Heathy thoughts on health care

Everyone seems to be talking about health care reform. The problem is people are saying a lot of ignorant things.

I am one of few Americans who can say they have lived extensively in a country with the real deal, socialized medicine.

Clearly, to me, Obama is NOT suggesting that we adopt a social welfare state. Talk of the socialization of America is utterly ridiculous. Obama, it seems, is focusing on making a national option for health insurance. Where I lived I didn't have any health insurance (yes, we had insurance for the car, house, travel, etc.) because it was all provided by the state. I paid a nominal co-pay for regular office visits or trips to the ER. I paid for any medication. But I never paid a cent for my children's health care beyond prescriptions. My kids' well-care and "sick visits" were free. I paid nothing for the hospitalization when my kids were born, nor did I pay a co-pay for prenatal or postpartum check-ups.

It was all very simple. No insurance dilemmas. If something wasn't covered, like a tummy tuck, it would have been entirely out of pocket. But real health care issues were always covered.

People don't realize that there are lots of pros in countries with health care available for everyone. Yes, there are waits for certain non-emergent procedures. Yes, sometimes in smaller countries people travel abroad for a 2nd opinion or a new treatment. No, not every hospital can specialize in everything. That is true here too. We in NJ are lucky to live in an area of the country with many so options for health care, but in other areas of the US, people have to travel significant distances to see specialists.

In my experience the care I got in a regular "welfare state" hospital was fantastic. I had one baby in the US and another baby abroad. There were certain things I preferred about the US system. I chose my OB/Gyn/midwife team and had a birthing plan in advance. I liked having several hospitals to chose from. I did not get hassled about requesting an epidural (although the anesthesiologist was an idiot and had to stick me 6 times before she got the epidural in my back!), and the hospital staff was great save one mean nurse. I swear that C waited to come into the world until her shift was over!

My overseas experience had pros too. Although I didn't know the midwife (midwives and OB/Gyns where N was born are hospital employees, so patients see whoever happens to be on when the time comes), all she did was deliveries, so I was presumably in experienced hands. Also, in the US my insurance company limited my hospital stay to 48 hours. With my son I stayed 3 nights and could have stayed even longer. They are not in the rush to send newborns and their anxious mothers home.

The postpartum care was much better over there! In addition to the regular office visit, about a week after the baby was born a nurse came to the house to check on the baby, see how he was nursing and checked me for signs of postpartum depression. The health care center organized mothers groups to prevent you from feeling too isolated. I have several friends who still meet with these other mothers regularly more than a decade after their babies were born.

There were also cons. In the US I had a lovely private room after the baby was born. When I was abroad, I was "lucky" and shared a room with only one other new Mom. Several friends of mine shared a "common room" with six other new Moms and their crying newborns.

I have been to the ER several times in both countries. Except for the fact that our local hospital abroad charged for parking and I had to pay the co-pay in cash (which I never seem to carry), I can honestly say that the wait times are similar (LONG), that ER doctors are a bit of a crap-shoot (you are going to like some and not others).

If our pediatrician or primary care doctors were open 24/7 I would rarely need an ER in either country!

My primary care physician? Over there I saw two (the first one, who I nicknamed "Doogie" moved, so I saw his replacement). Both Doogie and the new doc were fine. No complaints.

Here I go to Martinsville Family Practice where I usually see Dr. Price. I love the practice and love her.

But I am very fortunate. We have excellent health insurance. I don't need a written referral to see a specialist. My insurance includes a prescription drug plan.

Nonetheless, I do feel that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. I don't know where all the money goes in our system, or why it is so complicated, but I am glad I have tried both systems.

I just wish people would think about both sides before crushing this nations hopes at reform. The costs are high but we do many wasteful things in this country, like have a significant portion of the population without general practitioner care using an ER for their primary care needs. Things need to improve.

Democrats: get your act together and stop fighting amongst yourselves... I'm glad our finally in a position of power. But you make me want to leave the country sometimes!

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