October 23, 2020: U.S. Healthcare

I have a modicum of knowledge about healthcare in the United States and foreign nations, their relative qualities, and their relative costs. I’m married to a Spaniard who for the past decade or more has become handicapped with a rare combination of two neurological diseases. When I say handicapped, I mean fully-disabled, legally granted such status in both the United States and Spain. She has had some ten brain surgeries during the past decade; five during 2015 alone. She has been treated at top U.S. and Spanish hospitals (for examples in the U.S.: the Mayo Clinic‘s headquarters in Minnesota; Columbia-Presbyterian and Weill-Cornell in New York City; and Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore). We know quality care and we have massive medical bills in the United States.

I am constantly amazed by the gullible stupidity of the minority of Americans who believe in fear that ‘Universal Healthcare’ would cause a decline in the U.S. healthcare system, which is the most expensive in the world for average care and ridiculously expensive for intensive care. I’ve yet to encounter one of these stupid people who has actually had first-hand experience with hospitals in other developed nations. They instead parrot what right-wing propagandists and right-wing politicians, whose salaries or campaigns respectively are paid for by the same insurance companies desperately fund to keep U.S. healthcare expensive for Americans and massively profitable for themselves. The stupid minority of Americans who believe such propaganda are the same ones who complain or joke about American hospitals charging them $1.00 for an aspirin tablet, yet they nevertheless won’t admit how much they are being financially cheated due to the added layer of expense healthcare funded primarily by for-profit insurance companies costs

My wife and I have gotten equally expertise and specialized care at University Hospital in Navarra, Spain, as at Columbia-Presbyterian. The difference is that the Spanish hospital visit costs ten times less. Indeed, my wife unexpectedly spent an entire afternoon at a hospital in her hometown of Las Palmas de Canaria with what ultimately was diagnoses as severe dehydration, yet involved a CAT scan, blood tests, a two full hours with two doctors. The cost to use was 50 Euros ($55), and would have been zero if a specialist hadn’t been called in to consult about my wife’s neurological diseases.

In the United States, our costs would likely have been somewhere between $500 and $3,000. Indeed, my wife and I would have gone bankrupt several years ago had not the U.S. government declared her to be fully-disabled and eligible for government-paid Medicare.

A gullible minority of Americans, parroting right-wing propagandists, claim that if Medicare were expanded into ‘Universal Healthcare’, then the United States would become a “socialist” “hellhole” such as Venezuela. That’s akin claiming that enforcement of parking laws would turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany, a ludicrous claim. Do these gullible minority of Americans think that people inside the foreign nations that do have Universal Healthcare are sick or dying, refused treatment or getting substandard treatment? People in countries with Universal Healthcare, such as Canada, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, etc.? They are obviously not. In fact, the people in most of those countries have better health and live longer lives than do Americans. And none of them ever go bankrupt due to healthcare costs. These are the reasons why after World War Two every other developed nation except the U.S. chose to enact Universal Healthcare rather than choose the U.S. system.

Worried that you can’t keep your own doctor under such a healthcare system. Take a look at this nine-minute video (above) about Switzerland’s system. It’s a nation with Universal Healthcare plus private insurance, yet with much lower healthcare costs for its citizens than Americans pay.

What I find the most gullible about the minority of Americans who oppose Universal Healthcare is that they vociferously object to it adding one or two thousand dollars to their annual taxes, yet don’t mind paying five to ten thousand dollars annually to private healthcare insurers for exactly the same coverage. As the British say, they are ‘penny-wise but pound-foolish.” That’s true gullibility in action.

Indeed, during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Britons celebrated (below) having Universal Healthcare–their National Health Service.

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