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In the News Did They Get It Right?

December 11, 2009

VIEW: Here's how they do health care in the island nation of Taiwan, population about 23 million.

Before Taiwan overhauled its system in 1995 -- after their experts went out and looked at good ideas in other capitalist democracies -- about half the population had no coverage at all.

Today, Taiwan has state of the art IT, gives equal acess to all, free choice of doctors, no wait, and lots of competition among providers. Yet they face one problem almost all countries have -- take a look.

You can view the full program here and explore what else we covered in our report, Sick Around the World.



Our current healthcare system is setup just for the Democrats and Republicans who extort money from monopoly health insurance companies to fund their election campaigns. In return they make laws that allow these companies to make billions insuring the healthy while making the taxpayer pick up the cost for the sick. This is not competitive capitalism or a free market system.

Give us the most competitive & efficient healthcare system in the world that the United States Taxpayer helped establish in Japan. Yes Japan where the people see doctors 3 times the rate of Americans. Give us the lowest cost and most secure record system that is used in Taiwan.

It is criminal for one insurance CEO to make over 100 million a year. This same CEO has said that health care cost will go up no matter what congress passes. And the payola politicians demand from insurance companies to keep them in business with little or no competition is also criminal. That is not to mention the billions of fraud going on unchecked year after year under Democrats and Republicans. Do you think that adds any cost to US healthcare? They want to bankrupt this country. In my opinion they have all committed treason. Stop killing over 14,000 of our fellow citizens every year to benefit scam insurance company profits and political payola.

John / December 14, 2009 12:52 AM

Too bad the goon squad in the US won't come up with any good program...

Chub / December 14, 2009 9:18 AM

Checkout this video, the medical care is supurb 2% ADMIN costs. Maybe marvin is right?

Eli / December 14, 2009 12:52 PM

Yes, I do believe Marvin is right. What do we have to do to get a health system in the United States? We have not seen a president in a long time that is actively working for "the people". We need to make our voice heard so traitors like Liberman can be voted out.

maria tapia / December 14, 2009 10:37 PM

Lobbying, fear mongering, religion and partisan political ideologues means that trying to pass health care in America is like platting sawdust!!
The major concept of the reform was Insuring 47m uninsured Americans. Then comes the fear mongering
Death panels, Illegal immigrants covered, abortions to paid for. First point is an outright lie, the second and third need separate legislation.
fear mongering Socialism.. deficit growth you have the former in VA medicare etc., cant choose your doc, all nonsense and all the countries you looked at the admin costs are much lower and prescription costs as well but lobbying prevents the import of the same drug at lower cost, what a joke!!
A national records system and charging all legal residents a fee or tax if you like is the way to keep costs down, and charge those that can afford ahigher amount not rate%. It is also possible to allow "top up covers to those who wish to have additional "private insurance"
But the hospitals and Doctors doth protest because it means salary or profit respectively are reduced.
dropping the public option is a big mistake if you want real change to American health care if not big business has won again.

J.V.Hodgson. / December 15, 2009 12:35 AM

Regarding the comment that: "Japan where the people see doctors 3 times the rate of Americans..." The show also pointed out that patients spend very little time with their patients, and that one problem with the Japanese system is that reimbursement to Doctors is too low. Do the math: if the doctor is paid a small amount per visit, then he must see more patients. Also, the average cost of higher education in Japan is much lower than the US, so new doctors do not graduate with a mountain of debt to repay.
Of course it's silly to say that American taxpayers built the Japanese healthcare system, given how long it's been since the post-war US occupation of Japan.

Dennis / December 15, 2009 12:19 PM

Want to fix health care?

Until we take the private corporation and the profit motive out of the equation. . .we WILL NEVER have a good, affordable, and universaly accessible healthcare system . . .at least not one that does not discriminate based on the ability to pay.

Anyone who can defend the right of a doctor or health insurance company to deny coverage to a sick human being. . .should prepare themselves for an eternity of misery . . .in hell!

