Originally posted by operatenor:
Mary, Lliam, DB, Ludovica, etc., how do you folks feel about your health care systems? Do you get what you need when you need it?
Sorry to take so long to reply, but I haven't been able to get to the board as often as I'd like.
We have a double-layered system here. There are private hospitals, funded by private insurance or, if you're rich enough, direct personal payment. Some of the private hospitals are actually fairly swept-up outfits, capable of doing heart work for instance.
Nevertheless, if you are seriously injured, as you were, or at death's door, you will go to the public hospital. The private hospitals are simply not set up to cope. We unwashed plebs who regard insurance as expensive and unnecessary also go there.
In the public hospital A & E dept., we wait upwards of 3 hours for treatment. We are usually fairly cursorily examined soon after arrival, and left to cool our heels, unless there is a possiblity of really serious illness. For instance, we have a lot of meningococcal disease here, for reasons which are not at all clear. If you show up with symptoms of flu, a rash, sore neck, you will be scrutinised in detail instantly on admission, because m. disease is lethal and fast. Several people have died of it lately because they weren't treated soon enough.
Eventually we are admitted to a ward, usually 4 or 6 to a room, and the treatment seems to vary considerably from ward to ward. At least it did when I was there, twice in (for me) quick succession. 1 abdominal op. and 1 fracture.
My abdominal op. got infected. I had to go to an outpatient dept. for several weeks while the wound, which had to be re-opened and cleaned out, healed from the bottom up. The fracture was treated conservatively, with first a plaster cast, then a lighter fibreglass one in electric blue, then what we call a moon boot (for obvious reasons once you've seen one).
It all turned out well in the end.
I know Americans will want to burn me at the stake for this, but I am a firm believer in socialised medicine. We spend about 7% of GDP on health care, and for that we get a system which will cope with most things, and do it to a standard as good as anybody else's. Some liver transplants have to be done in Australia, and I believe there are other similar things we can't do here, (we do heart transplants regularly) but there's not much we can't handle. Certainly we could have repaired O.T.'s mangled body.
I believe Americans pay about 17% of GDP, presumably via their insurance policies, for a system which, although the leader in its field, is fraught with the difficulties detailed in this thread. Our system has no such difficulties. The only time I ever had to deal with an insurance claim, it all went very smoothly. The existence of the public system keeps the private one honest.
We also have a thing called the Accident Compensation Corporation. This outfit looks after people who have accidents, wherever that might be. It covers sports, home handymen, motorists, etc etc. The result is that if you have an accident you can go to a private A & E and avoid the waits in the public system. Instead of waiting 3 hours plus, you'll wait less than 1 (usually) and ACC picks up about 80% of the cost. The trade-off is that we can't sue, so dead-heads just get done for traffic offences or whatever.
G.P.s are also heavily subsidised. Ours costs NZD 50 per visit, and that is considered expensive. We've been going to him for years though, and are reluctant to change. Also, when he rings the hospital and says "admit this man" they say "yes sir!" That doesn't always happen, so I'm told.
That's probably more than you wanted to know about our health system. We grizzle about it, but it works, and it's affordable.
<small>[ 07-17-2003, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: dai bread 1 ]</small>
Omnia me Graeci est.