Universal Health Care: should the US adopt it? How does it work in your country?

  1. I'm curious.

    We in the US have a very inefficient health-care insurance system. No one seems to be very satisfied with it, and the rising costs of insurance are causing huge gaps in coverage, as well as dissatisfied health-care workers.

    Only the very very poor and the retired have guaranteed health care, and the latter doesn't include prescription drugs.

    So my question is for those of you who have universal health care:

    What percentage of your paycheck goes to pay for healthcare costs? Do you feel you're getting your money's worth?

    How does your system work? Couldn't the US adopt such a system without all the angst we had over Hilary's too-difficult-to-implement proposal?
  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    I can't really say what percentage it is because it is lumped in with other taxes, but I do know my take home pay here is a little better percentage wise, then my take home pay was in Washington after paying my health insurance and taxes. I do get my money's worth. I have never waited more than a day to see my GP and never more than a few weeks to see a specialist. My dad saw a specialist and had orthopedic surgery within 4 months. I know if he was in the US he could've paid for it and had it the same day, but we would rather put up with a little wait and not have to remorgage the house.

    I think one of the biggest problems with health care in the US is ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS because it isn't a single payer system, as well as the number of bad debts incurred when those without insurance declare bankruptcy and don't pay their bills.

    I am sure universal healthcare could be implemented with a payroll tax and a determination of what "basic health care" is. That said, it will NEVER happen. Talking about universal health care among Americans brings up the same irrational fear that the words "gun control" do.
  4. by   CountrifiedRN
    Just wondering, if universal healthcare comes out of the paycheck, are people who don't work covered?
  5. by   Sleepyeyes
    Good question. Any takers?
  6. by   donmurray
    Like Fergus, I'm not sure exactly, it's around 7-8% with the employer paying more than that. That pays for Unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, and healthcare. Prescriptions cost 6.20 per item, but if they are for otc meds, then you can buy those cheaper.
    Emergency care is prioritised by clinical need, as in the US. Cold surgery, yes there are waiting lists, but they are slowly coming down. A relative had a mammogram 10 days ago. Next day, the hospital called her, and she went back 2 days later to be told the result, and have a biopsy. Her GP was informed, and rang to give support. She sees the Surgeon Tuesday to discuss the biopsy result. Fingers crossed!
    Everyone, including foreign visitors, is treated based on clinical need, and there is currently some discussion on whether we as a nation should not be more aggressive in charging this group for their treatment. Any Brit going abroad is constantly reminded of the need for insurance, so why not visitors?
    I'm rambling on, so I'll stop.

    ps. Just noticed the question. Yes. everyone is covered. "Cradle to Grave"
    Last edit by donmurray on Jan 18, '03
  7. by   fergus51
    Everyone who lives in the province is covered. The reason is when the unemployed do work the taxes comes out of their paycheck. The elderly and housewives and children are all covered even though they aren't paying in directly. That said, foreigner visitors (like Americans on holiday) are expected to self pay, but immigrants aren't once they have their "landed" status.

    Here health care is a service like primary education. It is just an expected role of the government to ensure citizens have health care.
  8. by   fergus51
    I should say, I know that Canada spends LESS per person on health care than the US does, so universal does not mean more expensive.
  9. by   Sleepyeyes
    Aha! That's exactly what I was fishing for, fergus. Why'd Hilary have to do that big ol' cumbersome thing when all we had to do was borrow from countries in which universal health care already works??

    In other words, your explanation proves that it is possible to have a workable system whereby each and every person is medically cared for....

    I'm game; now how do we get it here???
  10. by   RNonsense
    fergus51...are you sure about your answer? In BC here, we have msp premiums. If the employer does not have a medical plan than the individual must pay on their own. They do have "temporary premium assistance" for students, etc with lower incomes, but it is difficult to get and again, only temporary. There was recently a case here where the patient was DENIED surgery because the staff discovered he had no medical coverage. Everybody in BC is SUPPOSED to enroll with MSP, but not everyone does, unfortunately.
  11. by   fergus51
    You only pay MSP premiums IF you make above a certain amount of money. I was covered for my entire schooling because I never made more than 9 000$ a year (in BC the whole time). Temporarily for 5 years isn't so bad. If you don't have medical coverage and you are a resident of the province it is because you have chosen not to be informed and get it. Difficult is not impossible. I know, I did it. If someone doesn't take the time to become insured then denying elective (or non-urgent) surgery makes sense.

    I should say RNonsense (love the name BTW), I do think BC can do better (I'm jumping ship to another province soon). The latest cuts to chiropractic, physio and such were ridiculous. I also think it is ridiculous that certain supplies are not covered like diabetic test strips. I was on med surg a while ago and had a patient in from a diabetic coma because she was doing her insulin by guesswork cause she didn't have the money for the strips. I would also FULLY cover contraception! Coming from an OB nurse, believe me, that would be fiscally responsible in the long run!!!
    Last edit by fergus51 on Jan 18, '03
  12. by   semstr
    it is the same here, well more or less, as the way Don describes it in GB.
    Prescriptions are not that expensive though, only 2,50, for full payers, all the others don't have to pay at all.
  13. by   karenG
    well prescriptions are expensive here but only a very small percentage of people pay them- think its something like 20%. the money we pay for prescriptions is a form of tax and goes directly to the gov. doesnt pay for drugs- learnt that on the nurse prescribing course recently.

    our system is open to abuse. recently had a refugee couple from Albania who had fled here with the intention of getting infertility treatment. they had had all that was on offer in Albania and the only option left was ICSI -cant remember what it stands for! but its the last ditch here and very expensive. they were amazed that they would not get it here either! (at 45 they were too old) apparently Britain is the land of milk and honey...........

    so the NHS is crumbling............

  14. by   semstr
    Karen, not only Britain, but other countries with similar health-policies too.
    Just a few weeks ago, an immigrant was arrested, because he stated that he had 6 kids at home (here everbody gets a children-cheque every 3 months, well not everybody, but them that work, nationality is not asked) and of course it was found out, he had not. So now, he has to pay back 2 years (that's how long it took to find out his lie) worth of money.
    But these things happen, regardless of nationality again.