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saunafool (98.59)

Socialist Babies

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May 21, 2009 – Comments (50)

My wife gave birth to our first child on Tuesday. We live in Luxembourg, part of the evil socialist Europe. Let me tell you how it works. If you don't want to read the details of the care up to the birth, fast forward to the funny socialist part.

The details of the health care

During the pregnancy, she has been seeing her doctor every month up to 6 months, then every other week until 8 months, then every week until the due date, and when she passed the due date every other day. He did ultrasound on nearly every visit. Towards the end, he monitored the fetal heart rate and my wife's contractions (or lack thereof).

My wife did blood tests once a month, and based on the results they gave her supplements. She showed a bit of glucose intolerance, and the baby was gaining a bit more weight than desired so they put her on a low sugar diet where she monitored her glucose levels with a little machine like a diabetic.

Start to finish, she gained about 17 lbs.

Total out of pocket cost for everything leading up to birth--tests, doctor visits, medications, glucose monitoring device and glucose strips--124 Euro.

Anyway, because she was well past term, the doctor recommended inducing labor. He called the hospital to schedule a date.

When we arrived on Monday evening, she showed her social security card and they told her which room she'd be staying in. No paperwork required. Soon after we arrived, a midwife told her what would happen. They gave her the first round of medication at midnight, to start the process, followed by the real drug at 0600 the following day to start the contractions. The epidural went in at 0800 and my wife was pain free all day.

Problem was, the kid wouldn't move. At 19:00 everything was happening except the main event and they decided to do a cesarean (the kid's head was just a little off base and wouldn't move).

The staff was extremely professional. There were midwives monitoring her through the 12 hours of labor preceding the cesarean. The doctor prepared and inserted the epidural personally, checked on her several times, and when the decision was made to operate, it was all complete within minutes.

Boy, 3.57 kg (7 lbs, 14 oz), 53 cm (20.8 inches).

Now, my wife and the baby are fine. They have a private room, private bathroom, TV, wireless internet, and direct phone line. The hospital was built in the 1970's, so the room is a bit small and rather dated, but not bad at all. She will be staying in the hospital for 7 days because of the cesarean. If she leaves early, she can ask a midwife to visit our house for an hour each day for 10 days to provide assistance.

Today, the pediatrician took the baby for his initial tests. All good. He comes back on day 4 or 5 for the second round of tests.

The funny socialist part

I registered the birth today. They gave me a blue piece of paper. It has 3 sections. The first section is completed by showing you have done all of the recommended pre-natal care (I think my wife's doctor gave her stamps at each visit for this purpose). Upon receipt, the state will send us a check for 1000 Euro.

The second section is completed by showing the child has received all the recommended care within the first year. The first was the visit from the pediatrician today, the second will be in a few days, and so on. The doctor stamps the paper at each visit. Upon receipt, the state will send us a second check for 500 Euro.

The third section is the same as the second, but for the recommended care within the second year. Another 500 Euro.

I'm not sure what to make of it. They are paying us 2000 Euro (About $2700) to do what is right for our child. It doesn't seem like it should be required. Yet, for me, I know nothing about kids, so I'm happy because it is like the maintenance schedule for a car.

Also note that these payments have nothing to do with income. They are the same whether the family makes minimum wage or 6-figures.

The fantastic socialist part which is unbelievable that they can afford

My wife stopped working 2 months ago and will be off work for 9 more months. The first 5 months, she receives full pay. The last 6 months, she receives about 50% of her pay. Once she is done with her 6 months, I can take 6 months off at 50% pay (I won't because I'm the only one in my office in Europe and it would be the equivalent of shutting down the business).

Is there a price to pay? Sure, cigarettes are remarkably expensive. Gasoline is $4 a gallon. There is 15% VAT (like a sales tax) on everything. However, income taxes, capital gains taxes, and payroll taxes are similar to the U.S. That is unique to very wealthy Luxembourg. In other mainland EU countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France) either the payroll tax or income tax or both are higher.

Conclusion

I am very happy with the national health system here. The care my wife received from start to finish was excellent and from what I can tell, everyone involved had only one objective--to make sure my wife and the baby were healthy. My wife never had to wait for any appointment, test, procedure, or anything else along the way. When they decided to induce labor, she went to the hospital the same day as when her doctor made the recommendation.

