I agree that children should have coverage regardless, and insurance companies shouldn't be able to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and that coverage should be reasonably priced for all, but it shouldn't be universal, unless you want mediocre care for all to replace good care for many.

11 comments:

Judy said...

I personally would rather see everybody have some healthcare than some people have no healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Dental isn't covered by universal health care. I don't know why, but it isn't. Universal health care in Australia was undermined by the previous conservative government - it's not what it once was. The system is more of a hybrid now, with more emphasis on private health insurance. Bulk-billing has become much harder to find. So, if anyone is to blame for the situation it's a previous government for wanting to undermine the Medicare system as well as the AMA (doctors' union), who aren't exactly fans of universal coverage.Given your status, are you actually eligible for Medicare? That would certainly affect your situation.

Suzer said...

Yes my status is as a permanent resident, so I do have Medicare.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to read of your accident. :( Having lived in both the USA & Australia, personally I prefer the Australian healthcare system though. If you don't have any health insurance in the USA you're gone!

stumpy said...

Your “cheap” health insurance in the US was through work. You were paying a lot more than $60 for this—your employer factors in the health care costs when determining your wage. If you were one of the many Americans whose employers did not provide health care, then you would have to pay hundreds of dollars every month for a limited health care scheme with a very large deductible. Or choose to forgo coverage, whereas the dental you need would have to be paid upfront and at much higher cost than in Australia. I was one of those Americans who paid for health insurance in the US, and believe me, after moving to Australia, I far prefer the Australian health care system.

stumpy said...

The cheapest health care I found in the US was about $900 per month, (no dental/optical) for a family of 3, and that was a few years ago. I like the Australian system since by making sure that everyone is insured, it spreads risk over the entire population, and reduces the overall cost. I personally see very little difference in the standard of care, and found that Australia is a good deal cheaper.

Suzer said...

I realise that employers pay a portion; that is one of the benefits of being a good worker. It is possible to get an individual adult plan with good coverage for under $200 per month in the US, but I do know that this does not apply to all. I think the US health care system does need some reform, as per my suggestions, but I don't think people should automatically be entitled to health care, as it simply means those of us who get good coverage would no longer, simply in order for all to have something and while that may be an unpopular opinion, it is realistic.

Jenny said...

Thanks for this post. I'm always interested to hear about people's experiences with socialized medicine.
This is such a complex issue.
I think the private system with some reforms (healthcare savings accounts, etc) is the best solution.

opinioneater said...

Well said. There are pros and cons to both systems-- and those who've not experienced both don't have a clue. Had my dad been in Australia, he probably would be dead now because he would have been deemed "to old to bother with" for his heart surgery.
On the other hand, being in the U.S. right now with bare minimum health insurance and no dental is a bit scary (especially since Matt has had to have 2 crowns done since he got here to the tune of $2500). I'm really looking forward to full time employment with bennies again!

Lauren said...

This is so interesting. I had health insurance through my work in America, but it didn't cover eye or dental, and for $90/month I had a $30 co-pay for regular dr visits, and a $20 co-pay for generic scripts (i had to pay 40% on non-generic).
I thought it was a CRAP coverage. When I moved here, I was astounded at what Medicare and our private health insurance covers. We have the cheapest level of private health insurance, and it still covers so much. I had an operation last year and paid a total of $600. That included the fees to the drs who diagnosed, the surgeon, the anesthiologist, all my drugs and my hospital stay. The best part was, I didn't have to PROVE I didn't have a pre-existing condition or anything. TO me, this was an absolute bargain. I can't even imagine what I would have paid if I didn't have health care through my job.
I also have major problems with my teeth, and I have yet to pay much of anything. I found a really good dentist who charges nothing if it's "preventative", bulk bills, and works on a payment plan. Maybe I can give you his office?
THen I fell and hurt my back. Showed up at urgent care, got free x-rays and drugs, and 10 visits to a physio for $20 a visit. I also have an eye condition and had to get a brain scan this year by a specialist. That was free and my new glasses were $50, whereas in the us, they were $800.
So, I think I've drunk the Kool-Aid here and am in love with the health care system! Do you have any private health cover? I have found that even the cheapest plan can make a big difference.
Let me know if I can ever help out.

Suzer said...

More later but yes yes yes I want the dentist's name and details;) Drop me a note on Facebook when you have time.