Jeff / December 16, 2009 9:28 PM

I lived 10 years in Hong Kong, 2 years in Taiwan and 10 years in Canada, all universal health care system. And I've used medical system in the US while traveling. US Medical system stings beyond rotten cheese. It's not HEALTH CARE, it's money care.

When I've got a broken leg, the last thing I care is whether the system is run by Big Brother government or not. It could be run by the mobster for all I care. If it saves lives and provide good health care to all citizens, then by all means do it.

Icetea / December 19, 2009 1:16 AM

Basic deal is too many americans are taking them psychosis inducing anti depressants so they feel just fine.
There is no system in the USA.just profits during Chaos.
If all just could say No to the insurance for a year.
the industry would be bankrupt and the state could step in. and do the right thing. Nationalise the hospitals as they go bust.
The only way to drive costs down is by DRIVING. not siting at the side of the road going" don't like it"

jack / December 19, 2009 2:52 PM

Prevention is better than cure...Most health problems are preventable....Diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cholesterol, heart attacks, and even cancer if you think in details. People has to increase their health and let big companies go bankrupt itself.

CK / December 19, 2009 10:08 PM

America's health care crisis is symptomatic: an emblem of a system whose own healing and self-repair mechanisms are malfunctioning.

Daniel / December 20, 2009 4:25 AM

I'm a Canadian and have used the Canadian health care system repeatedly. I've had serious back surgery, plus continuing care for multiple sclerosis. I rate the system very highly, Timely care delivered at no charge aside the astronomical taxes, shouldered by all. It's not perfect but it works for me.

ricardo / December 20, 2009 6:09 PM

"[The U.S.] does not have a health care system, you have a market."

Brad / December 21, 2009 8:39 PM

To the person who said that we must remove the profit motive and the private corp. You obviously have never dealt with a government agency. God help you if you are sick and must rely on government workers to heal you. Without the motivation to attract customers as in a free market you end up with workers who don't give a flying #@&k if you live or die,especially when a good percentage of the employees are hired to meet some quota not because they are passionate about health care. God help us all if Obama should get his way. By the way Obama is a card carrying commie and if you don;t believe it do a little homework.

Mike / December 23, 2009 12:04 AM

Why we had to paid the insurances company .We should paid the doctors and hospitals directly .

Bayvuong / December 23, 2009 9:32 AM

They appropriated $638 billion for DoD for 2010 without discussion. mostly spent on Conventional Cold War contingencies that have not existed for 20 yrs. Yet the Republicans think $90 billion /yr to expand Health Insurance is historic irresponsibility. Then defend a Private Insurance business model that is simple Gangster Capitalism. Now Obama ,Reid and other Democrats bad mouth the Insurance industry ,all the while taking its money and gutting any substance from reform.

Remember regulation of the Health Insurance will be carried out by Industry insiders that are placed in government. Wake up everyone. The Gov and society at large are Dictated to by Corp Oligarchs. Big surprise
CDC head Dr Gerberding that sold us the Flu vaccine scam is now taken a top management job at MERCK.

Its all a be fix.

greg / December 25, 2009 11:42 PM

it's not just health care. get citizen initiative with a vote against the incumbent program, then use it to run the country with a 'bias:" for the people.

al loomis / December 27, 2009 4:33 AM

(please do not publuch my e-mail address).
I do agree with the statement that the Insurance companies dominate the Health care of this country. The CEO's and VP's make millions, while the average american cannot pay , and when sick denied insurance. where in the world do you see a thing like this? and what about limit on coverage?...after a certain amount you are out! As a Republican I am surprise of the lack of interest in fixing this problem. Blatantly speaking:criminal.

ben-moshe / December 27, 2009 6:10 PM

Mike if you want to put your money in some CEOs pocket thats your choice but I want to put mine back in my country not giving some insurance company the right to outsource my tax dollars so thier profit margin looks better at the end of the year.

Christen / December 30, 2009 9:53 PM

Taiwan's plan is less then 15 years old and is suffering from predictable cost overruns already. Is it time to back away from some of the more extravagant features to preserve its long term viability? For example, what is so wrong about having general practitioner gatekeepers for access to specialists?

