Caroline, an American, met her soul-mate in graduate school. After she and her beloved earned their degrees, they married and decided to begin their life together in her husband’s native Germany.
That was last year. Caroline has dealt, all her life, with a condition known as interstitial cystitis. An extremely painful disease at times, though not debilitating, she has learned to live with it – taking the recommended course of treatment three times a day.
Everything was fine in her new home until her doctor – six months after her first visit – told her he could no longer furnish her with the medicine upon which she depended. Because of government rationing he had to wait until January to prescribe any more.
Seems simple enough. Go find another doctor to get the needed medication. Oh, but that is against the law!
This was in June. Caroline’s dad ended up getting her prescription filled here in the U.S. and taking it to her in Berlin.
Now Caroline and her husband plan to move back to the U.S. by May so the drug that furnishes some normalcy to her life will be available for her.
Caroline’s experience is not unique. Similar cases are documented in “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care” by Sally C. Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute. She relates the story of a Canadian too elderly to make the trip across the border to Seattle to get the meds that could save his life. A cancer patient, the drug he needed, easily obtained in the U.S., was not available in Canada. “Saving money can easily become a more pressing concern than saving lives,” when the government pays, she writes.
This scenario repeats itself across the ocean.
“More than one million Britons in need of medical care are currently waiting for hospital admission,” she notes, with another 200,000 waiting to get on a waiting list. Pipes recalls the tragedy of French medicine with which we all became familiar in the summer of 2003 when 15,000 elderly people died during a heat wave. Cases abound.
We read frequently of people coming to the U.S. for needed treatments, surgeries. And not just from undeveloped or war-ravaged nations. Canadian cabinet minister, Belinda Stronach traveled to the U.S. for her cancer treatment. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went to the Cleveland (USA) Clinic for his heart surgery, not to London or Paris, Michael Moore’s acclaimed healthcare Meccas in his flagrantly flawed film, “Sicko.”
Europe has long yearned for the Yankees to look to them for lessons in life and government. Perhaps we should. Perhaps it is time for the USA to learn from Europe – from their mistakes.
Invariably government healthcare systems must ration to save money. Oregon has implemented a system of rationing whereby subsidized healthcare depends on the estimated quality of life ascribed to the individual. An elderly person or a handicapped child doesn’t rate as high as “qualified” individuals for state dollars.
Somehow we must equitably, humanely solve the problem of uninsured Americans needing health care without falling into the mistakes other societies have encountered with universal coverage.
We, as the citizenry of a free country, should inform ourselves of the facts in this debate. Reading books like “Ten Myths” and investigating this issue without partisan considerations comprise two steps in that process. We taxpayers do not need to provide health care to fellow citizens who earn more than $50,000 per year (accounting for 38 percent of the nation’s uninsured). But in a country with the best medical science, surgeons and pharmaceuticals in the world, all our citizens should know they can obtain the healthcare they need when they need it.
Pipes’ book provides information that helps the reader to seriously consider the advisability of a government-run universal healthcare system. She suggests, in the final chapter, some considerations for resolving the healthcare problem in our country as it actually exists. They don’t match the panaceas promulgated by politicos and pundits but suggest real-world, practicable solutions: They could furnish a starting point for our debate.
Perhaps in the few short months before another election cycle descends on us, we, the people, could instruct our representatives in congress and the executive to set aside special interests and set aside inflated statistics. Perhaps, within this very narrow window of time, well-informed Americans can resolve a well-defined problem in a meaningful and useful manner.