ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Health Care, Drugs & Insurance

Is healthcare in America a basic right or privilege? Does America care about health?

Updated on November 23, 2010

Some Thoughts on Rights and Privileges

Until I joined Hubpages in the summer of 2008 I lived in blissful ignorance of American Healthcare issues. Sure, I knew that there was no national scheme, but I assumed that everyone was covered by medical insurance, and that those who were poor, elderly or disabled were somehow taken care of by the State. After all, that's what we do in the West, isn't it?

Well apparently that's not the correct version, nor is it even partially correct. There will be some who say, that being British, I have no right to pass an opinion here, but I beg to differ. Health-care should not be a privelege, available only to those that can finance it. It should be (as it is here in the UK) available to anyone and everyone who is in need of help.

On this site I have read about people who fear ill-health in much the same way that Londoners once feared the Bubonic Plague. Every little niggle that might potentially turn into a nightmare, is dwelt upon, home remedied, tolerated, and then suffered, before a visit to a doctor or an emergency room is considered. How can this be right in the same country that can afford to give millions of dollars in bonuses to bankers that have driven the economy into the ground?

Health Care Insurance, it seems, is a very specialised form of gambling. If you go to a race-track and put your money on a horse you may or may not win. If you put your money into a healthcare policy, you may or may not qualify for assistance. Insurers wriggle and squirm like a tank of eels when a claim drops on their desk. Yes they have your money, and may have had it month in, month out for years, but will they let you have any of it back when the need arises? Oh, only if you meet the specified criteria for the claim, and only if the paper-work is in order, and so on, and so on.

Would it be such a disaster to introduce Universal Healthcare? Those who do not wish to contribute towards the good health and well-being of others should examine their reasoning. If everyone pays into a national scheme through taxation at source, and the government oversees the administration of this fund, paperwork is reduced, costs are reduced, standards of care will improve, and most importantly people who have previously been unable to afford healthcare need no longer live in fear of ill-health. This benefits everyone. No-one should live in fear, and no-one should wish others less fortunate to do so.


Submit a Comment

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Always Exploring, this topic seems to have gone very quiet of late, and I'm very much hoping that your recent legislation has improved the situation, at least to a small extent. This hub attracted a fantastic amount of comments when I first wrote it, and it was clear that America was polarised by the debate. It was very striking that the 'haves' were almost impervious to the needs of the 'have nots'.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 7 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Amanda, Thank you for being brave enough to write about our health care need, you can tell who needs better health care by the people hubbing here, the ones who have good health care say " We don,t need national care,but the poor and middle class will tell you that it,s needed very much. The bottom line is, if you don,t have ins., you don,t get good service, i know how the system works. I,m a retired R.N.and i saw what happened to people who were uninsured, and they were not lazy as some have said

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Immartin,

    I'm sorry to hear your tale about your mother-in-law. A fairer system would be one where all past contributions were at least taken into account, but insurance companies only seem to look at the current year, and previous claims. Insurance is like gambling, but without any of the thrill of anticipation (not that I'm a gambler, mind you, but I sometimes have a fiver on the Grand National horse race once a year! LOL!)

    From an outsider's perspective, the apparent resistance to change seems far from logical, but as your hub makes very clear, these insurance companies will throw any amount of money at the politicians in order to maintain the status quo. The sad thing is that so many people are fooled into believing that they are right.

  • lmmartin profile image

    lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    Hi Amanda, as you just visited my hub on this very issue, you know we are in agreement. As a Canadian, I've had excellent care all my life, no matter what the propagandists here report on our system. My experience has been nothing but good. But many Americans like to say, hey -- it's none of your business and as an outsider you're not entitled to an opinion. (not here in the land of the free and free speech)

    In my case, I live in the U.S. half the year and I'm married to an American. We had to bring my mother-in-law to Canada for treatment and care because just as she had a stroke, her health insurance carrier, OATH, went bankrupt. Of course, she was in the country (Canada) illegally, but our system still found a way to help her. When we finally had to return her to Louisiana -- her choice once she was strong enough to make it -- we ended up footing her bills for a decade -- which took us to the brink of insolvency. This for a woman who worked hard, paid taxes, paid for health insurance her entire life. So yes, I am entitled, by my rights under the U.S. Constitution, to have and voice my opinion on this health care mess.

    Good for you for having the common sense to see what so many here don't -- the system here is f***ked.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Bob, I doubt this would get the same level of interest if I wrote it now, as there are hundreds of hubs about health-care since the bill got proposed. Still it got me some traffic, and I enjoyed the debate. I'm definitely glad we have the NHS. If nothing else, reading about American health-care has certainly made me appreciate what we have here.

  • profile image

    diogenes 8 years ago

    Yikes, Amana, talk about throwing the fox into the henhouse, you certainly got some interest with this one. I remember paying £100 to a doctor in the States just for him telling me what I had already told him I needed! The trouble there is you may still be able to get treatment if you are poor, but by heck, they look down on you! Bob x

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    That would be an honour!

  • Niteriter profile image

    Niteriter 8 years ago from Canada

    If you continue to write so eloquently I may come to view you with the suspicion I harbour for Eric.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Niteriter

    Like you Canadians, we Brits have also come under fire for our 'socialized' health care, and it's so called shortcomings. Before I learned about the American situation, I was quick to find fault with our NHS myself. Now I know better. My Mum also died of cancer after a series of serious health problems including an emergency hip replacement following a fall. Nobody ever once said, sorry we can't help because you have a pre-existing condition, or, we can help, but you'll have to pay the first thousand pounds. She was treated with unfailing courtesy and kindness, and she never once had to worry about the cost of her care, or whether she was racking up a bill for her family to pay at a later date.

    My children were both born by Caesarian section after difficult pregnancies. All my medical care was free. When I learned that babies come at a cost in the States I was genuinely amazed.

    The issue in America is firstly that they have a built in extra tier of greedy, unfeeling, profit-driven insurance companies who have somehow brain-washed a large chunk of the nation into believing that they are actually necessary. Secondly there is an ingrained resistance to anything that might be labelled 'socialist'. My big question is, how is it more acceptable to pay health-care dividends to an expensive and manipulative insurance company than it is to pay a smaller amount to the government?

    Thanks for your thoughts Niteriter. I'm enjoying your hubs BTW.

  • Niteriter profile image

    Niteriter 8 years ago from Canada

    Hi Amanda:

    You have a great discussion going here. As I watch the US healthcare debate from the safety of my Canadian citizenship, I am horrified that a nation of intelligent and civilized people can be so indifferent to the suffering of their brothers and sisters. An irrational and obsessive fear of socialism has blinded those good folks to the cruelty inflicted on them for a cause no greater than the greed of a powerful few.

    I sometimes hear American right-wingers talk unflatteringly about the Canadian way of life. They point to us as evidence that socialism is a system that would not bring any good to America. They say our healtcare system is a shambles and that the wellbeing of our nation is in jeopardy.

    Our Canadian health system is far from perfect. It's true that we sometimes have waiting lists. On those lists, though, are no patients with life-threatening illnesses nor are there any victims of serious accidents; and those emergency patients are not asked for proof of ability to pay before they are admitted for treatment. I would trade socialism of this kind any day to avoid the tragedies that befall American families in similar circumstances.

    It's not so long ago that I lost my mother to cancer. During the two years she fought the disease, never once did we worry about whether the medical community would provide her with adequate support. During the final months when she was hospitalized, never once did we have a discussion with hospital staff about money. And during her last days, not once did we question the motives of the caregivers who nurtured her through the whole ordeal with the concern and respect that was her due as a human being. We as a family were free to share those last days in dignity, sadness, and love. I find nothing to fear in socialsim like that.

    When I see some US politicians presenting their arguments, I feel a deep sense of despair. It seems to me that those politicians have lost their soul. I don't hear many words of concern for the people they are supposed to represent and defend. It don't hear much talk of the world's richest nation caring for the needy in their midst. I hear too much talk about concerns for some industry's bottom line.

    It reminds me of the long days we spent with my mother. I wonder how I'd have felt if we'd had hospital administrators hounding us for money while we were living those most terrible of days. Or if we'd had our mother lying there crying because of the burden she would be leaving for us.

    I think perhaps I would have been tempted to question whether we are a "civilized" society after all.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Dutchman, thanks for your thoughts. Strangely enough, before I became more familiar with American politics, I had always imagined myself to be slightly right of centre in my political affiliations. Like you, I believe that people should work to earn their living, and that hard work should be rewarded. Here in the UK we do indeed pay for our healthcare, but through a deduction taken from our wages at source. This deduction is called National Insurance. Because it is a national scheme, and taken alongside our regular taxation, the extra costs involved in administering it are minimal, despite the fact that the scheme is inclusive. From your comments it would appear that this kind of scheme would suit you perfectly so long as it were not run by the government, and you were therefore paying the administration fees etc to a private company.

    Money must always change hands to pay for healthcare. That is almost inevitable. There are always costs. A national scheme is a two way contract. You give the government a fee and in return you get healthcare wherever and whenever you need it, and as much or as often as it is required. A privatised healthcare scheme is a triangular relationship. There's you paying over your hard-earned cash, and the health insurance company passing it on (after taking their chunk)to healthcare providers and the shareholders. Of course it will cost more, and of course they will wriggle about passing on what's due to you, because this kind of scheme has more demands on it's resources.