Now, it is unfair to compare Luxembourg--a very small, very wealthy country--with the U.S. However, we have many friends in France (population 60 million, 5th or 6th largest economy in the world) and their experiences have been very similar.

50 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 21, 2009 at 5:04 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

wow, we are truly building hype (see this post written a few hours ago)!!!

I get the feeling that the attitude of "us" Europeans towards the U.S. has somewhat evolved from disgust (towards Bush(ies)) to pity.

I get the feeling that very few (western) Europeans would want to live in the U.S. even if they were offered a 100% raise, a villa and a nanny (for your newborn)). And if they really had to, then they would certainly prefer the blue states ...

 

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#2) On May 21, 2009 at 5:11 AM, DaretothREdux (39.87) wrote:

It must be nice to compare a country the size of the US's smallest state to our entire country.

Luxemburg also has the highest GDP per capita in the world...

Yeah. We have the same tax rates (or at least very close until we double our defecit in five years), but you are still comparing apples to oranges and saying look how much better apples are!

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#3) On May 21, 2009 at 5:19 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

(this 100% raise, a villa and a nanny thing is not entirely fictitious. A friend of mine is pilot and he could get more or less exactly that (He mentioned an offer of a 150% raise, free living in a villa and a driver or something like that if I am not mistaken. He rejected that offer because he did not want to live in Dubai or some other place in the UAE, I can't remember ...).)

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#4) On May 21, 2009 at 5:26 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

#2 You can replace Luxembourg by "the European Union" and leave the baby story mostly unchanged. And the European Union does not fit into Texas (see comments #1,3 here)!

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#5) On May 21, 2009 at 5:49 AM, saunafool (98.59) wrote:

Dare,

At the end, I did point out that Luxembourg is a unique case. However, you ignore that France, which is certainly a full-sized country with a full-sized economy has basically the same system and level of care. As portefeuille notes, most of mainland Europe has the same system and excellent results.

In the end, your comments about tax rates also ignore one major point. Americans spend 2X as much per capita as Europeans on health care. Right now, Americans have several hundred $ per month taken out of their paycheck and sent to an HMO, and the employer has similar charges. For most people in the U.S., health care costs a good 10% of income (it only depends how much the employee pays and the employer pays).

Being American, I wouldn't agree with portefeuille that Europeans wouldn't enjoy living in America. Most of them who go over the ocean end up loving the U.S. because they are in professional jobs with secure health insurance benefits. It is the permanent living that is tough.

What if you lose a job? What if you have a pre-existing condition and have to buy insurance on the private market? What if you filled out your application form incorrectly? What if your insurance doesn't cover your specific and rare condition? In the U.S. health care system, you are totally hosed for any number of reasons.

In the end, health care is like the fire department or police. Everyone needs access to it eventually. Even in the U.S. you cannot deny care in the Emergency room.

So, any country is going to end up paying for everyone. There is no way for everyone to pay for themselves. The sickest and poorest will never have the income. And in any system, the richest always have access to private hospitals and doctors--just like they do in the U.S., France, U.K., and many other places.

Furthermore, it is not a liquid market. You can't have competing bids when you are having a heart attack. The doctor who is there is better than the Mayo Clinic 1000 miles away.

Anyway, my point is that our experience with the socialist system has been very good, and I think the French, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Scandinavians, Dutch, and Belgians would agree. Add them all together and you've got a population close to the U.S.

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#6) On May 21, 2009 at 7:35 AM, OneLegged (< 20) wrote:

I sat down and figured it out yesterday.  Insurance and taxes take up 46.4% of my Gross income.  This 46% DOES NOT include sales tax or other "fees" such as car registration etc.Sales tax locally is currently 9.7%. 

 I wonder who is better off us here in the U.S. or the "evil, liberal, socialist, America-haters" in the EU"?

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#7) On May 21, 2009 at 8:07 AM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

Europe is crashing as well.  Nothing that is socialistic is free.  

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#8) On May 21, 2009 at 8:21 AM, jstegma (29.16) wrote:

Luxembourgh likes socialism.  Good.  I hope you like Stalinist-type socialism too, because that's what you'd have if it wasn't for the US.  I see Europeans are starting to get a big head these days - less than 20 years after Eastern Europe freed itself from Soviet control.  I also see that it is mainly Western Europeans that seem to have forgotten.  So I'll ask you guys - do you think your rich, socialist little Luxembourg would have been able to stand up to the Soviets without the US there to back you up?  Maybe big, brave France would have helped you - after all, they have a reputation for reliability in standing up and defending themselves and their friends.  And even if they didn't, I'm sure the Russians or the Nazis or whoever else came in would have taken better care of you than the US.

