Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Debunking myths

As the Obama administration begins work towards universal health care, there is an underground movement that is slowly taking root purporting the fallacy that patients who live in countries with universal health care are less satisfied because of government based inefficiencies and mandates. The denialism blog in a series that started last week seems to show that the above is very much untrue. 

From the article, a nutshell recap of healthcare experiences in the US as opposed to universal healthcare systems in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

  • the US is a non-universal patchwork of public and private spending, drugs and procedures may be subsidized by insurance
  • the UK is completely single-payer with private care as an option, all drugs and procedures are paid for
  • Canada is single-payer with provinces deciding how health care is spent and strict limits on private care, prescription drugs are heavily subsidized,
  • Australia has a public baseline access to physicians with subsidization of private insurance and option of private care, prescription drugs are heavily subsidized,
  • New Zealand has universal public health care, primary care and prescription drugs are subsidized with some cost sharing, and private care is an option
  • the Netherlands has a system of obligatory private health insurance (like a nationwide Massachusetts system), premiums have a flat rate for all citizens, with subsidies for poorer people who can't afford insurance premiums. Individuals pay for about half, and employers pay for about half, with government making up the difference.
  • Germany has a system of mandatory insurance with purchase of access to one of several hundred "sickness funds" paid for by employers, there is a private option for those who afford it, and those who cannot or are unemployed are subsidized by government.
Each of these systems is very complex, most are a mixture of public and private hospitals, and public and private insurance. Universal health insurance, it should be clear does not mean we have to have a single-payer system like Canada, or like Britain as the anti-reform ads would suggest.

1 comment:

Tree said...

I've never understood why people immediately point to Canada or England and their problems with health care when this topic comes up. Why can't they get beyond that and realize it doesn't have to be exactly the same in the States?

I'm also bothered by Obama's refusal to work with the single payer healthcare advocates.

My two complaints for the day...stepping off soap box now...