    I don't know what the eventual outcome will be for the USA. I really want poorer people to be able to access good healthcare, and for people like yourself to not get cheated by an unfair system, but all the time greedy, immoral, insurance executives are in charge, and continue to have a free reign, I don't see too much changing.

    I haven't seen the draft proposals for Obama's scheme, but I gather that the insurance companies will continue to figure prominently. Unless they are heavily regulated and successfully kept in line, I suspect the ridiculous and unfair scenarios you outline above will continue to be commonplace.

  • dutchman1951 profile image

    dutchman1951 8 years ago from Tennessee, USA

    If this point of view will assist;

    Health Care is a Privelage, "NOT" a basic Right. Basic Rights in the US, usually imply those rights Granted in the Constitution. Medical care was never intended to be that. The Constitution Provides for basic Freedoms, and Protections as a country, the rest is up to the Individual to toil and endevor (earn his way!) Thats the cruxt of the argument.

    and that is the one source of a central argument about President Obama, he says the Constitution is flawed, and wants Medicine Socalised, but he has no Idea how to pay for it without burdening down the Working class of America.

    Thw working class can not pay it, there are no jobs, factories are closed and shipped over-seas, and off border to Canada and Mexico, and most states in the US have at least 9-10% un-employment. We are burdend down by trade rules making us wait on other countries to sell goods, so things can be so called equal, but the tarrifs and taxes in other countries on US goods are prohibitive, so they do not sell. To expensive.

    Our Goverment keeps printing more money, handing it out to stimulate our economy. But what they are really doing is devaluing the Dollar down, and making things rise in price, so we can not buy what we need, and then asking us to pay even more for a medical system that covers everyone, like it is a given right. and it is not, you have to work for it.

    Thats why we are rebelling at that, we think our constitution is ok as is, dont want the social idealism. The Other side of the argument is also a valid one; what happens to the Poor? To the folks who really can not climb out of the Poverty cycle, and pay for the care? How do we treat those folks? They can not be denied, and we all realise it, but most want that coverd by cheeper cost and affordable insurance plans with fair laws, not a Goverment run mess.

    The argument is intense, and many rumors and inuendos are flying, people are angry, some fear we are loosing the basic premise our country was formed on, others say no it is equal distribution of privelage. Others are more radical and want America changed completely.

    In between all the News coverages and hype, the underlying problem is Money...

    I just hope we can come to a good compromise so all may get affordable care, and we can get some real equality, without socalism, it is not needed in the US, it will not survive here, we are not that dosil enough of a people, to follow a one Party, one way system.

    We are headed for class warfare I fear. Not Good.

  • dutchman1951 profile image

    dutchman1951 8 years ago from Tennessee, USA

    Here is A Real example of the Underhanded-ness of American Insurance Co's for you to consider; Happend to me.

    I am a type 2 diabetic, I was sick to my stomach, dizzy, passing out, having to miss work. My Doctor found the problem, I was on the wrong Diabetic medicine for my Body Type and the Advancement of the Diabeetes. He put me on the correct meds, and I have sense reversed the condition and am able to be off of Insulin, a money savings in itself.

    3 weeks after I was put on my new meds. I got a letter from a doctor in India, who maintains a token administrative office in Washington DC, and is on the Board of CIGNA Insurance. They have a cost cutting review board! One like Obama is proposing for the New Health System he wants.

    She told me they will not pay for my meds because I am listed as a Type 2 Diabetic, and I only need this certin type of Medicine???? The Medicine she told me I had to take was the exact medicine that caused the condition in the first place!

    She has never examined me, she has never spoken to my Doctor, never reviewed my records, or my actual, to date, medical file. She see's no patients in the US, She is Administrative only, but is lowed to sit on the Review Board?????? My Doctor is a 25 year Practicing Internal Medicine Specialist and also a Teaching Physican at Vanderbuilt Univ. Medical Center! And she, a person who does not even practice medicine in the US is telling him what to do?

    I asked a Lawyer here in Nashville to look into it and go after Her, sue her between the states in court. He said she was protected by a Congressional law that forbids the law suit, and if I went after her I would have to do it directly, not sue CIGNA directly, I would have to sue her in India, and the US. Gov. would never grant me permission to file it!!!!!!

    Cigna, is using a loop hole, they will not pay for the medicine I need, but accept a 169.00 a month US Dollars premium from me and the rest from my employer. But they are skirting the Law saying they will pay for meds they say I need only, not what my doctor says I need.

    This is a common problem for people in the US. It is not the Medical care that needs change it is the Laws protecting the Insurance Co's who are legaly stealing from US Citizens.

    Cigna can claim they are paying for meds for me, just not what my Doctor says I need!!!!!! They do it to millions of folks in the US.

    As far as Cancer, when you are diagnosed with it, all the Insurance Companies, take you through an automatic administrative review ( A deep back-ground check in disquise!) and then find excuses to drop your coverage. They dive into your personal background, and if you have ever had even one small thing, say back in your childhood and you did not remember it, then they will use it to deny coverages saying you lied.

    That way they do not pay for the cancer treatments. The US, needs Insurance Law reform, not medical Reform. Thats what a lot of the anger is about.

    The care is excelent here, but cost is out of sight. If you try it on your own you can not afford it? Thats the problem. And the Insurance Companies are rip-off's. They will pay for token treatments and try to back out of the contract when you really need the help, by finding allowed loop-holes.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Peggy, thanks for posting. I had a look at your link and had a number of concerns about it, especially the statistics that were quoted with regard to cancer care. These sounded so dramatically at variance that I wonder where they might have been gathered from. This, especially as I have read a number of comments on various hubs about cancer patients being unable to afford care under your current system,and dying as a consequence (A recent hub by ChefJeff was particularly harrowing).

    I'm certainly not going to claim that the NHS is perfect. It truly isn't, but what needs to be understood here, is that for those disatisfied with waiting lists, or sharing space with others on a public hospital ward, there is the alternative of private healthcare. No-one here says that you HAVE to use the NHS, but thank God it's available to those, like me, who could never hope to afford the private option.

    I'm sure that the best of US medicine is absolutely superlative. World class, in fact. I wonder if the answer isn't simply to do away with the insurance based interface and allow people to negotiate directly with healthcare providers much as they do in countries such a India. This is probably how things were in the USA before the whole employer based insurance scheme was set up. Of course interested parties will no doubt fight tooth and nail to prevent that happening. There will always be those who have a self-interest in preserving the status quo.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    We do have good health care in the U.S. but the costs are just getting too high. Much can be done to alleviate those problems without totally changing our system.

    Read here for what is good about U.S. health care:

    As to no one going outside the country, James, for medical care...I personally know of several people. They went for elective surgeries...mostly cosmetic...and their entire trip including hospital and recovery stay was far less expensive than having it done here in the U.S. Plus they enjoyed a vacation. So it does happen.

    Much of this comes down to pure economics and how can we afford this? When the government gets involved costs do not always go fact, often the opposite happens.

    Our U.S. post office was given as an example of how government entities are operated as compared to the private UPS or FedEx. Our government run post office is in a financial deficit position at the moment by mega-millions of dollars! Not so with the private companies. Another bailout in the works? Undoubtedly!

    Americans by nature are very generous people. We give lots of money to people all around the world and help out in disasters of all types. I don't think the majority of people wish to see anyone go without medical care, and if this could be discussed logically and let everyone from both sides of the aisle add to the discussion, perhaps we will achieve a result that will be more to everyone's liking in the end.

    All of this name calling and one-sidedness does no one any good.

    We NEED more affordable health care. I do not think anyone would disagree with that. But we also want to keep the best of what we currently have and do not want our health care to deteriorate. We can achieve this if we start working together and learn from the best of what works...or what doesn't work as well from everywhere around the world.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi James

    I think we have a bit of a stale-mate here. I've never experienced a need to 'pay' for health-care regardless of whether I or my family are in or out of work. Of course I do make a payment, directly deducted at source along with our regular taxes, but because it is taken in this way, and represents so little of what I earn, I never think twice about it.

    You, on the other hand, have never experienced completely socialised health-care, and can probably afford to cover the needs of yourself and your family, so can therefore not see the difficulty.

    As I'm not American, I can't speak for those that fall down the gap between earning a sufficient amount not to qualify for socialised help, yet an insufficient amount to be able to make regular insurance payments to cover the cost in addition to day to day living expenses. There are many hubbers, however, who are very much in that difficult position, who have left eloquent and intelligent comments above yours, and they are in the majority here.

    The UK system is not perfect, but if we want something done in a hurry, or at our convenience, we do have the option of paying for private care, and we do not necessarily have to take out additional insurance to do this.

  • James A Watkins profile image

    James A Watkins 9 years ago from Chicago

    Health Care is not a right.  Our rights in America are enumerated in our Constitution and Bill of Rights and there is no mention of a right to Health Care. 

    You would know better than I about your National Health Service in Merry Olde England.  I have read a number of articles that paint a negative picture of it written by Theodore Dalrymple. 

