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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Medical Bankruptcy

A study has been done that shows a huge proportion of US bankruptcy claimants have medical bills as either the main cause or a contributing factor behind the bankruptcy. They also said that about 75 percent of those had insurance at the beginning of their illness and/or that the insurance only covered catastrophic illness and not the ongoing or less severe conditions they needed covered.

I admit, politics are not my forte. I'm pretty much apolitical when it comes to supporting a party - I go with the guy who seems to make the most sense, not because he is with one party or another. But I'm confused.

Why is it seen as socialist to have universal health care?

Our system here, unfortunately, gets bogged down in who pays what costs (federal vs. provincial) and the rising fees of technology have created waiting lists sometimes months and months long. It's far from a perfect, I readily admit that.

But, speaking as a person with bipolar disorder, and knowing some of my American counterparts who have stopped taking medicine because they just cannot afford it, how is this healthy for the community at large? Doesn't it make sense that the community take care of its members, even if it is paying higher taxes to help ensure that all members are included and "no soldier gets left behind"?

I need to understand this better.


Blogger Christop said...
It's seen as socialist because it considers the welfare of all citizens, not just the majority or those with the majority of wealth.  

Blogger blondzila said...
My further question then, and please forgive the naivete, is why is that considered bad? Why is the socialist label considered a taint?  

Blogger moodymicello said...
It depends on what country you live in and what you believe. In America, the basic concepts call for government services only for things which one cannot provide foroneself, i.e., army, school system. The rest is a "take responsibility for yourself earn a living, buy what you need" system - capitalism. I am fortunate that I have good insurance that covers my needsl but I don't have that by accident. I have it because I went to work for a company that provided it, and I made sure that it did. In our country, there is also medicaid, government studies and other forms of assistance avaiiable. Anyone who wants help doesn't have to be left behind. There are likely problems in administration. Too often, the down trodden, poor, handicapped don't know how to make it through the beauracracy of redtape to get the help available. Therein probably lies one of the problems. But a bigger problem is that knowing what your needs are, you have to take responsibility to meet them, just like food, shelter and clothing. I know people who are on welfare and medicaid and not nearly so comfortable as I am; but when they were working they didn't hold the responsible 62 hr a week job paying into social security and paying for company insurance. They weren't trying to get ahead and going to school at night. These things are available for anyone that wants them bad enough. Afraid I'm a little hard nosed on this one.

As to the problems with administration, I think every effort should be made to simplify the process for people on welfare, medicaid and all other assistance programs to see that people with mental health issues receive the same caliber of care that those with physical issues receive because they receive damn good care in this countryl I'm just as hard nosed on that onel Michele  

Blogger Franikins said...
The United States is based on individualism and being self-sufficient. It looks upon welfare and social services as "hand outs" and values people earning a living and supporting themselves.

Universal Health Care IS a good concept so that no one is left without a right to services. For the US to convert to that type of system would require giving up making a profit, capitalism, in the area of health care.
Too many people are benefitting from the profits produced by the system as it currently is to want to really change it. On the other hand, too many patients are suffering from the system as it currently is.

I don't have prescription coverage but am fortunate to have a physician who gives me samples which defrays the costs. But still, it's expensive. The current system is broken and needs overhauling.

Socialism makes me think of communism. I didn't pay attention in social studies class so I don't know if the connection is logical. And communism has a bad rep. Therefore, socialist medicine gets painted with the same broad brush. However, Universal Health Care has more a positive sound to it.

That's just my three cents.  

Blogger Manica said...
You all should move to Canada! Just be prepared for a much bigger tax bill. But hey, it's worth it! I can be crazy and still eat.  

Blogger blondzila said...
lol Manica From one Canadian to another, I know whatcha mean, eh?  

Blogger Dangerous Mind said...
In my mind and experience universal medicare is not socialist or communist. Sure the socialist union backed Labour Party brought about the 'National Health System' in 1940s England.

But to me it's more a reflection of the type of society we want. All across Europe it is a reality that majority of health care costs are borne by the taxpayers.

I lived in England for all but the last six years of my life and the health care system (despite all its problems) is better than here in Canada. Sure there is an increasing two-tier system with those who have good company benefits able to afford themselves of faster although not necessarily better care.

Some 8 or 9 years I experienced the "speed factor" first hand when I required operation to remove in-growing toe nails. On the National Health Service this was quite rightly classified as non-emergency and there was a long waiting list to see surgeon. But the very same surgeon could see me the next week and the week after remove the offending toe nails. I was fortunate enough to have good benefits --- sure I studied hard and worked hard for my job and the associated benefits.

But I knew how lucky I was because I grew up with and was part of a poor hard working class family struggling to make ends meet. I knew that for a variety of reasons that many of those I grew up with would never break out of this reality. Despite coming a long way from those days in a material sense, I still think of myself as a "working class lad from the East End of London".

I firmly believe the sign of a great society is its willingness to help those most in need!!

If a society is prepared to discard so many of its members to the "waste pile" then it is a sad reflection on them. We have too many mentally ill people turned away from hospital or group homes and living on the streets as a result.

There's enough money available to solve many of society's ills, but unfortunately there is not the will. Governments can find $100 million for Canadian sponsorship scandal, or millions more for stupid gun registries.

Then we have dufus Bush spending $200 billion on war in Iraq but can't fund his "no child left behind" or healthcare promises. But hey money for "space umbrellas" no problem.