Is it not preferable to have a GP with an overall view of a patient's longer term health rather than having patients dashing off to specialists, often, one presumes, on the ill founded recommendation of friends, rather than based on GPs' expertise?

Richard Ure / December 30, 2009 9:58 PM

It really drives one to despair..

I rely on American society, as the leading democratic environment in the World, to always in the end reflect "enlightenment" by effectively safeguarding the interests of its citizens, as well as democratic ideals in general. Perhaps in this internet age, the quick dissemination of information creates unrealistic expectations for quick results, but how long is this going to take?

I've watched the American government boldly nationalize much of the financial system, premised on the national interest. Why can't the state of national health in the US not also be deemed to be in a state of severe crisis, such that the government can circumvent the gridlock? Truly, the costs of poor health and poor health management are incalculable...

As to the correct formula for the American health system, my advice: stop the research and debate as to the perfect formula, and use your gut instinct to quickly rollout a plan which ensures effectiveness. General efficiency and finding the perfect formula will come later with tweaking. Again, this is the approach which was used to "save" the financial sector.. It led to many abuses and excess disbursement of funds, but this is a price that must be paid to make a big leap.

PHILIPPE M. MOISAN / December 31, 2009 3:29 AM

There in absolutely no way that a system who's number one priority is PROFIT...can administer good quality health care to everyone equally. On paper it cannot work. The insurance industry has no place in health care. They still have auto, home and life. Don't listen to their violins, they are not going to starve. A fair and quality health care system MUST be administrated by an entity where profit is not the main objective. The comment by John on December 14th hit the bulls eye. Why is the average American so blind? Our congress is the problem. Lobbying should be made illegal. It does the average American no good any longer. It may once have had it's place but is now a joke on us. They officially call it 'petitioning' the legislature. Right! I call it bribery. Once these thieves are elected by telling us anything we want to hear, they then turn their back on us and put out their hands out to the lobbyists. Are we as a nation, ever going to wake up?

John / January 1, 2010 9:35 PM

The US cost of health care is 15% of GDP. The US govt spends 7% of GDP on Medicare and Medicaid alone. The UK's cost is 7% to cover the entire population.

The health of the two populations is not much different.

So this means that US health care is way too expensive. It is not a health care system it is a health business.

It is not a free market system, it is a monopoly because the profession has a monopoly regarding knowledge.

How does a typical person know what to do when faced with a medical problem, they can only follow what the doctor tells them.

And what do monopolies do - they maximize profit.

Until the monopoly is broken, the American people will continue to be screwed by the health care industry. But the irony is that when someone tries to break that monopoly, the people who are being extorted by it, scream that it must be protected.

Ultimately though the only answer is for everyone to become more healthy, then demand for expensive medicine would decline.

That could be easily achieved, except for the propaganda machine of the food industry which supports the terrible quality of diet of the average American which is poisoning the population and feeding the health care monster.

david / January 3, 2010 2:04 AM

If the U.S. moves to a government-run healthcare system, it will be disastrous to the economy, just like every other government-run "social" program we offer. Thanks for the New Deal, FDR, but when you established the Social Security Act, did you have any idea that it would bankrupt our country just 50 years later? And, in 20 years, it will be gone, so what good did this "social program" actually do for more than two generations of Americans?? I've been paying into it all my life, but will I ever see of dime when I retire in 25 years? Nope. As a result of Social Security, private employers stopped offering pension plans and look what happened... people no longer stay with one employer, they hop from job to job, and cost companies thousands in turnover costs. And to boot, anyone under the age of 40 will have to fend for themselves if they ever want to retire. Government-run Healthcare will be no different. If you want to pay 35% income tax so that everyone (even the people who drop out of school, make poor choices, and wind up on welfare) will have medical coverage, then go live in Canada. I happen to like low taxes and capitalism, which are principles this country was founded upon. So rather than socializing us like the European countries we ran away from 300 years ago, why not find a real solution to the problem. Try imposing a cap on frivolous medical law suits for starters. As many as a QUARTER MILLION frivolous law suits are filed EACH YEAR in the U.S., all of which have to be defended by malpractice insurance, which directly results in medical providers having to increase their fees to cover their malpractice insurance premiums. What ever happened to going to college, getting a good job, being a good employee... and letting your EMPLOYER take care of you instead of relying on the government? Well, what else can we expect with a "Social Organizer" in the White House? Let's hope Mitt Romney can save us in the next election so that we can start running this country like a business, the way our fore fathers intended.