    This is an interesting, thought provoking Hub and you attracted one real flamethrower I see who spews hate at all who disagree with national health care.  The other fella who claims Americans routinely go out of our country for health care is mistaken.  I have lived here all of my 54 years and I have never heard of anybody that has done so except for "experimental" cancer treatments in Mexico that are most likely quackery.  It is illogical as well because the issue raised is always about the poor and if they have no money how are they doing all this international travel?  I know people come here from all over the world for help with health problems, including many world leaders. 

    People here get health care if they have insurance or not including illegal aliens.  Our budget for Medicare and Medicaid is about $600,000,000,000 this year so it is not like our government (taxpayers) are not providing health care to many. 

    My own opinion is that when the government got into the health care business in the 1960s with these two programs they screwed up the whole system. The cost exploded when the government got involved for the simple reason that if the government is paying they always pay too much. Back then and since I talked to many old timers who had never heard of anybody who couldn't see a doctor and get help if they needed it. 

    Anytime a bureaucracy gets involved there is massive waste, fraud, over billing, over spending, and the army of bureaucrats who shuffle all that paperwork must be paid.  I believe the private sector can do a better job.  For instance, compare the USPS with FEDEX.  Anything there is a market for in America some sharp people will figure out a way to supply. 

    Then there is the matter of freedom.  Any area in which we give the government the power over us a loss of freedom.  Our experience at the Driver's License Bureau should make us shudder to think about having to deal with a bureaucracy for our health care.  And if we give the government the power over this industry totally, representing 14% of our entire national economy, it won't be good.  And the government will be making life and death decisions for us.  What if this became politicized in the future?  Once you give it to the government you never get it back.


  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Earnest. You're absolutely right. Healing those who are sick should be every government's priority. As soon as you introduce a commercial aspect to such issues, you can pretty well guarantee that someone, somewhere will be losing out.

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    We do not seem to have our priorties right, that's for sure. Healing illness should not be a luxury anywhere in the world.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi CWB,

    Economic terrorism is a good way of describing it. It's all about priorities. What seems obvious to you and I is a mystery to others apparently!

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    A tiny fraction of the amerikan military/empire building budget would be more than adequate to provide complete health care to everyone in the country.

    The u.s. spends more on military than the next 48 nations combined!

    Where oh where shall we find the money for health care ?, the mammon worshipers moan.

    Ask the guy who "found" the money for the illegal invasion and occupation or Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Ask Obama where he "found" the money to bail out the criminals running the banks and wall street.

    We are being subjected to economic terrorism.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Roastedpinebark,

    This is such a thorny and divisive issue, and I do understand the viewpoint of those who feel they should not be obliged to subsidise the healthcare of those that leave things to chance. The problem is that that is exactly what is happening anyway as a result of healthcare providers having to recoup their losses on unpaid bills by means of increased charges for those that do pay.

    If everybody in employment automatically pays a small, regular amount (it's certainly not as high as 20% here in the UK) then the burden is spread more fairly. The typical contribution towards healthcare here in the UK is far lower than the American healthcare insurance I've seen mentioned on various hubs. I don't imagine that Universal Healthcare is going to happen anytime soon in the USA, but as an outsider looking in, I can only see potential benefits.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Like you I would like the world to operate in a spirit of selfless generosity on every issue affecting mankind, but I fear we've a bit of a wait before that happens!

  • roastedpinebark profile image

    roastedpinebark 9 years ago from Iowa

    What I have come across here in the US is that anyone who is in need of medical help receives that help until they are stable, it is an oath that doctors take. It is very common for patients without insurance to be treated until they are healthy enough to be released. The problem with paying for medical procedures through taxes is that for everyone to be covered fairly by a taxation, the amount of money needed would be impossible to fund, we're talking a 10 to 20 percent tax on ones income, just for healthcare.

    Here in the US, I know many people who choose to gamble by not paying for medical insurance and not going to the doctor unless an emergency arrives. It sometimes balances out but cases like cancers and expensive illnesses throw everything off.

    I am very sympathetic to those who can't afford healthcare and personally I'd sacrifice whatever the gov't wants to tax us to pay for those in need, but I don't think its right to force everyone to pay for someone's health bill. I am also aware that non-profit organizations don't receive nearly the amount of money necessary to help those in need but if we look into it deeper, the reason that many people don't donate money to this can actually reflect a gov't tax on it! I am going off a little on a tangent but yesterday I heard on the news that our president was supporting placing a higher taxation on such non-profit organizations. That is just plain stealing from the people that a healthcare plan is trying to help! Forgive me for my strong language and I hope I am incorrect about my views because this just sickens me at what is going on.

    I wish that all of us in the US and the world would be totally selfless and do everything we do out of love for eachother. We'd take care of eachother that way, giving aide to those in need, supplying everyone with the skills we have, helping out each other through our own freedom and love. I know that this is an impossibility at this time period but I wish that this was the way our world is. I am doing all I can do, believe it or not, to help others right now and I do support the leaders of our countries and world, even though I may have disagreements. We must look in-depth about the effects of such a healthcare plan and other possibilities to get everyone medical coverage.

    Thank you Amanda for sharing an international view of my countries healthcare status and I totally understand why you feel the way you do! I have a high respect for you sharing your thoughts with us and i apologize for being long-winded. Thank you so very much!

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Ontheway,

    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.

  • ontheway profile image

    ontheway 9 years ago

    Is health care in America a basic right or privilege Some thoughts from across the Atlantic

    well written, I come on , welcome to my hub

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Lisa, I can see exactly what you are saying, as we suffer from distant government too. Being a member of the European Union, often means that we get dragged into accepting legislation that doesn't suit us culturally or economically. One size fits all isn't always the answer, and just as we have diversity in Europe, so you have diversity in the USA. Of course you are one nation, but that nation is vast and In some ways you are even more culturally and geographically diverse than Europe is, having been settled by immigrants from all over the world, who often continue to live in their own cultural enclaves.

    As an outsider looking in, I would like to see the insurance companies removed from the picture, and the whole healthcare delivery system could then be either administered State by State, or perhaps revert back to a scale of fees system, hospital by hospital. Being in the America you are better able to judge how things need to go.

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 9 years ago from Massachusetts

    Amanda, the "two-systems" thing would probably be less worrisome for many Americans than the idea of having everyone forced to deal with anything tied to the government when it comes to their own health care.

    I don't necessarily agree that Americans don't want to pay for others. There will always be people (regardless of the nation) who don't want to pay taxes for others' benefits; but most of the Americans I know believe very much in having tax dollars go to worthy programs. What most object to is wasteful programs; but worse, programs that keep people, who would otherwise not need/want them, on them. Besides that, though, it is a common thing to hear people say, "When has anyone ever seen the government do something better than the private sector does it?"

    The US has one, big, Federal government; and then each state has its own government (and, based on my own state and some others of which I've aware, state governments don't always make the best use of tax dollars, and certainly are not run by "dynamos").

    So, based on the people I know and on radio/television programs here, I believe the biggest objections people have are to too much government involvement in private lives (and health care is one of the most private areas of life), and worry that the government will turn health care into giant, bureaucratic, mishandled, mess of mediocrity.

    As it is, there is subsidized health care coverage for low income people and elderly people who live on social security benefits. There are also low cost supplemental insurance programs for those people. In my state, because it is the law that everyone be covered by insurance, there is also insurance (either "government" or private) offered at lower rates to people/families at certain income levels that are not necessarily as low as for those qualifying for "welfare/social security" type insurance.

    There are people who fall through the cracks. That's for sure. (When I had my premature baby my BCBS didn't cover his weeks-long stay in the hospital because he was said to be a "healthy premie" (fortunately); while they would only cover sick newborn costs. I know about falling through the cracks.)

    Still, maybe someone would have to live in this country to see how bad things can get when the government gets involved; but - really - a whole lot of people don't want to see a difficult health-care issue turn worse (in ways nobody will see unless/until government health-care is instituted, and people start seeing what those in favor it don't see right now).

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Tom Cornett

    "The day of selective health care is arriving. We will be watching our friends and loved ones being turned away from medical treatment. No money = no saving life! Poor with die! Middle class with pay or die! Rich with cancer.....Welcome, we'll do our best!"

    You paint a bleak picture of the future of American Healthcare. I hope things never deteriorate to that level, but I can't see a real improvement coming in the short-term if the hospitals are as beleaguered as these comments suggest. There's certainly a whole lot of issues to be addressed here.

    Hi Hotdorkage,

    It's good to see you here. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I'm sorry to hear about your tumour, and I hope that your health is much better these days.

    Hi LondonGirl, Mighty Mom, JustmeSuzanne, Pam G. and Tom R, Dolores, Misha, Lita and Silver Freak.

    I hope I haven't missed anyone out , but these comments seem to have taken on a life of their own! All your stories of healthcare bankrupting families, and experiencing real fear that a sudden illness might hit, or that a cycling accident might cause an expensive injury, all these are unacceptable in a modern civilisation.  A healthcare scheme operated with an insurance company as a middle man, cannot work for the wider public, because the insurance companies are interested in profit over and above the care of their clients. Businesses are not interested in subsidising high risk clients, why would they be? The cost of caring for the sick and needy is being passed around like a political hot potato, resulting in higher and higher premiums and hospital fees. Meanwhile those who can pay, by whatever means, are being conned into paying over the odds for the care they receive.

