My Experience With Socialized Health Care

Reason Online has an article up detailing California’s plan to institute a socialized health care system by making private health care completely illegal. If you can ignore the advertisement of a half-naked, homoerotic ape dry humping the floor, follow the link to read the article.

Link: Canadianizing the Golden State

I’m torn on this. Ireland has socialized medicine, and it sucks. When I first moved to Dublin, I took my Yamaha Superscooter out for a rush-hour drive and took a spill off it going around 55, breaking both my arms and one of my legs. Luckily, I was right around the corner from the hospital, so I got up from the mangled wreck of my bike, flagged down a taxi, and had him bring me here. When I got to the emergency ward, a scrolling sign chipperly announced that average waiting time was 8 hours. It was 9am on a Tuesday morning.

Near the door, a man with a board nailed to his face grumbled to his ashen-faced girlfriend that it was four hours since he’d arrived and he had a board nailed right through his fucking face, doesn’t that take some kind of precedence? I didn’t think I could compete with that. Thinking quickly, I hobbled back outside, flagged down another taxi, and had him drive me back to my superscooter accident. I propped myself up by the curb in a dramatic semblance of agony then called for an ambulance. When I got to the hospital, I bypassed the emergency room line entirely, was treated immediately — ambulances, apparently, don’t go through queues.

Read the rest after the jump.

The entire experience was an odd admixture of abject incompetence and occasional excellence. The good news is that my bill at the end of the day was only
75. I met some cute nurses. On the other hand, if I were to see a doctor for fifteen minutes in a follow-up appointment, I would have to take the entire day off work, just because of the lines. When I eventually saw the doctor, more likely than not he would merely rattle my arm around in the cast, put his ear to it and rap upon it with his knuckles, as if testing the ripeness of a coconut. When my casts came off (which I actually had done with a serrated knife in my bathroom that morning, not wanting to have to wait in both the cast removal queue and the queue to see a doctor), the doctor told me that despite breaking 75% of my major appendages, there was “no need for rehab or exercises” and swatted me away when I began pointing out the fact that I could not bend my wrists or knees at all.

Maybe it’s the American in me, but as nice as it was that the entire ordeal cost me only
75, I would have gladly paid just to be treated with some semblance of competence and sympathy. I’ve had my share of negative hospital experiences in the States too, but a long line in the States generally meant a couple hours waiting in the emergency room on a Friday night, not an eight-hour queue on a weekday morning. I never have had an experience in the privatized American healthcare system that can match the callous incompetence of my experience under Ireland’s socialized medicine system.

The bottom line is that money talks. Whether we’re talking about health care, cars or cellular phone coverage, you get better service the more money you pay. When no one’s paying any money, you as an individual become a statistic and receive the base minimum of care, competence and attention to maintain the aggregate. So making private health care out-and-out illegal seems like a disastrous move for the consumers of health care.

I’m not sure what the solution to the problem is — the negative side of the American system is that, all too often, people without insurance get reamed, and I’m liberal enough to believe that every person has an unqualified right to be cured when they are sick. But that’s a paradox: how can money talk when not having money guarantees you the same rights? Is the solution to make it the law that every company has to supply health insurance to their employees, regardless of full-time employee status and other mitigating factors? Those who are unemployed get taken under the umbrella of socialized medicine. But I can see that having extremely adverse economic drawbacks as well and I’m not nearly smart enough to know how to make that work.

Does anyone out there have any thoughts on the subject of universal health care, or know of any schemes that address the issues I’ve touched on here? I’d love to hear them. Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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