Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dr. Sheila’s International Health Care Poll

Not too long ago I saw Sicko, Michael Moore’s new documentary about health care in America and how it compares to that found in Canada, France, Cuba and the United Kingdom. If you are at all familiar with Moore, you know his view (in case you aren't, Moore says that U. S. healthcare is sadly inferior in many ways). But I am curious to hear from international readers who can offer a glimpse into what health care is really like in your country. Please weigh in and let my America readers know if Moore has gotten it right or not.

Here are some questions to get you started:

How is health care organized in your country?

Do you pay for it individually or through your employer or is there a national system for health care funded via taxes? If you pay, what amount do you pay? Please include prescriptions and actual services from a medical provider.

Are you satisfied with how things are done?

Do you feel you can receive good care in a timely fashion?

What would you change and what do you like?

Do the poorest people receive the same level of care?

Do wealthier people go outside the system?

Are you familiar with the health care system in America?

If yes, would you trade your system for ours?


Don said...

Sheila, in lieu of comments from readers from outside the USA, you may be interested in reading “Socialized health care, a prescription for failure” on the “Degree of Madness” blog (, particularly the comments by Canadian Dr. David Gratzer.

I apologize for not getting around to reading this on your blog while it was still at the top, but yard, garden and pool work (among other things) have kept me too busy lately.

Sheila said...

Thanks for commenting, Don. Doesn't seem to be much interest in the topic. I'll get around to checking out the link. I was hoping some real people would give me their experiences as I am reluctant to believe many things I hear. You never know whose agenda is being addressed these days.

Marion said...

Sheila, I would like to comment on this one in depth, but my time is extremely limited right now. Suffice it to say medical care in Canada needs work. The wait times are somewhat less than they used to be, but until more doctors arrive from elsewhere, patients will still wait for surgeries and treatments...sometimes months.

This is a good post, I only wish I could have answered in deeper depth. Later, maybe, lol!

Sheila said...

Oh Marion, I am so pleased to see your comment. I know what you are going through right now and understand. You probably have so much familiarity with the health care system it would boggle my mind. Please take care.

Jay Croft said...

Just back from a two-week jaunt in Merrie Olde England. There was a story in the newspapers about a 108 year old woman who will have to wait two years for a new hearing aid. And she's going blind, too.

Sheila said...

So that's what you have been up to. I hope you (and your wife if she went with you) had a merry ole time. That's some story about the 108 year old. Maybe I'll eventually get some feedback on how things really are and if the grass is really as green as Michael Moore believes.

Jay Croft said...

Frances and I went to London, Amsterdam and Paris in May, with a group. But this trip was just me, with about a dozen others. Same group leader.

On both trips, a good time was had by all.

Next trip will be in October, to introduce Yvonne (remember her?) to Gallaudet University.

Sheila said...

I am jealous since the only travel I've done lately is to the lake. Well, we are going to Chicago and that's always fun.

Do you think Yvonne might want to go to Gallaudet? I remember her of course and hope she likes her new place.

Jay Croft said...

I was at Gallaudet in April to receive an award. We stayed at the nice hotel on campus, courtesy of the Gallaudeet University Alumni Association (even though I'm not a Gallaudet alum).

I was chaplain there 1980-1996, so of course I had a wonderful time greeting old friends.

I'm sure Yvonne will like Gallaudet because she's a very friendly person, and Gallaudet is all about community. She is having a bad case of "math anxiety," though.

Fortunately my wife the clinical psychologist has many years of experience in dealing with Gallaudet students with exactly that "disease."

Sheila said...

A good tutor can do wonders for math anxiety. If she seriously wants help, Dr. Susan Walker at MasterRead helped us with a couple of wonderful tutors for math for you know who. It'll be a huge change from Montgomery to D.C. but an exciting time if Yvonne wants to go to Gallaudet.

Jay Croft said...


The 108 year old woman will get a hearing aid after all, courtesy of a private practicioner, not England's National health Service.

Sheila said...

Well, that's good news. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Naomi said...

In England we get supposedly free healthcare Sheila, courtesy of the National Health Service but there is a catch - long waiting lists! Our health service used to be amongst the best in the world but not any more. It needs a lot of work and money to bring it back up to scratch again. There are options to go private here, which a lot of people do. They either pay into private healthcare schemes or some private hospitals will quote for ops like a knee replacement and you can just pay a one off fee to avoid the dreaded waiting lists. I'm lucky in that I get private healthcare with work. A few years ago when I needed my op, I was taken into an NHS hospital (they all have private sections) but I ended up having to be moved to a private hospital as the surgeon couldn't get theatre space, even though the op was serious! They were all booked up. The staff are hardworking and struggle to cope with very limited resources. I don't know much about your system over there, apart from the fact that you pay for all healthcare. I think the only downside to that is that poor people suffer if they can't afford treatment. I think ideally you need a half and half system - some of it where people pay and some free treatment for poorer people. Maybe a government subsidised scheme would be good, where patients pay towards treatment and the government pays something too.

Sheila said...

This just what I was hoping someone would have a few moments to post. A real person with real experiences. It sounds like the grass we may think is greener comes with its own strings.

Sheila said...

This is an e-mail Don sent me and I wanted to include it here. He said he didn't want to clog up the comments too much, but I don't mind as long as I can discern that the poster is real and not some blog response team.

Here's Don:

Good morning, misplaced Alabamian,

I hope you still get some input from people who have government provided health care because I too would be interested in how they feel about it. Of course, some people may have never known anything else to compare it with.

First of all let me say that I'm not totally against government providing health care in all circumstances. If someone can document that they can't afford either a private health care plan or to buy into one their employer helps pay for or even to just pay for services as they are received (that's what most folks did before WWII) then I think government has a role to fill. Even then, I fear that there would be a lot of people who are able but unwilling to work for what they get who would continue to sit on their butts and take everything taxpayers, through government, would give to them.

One way to deal with corporations who seem to be gouging the public would be for people to not buy their goods and services if they can find another company that charges less. When companies lose customers because of overcharging it eventually effects the bottom line and they reduce their price in order to remain competitive. That's the way the free market works. The problem is that not enough people take their business elsewhere because of maybe ignorance or just not caring --- taking the easiest route. So, in a sense, I think that sort of attitude and lack of action by the public at large also contributes to high costs.

As just an uninformed guess, I think several factors probably contribute to the high cost of health care. And I agree that some corporations involved in it seem to make unseemly profits at the expense of those requiring health care. I also think that government in some ways contributes to that by having made health care so easily obtained and abused through Medicare and Medicaid programs. When something is free (to them), or nearly free, too many people are willing to take advantage of it and clog up emergency rooms every time they get the sniffles or a scratch. As a result, in order to survive, hospitals have to charge paying patients far more than they would otherwise. Not only that, but that type of activity at times results in really ill or injured patients don't get the attention they need on a timely basis.

During my time in the military where government provided all health care I saw such as that on a regular basis, and I hear and read reports that it happens in civilian life now as well. Now, though, people in the military have to pay co-pays for their normal (not combat-related wounds, etc.) health care and it has cut down considerably on people reporting to the hospital for treatment for insignificant reasons.

I agree with Ron Paul in many respects, a lot more than any other candidate. But, I disagree with giving everyone the same type of health insurance that Congress has, and I'm not even sure what that is. If the members are given a special deal that taxpayers are helping pay for, I'd rather do just the opposite, and make them subject to the same type of health care that we taxpayers have.

You may have your soapbox back now, and I hope it's not nearly as hot and dry there as it is here.