    Silver Freak,

    your story about the families who subsidised the college education of a whole raft of students studying to be healthcare, legal, and accountancy professionals, in order to guarantee themselves those services in future years, speaks volumes about life in the USA. It's a great story, and gives us an idea both how resourceful people have to be, and also how desparate, in order to come up with such a far-reaching scheme.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Thanks SilverFreak,

    It does sound very similar. I like the sound of it, but I don't know how readily this sort of scheme could roll out into everyday life. I suspect we will see a great deal more bartering as the financial meltdown continues. I'm interesed in LETS schemes generally, and wrote a hub about a local currency operating in a town close to where I live:

  • Silver Freak profile image

    Silver Freak 9 years ago from The state of confusion

    I think it's along the same lines as this:

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi CWB

    The more I read from you, the more I'm able to get my head around what you are saying. I can't help but agree that when profit becomes the over-riding motive for providing any service, be it banking, education, insurance or healthcare, then instantly that service is degraded. Because of the way our society is set up, we all need money to survive, and that's how it should be, because society has become far too sophisticated to go back to bartering with beads. Money should be no more than a means of simplifying our day to day transactions, but somewhere back in the mists of time we embarked on this whole cycle of interest loaded debt. I don't see a way out of this in the short term. I do begin to wonder if everything needs to crash completely before we start again with a different way of going on.

    Meanwhile, have you ever come across this?

    There are any number of similar schemes springing up. I'm interested to see where all this is going next.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi RKHenry,

    Thanks for providing the request for this hub. I had no idea when I started writing this, just how much interest it would generate. American healthcare must be one of the hottest topics on hubpages!

  • RKHenry profile image

    RKHenry 9 years ago from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA

    I'm sorry I've missed this until now! Thanks for writing such a terrific hub! I appreciate you answer my request. Thanks again.

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    Privatization has nearly reached its zenith here in amerika. The entire federal government is in reality a corporation.

    Every aspect of our lives is being privatized so that a small cabal will be in complete control of our existence. Am I a conspiracy nut? If so, I’m in good company:

    "For we are opposed, around the world, by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence;…” –John F. Kennedy

    "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the Field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere -- so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive -- that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." - Woodrow Wilson

    "The eyes of our citizens are not sufficiently open to the true cause of our distress. They ascribe them to everything but their true cause, the banking system; a system which if it could do good in any form is yet so certain of leading to abuse as to be utterly incompatible with the public safety and prosperity." - Thomas Jefferson

    “Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve System has usurped the government. It controls everything in congress and it controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will.” - Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency

    “If all the bank loans were paid up, no one would have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of currency or coin in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial banks for our money. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the banks create ample synthetic money, we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp upon the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible - but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.” - Robert H. Hemphill, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

    "The regional Federal Reserve banks are not government agencies. ...but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations." - Lewis vs. United States, 680 F. 2d 1239 9th Circuit 1982

    “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

    The absolute rule of the land is soon to be the capitalist mantra, Buy or Die.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 9 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Back during the Clinton presidency, when some form of nationalized health care came up for discussion, TV ads convinced people that they would be better served by health care being a business. Health care run by businessmen instead of by health care professionals. The US government has turned a lot of government work over to for profit firms, including a rather large chunk of the CDC. That does not make me feel safe.

  • Sufidreamer profile image

    Sufidreamer 9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

    Joe - I don't mean to be rude, but I think that you should learn to read.

    I said that LASIK surgery was invented by a Greek. I said nothing about who invented the excimer laser. Doctors Brint and Slade performed the first LASIK surgery, using the techniques invented by Dr Pallikaris and Dr Buratto, another European. LASIK, not excimer, not PRK.

    A good researcher answers the right question. Based on your inability to read, and tendency to drift into irrelevance, I need go no further.

  • Silver Freak profile image

    Silver Freak 9 years ago from The state of confusion

    I read about an experiment that a small group of people were trying. There were 10 families that each ponied up a grand, $1,000. They did some research at a local medical college and found a student that was doing well in her classes to be a General Practitioner and working a part time job besides. They put this proposition to her.

    If , after graduation, you will give each of our families your services for the next 25 years, we will agree to give you this money. Further more, for each year that you are in medical school, we will raise the same amount and donate it to you so that you can concentrate on your studies and not have to take an outside job that could distract you.

    If you drop out, the money will need to be repaid within 1 year. We have a contract for this and have had it checked over by a lawyer and a judge who both say that this is legal and ethical.

    Then they did the same thing for an accounting student, a law student, an auto mechanic, and a home building contractor.

    All of the students agreed and fulfilled their part of the contract and are now in business for themselves.

    For the rate of $5,000 per year, these ten families have their expenses in these fields covered for the next quarter of a century.

    This sounds absolutely brilliant to me.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK


    I didn't mean for this to generate into a 'my yard is better than your yard' style debate. There's great research being done on both sides of the Atlantic. We're all grateful for medical advances wherever they come from, and however they're funded. Research is not the issue, and UK healthcare is not the issue.

    I wrote this very brief hub in response to a request. At least two other people also answered that request. The amount of comments posted, and the content of those comments must surely speak for themselves. The USA is a great nation in so many ways, but this particular aspect of American life apparently needs addressing. If you can't see a way that Universal Health Care can work, perhaps you could think about other alternatives that would improve matters, and let's talk about those. Debate is good. 

    Hi Lisa H-W

    I'm running out of time at the moment to give everyone a full response, but as I said to Joe, this isn't a debate about how the UK handles things, or how many of our babies die before age one. I'm not attacking the USA as a place to live, I'm merely saying that people are struggling to pay the insurance companies, and the hospitals are struggling to pay for the care they're providing whether covered by insurance or otherwise. Something needs to get sorted out before the whole system collapses. Don't imagine that it won't. After all the banks looked pretty sound two years ago.

  • Silver Freak profile image

    Silver Freak 9 years ago from The state of confusion

    The truly odd part of it is that here in Kansas some of the medigap programs cost 2-3 times as much as they do on either coast. We have less polution, less stress, and a lot fewer health risks, yet we pay more for the EXACT SAME PLAN!

    This sounds a lot like the insurance companies are the ones to blame here, not the gov't. I do think that some type of regulation should be put in place to make certain that, no matter where you live, you're not being hosed and charged more.

    Granted, there are differences in cost of living, but that should mean that rates here would be lower, not astronomically higher. I sincerely think that if they closed all the insurance companies, and nationalized health care, the costs would take a nose dive. After all, we wouldn;t have to be paying those outrageous CEO salaries any more.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Karen,

    Growing up in the UK yourself, you know both sides of the coin. It's hard to understand why this is even being debated. For Europeans, Canadians etc, who have experienced Universal Healthcare, there can be little need for further discussion. I don't imagine for one moment that Obama would be able to get a European style system up and running in the USA, but something has to change.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi TP Gamarro,

    This is a topic that certainly gets people heated! There is a huge resistance to any form of socialism in the USA, and the crux of the issue seems to be that many people do not wish to pay for others to benefit. Yet it seems that is exactly what is happening, because the uninsured are treated in the Emergency Room, and the costs are passed on to those with insurance via higher hospital costs.

    No-one (well the majority of people anyway!) would wish others to go without even the most basic care because they have pre-existing conditions, or earn just a little too much to qualify for welfare. The point is that if healthcare insurance were compulsary and deducted from source income then every working person would pay and the costs would be spread. This is how it works in many other countries, including the UK. I can't speak for the Canadian system with regard to waiting lists. We have waiting lists here for many procedures, but private healthcare is available on an ad hoc basis for those that wish to pay for it, and is also available through insurance policies payable monthly (far more cheaply than the amounts I've seen quoted here). There really is no reason why the two systems should not work effectively side by side.

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 9 years ago from Massachusetts

    In WebMd health news (October 2008) is shown at Number 29 and the UK is show at Number 23, in the world.


    It is common knowledge, in the US, that poverty, very young mothers, and premature birth all contribute. There is no doubt that many people who live in poverty do not avail themselves of even free prental care that is available to them. There is racial disparity (with higher infant mortality rates among African Americans and Hispanics).

    This is something I found for an article on this disparity between ethnicities:

    (the quote is my own, so I'm not infringing on anyone's copyrights):

    "In the New England Journal of Medicine (Mortality Among Infants of Black, as Compared With White, College-Educated Parents) KC Schoendorf, CJ Hogue, JC Kleinman, and D Rowley present findings the show that when differences in sociodemographic factors are eliminated, and when the babies of White, college-educated, mothers are compared with the babies of Black, college-educated mothers Black babies low birth weight (including that caused by prematurity) occurs about twice as often in Black babies than in White babies. Black infants were shown to have higher incidents of perinatal events, including prematurity. Since low birth weight is associated with higher infant mortality this does account for some of the higher rate of infant mortality among Black women."

