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Thread: Europe's free, state-run health care has drawbacks

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Europe's free, state-run health care has drawbacks

    Europe's free, state-run health care has drawbacks - Yahoo! News

    LONDON – As President Barack Obama pushes to overhaul the American health care system, the role of government is at the heart of the debate. In Europe, free, state-run health care is a given.
    The concept has been enshrined in Europe for generations. Health systems are built so inclusive that even illegal immigrants are entitled to free treatment beyond just emergency care. Europeans have some of the world's best hospitals and have made great strides in fighting problems like obesity and heart disease.
    But the system is far from perfect.
    In Britain, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, public health systems have become political punching bags for opposition parties, costs have skyrocketed and in some cases, patients have needlessly suffered and died.
    Obama has pointedly said he does not want to bring European-style health care to the U.S. and that he intends to introduce a government-run plan to compete with private insurance, not replace it.
    Critics fear Obama's reforms will lead to more government control over health care and cite problems faced by European health systems as examples of what not to do.
    Other experts say Americans could learn from countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, especially in the debate on how to reorganize health insurance.
    "These countries are in some way an inspiration for our reforms," said Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University. "All of these countries somehow manage to assess risk and compensate for it ... we could learn from that."
    Many European health officials applaud Obama's attempt to provide health care to millions more Americans, but they also advise him to proceed with caution.
    "What we can be proud of in Europe is the ground rules, that everyone has the right to health care," said Jose Martin-Moreno, a health expert at the University of Valencia in Spain. "But the implementation has been difficult and one size does not fit all."
    Private health care is also available in Europe, creating in some instances a two-tier system that critics say defeats the egalitarian impulse on which national systems were built.
    When Britain's National Health System was founded 61 years ago, it pledged that with few exceptions, patients would not be charged for anything.
    All prescription drugs are covered, and the government regularly sets health targets, like maximum waiting times in emergency rooms or for having an operation.
    Critics say the policies are often driven more by politics than science. Last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised that patients unable to see cancer experts within two weeks would get cash to pay for private care. Brown had previously argued against paying for private providers and some say the reversal may be a gimmick to boost his sagging popularity.
    More serious problems in Britain's health care were reported last month, when cancer researchers announced that as many as 15,000 people over age 75 were dying prematurely from cancer every year. Experts said those deaths could have been avoided if those patients had been diagnosed and treated earlier.
    "There is nothing inherently different about cancer in the U.S. and Britain to explain why more people are dying here," said Dr. Karol Sikora, of Cancer Partners UK.
    The U.S. already spends the most worldwide on health care. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. spent $7,290 per person in 2007, while Britain spent $2,992 and France spent $3,601.
    Still, experts say that before committing the U.S. to footing the bill for universal health care, Obama should consider it has cost Europe.
    A World Health Organization survey in 2000 found that France had the world's best health system. But that has come at a high price; health budgets have been in the red since 1988.
    In 1996, France introduced targets for health insurance spending. But a decade later, the deficit had doubled to 49 billion euros ($69 billion).
    "I would warn Americans that once the government gets its nose into health care, it's hard to stop the dangerous effects later," said Valentin Petkantchin, of the Institut Economique Molinari in France. He said many private providers have been pushed out, forcing a dependence on an overstretched public system.
    Similar scenarios have been unfolding in the Netherlands and Switzerland, where everyone must buy health insurance.
    "The minute you make health insurance mandatory, people start overusing it," said Dr. Alphonse Crespo, an orthopedic surgeon and research director at Switzerland's Institut Constant de Rebecque. "If I have a cold, I might go see a doctor because I am already paying a health insurance premium."
    Cost-cutting has also hit Switzerland. The numbers of beds have dropped, hospitals have merged, and specialist care has become harder to find. A 2007 survey found that in some hospitals in Geneva and Lausanne, the rates of medical mistakes had jumped by up to 40 percent. Long ranked among the world's top four health systems, Switzerland dropped to 8th place in a Europe-wide survey last year.
    Government influence in health care may also stifle innovation, other experts warn. Bureaucracies are slow to adopt new medical technologies. In Britain and Germany, even after new drugs are approved, access to them is complicated because independent agencies must decide if they are worth buying.
    When the breast cancer drug Herceptin was proven to be effective in 1998, it was available almost immediately in the U.S. But it took another four years for the U.K. to start buying it for British breast cancer patients.
    "Government control of health care is not a panacea," said Philip Stevens, of International Policy Network, a London think-tank. "The U.S. health system is a bit of a mess, but based on what's happened in some countries in Europe, I'd be nervous about recommending more government involvement."

