Thursday, January 14, 2010

Descent into (Hell)thcare...

With the topic of universal healthcare being on the tips of so many tongues lately, I though I would talk a little about what healthcare is like for the common kiwi.

New Zealand, being a former colony of England has tried over the years to maintain a sense that it was still a part of the greater empire. As such, a lot of the foods, language and cultural mannerisms still have roots firmly planted in English history. Part of all this is the approach to healthcare for your average person. In the 'good ole days', one could go to their GP (family doctor) and be seen for free. This was solely due to taxpayers' dollars being spent to cover the cost of being treated without going to the hospital. Also, if you needed to go to the hospital or have an operation, that was free too.

Fast forward to present day and the picture is very different. New Zealand has faltered in its attempts to look after its own. There's a sensation that the country has 1 foot planted in English society and 1 foot planted in American capitalistic desires. Some visits are still free, but that's mostly limited to the very young (under 5's if I recall correctly). But, for a relatively young person like myself, I can pay as much as $60 to see my doctor. Even if it's just to get a prescription renewed.

If I need an operation that's life threatening, sure it's still free. But it usually means spending months on a waiting list for surgery. Many, many people have died on these waiting lists.

If I had an emergency that was bad, but not life threatening? I can (and have) spent in excess of 10 hours in Accident & Emergency. Is this what my tax dollars pay for? No. Is it right? No. Is it fair? No. Is it real? Oh, yes.

Now, I won't begin to say it's as bad here as I've seen in many cases in the United States, but the point is that when you introduce profit to the healthcare industry, service goes down in a equally opposite rate of profits going up. People shouldn't be doctors because they want to be rich, they should be doctors because they value the relief of suffering to be above all else.

New Zealand is fast becoming more like America every day while decent, hard-working citizens are bled dry of what little money they make so that some doctor can have the second or third Mercedes...

18 comments:

Toad734 said...

hmmm, my friends Dad, who was pretty wealthy, had to wait three months in order to see the cancer specialist he wanted to see, he's dead now.

I tried to get a wart removed the other day, had to wait a week and a half.

When I wanted an MRI on my arm I had to wait 2 weeks.

Many many people die in the emergency rooms all over America all the time.

What you aren't reporting here is how many people died in America because their insurance company told them they couldn't have the operation. I know, if you research it, you will find that far many people die in the US due to lack or denial of coverage than do people in New Zealand, UK, Canada waiting for medical treatment because there are "so few doctors and the system is overwhelmed because they can't make a profit".

Did you know there is a nurse shortage in the US?? How could that be, the free market should fix that by simply paying them more and thus more people would become nurses right?

Sweden, Germany and France all have more doctors per capita than the US. Notice how you never get a French doctor?? He's always Indian or Middle Eastern?? Those countries don't have universal health care!

We spend 16% of our GDP on healthcare yet Canada spends 9.7% of their GDP on healthcare for everyone.

Americans spend 50% more on prescription drugs than what is paid by people in other industrialized countries because of the free market.

The US, with its free market healthcare system has the highest infant mortality rate and lowest life expectancy rate in the industrialized world.

Dave Miller said...

Off topic patrick, but I'm guessin' the AOTW will be pretty easy this week.

Cugh, cough, robertson, cough, cough...

Shaw Kenawe said...

*cough* Limbaugh *cough*

For saying President Obama will make political points by responding to the catastrophe in Haiti (thereby Rush makes political points with the far right) and by encouraging Americans to NOT contribute to any Haitian charity because Haiti gets American aid from tax payers.

Limbaugh has hit a new low. Lower than a cesspoll rat, IMHO.

Robertson is just the same crazy fraudulent jerk. IMHO.

How will you decide who's the biggest AOTW???

Dave Miller said...

Shaw, I think it's a tie. This is a double up asshole, oops, ass hat week!

dmarks said...

Toad said: "Americans spend 50% more on prescription drugs than what is paid by people in other industrialized countries because of the free market."

On this, the truth is the opposite of what you say. Americans pay more because of the lack of a free market. If there were a free market in this, there'd be no restrictions at all on the ability of Americans to import these drugs from the countries where the drugs cost 50% less.

Toad734 said...

Dmarks:

Says who? How do you figure?
No, its exactly as I said, all the other countries have set limits on the prices of drugs because they can, the entire country acts as one bulk buyer and if the drug companies wish to sell in that country they have to take the price set by said country's health care system. Its sort of like Sams Club how they buy in bulk.
ITs because of this price regulation that their consumers/their health care system/tax payers, get a better price. There is no regulation on drug pricing in the United States. Drug companies charge us as much as they please.

Now, with regard to medicines from Canada, sure you may be right about that. If we were able to import drugs from countries like Canada or the Czech Republic then yes that competition would force the American drug companies to lower their prices or lose the business. But since you see no problem with drug companies hiring 6 lobbyist for every member of congress to buy them off, we have to pretend medicine from Canada is dangerous...Well, most medicine is dangerous but that's a whole other story.

But the fact remains that American drug companies are like the Unions of the late 70s and 80s where they just got too greedy and thought they could do what they wanted but you are right, if we could import those drugs from reasonable countries you would see a decrease in drug prices. But there would still be no limits on what they could sell them for and really, a Czech drug company could just as easily just price their drugs at 45% less than what other countries pay and still steal away that business from American companies but we would then just be paying 45% more than the rest of the world for our drugs as opposed to 50%, which is better but a single payer, government controlled system could make it to where we are paying what Europe pays for their drugs.

Patrick M said...