    Stress - in spite of the quality of health care - can contribute to premature delivery. (As the mother of two premies in spite of a decent income level and good health care, I know that; but so do the experts). American life may be more stressful for more people - I don't know, but that's a possibility. Older mothers are also at high risk of "perinatal events", so maybe the US has a higher number of older mothers.

    Teen mothers are at a high risk of complications, perinatal events, prematurity, and low birth weight babies - and that isn't always about available health care either.

    Given the percentage of the population of US citizens (and non-citizens) of ethnicities other than Caucasion, given the numbers of teens and older women who have babies, given the stress levels of all but the wealthiest Americans (and some of them have their own versions of stress as well) - I'm not sure that ranking Number 29 in a country without government health care is all that dramatically different from ranking Number 23 in a Western nation that has government health care.

    To what degree saving very early premies differs between nation, with today's medical advancements; I don't know. One thing I do know, though, is that some so many very premature babies who once would have died, or who would die without good medical care, do live today. Whether or not a 25-week fetus stands a better chance of living for a while and then dying in the US, I don't know. Live, very early, premies; however, do account for a lot of cases of infant mortality.

    Possibly, too, (although I haven't researched this and don't know) there could be more abuse and negligence that occurs across the US. "Infant mortality" includes babies under a year old. As the adoptive mother of an infant born at 41 weeks, weighing 5 lbs, and later being the victim of abuse; I was told that one reason for the mistreatment involved "cultural differences" between the birth mother (from a dirt-poor, rural, place other than the US) and normal, loving, middle-class, American parents.

  • Tom Cornett profile image

    Tom Cornett 9 years ago from Ohio

    justmesuzanne...yes...I have first hand experience...years ago, my right lower leg turned black from sreaks were going from my leg to my chest. The ER doctor wrote me a scrip for antibiotics and pain...sent me home. I returned the next older Doctor there had me admitted...he performed surgery and I was healed...he saved my leg and probably my life. I didn't have health care insurance at the time...I was self employed.

    Why did the ER doctor release me to go home?!

  • Tom Rubenoff profile image

    Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

    Amanda, thank you for jumping in on this divisive issue.

    I'm not in Coldwarbaby's class, because I don't know the issues as well as he does. But in my heart I know that health care should not be a business, and medical decisions should not be business decisions.

    I tried to read all previous comments, but I'm sure I missed some. Did anyone mention that the uninsured people who cannot afford health care in the United States routinely use emergency room services because that is the only place they can get medical care? The hospital has no one to bill, so the services they provide to those who can't afford it are translated into higher costs for everyone else. Among these people are Walmart employees, because Walmart does not provide their employees with health insurance. Why should they, when they can have the rest of us pay for them?

    We already pay for health care for the poor. We pay top dollar, emergency room prices for them.

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 9 years ago from Texas

    Tom, this is already happening. People are already being turned away for lack of health care coverage and lack of ability to pay. And it is not possible to just walk into the ER with the flu or some non-emergency and get treated. That doesn't happen.

    People without healthcare are without healthcare. Actual, overt termination may never be the case, but there's more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes.

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    I wouldn't be at all surprised Tom.

    It's a very crude approach to eugenics but the logic is true to the ideology. If you're poor you must be inferior and therefore should be exterminated.

  • Tom Cornett profile image

    Tom Cornett 9 years ago from Ohio

    The day of selective health care is arriving. We will be watching our friends and loved ones being turned away from medical treatment. No money = no saving life! Poor with die! Middle class with pay or die! Rich with cancer.....Welcome, we'll do our best!

    Termination of the elderly and homeless who are sick will become common practice within health care policies. Think I'm wrong....come back in 3 years!

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    Lisa HW

    "It's about wanting to preserve the high quality of health care that exists in the nation, wanting to reduce the costs of it and/or make it more available to more people; and even re-thinking the different ways people can health care by offering more options."

    Please re-evaluate your assumptions. Our health care system is at the very bottom of the list of "industrialized" nations and I'm not really sure we even qualify for that description any more.

    These are only a few of more than twelve million hits that will give detailed, factual data to support the above assertion. Out of twelve million, would you not expect at least one or two might have some valid information?

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    "Your" government only robbed you at the behest of their capitalist masters Joe. Wake up.

    There is NO legitimate government in amerika nor has there been for a long time. You, as so many others, have the cart before the horse.

    Since the federal reserve act, since the control of our money was ceded to for-profit business, there has been no valid government here.

    "Permit me to issue and control the money of the nation and I care not who makes its laws." — Mayer Amsched Rothchild, a prominent European banker in the eighteenth century

    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." — Thomas Jefferson

    "If the American people ever allow the banks to control issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." — Thomas Jefferson

    "This Federal Reserve Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President (Wilson) signs this bill the invisible government of the Monetary Power will be legalized." — Hon. Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., Dec. 23, 1913

    "We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominate men. I have unwittingly betrayed my country." — President Woodrow Wilson, 1916

    "The real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen... At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties." — New York City Mayor John F. Hylan, 1922

    Why, if I may ask, would you give a rats ass about "Social" Security? Since you require no assistance from anyone and do not believe in "entitlement" programs, I should think you would be offended by such a handout!'re the only one here who seems to think there's an Amanda conspiracy!

    Why would you laugh out load when none of us can hear you?

    The coded statement is a needless display of contempt.

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

    "It's about wanting to preserve the high quality of health care that exists in the nation, wanting to reduce the costs of it and/or make it more available to more people; and even re-thinking the different ways people can health care by offering more options."

    Then why is infant mortality so shocking high in America?

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 9 years ago from Massachusetts

    People in the US who are not in favor of government-managed health care are generally against it because they fear that the quality of anything goes down once any government gets involved. We hear horror stories from people as close as Canada about waiting lists for health care. An ABC John Stossel special pointed out that people in Canada can get their pets seen by a vet immediately, while humans often have to wait for weeks or months.

    I live in a state where state law requires either proving you have have private health insurance or applying for "welfare" insurance (partially or completely subsidized by the government); which means everyone has health insurance of some sort - and only the low-income people are forced to deal with government "welfare" insurance.

    Part of the problem with health care is that people without insurance, or ability to pay, do receive treatment; and then nobody pays the medical bills.

    In any case, it's not about not caring about people who can't get health care. It's about wanting to preserve the high quality of health care that exists in the nation, wanting to reduce the costs of it and/or make it more available to more people; and even re-thinking the different ways people can health care by offering more options.

    ABC's, John Stossel's, special on health care pointed out that when health care is private there is more competition to offer more and more quality.

    In fact, it is precisely because many Americans do so value high quality health care for all that they are opposed to having any government introduce bureaucratic mediocrity into the picture.

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

    couldn't agree more, she's a great writer

  • Mighty Mom profile image

    Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

    I'm more than happy to contribute to upping Amanda's hub score! She deserves it for a wonderful hub that has invited such enlighted and lively conversation!

  • joer4x4 profile image

    joer4x4 9 years ago from Philadelphia, PA


    I thought your comments were aimed at me directly. If not then my mistake.


    I don't mean to be rude but I do do my homework. You can believe what you want.

    Glaxo-Smith Kline does practically all their research in the US. Some of it right here in the burbs of Philadelphia. Glaxo may be a British firm but they married Smith Kline for the research money they could no longer get in Britain.

    Lasik work goes back about 50 years or so.

    Rangaswamy Srinivasan, working at IBM's research lab (here in the US) discovered the laser was able to etch living tissue.

    Dr. Steven Trokel at Columbia University received the first patents and is considered the father of Lasik. He invented the excimer laser from which all other lasers are based on. He took part in the first US surgery pending FDA approval.

    There were also contributions from Russia, Spain, and other US Universities over time.

    Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris from Greece improved on the laser and techniques. He performed the first surgury but invented nothing.

    Perhaps you can expand your research a bit. Include US hospitals and universities of which several are right here in Philadelphia.

    Based on your Lasik/Greece/inventor comment, I need go no further. Again not to be rude, but a good researcher gets it right all the time.


    To the rest:


    All I can say – my government has squandered my Social Security. Do you really expect me to trust it with my healthcare?

    If I robbed you – would you give me the keys to your house?

    This is the core issue and I think everyone misses the point

    Universal healthcare is not a Federal issue. It's a state issue. At the state level it can be controlled better by “We The People”. It's the law in the Constitution.

    Cost of healthcare used to be cheap. Has it dawned on anyone that the expense could be due to the consistent inflation of our countries monies over the last 30 years? And who controls that... our governments. Our money is not worth the paper it's printed on. If the right thing was done all along this would not even be an issue.

    lastly... I think we've been taken here by Amanda to improve her hub score. It's a conspiracy! LOL!


  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

    I fully support the National Health Service here in the UK.

    Of course it's not perfect. What is? But the financial consequences of breaking an arm or getting an ear infection don't keep Brits from their sleep.

    I would benefit from an American-style system on a purely personal level. My other half and I together earn considerably more than the average income.

    But I live in a society, and in a community. I live in a better place because the children of poor families don't die in infanthood because their mothers couldn't afford ante-natal care.

  • Misha profile image

    Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

    Just for the record - I have not been brainwashed by big farma and I think all insurance companies should be dismantled. Yet I don't think universal healthcare will perform up to expectations, if adopted :)

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    They've been beating us down with their dogma for decades Lita. I for one am fed up with it.

