Monday, October 7, 2013


Johann Wagener 10-07-13

Having spent 6 years in a country that offers universal healthcare (and using it) I can personally attest to how it works compared to our so-called  profit oriented "free market" healthcare system. My experience, by the way, was not in one of the other industrialized countries, but in a small (but progressive) country in Central America which attracted me when I learned it had no standing army (no defense spending) even though it was surrounded by extremely volatile and war mongering neighbors.

I was curious as to how they did it. It wasn't a communist, socialist country. Besides being a democracy, capitalism flourishes there; very much like in the US.  Private healthcare for those who wanted, and could afford it. The government healthcare system for those who needed it, not want it. But that did not get anyone off the hook in paying their share to support it, and, to my surprise, no one was complaining. Everyone paid into the system in some way or another, including the medical profession.

What they contributed to was a clinic in every village and town in the country where one could go for vaccinations, checkups, medication, dental, and optometry, and, if need be a referral to one of the regional hospitals located in the larger cities. In the city near me the hospital structure was (and looked) 100 years old but the equipment was 21st century state of the art and the staff was comprised of well educated and conscientious people that took pride in their work. The lines at the clinics were short since only the locals use them. The hospitals on the other hand, had long lines that sometimes went out the front door but, by the end of the day, everyone was taken care of regardless of the medical condition. As one doctor told me, if your in line and need a $45,000.00 liver transplant, it's yours. And the cost to you? Nada! Well, not exactly. The government health plan for the average person costs around $20.00 a month; all inclusive.

The one important difference were the things they valued and prioritized. Healthcare, education, nutrition, housing, all those things we cherish here in the US took precedence over everything else in this small Central American country. Simply put; when it came to their citizens, they had their priorities right.

As the following article points out, Europe is much the same. Even countries like England that we freed ourselves from to escape what we saw as violations of our rights. So what happened?

Republican lawmakers are determined to protect the American people from what they call "socialized medicine" and what the rest of the world calls affordable and accessible healthcare.What seldom comes up in this discussion, though, is what exactly we're talking about. Is it the government owning and running all hospitals? Is it Washington bureaucrats deciding who receives treatment and who doesn't?

Or is it something closer to the experience Oak Park resident Mona Davis had during a recent visit to London?
How healthcare can work when it is a right, not a privilege