Sandra / January 5, 2010 5:10 PM

OK here goes.. Government run Health Care...thats hysterical... My Uncle Is in a State Veterans Hospital/Nursing home.. he applied to be transfered, to another Veterans Hospital/Nursing Home...same state 80 miles away... Guess what? 10 months later they are still processing the paper work...WOOHOOO Id like to be sitting in the waiting room, sick, waiting on my paper work. If they cant move my Uncle, how are they to move us.. Please dont fall for the hype...As my Uncle Says be careful when your government wants to be good to us...Who you kidding ...Why do they care if we have Health Insurance?? They dont..they are making money...bottom line only line...

Sunshine / January 5, 2010 8:59 PM

"Government-run health care system" is a misnomer designed to instill fear. The VA is government-run healthcare; hence the problem alluded to by Sunshine above. Instead, most proponents of reform hope for an entity that will guide payment to the providers of health care, the so-called single-payer system. Most would like to see: 1) the replacement of the profit-driven insurance industry by expanding Medicare to cover all people; and 2) the elimination of waste & fraud inherent in the present Medicare system.

Tonia / January 6, 2010 3:56 PM

As someone who partially grew up outside the U.S., I can't help but realize how ignorant most Americans are about their gov't, politics and history. An precisely because of this, the health insurance comapanies can easily buy out politicians--both Right/Left. The gov't and politicians are corrupt--and this is coming from someone from Africa. Your gov't doesn't work for you, it works who hires them--Corporate America. In African, citizens are aware of what their gov'ts do, but there's not much they can do about, i.e. there are no institutions to channel their outrage. In America, we have access to the ballet to demand change and force reform, yet we choose to remain ignorant and get lazy when the election dates approach. The fanny thing is that--only in America, one sees a poor person protesting that his gov't is socialist. Socialism presupposes redistribution of wealth. When you have no wealth, protesting it's redistribution is not only misguided but down right stupid. Only in America, one sees a person voting against his/her interest. I think too much Fox News drives Americas on the edge.

Ozmn / January 7, 2010 5:56 AM

A response to Sandra’s postings on January 5, 2010 .

As much as possible, I try to stay away from debating hot issues but find it difficult to stay away from issues that affect me directly or indirectly. Before I give my opinion, I will like to respond to a few posting on here.

I took my time and read every posting and found two to be quite interesting.

1. Mike

2. Sandra.

I will start with the latter first.

Sandra, said if the government run healthcare system is put in place it will be disastrous to the economy just as all other social programs and then she cited Social Security going broke in 20 years.

I want to give you the benefit doubt to be a highly educated person and as such, you should know that social security is not going broke because the government cannot manage it but rather due to many many factors of which the most to blame is the life span increase of the Average American. To solve that problem, more money has to go in the covers than is taken out but unfortunately, most of American jobs are taken out of the country by greedy CEOs so, as to maximize company frofits earning the CEO tens of millions of dollars a year sometimes as much as $100,000,000. I do not want to get into this issue for now but if all those jobs were in the United States and the CEOs did not try hiding their moneys in international banks to avoid taxes, Social Security will not go broke. Most jobs exported out of the country to china and India can be done by most Americans for a little more than what they pay the Chinese and Indians. Wait a minute don’t say it’s all odd jobs. I’m a biochemist and a company I’m working for just built a new Quality Assurance building in China . All validation work will now be done in China . What should future Scientist like myself do? Get a job in the United States then go to China to find a job??