  • profile image

    Leta S 9 years ago

    I was just writing in the political forums on abortion--how more partial birth abortions are performed here in the US due to our system--somewhat backwards, given the fact that those who oppose the freedom of choice are also those who most often oppose universal health care. 

    Health care is a human right, and should be treated as such.

    I second MM's final rant, as well!

    And Go CWB--don't think they are used to hard rhetoric from us socialists.  Maybe they need it.


  • Mighty Mom profile image

    Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

    I'm with Justmesuzanne. There are untold numbers of us hard-working Americans who play Russian Roulette with our health every day. We have no control of what may occur -- a tumor in the stomach like Hot Dorkage. A car accident on the roads crowded with road raging, uninsured drivers. A spill off a bike or a ladder. It's not that we don't want health coverage or even that we wouldn't be willing to pay the RIDICULOUS, OBSCENE amounts of $ they charge for premiums. It's that we're excluded on the basis of so-called "pre-existing conditions." There have been exposes about this. Insurance companies will accept you provisionally. Then you go to the doctor, probably for the first time in many years. Lo and behold, the doctor discovers something that was already there. Of course, you didn't know this because you hadn't seen a doctor in years and were not able to diagnose yourself. Voila! The doctor reports the condition to the insurance company and suddenly your coverage is cancelled. In the worst cases, you may even be accused of FRAUD for not reporting this condition on your application.

    I totally agree with those who say that anyone who opposes the concept of universal healthcare just don't get it. If the risk is spread over a wider population then costs can actually come DOWN for each person. It breaks my heart to know we are putting our medical professionals in the position of having to ration or deny care to deserving people. Talk about immoral...

    Our system here in the US is extremely inequitable. And the people who are most screwed are those of us who work hard and contribute to taxes, but don't have health insurance covered by our employers. People with no means to pay actually DO receive care. They consume more than their fair share of it, in fact. And they get it at the most expensive place -- the ER. That's one of the main reasons wait times are so long in ERs, people who use the ER for routine care. Prisoners have better access to health care than my husband. How fair is that?

    My final rant is regarding health care for our armed forces. Anyone who willingly serves his/her country and returns to the US should be given the super deluxe, best available health care. We owe that much (and more) to them!

  • profile image

    pgrundy 9 years ago

    Amanda, I think you are right, it will fall apart as we argue about it unless we take some kind of action. So all our arguing will be for nothing, since its in meltdown mode anyway.

    I have to admit I'm with Hot Dorkage and CWB about Libertarianism. I tried to give it a hearing when I first came to Hub Pages, but since then I have come to the conclusion that it is selfish, short-sighted drek. Also, it seems very immature to me--like the kind of political philosophy a 12-year-old might cough up after discovering black turtleneck clothing. It has an aura of unreality and extreme self absorption that is adolescent in tone.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Pam,

    I've read so much about healthcare on your hubs, it's been an education, believe me! It would appear that your healthcare system is crumbling under the burden of those who can't or won't pay. The shortfall gets passed on to those who are trying their hardest to meet every bill they're presented with, and meanwhile the insurance companies just stir the pot and get rich from all directions. So why not get rid of the insurance companies, and pay a reduced fee either to the government or the hospitals. By cutting out that extra tier of costs and administration, surely the whole system would run a little more smoothly?

    It's a crazy world, and it's getting madder by the day!

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 9 years ago from Texas

    People who are opposed to Universal Healthcare have been brainwashed by Big Pharma and the Insurance Companies to believe that they would somehow lose their right to choose their own health care plan and that it would cost more in tax dollars.

    Neither of these notions is true. People could still choose private insurance if they wish, and we are already paying for Universal healthcare. We just aren't getting it. It's a simple matter of reallocation of funds.

    The only ones who stand to lose because of Universal Healthcare are Big Pharma and the Insurance Companies.

    I took a spill off my bike a few weeks ago that really shook me up because, had I landed 4 inches to the left, I would have broken some teeth, my nose and my glasses and probably more. I have no health care and no possibility of getting it. I don't know what I would have done.

    People who oppose Universal Healthcare simply don't get it. There are people like me who fall through all the cracks and cannot hurt themselves, get sick, or develop any kind of chronic illness without risking losing everything. I am very fortunate that I am in excellent health, and that's what I bank on.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Silver Freak

    You are exactly the kind of person I had in mind when I wrote this hub. I've read any number of comments such as yours in the last eight months since I joined hubpages, and I sincerely hope that Universal Healthcare can be offered to every US citizen in time. There is a great swell of opinion that wants this to happen, and I sincerely hope that tide will carry it through in time.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    HI Sufi,

    Good to see you here. Healthcare is of course your specialism, and you and I both grew up with our excellent healthcare system fully available to us. I don't know how our private healthcare costs compare to those in the USA. You probably have a better idea about that. For example, would a private hip replacement cost more in the UK than in the USA, or would it be less? Just out of curiousity!

  • hot dorkage profile image

    hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

    joer4x4 to be sure a lot of health conditions are self inflicted, but there are some that truly aren't.  Why for example did I grow a huge tumor in my gut?  I don't smoke, I'm not fat, I don't eat crap, and up till the surgery I was running 25 mi/week.  What about a baby born with a condition?  Should we just let them die because it will be expensive to take care of them?  Should we just shove old people off the cliff when they have multiple health issues?   Survival of the fittest, yeah, That's a real generous spirit.

    PS Coldwarbaby is right on.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi CWB,

    This is such a thorny issue here on hubpages, and seems guaranteed to attract traffic from all directions. Of course if the USA's healthcare system were beyond reproach, and served all needs at a reasonable cost there would be little to discuss and comment on.(LOL!)

    I have never experienced your system, and I'm certain that there are some hugely beneficial aspects to having money as a focus. As Joe says, in the UK, we do have waiting lists, and our hospitals may not have some of the technological advances available to your wealthier institutes. There are always pros and cons in any argument. But I do, on balance, agree with you 100%. Healthcare should be available to each and everyone of us, and those who can contribute should of course do so.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Teresa

    What you're describing there is pretty much what we have in the UK. Everyone gets treatment, but if you want your hip replacement etc this month rather than in a few months time, well then you find the £15,000 or whatever the relevant cost is, and name your day. You know this, of course, as you're from this side of the pond originally. I agree that private healthcare should contribute in some way to the NHS, but I suspect the answer to this is, that it already does, just by relieving the pressure on the public system, and also by the fact that those who go private are effectively paying twice over.

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    I called no names Joe. You're hallucinating.

    Having been a Blue Collar laborer all my life, and not ashamed to say so, and having been a producer rather than an exploiter, I have rarely been in a position where I could do more than feed and shelter my family.

    That's the way the system works here. The best liars, most callous, greediest, self-interested and corrupt are rewarded for their ability to exploit those who bend their backs and toil to produce the wealth of the world.

    Same as it ever was.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi G-Ma,

    Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to hear that you have received good care, and that you have been looked after when you were most in need. I suspect that the people who have most to worry about within the American healthcare system are those who are earning, but just not earning enough.

    Sorry to hear that you have nursing shortages. We sometimes have shortages of nurses over here too. I wonder if the caring professions are as attractive to youngsters as they once were?

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Joer4x4

    There are freeloaders in every society, just as there are those who work hard and contribute through their taxes. Somewhere between these two opposites there are those who need help with healthcare through no fault of their own. At the moment the healthcare system in the USA appears not to be serving that middle ground in an adequate manner. This is not my observation, BTW, this is what I have read over and over from writers here on hubpages who are struggling with this situation.

    The UK of course, is not perfect, but you must read beyond sensational headlines. Unfortunately stories about people who are satisfied with the treatment they receive do not sell papers.

    Joer, if you are not independantly wealthy, and are not earning a substantial salary, then Universal Healthcare would surely benefit you personally. There are many in your society who cannot afford the high insurance premiums and are obliged to take their chances. Under a universal healthcare scheme, everybody who earns pays according to their ability with (ideally) a ceiling to protect high earners from bearing an excessive burden. USA health costs are high because of people who are 'freeloading', and because of those who cannot, or will not pay because their circumstances will not allow it. The hospitals are obliged to recoup these costs fom somewhere, and that somewhere is mostly from the pockets of all good citizens who are trying to play the game. People like you Joe. The only winners in all this are the insurance companies. Universal healthcare does away with that very expensive middle man (the insurance companies), and ensures that everyone who can pay something, does so, via their taxes.

  • joer4x4 profile image

    joer4x4 9 years ago from Philadelphia, PA


    You don't have to resort to angry name calling.

    I live paycheck to paycheck just like many do. All the money I have been forced to put into medicaid and social security I will never see. I pay 8 different taxes right out of my paycheck every week and don't make even 30 grand a year!

    Living in the city you see lots of loafers getting welfare, food stamps, SSI, and they drink, smoke dope, and can do anything except get a job and contribute to society. They don't deseve healthcare or anything else. I don't want to pay for them but government makes me.

    Maybe you should use your own money to take care of them! They would be very thankless for it because they think the deserve it. By giving them a free ride, your government has made them lazy. They have it good all on free money.