It's one thing if you want to have a socialist health-care system over there, but telling the US how to run things is about as cool as 8 years old and telling your parents you can do a better job running the household finances.  

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#9) On May 21, 2009 at 8:42 AM, dudemonkey (39.32) wrote:

I hope you like Stalinist-type socialism too, because that's what you'd have if it wasn't for the US.

What's the point of this, out of curiosity?  No one is telling anyone how to do anything.

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#10) On May 21, 2009 at 9:03 AM, OneLegged (< 20) wrote:

The same old cliches.  Year after year after year after....................

 

saunafool, you wouldn't happen to be of Finnish desent would you? 

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#11) On May 21, 2009 at 9:05 AM, gtobynj (< 20) wrote:

"I hope you like Stalinist-type socialism too"

Would you kindly get over the socialist BS and hate please!  Stop drinking the cool aid and listen to what other people have to say about healthcare and possibly learn from their experience.

The US is a fantastic country that I love with all my heart, yet it is not perfect.  The UK is also a country that I love with all my heart and it is not perfect either.

Both countries have their problems, but burrying their head in the sand and insisting they are the best is IMHO one of the primary reasons the UK is no longer the world power it once was.  The US is going to go that way if people continue to reject everything with the blind insistance that they are number 1.

In healthcare the US patently is not #1.  Americans spend twice as much for healthcare and yet the service is poor and does not manage to even cover everyone.  Do I hear it?  Invariably a chorus is cried "healthcare is not a right" - sure it isn't, but when it is your nearest and dearest who can't afford care or who's insurance company denies treatment or terminates coverage, will you be so sure.

"I don't want government controlling my healthcare", no, you want faceless insurance companies over whom you can exert no control - oh sorry, except by government legislation such as being attempted currently to force health insurers to cover autism.  So who is it controlling your healthcare?  Unless you have the actual cash to spend and don't rely on insurance companies, medicare, medicaid or charities it sure isn't you.

The US spends more than any other country per capita on healthcare and manages to do it in the most inefficient way possible.  Change is critical, but spending more on it would be a HUGE mistake.  ALL can be covered for far less than is being spent now.

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#12) On May 21, 2009 at 9:44 AM, russiangambit (29.14) wrote:

I gave up a long time ago trying to explain to the people in Taxas  how the "socilaized" medicine works. Their brain immidiately shutdowns, goes into comatose like state and they start spewing right-wing stuff. Not a pretty sight.

I guess, waiting in an emergency room for 48 hours with a broken arm or leg before being seen ( which quite often happens in Houston) is so much better.

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#13) On May 21, 2009 at 10:01 AM, farmnut1985 (34.31) wrote:

Get rid of the law suits and malpractice insurance and how much does the cost of healthcare drop?

I don't know the answer, just dropping the question.

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#14) On May 21, 2009 at 10:33 AM, devoish (98.52) wrote:

If you are starting to believe that Government can run healthcare better than insurers you can call your Congressman at 202 224 3121 and ask for H.R.676 which you can read here.

When I called I asked them to eliminate the funding from "Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions"  (section 211, part D) and collect whatever amount of money they expected from the income tax source of funding. It is my feeling that complicating the tax forms in the US further is a bad idea, and I want to see my bills today, in my income, not later when I move funds from stocks to bonds or into an IRA from a taxable account, as I am allowed.

President Obama's healthcare proposal includes a public plan as one choice, but still uses medicaid/care to subsidize private insurers when they drop sick people, or refuse pre-existing conditions. It is a step in the right direction, but it is a baby step. The fear of competition from a public plan is what has motivated the insurers to make the empty promise of 2 trillion in savings over ten years. It is not even close to how much better we can do, which is probably closer to 750 billion/year, and I am sure they hope the savings materialize from negotiated drug prices or electronic record keeping or cutting Dr fees, not from insurers cutting their own costs.

Please remember that the marketing campaign behind keeping the status quo, "The Language of Healthcare" speaks for itself and nowhere does it suggest that sharing facts is a good idea.

