Slice of Life Story - TV Viewing and Health Issues

I have just watched a report on television about the American health system. On the evidence presented, the system appears to be morbidly obese, in danger of collapse and only a major operation will save it.

To think that almost fifty million people living in the U.S are not covered by any form of insurance, many others have inadequate cover and the cost of basic services is prohibitive is an anathema in such a developed country. Drug companies appear to exert so much power over the running of the health system. How did this happen?

I viewed a documentary on America’s health system way back in the 1980’s titled, ‘Don’t Get Sick in America.” It presented a scary picture back then. This latest report makes the earlier assessment positively glowing by comparison.

I recall having cause to undertake a blood test whilst living in New York. I was totally shocked when I was charged in excess of $1500 for what I considered a basic procedure. Back in Australia the same blood test would have cost me nothing as it is covered under our national health program. I then required a follow up scan. I was most surprised to receive a phone call asking me to have $700.00 ready on the day of my appointment to cover costs. The women on the phone informed me in an officious tone that without prior payment the procedure would not proceed. I presented with the money on my appointed day, but was shocked when the receptionist informed me that a further $90 dollars was required to cover the cost of the dye used for the scan –or was that scam?

I was lucky, my costs were eventually reimbursed. I am painfully aware however, that for many American citizens that is not an option. They pay dearly for treatments –sometimes with the very homes in which they live.

Opponents of nationalized health tend to use emotive terms such as socialism, communism etc to scare people away from any attempt at reforming what is clearly an ailing and discriminatory health system. Drug companies spend obscene amounts of money lobbying politicians to protect their privileged position.

Ironically, most developed countries around the world offer their citizens national health systems- and surprise, surprise, for the most part they function more than adequately.

I recall an American friend who required on-going medication following along battle with breast cancer who had her medicine changed by her insurance company to a generic brand and then changed again to a generic of the generic! But that wasn’t the scariest aspect of these events. All these changes took place without informing her. It was only when she exhibited unexplained side effects and began to make enquiries, that she discovered what subterfuge had taken place. How unprincipled is that? How can that happen? Why does such power rests with the insurers?

I’m not sure where that rant came from –oh, yes I do, a twenty minutes segment on television. Well, at least I was paying attention. Whether it’s a good example of a persuasive piece is debatable, but I do feel much better. Good health everyone and I mean Good Health!


  1. Oh, Alan, don't get me started about the health care system! It is so awfully disfunctional. I am lucky enough to have pretty good coverage through my job, but there are still any number of hoops I have to pass through sometimes. I know there are only about a million and a half things on my president's plate right now, but I really want to see him spur some serious reform in this area.

  2. Oh wow...Here in Canada there is public health as well and I can't imagine why American's don't want it. Even though I lose out on some choices, at the end of the day I get so many things covered and don't have financial fears compounding my regular doctor fears.


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