    Do you know what it is like to live next door to illegal aliens who respect nothing and get free healthcare. I don't feel sorry for these people. They come in and they think they can do whatever they want no matter who is affects.

    I have known people with severe disabilities that are out there working hard and contributing.

    The truth is that there are people who need help and should be. But these are ver few in numbers.

    So don't lecture me about being self righteous or about profit. And I do deal with my live everyday and I don't depend on government or anyone else. I don't want to!

    Your right we do need to take care of each other but it's a personal responsibility not a government one.

    The Constitution is a libertarian document given to you by people who suffered, died, and froze to death so you could have liberty. Maybe you should try reading it sometime.

    If my self righteous attitude of personal responsibility doesn't fit your mold that's too bad. But you have no right to expect or tell me to support you or anyone else. You are your responsibility.

    BTW - I did manage to give a few bucks to the Salvation Army this past Christmas. How much did you give. I'm pretty sure I gave more than Joe Biden!

  • Sufidreamer profile image

    Sufidreamer 9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

    Joe - I have done a lot of detailed research about hospitals - over 200, in fact. That is my job. I also know many people who have been to hospitals in the UK, Sweden, Greece and Ireland, all of whom have received excellent care. My partner worked in the NHS for many years, I have one friend who is a researcher in genetics, one in heart disease, and one in cancer research - I am not just going by what the press say.

    On that score, Joe, I read the British newspapers a lot. I also read the Greek newspapers a lot - don't patronise me, Joe, the last resort of the ignorant.

    US citizens going abroad are going for heart operations, hip replacements and cancer treatment, not non-traditional medicines. Open your eyes, man, instead of reading one side of the story, the one that tells you that everything is rosy. Americans travel to India for a heart bypass because it is more affordable than the US, not for a dose of Eastern mysticism.

    The UK leads the way in research into genetic diseases and is also one of the world leaders in cancer research. Glaxo are a British company - I believe that they may have invented a few medicines. Greece is home to the inventor of LASIK surgery. Other countries have been known to perform research Joe. Stop being so bloody arrogant - the US does a lot of good things, but does not have a monopoly on research. You were being rude, Joe - try not to look down on other countries, and read a few medical journals instead of the mainstream media tripe.

    As for choice - the government does not force us. If I wish to take out private medical insurance or pay for my own treatment, i am perfectly free to do so.

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago


    Here’s what I suggest for those with the “libertarian” attitude, which is basically “Fuck you if you can’t make it on your own, you’re a lazy, worthless freeloader and you don’t deserve to breathe the same air as I”.

    Take your self-righteous, I’m better than you, every man for himself attitude and separate yourself from society since you don’t believe in it anyway.

    First, however surrender your license to operate a motor vehicle and any registrations you possess for such vehicles. Since these are obviously “socialist” aspects of our society, you will not want to participate in them.

    Do not attempt to operate any vehicle on socialist public roadways or thoroughfares of any kind. This kind of socialist infrastructure is not part of your espoused ideology. Stick to game trails and backwoods hiking paths.

    Do not call 911 for assistance if your life or the lives of your family are in immediate peril. You are not entitled to protection by our socialist police forces. Hire Blackwater, oh sorry, Xe Security to protect you.

    Do not summon the nearest socialist volunteer fire department should your log cabin go up in flames.

    If you are invaded by a foreign nation, don’t expect our socialist military to come to your aid. You are an independent, self-sufficient country of one.

    You are not permitted to utilize any socialist public utilities. Make sure you have your own septic system and well. Socialist city sewage and water are not available to you.

    You must also maintain your own private landfill since you will not want to use our socialist public variety.

    If anything at all happens that you are incapable of coping with on your own, tough shit, deal with it.

    Form a libertarian commune and sit around the campfire telling each other how much better than everyone else you are.

    Wait. Wouldn’t a libertarian society be an oxymoron?

    Since you aren’t willing to contribute to the needs of society at large, there is no reason you should be allowed to take advantages of any of its benefits.

    That’s what a society is, a SOCIAL group that works together to TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Quilligrapher,

    It sounds as though you have a good grasp of what exactly is causing the problems. I've read elsewhere that some doctors are now refusing to work with the health insurers, and just bill direct. When a system is so bad that everyone is unhappy with it, people start trying to find ways around it. I suspect that that is exactly what will happen long-term if a workable system cannot be imposed by government.

    At the moment you have a situation where many do not buy health insurance and have to throw themselves on the mercy of the hospitals in case of need. Those with insurance are to some extent picking up the tab for this, and the hospitals are caught in the middle, looking like the bad guys for chasing debt from the sick and needy. A system where people pay a percentage of their income at source works better. The majority of income earners would then pay at least something, and thus the burden is spread.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Storytellersrus,

    Obviously I can't speak for the Canadian system, and the British system is not 100% perfect, but then what is? We do have waiting lists, and expensive new drugs are sometimes denied until they've had government approval. You do have the option of paying extra for private healthcare if you wish, however. Often the same doctors will hold both private and public health clinics. The main difference between the two is in the speed in which the care is provided, and the swankiness of the surgeries and hospitals!

    Costwise, our National Health contributions are a straight % of income, with an upper ceiling for higher earners. Low earners or non-earners do not have to pay, nor do children or pensioners. $600 sounds like quite a whack to me, and unless you and your husband were high earners, you would be unlikely to pay anywhere near as much as that here. Under the NHS the vast majority of care is free although prescription items carry a blanket charge of around $7 per item regardless of their true cost. Again, pensioners, children, and the unemployed all pay nothing for prescriptions.

  • joer4x4 profile image

    joer4x4 9 years ago from Philadelphia, PA


    Are you kidding?

    Can you get Lipitor if you need it? I know England won't pay for it. They have to use a generic which is not the same. I can get it tomorrow. How long does it take you to get an MRI?

    You need to do some serious research.

    Americans go overseas when their desperate to try non-traditional remedies out of the mainstream.

    Far more people come to the US when they need advanced treatment. Canadians get their drugs from the US because their government won't pay for it. More often than not leading hospitals and universities donate their services to those who come here.

    Not trying to be rude but what has Europe contributed in the way of research lately? Not much.

    Start reading the British press. In February alone I don't know how many stories there were. Everything from poor hospital conditions, drug rationing, overworked nurses, cancelled operations, waiting list, - it goes on and on. Insured or not, few people fall though the cracks in the US.

    If i don't like the care I'm getting now, I can change who I get care from. You on the other hand must rely on your government. You have no where else to go. You are told where to go.


    The stats are so shocking because those are from the WHO and are misrepresented. Of course the US has a higher rate because of its higher population. But on a per capita basis its lower. The fact that it was shocking should have rung a bell.

  • Karen Banes profile image

    Karen Banes 9 years ago from Canada

    I grew up in Britain, have lived in a couple of other European countries and recently moved to Canada (all of which have universal healthcare) but living in Canada has bought me closer (physically and culturally) to US issues. I'm truly horrified by their health care system (or lack of it). Two stats that shocked the hell out of me is that the US has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all developed countries, worse even than some developing countries, (which has been strongy linked with a lack of prenatal and infant health care), and the fact that about 50% of family bankrupties in the US are declared because of health related expenses. How can these things be happening in the richest country in the world? Universal healthcare isn't a perfect system and varies between countries, but no European country would let even one child die through lack of healthcare.

  • TP Gamarro profile image

    TP Gamarro 9 years ago from New Jersey

    Every healthcare system has it flaws but to let children go without is the worst type of system I can think of. I was a single mom for many years and unable to buy healthcare for my family and since I made $80.00 a month too much my children did not qualify for help. I had to pay out of pocket when ever they were ill and believe me it wasn't easy. My oldest daughter was sick with meningitist as a baby and that left her immune system shot so she got ill alot and still is. My youngest had asthma since birth so we made alot of trips to the doctors and hospital.

    Hospitals may not have turned us away for care but they did knock down the doors for payment and I had to claim bankruptcy because of those bills since the government sees me as responsbile and doesn't add the biological father, my ex husband, in the mix. He never got billed or ask to insure his children on his own insurance.

    There are alot of flaws in the system and yes they need to be fixed but to socialize medicine and tell people what they can and can not have done may not be the answer. I remember when insurance companies didn't have all the say about what got done and how it got done. A doctor told them what a patient needed and that it was necessary. I think healthcare has to be put back into the hands of the healthcare providers and not some clerk in an insurance office that feels they have the power to accept or deny you the care you deserve. Maybe doctors wanted patients to stay in the hospitals too long because they felt rest was what was needed and now the insurance companies push you out before you have time to stop bleeding. It's not right!

    As for everyone deserving healthcare, yes everyone should have the right to be treated but not for free. There needs to be a government program set up for people who can not get insurance through a place of employment but they can get it through the government at a group rate that is affordable to all so all families can be insured. It should be set up so the government contributes and the families contribute this way it is not just given away like too many things here in America that is expected because we are in the United States. Stop giving till it hurts and lets start working together to make things better.

  • Sufidreamer profile image

    Sufidreamer 9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

    Great Hub, Amanda - Not going to go into too much detail, because I do not have enough time to get embroiled in yet another long debate with people!