 

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#15) On May 21, 2009 at 10:38 AM, devoish (98.52) wrote:

farmnut,

Does it interest you that many Dr's complain about the high cost of insurance (malpractice) and patients complain about the high cost of insurance (health)?

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#16) On May 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM, DaretothREdux (39.87) wrote:

devoish,

The doctors I know complain about Medicare and Medicade and the endless amounts of paperwork and beauracratic nonsense that goes into trying to collect money from those gov't programs.

The problem is not too little gov't healthcare. It's that we already have way too much.

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#17) On May 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM, Deepfryer (27.56) wrote:

jstegma : "Luxembourgh likes socialism.  Good.  I hope you like Stalinist-type socialism too, because that's what you'd have if it wasn't for the US..."

 

What a stupid comment. Just because the US has a stronger military, that means our healthcare system must be better too? Are you saying that if we have enough guns, that means we should ignore everything else, such as life expectancy, standard of living, etc? And ignore the success that other countries have had with their healthcare systems? That's just a terrific attitude.

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#18) On May 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM, catoismymotor (47.93) wrote:

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. – Frederic Bastiat

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#19) On May 21, 2009 at 11:42 AM, wuff3t (97.72) wrote:

"Both countries have their problems, but burrying their head in the sand and insisting they are the best is IMHO one of the primary reasons the UK is no longer the world power it once was..."

More likely the fact that Britain pretty much bankrupted itself standing up to the Nazis in 1939 when no-one else could or would. By the time the war ended Britain had nothing left. The irony is that Germany was given a ton of money to rebuild itself, while Britain was left saddled with massive debts that it couldn't pay off for decades.

Not sure about the point about most Western Europeans not wanting to live in the US. I'm British and I'd certainly like to. The US - despite a cynicism amongst its own population that seems to be growing over the years - still exudes a sense of optimism and belief in the American Dream that Britain lost a long time ago. So I don't think Britain losing its place in the world has as much to do with thinking we're the best as paying back for our efforts in WW2 coupled with a LOSS of belief that we're the best.

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#20) On May 21, 2009 at 11:42 AM, devoish (98.52) wrote:

Dare,

The doctors I know complain about Medicare and Medicade and the endless amounts of paperwork and beauracratic nonsense that goes into trying to collect money from those gov't programs.

The 15,000 Doctors of the www.pnhp.org disagree with them and prefer H.R.676, no private insurers.

The medicare they com;plain about is provided by private insurers and it is private insurers that are complained about. Delayed payments, denied payments, coding errors, fee cuts etc.

Here are my medicare choices, provided by private insurers. There are additional plans to choose from for drug coverage, all provided by privates. Medicaid/care subsidizes my payment to the private insurers. The private insurers pay the Dr's and make the Dr's lives needlessly difficult.

http://www.medicare.gov/MPPF/Include/DataSection/ComparePlans/BenefitsAtAGlance.asp

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#21) On May 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM, wrparks (61.57) wrote:

Hmmmm, so 15000 out of how many doctors is that?  Somewhere around 1 million in the U.S.   That's what, 1.5% of total doctors?  Lets be generous and call it 3% since the total # of doctors is not something I have a clear number for.  That's not good enough for me.  I could find 3% of people that support lots of horrible ideas.

 

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#22) On May 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM, PSU69 (90.59) wrote:

Blessed with global travel, I have made many frineds in Asia, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, and Holland.  I attended racing events and worked with car builders, race teams, and top engineers helping cars/motorcycles be faster and safer.  I called this business the TRAVELING CIRCUS.  Whether it is Indy Car or NASCAR or European Touring Car or World Super Bike, the game is the same and you meet wonderful people.  As your relationships grow and life issues are shared beyond the business issues, you have an opportunity to learn and grow.  Beyond the old habaits of NATIONALISM, we find metrics of quality of life.  As I opened offices in Germany, England, and Japan I learned a lot about how little I knew.

