Monday, October 24, 2011

The Healing of America

If you're a parent you've been there. Your child is ill or
injured. Bandaids and TLC won't cut it. You have to find someone who
can cure your little one. Assuaging pain and relieving fear are also
high priorities.
Some of us have fears of our own. Can I afford this? Will my
child be treated if I don't have insurance or cash up front? Will
accumulating medical bills force us to lose our home? We're the
statistics you read about--the people who lack health insurance. I've
been a member of this very inclusive club for twenty-one years.
Only in America! The United States is the sole industrialized
nation to not provide some form of universal health care in the
world. This leaves us in a nasty little crisis. We spend more money
on health care than any other first world country. But when it comes
to results we're not doing much better than desperately poor third
world nations.
How can we do better? That's the question posed by T. R. Reid
in The Healing of America: A Global Quest For Better, Cheaper, and
Fairer Health Care. He visited industrialized nations around the
world, analyzing their health care financing and delivery systems.
His findings dispel the specters invoked by those with a stake in
maintaining the status quo.
The stereotype of socialized medicine does not hold true for all
nations. Health care in many countries has strong private sector
componants in finance and delivery. America's Medicare fits the
socialized medicine picture a lot better.
It's not all about rationing. Although some countries have
waiting lists for elective surgery and nonemergency care, their
citizens in general have quicker access and more choice than we do.
And we have our own economic rationing system. Every year twenty two
thousand of us die of treatable diseases!
The administrations of these nations are not wasteful
bureaucracies. Our for profit health insurance companies spend twenty
percent of every dollar on non medical costs. In contrast, France
spends five percent and Canada six percent.
Reid believes the United States should begin the discussion of
health care reform by posing these basic moral questions:
"Does a wealthy country have an ethical obligation to provide access
to health care for everyone?
Do we want to live in a society that lets tens of thousands of our
neighbors die each year, and hundreds of thousands face financial
ruin, because they can't afford medical care when they're
What do you think?
If you have any interest in health care fairness The Healing Of
America is a must read. It's a thoughtful analysis and comparison of
many nations' medical care and finance systems. Unlike many dry,
jargon laden tomes, it is highly readable and engaging.
On a more personal note: I'm trying to get ready for winter before it
arrives and looking forward to my first Maine School Management
Association conference.
Coming attractions: a YA dystopia novel. I'm striving for a better
fiction/ nonfiction balance.
A big shout out goes out to Shelly Gilman, our awesome school nurse at
Veazie Community School, and her dedicated peers. They are some of
the most accessible workers in our health care system.
Sent from my iPod