I would classify myself as a 'compassionate conservative'. Not in the Bush mould, but truly compasionate in sense care about helping those at or near the bottom of the ladder to climb higher. I don't advocate handouts, simply that you have to be prepared to spend money to "help people learn how to help themselves"

That's my rant for today.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
I agree with Dangerous Mind in principle....a health system funded through the government is siply giving the goverrnment one more area of capital to control and distribute (a function of socializm)l Having in place programs, properly funded for those who need help, and a working structure to insure no one remains untreated which is pretty true for the physically ill in this country, makes sense. Winning the war on the cost of prescription drugs is the third battle. But I'd rather have control of my monoey to spend it than hand it over to the characters in charge right now. I haven't seen any great flare for monetary talent in their numbers.  

Blogger Dangerous Mind said...
I agree with Michele when she says she would rather have control over money than some of the characters in control. That comment is valid the world over - equally valid to IMHO "crazies" like former Canadian PM Chretien, and so it's not just me going on a US bashing rant.

I have lived through Liberal, Conservative and Socialist and New Labour political governments in England and Canada. I have no political loyalties based on "ideology" --- I go with what works.

Unfortunately political system is in state of disarray,with politicans simply pandering to their whims of their electorate. When I say "electorate" I am talking MORE about the providers of political/campaign funding since it's desire/necessity to please them which seems to influence policies rather than what is the right thing to do.

But the voting electorate gets what it deserves.... because at the end of the day it wants the world but does not want to pay for it!!

Unfortunately this just results in the programs for those at the bottom being cut (eg 26% cut in welfare rates when Mike Harris, former Conservative Premier of Ontario,Canada came into power). We can argue over the merits or otherwise of welfare but cuts like those are in my mind are signs of 'despicable politics'. It's so easy to go after the boogey man of the "welfare cheat", and sure there are many out there who do it. But they are in the minority!!! I truly beleive most welfare recipients would rather they did not have to rely on it.

Maybe I am just too naive or idealistic. But these politicos never go after the "Corporate welfare bums". Instead they pay exhorbitant consultant fees and throw millions of dollars at the "CEO Welfare Bums" who come crying because they they can't operate their businesses or farms without handouts. Hey I've got nothing against farmers (my extended family in India are into it,and it's tough) but paying people to produce food they can't sell is stupid! stupid! stupid!

In short there is just too much wrong with the fiscal management and discipline for effective resolution of problems.

Probably should not make my last point. But health care funding issues will only get worse until people wake up to the fact "death is a natural end to each of our lives". Yes, we all would like to live long healthy lives but there comes a point where someone has to stand up and say "Stop no more! We just cannot keep prolonging life through costly invasive new surgeries etc just BECAUSE WE CAN". Is the desire that our life expectancy be extended to 120? 130? 140 years old?

That's the direction we're going and nobody can really afford for it to happen.

Oh god, I seem to being rant mode. Sorry I get that way on topics I am passionate about.  

Blogger xxan said...
I read here that in America medical bills are one of the main causes of bankrupcty, that mentally ill people have to stop taking their meds because they can't afford it, I hear that some of them don't have prescription coverage, I hear that mentally ill people can't be treated in hospitals because they can't pay for it and that they have to live on the streets...

Someone said: Come to Canada! I say: Come to Belgium!

Here we have 1) a social security system that everybody can benefit from, from the moment on that he works. We pay a part, company pays a part, government pays a part. Whenever you get ill (like I did, "bipolar ill"), first the company pays your normal wages further for another month; afterwards you automatically profit from a governmental substitute (?) income, initially depending from your previous wages. To take me as an example, I'm profiting from this substitute income since 5 years of being ill. Of course you REALLY have to be ill, this is examened thoroughly. Regular controls, etc,...Which is normal.

On top of this, you can get 2) a private insurance, sometimes provided (yes or no partially) by the company you work/worked for.(same as with you)

Even if you don't receive this privilege from your firm, you can affordably get such a private insurence on your own.

Actually I know few people that have not the one or the other. On the contrary most of us have both.

The private insurence pays whatever the governmental doesn't, i.e. private room, supplement on hospital bills, etc...

Both insurences are complient towards mental illnesses, if, as I mentioned before, they are REAL, and not imaginated or something. This is really well controlled.

3) prescription coverage for everybody (provided you take the medication prescribed for your specific illness, but that is obvious)E.g. My Lamictal is not yet approved to be a med for bipolars (mood stabilizer), so I pay the full price. 150 euro per package, I need 1 package a month. I hear in America it has been approved. Is this true?

Of course Social Health Care is a good system, it is indispensable in any democratic, socially oriented country.  

Blogger xxan said...
Blonzila, tx for your comment: it is indeed approximately the same. And it does depend on the company you work for how the insurance is regulated. E.g. my first company payed all the premiums for the insurance. Of course, if you left the company and had no other job, you had to pay the premiums yourself, or stop it. I got another job immediately: this firm only payed part of the premiums. My third job didn't provide an extra insurance. At that moment I took one myself. Luckily, if you consider all the hospitalizations I had afterwards. Without this insurance I wouldn't have been able to pay these huge hospital bills.

Another small difference: coverage of prescriptions comes from the government. For everyone.

Do you know the med "Lamictal"? Is it covered for bipolars in America and/or Canada?

Maybe only difference: here, elder people can difficultly sign in for a private insurence. Because the risk (of illnesses, hospitalizations...) is too high for the insurance company. So you better take one when you are young enough, then it counts for the rest of your life.  

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