My wife developed a medical condition that the USA technology could not treat without tons of money and multiple operations.  Fortunately, I found Dr. Badois in Paris using GOOGLE.  We call it her "HAND TUNE UP."  Now, after three trips to Paris Sue has full utilization of both hands.  No operations, no scars, and less than $1,000 for THREE procedures.  Sue equates it to a dentist office visit for her hands.  Painful, yet amazing and done in less than an hour.  Clearly, the FDA has a STUPID position on this procedure Dr Badois uses.  He now taught Dr. Charles Eaton of Jupiter, FL the same procedure.  Dr. Charlie went to Paris and studied under Dr. Badois.  Now we pay Dr. Charlie WAY MORE because of USA insurance regs.  With my aging parents in FL, I wanted to go there for the last 2 procedures.  If I had not found Dr. Badois, today Sue might be missing fingers if we followed the STUPID AMERICAN methodology for treating her condition over the last decade.  Now that Mom & Dad are both gone, we plan to return to Paris for HAND TUNE UP #6.

My experience is an example of USA medical is NOT the best from either a technology POV or a patient benefit POV or a financial POV.

I am a proud American striving to be an OBJECTIVE American.

Invest well and TRAVEL to learn.

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#23) On May 21, 2009 at 12:12 PM, jstegma (29.16) wrote:

I guess I don't buy into the success of other country's systems of healthcare all that much.  I'm not defending ours, but I'm just not ready to jump on board with theirs either. 

I think the idea that the US spends the most is probably incorrect somehow.  For one thing, look where the countries with the highest debts as a percentage of GDP are found - Europe.  Not America.  Not Africa.  Europe.  Then look at military spending.  The US spends about as much as the rest of the world combined.  Yet we have MUCH lower taxes and also lower national debt than these Europeans with the socialized medicine.

So now that we have a recession and plenty of financial problems of our own with promises of socialized medicine for those over 65, we don't need to go handing it out to everyone else too.  We just can't afford it.  Lower taxes are an advantage.  Don't knock it too quickly.  The military is a huge advantage.  Don't knock that too quickly either.  

The US was basically founded on the ideas of freedom from having government tell us what to do.  Higher taxes aren't popular here.  Getting pushed around by other countries isn't popular here either.  So we have low taxes and a very strong military and excellent healthcare if you are willing to pay for it.  

So my point is that you can look at the good thing about European socialism - free healthcare - but keep in mind it comes with costs - weak military, high taxes, high national debt, etc.

In the case of Luxembourg, it probably works well.  Ridiculously high wealth level and no need of a real military allows for strong government-funded healthcare.  Fair enough.  But I don't think their success makes a valid criticism of the US system. 

Rec for creating a good discussion.  This is an issue well worth discussing. 

 

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#24) On May 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM, farmnut1985 (34.31) wrote:

devoish,

My question is based on the idea that if overhead costs of practices and hospitals can be reduced it would benefit the rest of us in decreased medical costs and insurance on down the chain.  It seems the two are connected, health and malpractice.  Granted health insurance is a pain, but I'll deal with it over the government controlling it. 

We all have differing opinions on this matter, I see the need for the people without healthcare to have it, but I don't think it is fair to ask taxpayers to give it to them.  The government has proven time and time again to be an inneficient manager of businesses.  Like it or not healthcare is a business, and eventually if the government takes control how long before it ends up like social security? 

Also, if the government takes over healthcare, what happens to all of our insurance providers?  Are they forced to quit, or are they just swallowed up by government? 

 

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#25) On May 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM, Gemini846 (49.76) wrote:

1M doctors? Are we talking about real physicians or quasi-healthcare professionals who do things like medical weightloss?

 I have serious doubts that 1 in 400 people in the US is a physician.

The US spends more than any other country per capita on healthcare and manages to do it in the most inefficient way possible.  Change is critical, but spending more on it would be a HUGE mistake.  ALL can be covered for far less than is being spent now.

This I can agree with, but considering the population demographics, the influx of immigrants (legal and illegal), the social issues caused by race, how do you make this happen?

Can we admit that the US government is a mess. Its a wasteful mess and that in our current state socialized medicine would still cost us more than it does in Europe.  Furthermore the care wouldn't really improve that much. It's not that we're against it, its just that we've seen our governments track record so far and we aren't satisfied with it. Since they can't manage the money they already have, why do we want to give them more?

Insurance companies are a big problem, lawyers are a big problem, but people only started to sue because the costs were high in the first place. Now people view it like a lotto ticket which is ridiculous, but you should be able to get enough money to cover your expenses if you are injured.  Of course I expect in Europe if a doctor makes a mistake all your expenses for follow-up treatments are still covered right? Are you compensated for loss of work?