Back to the Social Security Issue. Thank God for what FDR did. Many retired people have had a decent respectable steady income in their golden days. What do you prefer? Your money in a Social Security Trust fund or a private investment on your own-(Investing with someone like Madorf?). Can you imagine if the country had gone with President Bush’s/McCain suggestion of privatizing social security so individuals can invest which ever way the want? Imagine you were given that chance and you put your money with Madorf, you would have been broke from last year…. At least, we still have 20 years to fix social security.

Point #2.

Sandra, you mentioned that as a result of Social Security, Private employers stopped offering pension plans…. This is purely fictional on your part to make such a claim. They have stopped paying simply because of co-corporate greed. The phamaceitical company that I work for refuses to permanently hire an administrative assistant that we so badly need why, because, they don’t want to have to pay for her 401K, and offer her long term healthcare if she ever becomes sick or retire. They have therefore decided only to hire her as a contractor after sometime; they get rid of her and bring another contractor. So, to maximize profit, they treat employees as crap.

Point #3

Get your facts straight. Don’t say the principles this country was founded on is low taxes and capitalism. I suggest you go to the library of congress or check it out online and find out the reason why many men and women came to America in the seventeenth century. It was mainly for freedom or worship.

Point #4

You mentioned going to college, getting a degree and letting your employer take care of you… I have a degree in Biochemistry, I was always at the top of my class, got recognitions by the university, co-authored a publication in a Bio-medicinal journal, worn research awards from the State of New York, Astute, Perspicacious, a team player at my job yet, I have been working for two years as a temp. They don’t want to hire me permanently… Why? Back to my answer again co-corporate greed.


As a temporary employee, I had to buy insurance from United Health Care in 2008. I was feeling chest congestion so I went to see the doctor my charges went to $900 and change but the insurance paid only $250, meanwhile, I pay more than $1500 a year.

I got scared so the whole of last year, eventhough I was paying for my insurance, I was too scared to go to the hospital. ( how unbelievable- having and insurance and still not being able to go see a doctor). A couple of days later, it got so bad I had to stay home.. now remember I’m a temporary employee so, I was loosing pay. At that time, I was working on project very important to the company… The knowledge gained from this work I did means diabetic patients being able to properly read their blood glucose level.. If I had better insurance, I would have been more productive.

Sandra, you and the many anti- reformist should stop demonizing the word “socialism” If you hate it so much, then we should privatize the firefighters, police and the army. If your neighbors house is on fire and they don’t have private firefighter’s insurance, the fire fighters will not put it out… but remember as the wind blows, your house will be next… Firefighters may be able to put out the fire in your house but you will incur damage.


I agree with Sandra on one thing…put a cap on how much individuals can get from law suits.

JaxEmanuel / January 9, 2010 7:16 PM

I currently live in Taiwan, and after living for two years in the US without health insurance, it's extremely freeing to go to the doctor whenever I want to. I saw a doctor a month ago for a minor illness and one visit and three prescriptions later, I was charged a meager $20 and sent on my merry way. This would not happen in America. I was fresh out of college and the cheapest rate per month that I could find was around $120, and I hardly ever need a doctor so I decided I wouldn't do it. Now, I can and will go to the doctor whenever I want. And I am watching America with eagerness, waiting to see if it'll be worth it to ever come back there.

Rika / January 10, 2010 8:20 AM

I have been living in California for 15 years and have been lucky enough has not to use the health care system in place, thank god because it is a huge scam at every level.
Being from France originally, I was used to have the doctor make house calls when I was a kid.
I was also used to social security reimbursing your prescription if you were unemployed...
I went to see a specialist in Paris for back problems, after telling the front desk I did not live here anymore, they simply stated on my profile that I had private insurance( I had NO insurance at all).
After seeing the doctor in 2 occasions and 4 X-Rays, they billed my dad 50 euros!!!!!
Try that here!
If I was in the situation of going thru serious health issues, I would go back to Europe in a heart beat...

