Thursday, September 09, 2010

Medical care?

When eating my lunch I’ve taken to reading books. One I just finished today is Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. We’ve been reading the New Yorker Magazine for a very long time and he is a regular contributor there, and the book is about Paris, my favorite city, so when I heard of the book I just had to get it. He, his wife and young son and their five years living in Paris between New York stays are described in the book. Their daughter is born during the last year of their stay, and the French medical system is touched upon several times.

France, like many European countries, has universal medical care, for citizens as well as visitors as the Gropniks were. Since the US is still debating the most recent health care system modifications, and a lot of people are complaining about the costs and how them durn furriners come north just to get free care, well, one of his lines in the book seemed to fit my thoughts.

Adam is describing the French ‘standard’ of giving a woman four or five days in the hospital after giving birth as opposed to the American tradition of insurance companies giving (grudgingly) only one day, or if the doctor fills out tons of paperwork, two. More than that and it takes a serious act to get an insurance company to pay for additional hospital days:

“All human desires short of simple survival are luxurious, and a mother’s desire to have a slightly queenly experience of childbirth – a laying in rather than a pushing out and a going home – seems as well worth paying for as a tobacco subsidy or another tank.”

Just thinking about how much in subsidies we give to rich people and farming corporations (how many ‘family’ farms are there anymore? And how many of them are eligible for Federal funds?) and how much the ‘wars’ (no, Congress never did declare war, did they?) in Iraq and Afghanistan cost (still costing) us? Are we better off because a huge percentage of our taxes go for the military?

Sorry, not usually political, but that section of the book just made me think of how much my finger accident cost, and how much Suzy had to pay for her fall, and what it costs for heart surgery on young kids and still wondering why we just don’t take that large payment employers and individuals give to insurance companies and just put it in taxes for medical care. I know, too many people don’t want government ‘interference’ even when they jump through hoops with insurance companies, too many medical companies and doctor groups pay large ‘campaign contributions’ (no, not bribes, those are illegal), and darn if my money will pay for those illegals to get free care.

And by the way I liked the book and would recommend it.


SOL's view said...

Heh. Remind that if I ever DO get to the USA, not to get sick. :)

Sounds like an interesting book.

Will said...

That "huge percent" for the military is about 50% of the Fed budget.

It's no wonder so much of the Country's infrastructure is crumbling (roads, bridges, schools, etc.)

And, as long as drug and insurance companies drive congress, medical care will remain painfully expensive.

Don said...

I liked the post enormously. It is a disgrace that we don't have universal health care but I have to agree with the critics who say what we have just passed is awful. Maybe someday but I doubt if I'll live to see it.

Loved both previous comments too. SOL is right not to get sick if you are visiting here. And Will's comments about who drives Congress is pretty true too; only thing he forgot the lawyers!

(I agree with you about Paris as well!)

Shari said...

We in "war-torn" Israel also have universal health coverage, and I am very glad we do. What a difference! I see how my sisters in the U.S. sweat out every hospital visit or tiny medical problem with insane insurance conflicts. What a nightmare when one is most vulnerable. When my husband discovered he had cancer (its okay for now) 3 years ago, we recieved excellent care, non-profit-motived, by highly trained doctors and medical staff. Maybe the facilities weren't so shiny, and we did sit around waiting for the radiation treatments rather than waltzing in and out. But we never had to look at medical bills and wonder how to pay for them, never had to call and hassle with insurance coverage. I wish all my family and friends in the U.S. had that.

waiting said...

I agree about universal health care - everyone deserves medical care regardless of their income bracket. It's a very basic need that has to be met before all other needs.

On another note, I left the hospital after only 1 night following a c-section. I was allotted 2 but didn't want to stay more. I think a lot of people are eager to leave that setting and just get their baby home. I can't imagine staying there more than 2 days, especially for a vaginal birth.

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