Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Health Care: A Personal Look

One of the best parts about being online and social networking is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life. My life has been greatly enriched by these encounters and the relationships formed. I've also had a lot of my notions about important issues challenged simply by getting to know people with other views.

I used to be pretty much against any form of universal health care. I bought into much of what I heard from my fellow Americans, especially those with a conservative bent. I believed the stories about how awful "socialized medicine" is in countries such as Canada, England and France. I, like many others, didn't even realize that the health care systems in those three countries are very different from one another. I had just lumped them all together in my mind as "socialized medicine" and not something we want here in America.

Then this whole health care reform debate began in earnest and I began to really search out information from a wide variety of sources. I was especially intrigued by the first hand accounts from people. I had heard all the stories about how Canada's system is so inferior that many of their citizens come to the United States for medical care. I heard about long waits, rationed care, the inability to choose one's own doctor, etc. But when this topic came up on message boards amongst people I had come to know and respect, I heard a different story. Without exception, every Canadian citizen was generally pleased with their health care and had a hard time comprehending the idea that many Americans can't afford medical care or even face bankruptcy as a result of huge medical bills. They admit that their system has its flaws and most are quite open about any difficulties they've encountered. However, there is overwhelming support for their system and a sense of pride in their country for making health care a priority.

As a Francophile, I also read a lot about France. I have been on an email list which focuses on the French lifestyle for several years and am, in fact, a moderator for the group. I have browsed some blogs written by American expats in France. There is one in particular I read faithfully for about three years until the author recently decided to stop blogging. I'm still in contact with her via email and Flickr and asked if she would consider sharing her views as an American living in France. She's extremely busy right now with company and spring planting so she had to turn down my request. She did refer to France's "phenomenal health care" in her email to me so I'm assuming she's in favor of it.

And then there's my dear friend in England. We've been friends for several years, emailing one another almost daily at times. She's had the usual illnesses and other conditions requiring medical care over the years but never frets over access or ability to pay.

Finally, an "IRL" friend has shared quite a lot with me regarding her personal experiences with the health care system her in the United States and in fact, wrote something about it which she said I can share here on my blog.

Since it looks like there may be a vote on health care reform sometime in the next few days, I thought it would be interesting to share what my friends have to say on the issue. Tomorrow I will post what my American friend wrote. Thursday, I will share the experiences of my British friend. I'm still hoping to get first person accounts from Canada and France, too.

Just to be clear, in each case I have asked for honest opinions based upon personal experience. This isn't meant to be representative of anything other than individual experience and views. My hope is that these stories will peel away the layers of propaganda and politics, revealing how government policies affect real people.



Judd said...

Awesome. I seriously can't wait to read what they have to say.

Lisa Sharp said...

I have been dealing with the insurance company today as my insurance will go up about 15% next month and it did this last year as well!

I LOVE my Indian health care. Every time I see what they billed to the insurance company I'm so happy that I didn't have to pay the bill.