Friday, July 31, 2009

Universal Healthcare

I have sprained my ankle. When I say how it happened it will make me sound like a fitness freak and a dog- lover ( I am neither). I was walking with my two jogging mates in preparation for a little run when one of their dogs, bashed into the back of my leg like a huge, hairy cannonball. I went flying. And the first thought I had was "I wonder if I'm going to be sick. This really hurts", the second thought "Oh my God! How will I work!!!!!?" The ankle that was sprained is the accelerator foot for the wheel.

Thoughts started racing through my mind of how much work I have drying for turning in the studio, how much I have for decoration, I'll be able to decorate while recovering but how will I pack the kiln? This is the consequence of working in a very low- paid profession. If my body doesn't work then I can't do my job....this equals no income.

The sprain is just a small one and hopefully I'll be able to limp around and get things done as soon as next week. Physical injury is one of my greatest fears. This is a big problem for artists and craftspeople. It is one profession that you should only enter if you are very healthy. Luckily in Australia we have universal healthcare so I could go to the doctor and get x-rays without having to pay a fortune. Other countries are not so fortunate, many American potters who have been blogging are either saving up for health insurance or making sacrifices elsewhere in order to pay for it. If I lived in America I'd probably just strap up my ankle and hope for the best.


Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your ankle and you hit the nail on the head. the only way i can afford insurance is to have a $7500 deductible which basically means i have to pay for everything unless i have a heart attack or an aneurism. it's depressing that the politicians really do not have their constituents' best interests at heart. their constant clamoring for money and power is so base and deplorable that it's become boring to bitch about it any longer. i have resigned myself that the us will never have universal health care. sorry to ramble, i'll stop. hope the ankle heals quickly

Jay Dee said...

Every time I travel to the USA I hear terrible tales of medical woes - things that just would never happen here. It makes me really glad I live in a country that has health care for all and I just don't understand why any first world country can't do this for its citizens?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that. As an Australian who has been living in America for 6 years I see your point. For my whole life I watched all the US shows and heard them saying this is the greatest country in the world, well it is not. Sorry USA, you are a long, long, long way from even touching Australia when it comes to great countries.

Anonymous said...

As an Australian who has been in the States for 6 years I see what you are saying. I am fortunate that my husband has a good job and covers our healthcare. I grew up seeing America on the television and watching the "greatest country in the world" propaganda. Sorry USA, you are a long way from being anything close to as wonderful as Australia.

Linda Starr said...

Hope your ankle repairs well and quickly.

Unfortunately universal healthcare is not what it seems. Yes if you have an immediate emergency like a broken ankle you will be seen but as far as preventative care you wait in line and are not seen in a timely way - for instance for knee replacements, hip replacements, back surgeries - these are not immediately life threatening - or to determine if you have a brain tumor or cancer or something that is ultimately fixable. If you aren't seen in a timely manner then many health problems become inoperable or will eventually become unfixable or will kill you. My sister in law lives in Australia and she says the only way she can be seen for other than an emergency without waiting inordinate lengths of time is to pay for supplemental healthcare in addition to the govenrment run healthcare, luckily she can afford it, but most cannot.

At present in America if you are truly indigent and have an emergency or are traveling in this country and have an emergency you are seen at the emergency room for free - they may send you a bill but if you don't pay they have no recourse, they can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. Those receiving free care have driven the cost up for those paying for healthcare in the present system.

It is true only those with healthcare here are paying. I too have a large deductible and copays and I cannot afford to use my insurance unless I have an emergency let alone pay for it, but government run healthcare is not the answer - in most countries which have it (Canada, Australia, England, much of Europe, Scandinavian countries, even France has a huge healthcare deficit) most of the public say it is not working and not the best for those needing care other than emergencies.