    The only thing to say to joer4x4is: If US healthcare is so good, why do so many Americans travel abroad for treatment? Your healthcare system is not the best in the world, so take off the rose-tinted glasses.

    From a lazy parasitic European.

  • profile image

    pgrundy 9 years ago

    Hi Amanda, well said. You already know I agree with you. I don't know if Obama will be able to pass health care reform or not, but I think if he manages it, it won't be universal care. Still, I do think he has to do something about it if we are ever going to be competitive in a global marketplace--unless we can get comfortable with becoming a third world country down the line. The point many people miss is that if we leave health care as it is, it will collapse under its own weight shortly anyway, much as the banking system is doing.

    Also, it simply isn't true that hospitals leave you alone and accept whatever you can pay if you can't pay what they charge. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. They can and do attach homes, they can and do refuse treatment. I'll find some links and come back and post them.

    My daughter had to file bankruptcy for medical bills and she HAS good insurance, but she got very sick for a period of years. It happens all the time here.

  • Silver Freak profile image

    Silver Freak 9 years ago from The state of confusion

    I'm on medicare aand I can't afford to get the kinds of care I should be getting. I use clinics as much as I can and sometimes just don't go to the Dr. because I have other things to do with the money, like fix our 20 year old car and buy groceries and pay the gas bill.

    I tend to wait until things get really bad before I go to a Dr. just because it costs me $96 to walk in the door. yeah, that's MY cost. I can't afford all the tests and such, 90% of which aren't covered, and as for buying Medi-gap insurance - with what? the whopping $580 dollars a month I get from Social Security? yeah, right.

    Yes, health insurance here in the US is broken. It's funded and run by the same companies that fund and run the pharmaceutical industries. I don't trust them, either.

    Grumpy old woman silver freak GOWSF

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

    So sad Amanda. You're completely correct and as a result you've attracted a right wing nut.

    Nothing that is vital to human survival should ever be controlled by for-profit business. Medical care is at the top of the list. Not only will insurance companies deny care whenever they can invent an excuse, when they are forced to fulfill their obligations they will delay for the absolute maximum amount of time that can be legally contrived.

    People with this attitude of self-righteous self interest, I’ve got mine so fuck you and I don’t give a rats ass about the circumstances, are among the lowest forms of life on Earth.

    It is the very concept of “profit” that is driving the human race to extinction. This is simply common sense. Just take a look around.

  • Teresa McGurk profile image

    Sheila 9 years ago from The Other Bangor

    Hey Amanda -- love the funky picture, with the plague and buboe-ridden!! Great hub.

    I suspect there are two tiers of effectiveness regarding health care. One is universal coverage for everyone; the second is for the people who are willing and able to pay more if they want any sort of preferential treatment. I think there might be room for both. What would be great, though, would be if the second were taxed in such a way that would benefit the universal coverage.

  • G-Ma Johnson profile image

    Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

    Well I can't complain...When I first moved here I ended up in the hospital and the bill was like 15,000 dollars...whch I paid zero...they cannot refuse care...I then went on the State provided insurance and worked really hard to pay the monthly bill...then when things got better I got my own personal insurance, it isn't easy to pay all the time, but they have taken great care of me...and now I am on Soc.Sec. and between that and my insurance I don't pay anything...and I have been in and out of the hospital more then I care to say...

    I realize they charge extra because the government doesn't pay much and they need to at least recover their costs, and with the shortage of nurses these days it is no wonder...from my point of view they are doing a good job...G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

  • joer4x4 profile image

    joer4x4 9 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    Health care as with all things should be earned. What is wrong with personal responsibility? Why can't people take care of themselves? Well, why should they when someone else will do it for them?

    When you give someone a free ride they get lazy and refuse to contribute to society. Then they expect more and more. (You have this problem with certain communities - although a different story).

    You think Universal Healthcare would be good for the US? How can you even argue the point when your own system will not allow you access to the latest technology and drugs. How many MRI's do you have over there? Why is your cancer rate higher (per capita)? Maybe we have the best of the best here because some government bureaucrat isn't deciding who gets what based on a budget.

    People come to the US from all over the world because they can't get what they need from their own system. Their government won't give them what they need. That's the real story.

    Hospitals have closed left and right here in the US because government forces hospitals to service everyone whether insured or not. Then government turns around and pays only part of the bill. Those of us who have insurance have to pay more out of pocket and taxes because there are too many freeloaders. We are getting a taste of Universal Healthcare and it doesn't taste so good!

    No one has the right to take something from someone and give it to someone else and not one person has ever been helped by feeling sorry for them.

    When I re-examine my reasoning I do it with "reasoning" and not "emotion". Did you know that reasoning is "thinking in a coherent and logical way". Since when are governments rational? Never...

    PS. Your banks and insurance companies give out pretty hefty bonuses too! Wink! Wink! LOL!


  • Quilligrapher profile image

    Quilligrapher 9 years ago from New York

    >One American hubber posted that she was charged $800 for a visit to >the Emergency Room where she only received an iodine swab and a >dressing, and had to wait several hours for the privelege!

    I would not overly react when reading about an $800 ER bill. Medical care here in the USA is a three legged stool being supported by insurance companies, the populace, and the medical profession.  The medical professional, unfortunately, is being caught in the middle!  As a result, the prevailing mind set is "those-who-have pay; those-who-don't just don't."  Therefore, a hospital is forced to bill $800 for services that may have cost them only $400 because the insurance companies will only pay them $200.  If they succeed in getting $800 from an un-insured patient they at least recover the loss from two other insured patients.  But in reality, the hospital will probably accept whatever they can get.  The medical  profession has not, and will not, press those who can not pay for emergency treatment.  It is bad publicity and they still remember how close the Clinton administration came to adopting new national health care regulations. There have been many complaints lately from the medical industry in areas heavily populated with illegal immigrants because they lack a sizable base of "haves" to offset the "have nots." 

    At least this is how I see it and how I interpret the events I observe.  I am  sure others have different impressions based upon there own experiences.


  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 9 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    Interesting to read about our system from a Brit pov.  Of course as always, the issue is deeper than it appears.  We have heard horror stories from Canada regarding their universal health care system and the lines and waiting periods as well as the quality of coverage.  Naturally those with great health coverage don't want to be thrown to the wolves along with those who can't afford it.

    I have spent the past month trying to find something that is affordable and also covers something.  My choices at this point are to either pay $600/month for the privilege of paying the first $5800 in expenses and getting the rest completely covered, which is called catastrophic coverage and offers a tax-saving Health Savings Account or to get a deductible program which will not cover my husband because of his eczema.  Combined with his coverage from the company that laid him off, we would be facing a $750/month bill with lots of copays.

    Well tolerated, by the way, is a bit of a stretch, my dear Amanda.  It is broken and it needs fixing, that is certain.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Elena,

    I completely agree with you. Some of the stories about American Healthcare that I've read here have been disgraceful.  No-one should have to tolerate serious health problems, or even minor ones for that matter, just because of a lack of funds. It's a mystery to me why it's so well tolerated, and occassionally even defended, here on Hubpages.

  • Elena. profile image

    Elena. 9 years ago from Madrid

    Hi Amanda! You know I hail from your side of the pond, so no one will be surprised when I say I agree with everything you say. You're also right in saying our systems here in Europe are not fully blunder free, but I just think the fundamentals are *right* --that everyone should be entitled to be cared for, and it's really upsetting to me that this wouldn't be the case in the land of the free -- free from what, I sometimes wonder.... certainly not from worrying about health issues :-) 'scuse me all you Americans out there :-)

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    That's very true Brian. My Dad's cousin lives in France, and he has had some very positive experiences of healthcare there, and rates it even higher than the NHS. Similarly, I have friends in Spain who say Spanish healthcare is excellent, and waiting times are less than in the UK. I certainly don't claim we have it 100% right here, but at least we have no need to hesitate when problems arise. One American hubber posted that she was charged $800 for a visit to the Emergency Room where she only received an iodine swab and a dressing, and had to wait several hours for the privelege!

  • BrianS profile image

    Brian Stephens 9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

    Seems logical to me that a nation as wealthy as the American nation should take care of such a fundamental requirement as basic health care. We know from our own experiences in the UK though that this can become a very expensive burden for everyone to carry, particularly if it is poorly managed.

    So where I totally agree with the sentiment of this hub I would also suggest that implementation of such a scheme would need to be very carefully thought through and considered, if it ever happens. There are plenty of models around the world to demonstrate what does and does not work and unfortunately economics does play a significant part in what can be achieved.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

    Hi Bristolboy,

    I think Obama's unlikely to introduce blanket coverage because of America's knee-jerk resistance to any form of 'socialist' policy. I think his plan was to work with the health-care insurance providers, but with everything else that's going on economically, I suspect Universal Healthcare is probably well down the list. It's all a big puzzle to me, as it must be to you. Apparently US health insurance costs are often higher than the maximum amount that we typically pay here in National Insurance, and it won't necessarily cover all costs even then.

  • BristolBoy profile image

    BristolBoy 9 years ago from Bristol

    Interesting article. I believe one of Obama's big campaign policies was to increase healthcare assistance for poorer Americans, but I also believe these plans have run into trouble. Maybe an American will be able to clarify further?