Thierry / January 11, 2010 12:03 AM

Single Payer Health Care is the only solution. It is fair, efficient, and affordable for all. It provides universal coverage, is portable, provides comprehensive care, provides choice of physicians, saves money, and is publicly accountable.

Critics will point out that Canada has this system and that it was the invention of the devil. While this is obviously an exaggeration, Canada's problem with single payer is not the system, but lack of funding. America's problem is the system (or lack thereof), not lack of funding.

Let's compare health care funding statistics and health outcomes at the World Health Organizaton's website, shall we?

1. Canada: spends ~$3700 (rounded up) per person per year on health care
[ http://www.who.int/countries/can/en/ ]

2. USA: spends ~$6700 (rounded down) per person per year on health care
[ http://www.who.int/countries/usa/en/ ]

Why is it that Canada can provide universal care for almost half the money America spends?

Why can't the U.S. provide universal coverage for the money we spend?

Canada has a non-profit single payer system, meaning the government acts as the insurance agent, and collects all of the health care funding efficiently via taxes.

In the U.S., Americans must pay haphazardly out of pocket, through premiums, copays, and/or employers, which goes into private for-profit health care insurance companies. Needless to say, money going into pockets of corporations is not funding an American's chemotherapy or flu vaccination. Also, because not everyone pays into the system through one payer like the government (hence, single payer), we have multiple collectors which is inherently inefficient.

In 2000, WHO ranked the U.S. as 37th in terms of health care outcomes.
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHO's_ranking_of_health_care_systems ] (Yes, there needs to be a more recent study done, but until the new one comes out, we have to stick with the old data.)

Still not convinced single payer is the way to go for the U.S.? Just ask Harvard Medical School researchers Drs. Himmelstein and Woolhandler.
[ http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/02/health/02CONV.html?pagewanted=1 ]

Their studies have only been published in immaterial magazines such as the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) for decades citing how non-profit and single payer health care systems deliver health care fairly, universally, efficiently, and economically, especially when compared to for-profit systems.

1. NEJM [ http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/349/8/768 ]
2. JAMA [ http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/282/2/159 ]

The reason we don't have single payer in the U.S. is because of health insurance companies. They make billions of dollars off of healthy people pay premiums, while they deny coverage to the sick, Americans who need health care and insurance the most. If you are an American health insurance company making billions off of the current system, would you want single payer to become a reality? Of course not. You would go on television and radio bashing single payer as communistic, socialistic, and the meteor that destroys all life on earth. Just be careful who you listen to, and pay attention to how they make all of their money.

America has the greatest health care system in the world? Okay, but then why are 60% of bankruptcies in the U.S. due to medical bills? Sounds fishy to me. Why don't you read about it?

[ http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/06/05/bankruptcy.medical.bills/ ]

Oh, yes, and this is a good one too about 87 million Americans without health insurance, stunning proof that the U.S. health care system is beyond reproach:

[ http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/04/uninsured.epidemic.obama/ ]

If you wish to debate any of my points, please provide reputable sources as I have done. Thanks!