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    sorry, socialized medicine is still better than the insane US system.

    Nobody goes bankrupt because they get sick.

    It costs HALF AS MUCH TO TREAT PEOPLE

    and frankly the FDA needs to do a better job approving drugs intead of just throwing them on the market and having doctors push them within 10 days.

    also this:

    "The minute you make health insurance mandatory, people start overusing it," said Dr. Alphonse Crespo, an orthopedic surgeon and research director at Switzerland's Institut Constant de Rebecque. "If I have a cold, I might go see a doctor because I am already paying a health insurance premium."
    Yes, there will always be idiots who go to emerg for a stubbed toe but like 98% of them will just go to a walk-in clinic for a GP to take a look at them.

    For fucks sake, what HMO bought author wrote this article? Total bullshit.
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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    ^^I was just about to say all that. Universal health care isn't perfect but it's a hell of a lot better than what we have in the States.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    Elite Member katerpillar's Avatar
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    ^ No shit. The system of universal healthcare we have in Australia isn't flawless - I doubt that any healthcare system is - but there's no freaking way I would even think twice about choosing which was preferable, ours or the USA's.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    I've experienced both so yeah, I'll go with universal care.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    Elite Member Wiseguy's Avatar
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    Universal health care is definitely the way to go. I've also lived with both.

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    as far as I know, illegal immigrants don't get free healthcare beyond urgency treatment in Europe. In fact, it can be very costly for them.

    Anyway, the main problem in the USA are the insurance companies lobbying against UHC. They fear their scam-system will come to an end in case UHC is finally implemented.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    ^It depends on the country. Each EU country has it's own system.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    A*O
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    The UK National Health System isn't all it's cracked up to be either. Long waiting lists, lack of beds, prescriptions are not free for most people, hospitals with huge bureaucracies and not enough medical staff, the list goes on. If people didn't obtain their own private health insurance (and they still pay for the NHS via direct taxation) the whole system would collapse. Given the lack of adequate funding and facilities the NHS staff on the front line to a remarkable job in very difficult circumstances but if anyone thinks the system is a utopian benchmark for the perfect public healthcare system they are either reading too much Government spin or they have never tried to have elective or "non-urgent" surgery.

    The Australian system requires people to pay upfront for medical treatment and they can then reclaim some/all of it from the Medicare fund depending on their cicumstances. It certainly isn't perfect either but it does make you think about whether you actually need that GP appointment and keeps a lot of the time wasters away who are the bane of UK GPs lives.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasdrubal View Post
    as far as I know, illegal immigrants don't get free healthcare beyond urgency treatment in Europe. In fact, it can be very costly for them.
    i've never heard of anyone being turned away and refused treatment in a public hospital in europe. in fact i know of several cases where people who were not legal residents in france (they were tourists) received top notch care. one guy got pushed into a window by some drunk asshole and would have lost the use of an arm had a top-notch neurosurgeon not been on call when he arrived in hospital. french social security footed the bill.
    and i know they received care in austria too.

    it's also not true that when health insurance is mandatory, people will start overusing it. sure, some people will. but the vast majority won't. i lived in switzerland half my life and health insurance is mandatory there (and there's a whole subsidy system for those who can't afford it so that no one goes without) and i never had to wait to get an appointment, emergency rooms aren't as overcrowded as they were in other countries i've lived, etc. most people don't like going to the doctor's so even if they are paying a premium, they won't go unless there is a valid reason.

