Robert Hebert, in his letter to The Advocate on Sept. 13, wonders what type of yardstick the American public can use to judge the success or failure of Obamacare.
While such measurements may not be readily available in the United States, the majority of the capitalist countries in Europe do provide us with easily comparable examples. Here is a real-life example of what U.K. taxpayers get for their health care tax dollar (or equivalent currency).
While on vacation in the U.K., my wife fell and broke her leg. Emergency medical services were called and she was transported to the local hospital emergency room. There she was seen by two doctors who ordered an X-ray, a cast put on her leg to stabilize it and that she be admitted to the hospital.
The following day, the cast was removed, and further X-rays were taken. The top orthopedic doctor in the region examined her and referred her to surgery. After surgery, by the same top doctor, she continued her stay in the hospital for the following eight days.
Upon release from the hospital, she was told she could go home but was not to place any weight on the injured leg for six weeks. The U.K. health services provided her all necessary home devices needed to facilitate such a demanding period of inactivity.
At the end of six weeks, the doctor ordered an exercise/mobility cast be put on. After a series of three more appointments, she was ordered to start physical therapy.
It was at this point she was asked if she had health care insurance coverage in America! Imagine, care first, concern about payment not only second but nine weeks after the original event!
We gave them the health care insurance information they required, sought and received a release and, as an added courtesy, the doctor gave us a letter to assist us through U.S. customs and security.
COST IN TOTAL: $6,600! And yes, that is a four-digit number and, yes, the bill was itemized. As the event occurred overseas, we weren’t required to provide a copay. She was not charged for the EMT services/transportation. It is provided to all in the U.K., citizen or not, without charge.
Based on my wife’s experience with socialized medicine, perhaps the real question that we should be asking is whether Obamacare went far enough in attempting to reduce health care costs.
A critical element of Obamacare is its stated goal of keeping insurance companies in the commercial game and thus not becoming a socialized system. A more rational, less expensive, more voter-responsive measure may be to slowly incorporate health care insurance companies into a single-payer system. This alone would reduce health care costs by 14-24%.
Lets start measuring.
U.S. Navy, retired