Matthew Tsou / January 13, 2010 5:25 AM

The fundamental difference between a single payer system and the American private medical insurance system is:-
1) A single payer system provides medical care to all legal citizens thru a national medical insurance number or other registration system and everyone pays the same percentage of income. ( Although the maximum income level for the premium is usually capped.) The key is it is a service based and non profit making and covers anything and everything including specialist care as needed. Most, these days, require a payment for medications, so giving a choice and options to your physician if you want to pay for the so called latest and best.
Consequently you have a national medical record, and avoid hundreds of unnecessary checks. The system assumes an actuarial number of unemployed (by choice or not!) who are non earners and cannot pay.
2) Private medical insurance in the US varies by each states law and the policy you select and its regulations/ advantages or restrictions and what you get is what the company offers you and what either your employer or you as an individual can afford. The consequence is that you have disallowable or non claimable relatively minor expenses and co pays beyond the premium. And an army of administrators whose sole objective is to find a way of rejecting claims or defending against Liability suits.
So what, well its two fold:-
1) The 15-20 % net profit before tax of insurance companies is in the premium price you pay.
2) The adminstrative costs of most American private insurance companies run at about 15-20% of premium income and investment income and so called single payers usually run at 8-10% tops internationally, many much lower and are non profit.
That amounts at a worst case basis to 20% excess cost or 20% ( best 32%) of the $2.1 trillion of GDP spent on health care in the USA and is a $429BN wost case saving!
We have not even touched how a single payer could get lower prices from the big pharma, medical equipment suppliers, or longer term paying realistic fees to doctors nurses and specialists and at the same time keeping doctors and hospitals happy by not having to worry about insane (penal damages) liabilty awards ( actual damage OK) as that equals very much and significantly less insurance premiums for doctors and Hospitals and longer term reducing costs by national individual medical records that avoid useless and actually unnecessary checks as of now.
Please note the single payer system is not interested in your religion, means abortion. You wont ask for one if your religion is opposed, or the doctor objects but it is available and covered as an individual freedom. Also your natioanality as long as you have a valid national insurance number which you cannot have without a job = green card or US passport/Valid Visa and pay the single payer Premium = illegal immigrants not an issue or = go back home for medical treatment or the doctors and nurses hypocratic oaths prevail when its a case of life or death in an emergency. But it gets you deported and black listed for re-entry, as you had no legal right to be here.
Ah but I forgot it is SOCIALISM. Nope it's called morality and religion American style!!
God bless America, pass health care with a public option provided its deficit negative.

J.V.Hodgson / January 25, 2010 2:20 AM

When I went on disability and then on Medicare two years later I have been happier than any time before that except for when I was first married. I worked and put my husband through medical school and that was back in the day when we received professional courtesy for any health issues. It was wonderful but it did not last. And I did not stay married to this man I put through medical school. He was not able to live with a wife who had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. The doctors were pretty awful during the years I spent waiting for someone to just speak kindly to me even when they could not help me. Eventually i did get diagnosed (it only took 17 years) and I had a great doctor who was able to manage my health challenges with a minimum of drugs and I could afford to do some alternative things like massage and yoga and meditation, all of which did a lot toward making me feel much better. However even though I saved and invested as much as I possibly could while I had alimony and disability it was not enough for me to continue those things and after a serious accident and a bout with double pneumonia I really got sick all over again with many of the symptoms that I had back in 1973 but I no longer had the doctors that I had in 1987 when I was finally diagnosed and could afford to do the alternative methods. So now I live on drugs as my doctor has no idea what to do for me and medicare part D was a plum dropped in the lap of the pharmaceutical houses. So I spend most of my time in my senior apartment as I cannot afford to do anything that would really help me and after I pay for my prescriptions I can't afford to go to the movies or out for lunch. I have gone to a couple of younger doctors to see if they know anything that the doctors who graduated around the same time as my husband and I did find one and went to him and felt the best that I have since I went on Medicare. But one day he up and left his practice with no warning to his patients and it feels like somebody dropped me into the middle of a fish pond and occ I get something to eat. It's time for the people to break the bonds between the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. and learn how to treat people. And medical students should learn something about nutrition and alternative therapies and the cost of medical school has to be something that the doctors graduating can afford to pay for so they can go into family practice and still see their families. Our entire system is so messed up that I can't believe that anyone will be able to make a meaningful change during my lifetime.

Janice Newhouse / January 26, 2010 5:59 PM

The system IS broken, of that, there is little doubt but it is not going be to repaired. It can't be repaired because doing so is out of our control. Some time ago the people gave up their self-determination by turning over all power of choice to large corporations, by giving them a form of Super Citizenship that has a superset of rights and access and few if any responsibilities. Democracy is an illusion in the USA today, the great debates and emotions are about the limited range of choices offered by those same super-citizen corporations that must be protected at all costs by congress which has been purchased through unlimited funding of campaigns and PACs. Since the media is controlled by just 5 corporate entities, the debate, the subjects debated, the framing of the issues, and the range of choices have already been determined by the media and the corporate agenda.
Now, with the newest assault on democracy in place by the Supreme Court, giving the rights of unlimited participation in the electoral process by corporations, human citizens have lost the modest remaining ability to influence the future path the country takes.