Unfortunately here in America at the current economic state of affairs and for many years previous to now most do not make a living wage at their present salaries and present tax rate. If they tax us any more than they do now, many, many more will loose their homes and will become homeless than the ones who already have. Someone has to pay. The government has no money except bonds or loans from other countreis, printing money (deficit) or taxing the people even more, the poor of America can't afford any more taxes, the indigent and homeless won't pay at all as they don't pay tax anyway - and that's the only way to pay for it, we know the rich won't suffer as they will have their supplemental insurance besides the governmental insurance because they will be able to affod it, not so for most.

Universal healthcare sounds nice, but rushing a government run and dictated healthcare system through in America when these systems are not working in other countries is not in the people's (our) best interest. People from other countries actually travel here now for care because it is better than where they live (in the countries where they can't be seen for long periods of time - we do have good healthcare at present - just not affordable for many including myself.

Right now in American the rich are doing ok and the poor are doing ok it is the middle and lower class that are not doing ok, so don't put more tax on those that are already paying and push them into homelessness, poverty and dependency.

Cheaper healthcare does not necessarily mean better - yes government run healthcare (better called emergency care not healthcare) may be cheaper, but at what ultimate cost? Government run healthcare works for the young and/or healthy not the elderly and/or sick.

Shannon Garson said...

Dear Linda,
The government run universal healthcare in Australia certainly does work. Yes- those with emergencies benefit most immediately but those on waiting list for non life threatening treatment do eventually get seen. Universal healthcare is not used just for hospitals either. Australians get subsidized perscriptions and allied health benefits which include things such as counseling, podiatry and eyesight checks. As for the system benefiting those such as the homeless who do not pay for it. I think if a society lets the people at the bottom sink it breeds contempt and hatered for those so called "middle-classes". This leads to a rise in crime, if you want to be completely selfish about it the whole of society benefits from the treatment of indigent people by being a safer, less violent place to live.

Amanda said...

I would agree that while a long way from perfect, the Australian system is working fairly well. We all hear anecdotes about people who have died before getting treatment that they needed, so just for some balance I'll add one about the system working. (Names changed for slight improvement in privacy).A disability pensioner I know was sent to the public hospital to have possible carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed. The test was completed within a few weeks and the result was positive. He was placed on the waiting list for surgery, and was operated on 6 months later. Result: symptom relief. Cost to pensioner: $0
Okay, maybe not as fast as some would like, but not too bad given the low risk to life. I'll take this system in preference to the US one any day.

Linda Starr said...

I am certainly not advocating no care for those who can't pay. I only gave this as an example that no one is going without care here in America and that everywhere in the world there are horror stories, but reality is that our healthcare in this country is considered by most standards to be excellent and desireable as it stands right now. I am just saying free care is why the system in this country is looking to be overhauled to make it more cost effective for those without insurance and for those who provide it without adequate compensation.

I am simply saying rushing something through which has a precedent of not working elsewhere, without thoroughly thinking it through is foolish.

Taxing those who are already supporting the system even more may break the whole civilization down, especially in these times of dire straits for most here in America.

Many counties in this state have 100 percent unemployment and most over 20 percent. Taxing those few left is definitely not the answer to this question, particularly at this juncture in time. The real statistics do not show how dire it is in this country right now. Once folks drop out of the unemployment statistics they are not counted any longer, they are living with relatives who are already strapped by money or homeless and don't show as unemployed. We are at a critical point in this country and the world right now.

For every example of those served in government run healthcare there are hundreds of examples of those not served. I realize no "system" is perfect, but rushing to put "anything" through is not the best idea either.

When your car is overheated and boiling over, don't go out and buy a new engine, let it cool down and see if it needs a new engine or perhaps it just needs a radiator or hoses, and also wait to evaluate if you can afford the new engine in the first place - maybe you just have to park it for a while till you save the money up to afford it.

theresa yondo said...