First of all (and this will address Toad as well), I have yet to see the actual effects of a free market on health care, because we have been less and less about a free market over the years, to the point that the person paying for health care with no subsidy, insurance, or stipulation is damned unusual.

Like my example of Rush in his treatment, They got him in, ran tests, came to conclusions (which I suspect we haven't heard in full), and he was out.

I can easily agree that the current insurance mess is not a good situation. But in trying to determine which direction we're going to go, we're opting to take everything that makes the insurance company model not work and make it bigger. Which brings me to a couple of questions:

1. Why are services that were originally free now costing money?

2. How much control does NZ wield over the lives of the people in an attempt to defray the costs of supplying health care?

Dave: Damned off topic crap. Drop me an email on Robertson, because I'm sure I missed it. Beyond that, no comment on the AOTW proceedings in this post.

Shaw: ...

(BTW, Obama did politicize the Haiti disaster)

Toad and Dmarks: Concerning the price of drugs. The reason we have such higher prices here than other countries. First, we have the semi-free market mess here, where some stuff is covered, some is not, some prices are negotiated, and that adds to the price. Then you go to other countries, where the companies are forced to sell at lower prices. Which means they're going to make up the margin where they can. And much of the margin they make on any drug they sell is to pay for the years and years of research it takes to come up with these magnificent drugs. And eventually, the drugs go generic, which means the price and demand will drop. So the newest and latest drugs, in this atmosphere, tend to get jacked up. Then the government comes up with another benefit (the prescription drug plan, for example), and someone takes it in the ass to pay for it. And the businesses don't, that's for sure.

Patrick M said...

Dave, never mind, I got the urge to Google.

BB-Idaho said...

Lars, the pseudo Kiwi?
Tell us about yourself, Lars...

Lars the Pseudo Kiwi said...

Patrick:

1) The reason why services that were once free are now charged for, in my opinion, is that over the years there has been an increasing influence on the healthcare industry to make medical careers as lucrative as possible. A large number of doctors who come out of med school here usually take much higher paying jobs overseas. So, there has been pressure to stop the so-called "Brain Drain". With little regulation on the privitisation of healthcare has lead to GPs charging like the proverbial wounded bull.

2) New Zealand has an enormous amount of control when it comes to metering out treatment in the way of subsidised medications and medical procedures. Kiwis on the whole are as gutless and the millions of sheep in this country. When the cost of petrol keeps rising even in the face of (historically) dropping oil prices, nobody says or does anything. When Pharmac (the industry authority over medications in New Zealand) feels like it, they will make important medications unsubsidised and people who need it will start dropping like flies because the costs are prohibitive.

It saddens me to see our tax dollars get pissed away when they could surely be used more effectively in programs designed to help all kiwis.

BB: Well, I was born in California, but had lived in Ohio from the age of 10. I met Patrick on our first day of high school and we became pretty much instant friends. After high school, we went our separate ways. I met my wife in 1997, she moved to Ohio from NZ and we married in 1998. We left at the end of 1998 to return to NZ, where I have lived ever since. I'm a kiwi at heart because there are so many elements of the culture that I love. But, I still bleed red, white and blue.

Sally Farrar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Things That Piss Me Off said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
That's Life said...

Shaw Kenawe said...

*cough* Limbaugh *cough*

For saying President Obama will make political points by responding to the catastrophe in Haiti (thereby Rush makes political points with the far right) and by encouraging Americans to NOT contribute to any Haitian charity because Haiti gets American aid from tax payers.

Limbaugh has hit a new low. Lower than a Shaw Kenawe said...

*cough* Limbaugh *cough*

For saying President Obama will make political points by responding to the catastrophe in Haiti (thereby Rush makes political points with the far right) and by encouraging Americans to NOT contribute to any Haitian charity because Haiti gets American aid from tax payers.

Limbaugh has hit a new low. Lower than a cesspoll rat, IMHO.

Robertson is just the same crazy fraudulent jerk. IMHO.

How will you decide who's the biggest AOTW??? rat, IMHO.

Robertson is just the same crazy fraudulent jerk. IMHO.

How will you decide who's the biggest AOTW???
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Shaw Kenawe would be my ass hole of the week.


By the way ass-hole, "cesspool" is spelled this way..

Shaw Kenawe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...

Thank you "That's Life" for correcting my typo.

You're brilliant.

And what a brave American you are, coming to the defense of a multi-billionaire like Limpbaugh, (who never allows an opportunity to pass without inserting his racism into the discussion.)

That took great courage.

We salute you for that.

LOL!

Patrick M said...

Lars: 1. This is why I've always advocated a truly free-market approach, with some safety net services. Very simply, while some doctors get in it for the service, many others also go where the money is. It's why a lot of newer doctors around here have lots of letters and syllables piled up in their names (Indian names tend to do that). When you require a decade of training with massive bills, long hours, and lives on the line, the amount of compensation does matter. And when that is controlled not by what people will pay but by people who dictate what you make, it's unmotivating. And it's one of the problems with government-controlled medicine.

2. I think you made my point (and the point of anyone who is against continuing government control of health care in the States) about not having control.

Dave: I'm holding you responsible for the Shaw-pissed off righties exchange!

dmarks said...

Someone give Thats Life a cough drop. I could not really read the comment because it was peppered with such exclamations, spewed punctuation symbols, and distracting lingo.

dmarks said...

"Now, I won't begin to say it's as bad here as I've seen in many cases in the United States, but the point is that when you introduce profit to the healthcare industry"

Blue Cross Blue Shield in my state is a non-profit, but the guys at the top are raking in millions, and they have all of the patient-unfriendly cost-cutting rate-hiking problems that the for-profit ones have.