I live in Canada. We have socialized medicine. Our healthcare isn’t perfect but it is better than what some countries have.
For a few months I was uninsured. Graduating from university kicked me off my Father’s health insurance. It was a horrible feeling because there was no way I’d be able to afford the dental and eye care, (which is not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, OHIP, but it should be)! and I would not be partially reimbursed for prescription medications. I had visions of my teeth falling out, my eyes getting worse and I would eventually DIE! Over dramatic yes but it’s not a far out idea for some without health insurance. As a citizen of Canada and of Ontario I would never be turned away for basic medical treatment because I have that insurance which in my case is a birth right (all citizens, native or immigrant receive this basic medical coverage under their province or territory).
My partner has health insurance and he recently added me to it. I am now insured! I still haven’t gone to the dentist but I will! (Nothing says I love you like health insurance)
Today I finished my fiction book and moved on to a non-fiction. I borrowed Overtreated: Why too much medicine is making us sicker and pooer by Shannon Brownlee which looks at how American healthcare, which is supposed to be the “best”, is really, well, SHIT! I am only on page 4 and I’m already outraged!
In the introduction Brownlee is talking about the reasons why healthcare professionals, legislators etc are telling Americans universal healthcare coverage is not beneficial. The “reason” that has me angry is what healthcare economists call “moral hazard” (it’s bloody ahhhhhh!!!!!).
The theory of moral hazard (because it really is a theory) is that having health insurance changes people.
OH! It must make people healthier and happier and everything becomes right in the world!!!
The argument behind moral hazard is that if people are insured they will use the system “unnecessarily”. Because they don’t need to think about cost they will go get scans for every little issue and waste tax payer money in the process.
Brownlee gives an example using fictitious sports care vouchers. If the government handed out a voucher for a sports car then everyone would have a sports car!
Anyways, last I checked going to the doctor to see what’s wrong with you was a good type of preventative care! To use a personal example, one of my little girls fell at school a few weeks ago and hurt her ankle. She was very slow at walking because she was in pain so we carried her around when we needed to. She spent a lot of time with ice on her ankle. Her parents took her to the hospital and guess what! She had to get a cast!!!! The moral of the story is, we don’t know what’s going on inside the body! Sometimes we need to use the expensive equipment to confirm that that there isn’t a problem! Damage is not always obvious and I’d rather eliminate possibilities than wait it out and run the risk of becoming severely sick.
The moral hazard theory got me thinking about mental health. If many want to say that health insurance would result in too many people using the doctor and the equipment for things that could be fixed with ice then why do we currently have such a booming psychiatric industry?
Shouldn’t we treat out depression, schizophrenia or OCD with ice so to speak?
I guess the difference with mental health is the odds of the psychiatrist telling you that you’re normal and you’ve wasted his/her time and tax payer dollars is rather small. Still, could there not possibly be individuals that if they just used a little “ice” they could free up helpful services for those in which ice doesn’t work?
I can’t forget the most important detail which is many Americans possibly pay for their psych meds out of their own pocket, which is what moral hazard theory wants you to do! A friend of mine recently figured out how much it costs her a month to maintain her mental health. The cost of therapy roughly once a week and with 1 medication she’s looking at $600! Who can dish out that kind of cash monthly? I know I can’t! Large families can’t! Most people would prefer to spend that amount of money on other things such as groceries, paying down debt or saving for retirement/house/wedding/well deserved vacation!
The moral hazard theory is offensive! Individuals should decide when the appropriate time is to go to the doctor. We should be responsible for our own health but by that I mean doing what we feel is needed to keep us healthy, not be out there to fend for ourselves boarding on bankruptcy because we needed an MRI to rule something out!
I hope “Obamacare” passes. Anyone who is against it, remember, you may think that you’re great, living in such an “advanced” country, filled with “equal opportunity” and “freedom” but I WILL OUT LIVE YOU!!! And it will be because I’m from a country with dreaded socialized medicine!
P.S. My doctor still makes more than me! Don’t worry, Canadian doctors still make a lot of money!