Dear Shannon,
I hope you are well soon. I am a clay artist who lives in the United States and am without health insurance. I know all about patching up wounds. Even with paid health insurance, I had to fight to get both Mother and Father proper health care from their providers who would have rather saved money and not taken care of them. The health care system is a mess in the United States.
Concept to Creation,
Theresa Yondo

Shannon Garson said...

Dear Linda,
I really want to thank you for engaging with this topic. I know that sending e-mails etc takes quite a bit of time and I really appreciate the effort. I think artists should be publicly engaged with political issues.

I know people in America are hurting and taxes are a problem for those with lower income across the world.

patrick said...

Linda I do have a fabulous idea re: your tax problem. Rather than taxing the poor in America, why doesn't the government roll back some of the tax cuts George Bush bought in that significantly benefited families on more than $1 million a year?

Or, raise the minimum wage from $5.65 in places like Wyoming, or - god help you - in Kansas where it's $2.65 ? Many companies would be able to pay their employees better if they didn't have such massive insurance costs.

Of course, America actually spends more on health care than any other country in the OECD, so the money is there. It's just the way it's spent. You guys have basically the most expensive healthcare in the world. In short, you're getting ripped off.

Your criticisms of Australia's system are trenchant, but I believe you mischaracterise your own. I know someone who is facing a $10 000 ER bill and is now contemplating bankruptcy. So he ended up with a bill.

Of course it could be worse: you could end up owing $130 000.

In neither of those scenarios I posted would you have paid a cent in Australia, and we've done this with a compartively bumper economy.

I have colitis, I pay $50 for 120 pills, that I must take six times a day. If I don't take these pills, my intestine starts bleeding internally. In the US, people with colitis can't afford these pills, they're around - they are told to take pepto-bismol, which does not stop the bleeding, or buy them from Mexico.

Given that I get immediate, free treatment for an emergency, massively subsidised immediate treament for non-emergency surgery, and free, within 12 months surgery for non-emergency surgery, I think I'll stick with our medical system thanks. I prefer not to be bankrupted from a spider bite.

Anonymous said...

I hope your ankle is better. I used to sprain each of mine at least once or twice a year, but since I only have one now due to a car biting off the other, I haven't had a sprain since. Thank you for your empathy for us here in the US. We do have the worst care in the industrial world. I had insurance but I quit my job two years after the car hit me (instead of two years prior as I'd planned before that accident). My last insurance quote, without coverage (of course) for the amputation, was $398/month, $5000 deductable/24 months. A prothesis is $13,000, unless I want "foot on a stick". I have been turned away from doctors for not having insurance and told to go to an emergency room. Emergency rooms are overtaxed here so they can only handle - get ready - emergencies. Poor people get some help, but I've known two different couples who were advised to divorce so one could qualify for some government coverage. Also, one couple would additionally have to sign over their house, regardless of divorce, to cover the government costs. Luckily, the wife died 6 months later so it became a moot point. The pain she suffered as they could not adequately afford pain meds was horrific. These are specific stories, but if researched Properly, one would see that the health systems in Europe, Australia, England, and Canada work so much better, and cost less. Additionally, the best government care in the world is the U.S. military. Otherwise, the citizens of the U.S. pay more for healthcare than anyone else, yet receive less care. This is a pottery blog, I apologize for taking up so much, but some of the comments are far off base. I sum it up with a quote from another blog I read, "Difference is in Europe we invest in the health of people so people can be productive participants in society while in the US you invest in the health of private insurance companies so they can continue to pick and choose which people's health are worth investing in."

Renee Blackwell said...

As an American living in Australia for 11 years now...let me say loud and proud...the Australian system works and the American doesn't. Can not say it any clearer.
(Is the Australian system perfect? no...but it does work)
What are those US citizens who are against universal health care afraid of? That the society as a whole will be healthy, better cared for and more able human beings? How can that be a bad thing?...doesn't this make for a better community as a whole?
i hesitate to get into this debate, as those who are against health care for all seem to have closed ears and hearts.