The health industry in the US surely is a scandal but that is the way it was designed and the proposed bill only further increases the control of the money and lived of every human citizen.
I am lucky, when I needed a major operation that my US health insurance company denied coverage for I was able to go to another country an have it done. I have not used my insurance in the 10 years I had the policy, assuming I would only use it for major issues or accident. At $758 a month that worked out to be a lot of money. The only time I tried to get coverage, after only a 5 minute alloted office visit, the insurance company clerk assigned the case denied a much needed hip replacement surgery. I was told it would cost $90,000 out of pocket, which I did not have. Eventually, after a couple more years of pain I had it done in my new adopted home country. The experience was polar opposite of the US medical experience; great attention, and care, full explanations, and easy access to medical staff, a deluxe private room and spectacular results. I was walking to work 13 days after the operation, and never needed pain medication from the time I woke up from the operation up to now. Total cost including the joint that costs $12,500 alone in the US? $5700. Where would that extra $84300 gone to? In to the pockets of 50 middlemen who have nothing to do with medical services.

The US is now ungovernable, it is too polarized and corporatist to make wise and difficult decisions that are needed to overhaul every aspect of public policy. The US is falling further and further behind the rest of the developed world and even much of the developing world in education, personal debt, heath care, security, and maintenance of a middle class. Why is the country so proud of being 44th in infant mortality, or 1st in prison population, or drop out rates seen nowhere else? The middle class is dying, and quality of life is falling behind countries the US looks down on.
I am not confident that the US has the will to take back a leadership roll in anything or even find a way to prevent the complete destruction of th middle class since those jobs will never return. It will be a painful adjustment to failed empire status as the economic center of the world shifts to the east. The jobs, capital, innovation, and education advantages have already left and are in countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia etc. India and China both have a larger total number in middle class than in the US. They graduate 50 times as many engineers and 100 times as many medical doctors than the US. Even Russia has a very fast growing middle class and higher savings rate.
Take back control of the media, regulate corporations and strip them of citizenship or "person-hood". No other country allows corporations to dominate public policy the way the US does. Europe and Scandinavia which greatly exceed the quality of life of the US would never have that high quality of life if they allowed corporations to have such control, it is not compatible with a healthy democracy or middle class.

Am-Expat / January 28, 2010 1:01 AM

The answer to the question "Did they get it right?" is... YES. They modeled the national health insurance system after the one with the lowest admin costs in the entire world: US Medicare. Compare 2% to 25% for insurance companies. We could save 23 cents on every health care dollar spent, and we would have money enough to cover everyone.

Jason Baker / April 29, 2010 11:24 AM

I travel to Taiwan on an annual basis. I've had 2 experiences with their health system. It is beyond belief. The complete cost is less than my co pay in the U.S.

What is beyond belief is the management. One doesn't need to make an appointment. The wait is not more than 5 minutes. The medicine is provided at the doctor's office upon completion of the exam.

At the hospital, one's prescription has been filled by the time one reaches the in-house pharmacist.

Why do I waste my time in the U.S. by waiting for 30 minutes to 2 hours to see the doctor ... WHEN I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT!?! If I'm more than 5 minutes late to a meeting, the participants either leave or glare at me upon my arrival. Why do we tolerate this from a 'Doctor' as if they are the second coming of Christ?!?

Doctors need to meet the patient's expectations ... and our expectations need to be raised.

Glenn / January 6, 2011 12:09 AM

When I need to go to the doctor for something simple, I go to CVS Pharmacy ... no wait, spend lots of time with doctor, nominal fee. Since the govt has decided to take over managing health insurance (which they have done a POOR job with Medicare with not keeping track of the scammers), my mother's health insurance has increased. I eat healthy & exercise for my health insurance. People have a sense of getting something "free" when they have health insurance & end up not taking ownership of their own health. It is not government's job to care for me.

Diane / January 7, 2011 6:25 PM

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