    no system is perfect. no one is saying that. but i think pretty much any system in the developed world is better and more fair than the one that is in place in the US.
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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    The UK National Health System isn't all it's cracked up to be either. Long waiting lists, lack of beds, prescriptions are not free for most people, hospitals with huge bureaucracies and not enough medical staff, the list goes on. If people didn't obtain their own private health insurance (and they still pay for the NHS via direct taxation) the whole system would collapse. Given the lack of adequate funding and facilities the NHS staff on the front line to a remarkable job in very difficult circumstances but if anyone thinks the system is a utopian benchmark for the perfect public healthcare system they are either reading too much Government spin or they have never tried to have elective or "non-urgent" surgery.

    The Australian system requires people to pay upfront for medical treatment and they can then reclaim some/all of it from the Medicare fund depending on their cicumstances. It certainly isn't perfect either but it does make you think about whether you actually need that GP appointment and keeps a lot of the time wasters away who are the bane of UK GPs lives.
    I think it depends on where you live in the UK. Where I lived I had fantastic care from the NHS. We all did. Very professional, quick treatment, etc. In NSW you now only pay the amount you would pay after the refund so the docs are dealing directly with the government stuff here. Also, I know someone here who has private insurance but found it was quicker to actually go through the state health care system for surgery on their kid.

    I think you'll be treated no matter what within the EU. I got hurt in Spain once and had to go to the hospital for x-rays and various things and they took care of me just fine.

    Either way, I think universal health care is better overall, if only because there are way too many people who simply cannot afford private insurance.
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    A*O
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    I don't think there's an ideal system. In Canada there is no private health system at all, everyone uses the public one which is great until you need something non-urgent but important done and then you just have to wait your turn - sometimes for a very long time. My sister should have had a precautionary colonoscopy 4 years ago when my dad died from colon cancer which could be genetic. I had one almost the next day, she is still waiting. Having said that she isn't exactly thumping the doc's desk demanding one and she'd never hop over the border to the US and, shock, pay for one so let's hope she's OK.
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    Yeah, I get what you're saying but I really have to say that I'm grateful I was in Europe when I got really sick. When I left home and went to uni and then bopped around jobs for a bit I had minimal health care and at times none. I would have been absolutely fucked if I had become ill in the states at that time because I needed long-term care. Although elective surgery is a pain in the arse to get sorted when you really need something done they are all over it. And even elective is fairly ok to get if you are willing to do some desk thumping.

    So far it's been ok here in OZ, although not quite what I expected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    i've never heard of anyone being turned away and refused treatment in a public hospital in europe. in fact i know of several cases where people who were not legal residents in france (they were tourists) received top notch care. one guy got pushed into a window by some drunk asshole and would have lost the use of an arm had a top-notch neurosurgeon not been on call when he arrived in hospital. french social security footed the bill.
    and i know they received care in austria too.

    it's also not true that when health insurance is mandatory, people will start overusing it. sure, some people will. but the vast majority won't. i lived in switzerland half my life and health insurance is mandatory there (and there's a whole subsidy system for those who can't afford it so that no one goes without) and i never had to wait to get an appointment, emergency rooms aren't as overcrowded as they were in other countries i've lived, etc. most people don't like going to the doctor's so even if they are paying a premium, they won't go unless there is a valid reason.

    no system is perfect. no one is saying that. but i think pretty much any system in the developed world is better and more fair than the one that is in place in the US.

    I wasn't saying you were going to be turned away. You are taken care if you need it. However, if you're an illegal and you need to be hospitalised you'll be charged for it once you leave the hospital.

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    I am mixed on this. I have only experienced private care here in the US and have been blessed to always have really good insurance. I know that part of the reason why my rates are so high is because I am paying for the care that is given to those who have no insurance too. I like the idea of Universal Health Care but wonder how much my taxes will go up and would it be greater than what I pay in premiums for my insurance now. I have also heard horror stories of people who cannot get the care they need through UHC. I am afraid you would end up feeling like a number in the system instead of a patient with a team of medical professionals you have selected.
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