I personally liked the idea of portable insurance, but one problem is that you've got people who would be forced into the government system anyway since no insurance company would cover them.

Portable insurance would at least allow us to choose our insurance company which would cause competition. If faceless insurance company #1 doesn't pay the bills then I can always go to #2 and try them. If enough people do that then #1 goes bankrupt (unless our gov bails them out for some reason like they did w/ the banks).

This is a simplified example but this is how a "free market" works. Here's another example.

A doctor in CA wanted to help people with no insurance so he put their basic care on a pay x$$ per month plan. Most people paid $40 for individual or $150 for family.  As long as you were paying he would cover your basic medical expenses with the exception of major surgery. (See collecting cash requires very little paperwork and keeps costs down).  People showed up in droves.

The insurance lobby got wind of it and got the state of CA to rule what he was providing as insurance so they fined him and told him if he was going to continue that he would be subject to insurance regulations.

When you say "socialism" here in the US we think about stories like that. Now whether that’s socialism or oligarchy, or fascism, or just plain stupidity, we don't care, all we know is it made something that was working no longer work.

My wife just had a baby. It cost me (out of pocket) $550 from start to finish. We had to stay in the hospital 10 days due to a potential infection. Now I'm sure the various health care providers billed my insurance company well over $200k for this stay. They will likely get about $20k for thier services. On paper the insurance company saved me $180k. Does it still sound so evil? A necessary evil?

One of the problems with the socialist system is that you never see the real cost of your care. How much did the doctor get paid, how much did the nurses get paid, how much does it cost the hospital to run, and who decides?

Consider this discussion points from an open minded, free market supporting American.

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#26) On May 21, 2009 at 12:55 PM, wrparks (61.57) wrote:

According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos074.htm, there were about 630,000 in 2005. 

So, yea, my generous assumption of 3% has me covered.  I really was just guestimating the total number.  

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#27) On May 21, 2009 at 1:00 PM, gtobynj (< 20) wrote:

"Also, if the government takes over healthcare, what happens to all of our insurance providers?  Are they forced to quit, or are they just swallowed up by government?"

Hopefully they are put out of business, as in my experience of them they are evil - worse than tobacco companies and much worse than playground drug dealers.

"I think the idea that the US spends the most is probably incorrect somehow.  For one thing, look where the countries with the highest debts as a percentage of GDP are found - Europe.  Not America.  Not Africa.  Europe.  Then look at military spending.  The US spends about as much as the rest of the world combined.  Yet we have MUCH lower taxes and also lower national debt than these Europeans with the socialized medicine."

Once the cost of health care is added to my income tax rates, sales tax rates and property taxes, I am taxed about 4% more than I would be in the UK and that is before any out of pocket medical expenses are counted - the difference is not that big.

I do though question, why is it okay to have a socialist (state provided) military, but not health care?  We're allowed to arm ourselves here, so surely privatising defence provision and having us all take out "homeland isnurance" would make much more sense - those who can't afford it can just be lost to any invader and those of us who do have it can relax in the knowledge that we're insured and can't be touched by the aggressors of the world.

http://www.chspr.ubc.ca/files/publications/2006/chspr06-28W.pdf

makes for a fascinating read, not least the section about where the majority of healthcare funding actually comes from in the US!

 

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#28) On May 21, 2009 at 1:08 PM, gtobynj (< 20) wrote:

"My wife just had a baby. It cost me (out of pocket) $550 from start to finish. We had to stay in the hospital 10 days due to a potential infection. Now I'm sure the various health care providers billed my insurance company well over $200k for this stay. They will likely get about $20k for thier services. On paper the insurance company saved me $180k. Does it still sound so evil? A necessary evil?"

When my wife had our first baby, our insurance company paid all the bills.  6 weeks later they terminated our coverage and back dated the termination to 2 month prior to the birth.  They then recovered all the money they had paid to the care providers, who in turn re-billed us 3 times the amount the insurer had paid.  It took 3 years to resolve and resulted in our being sued, but I finally won and ONLY had to pay the $7,500 the insurer originally paid instead of the $25k they came after us for.  That of course was on top of the $40k that had been paid in insurance premiums over the years and my estimate is in that time they probably paid less than $3k out in claims.  Great, GREAT business to be in!

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#29) On May 21, 2009 at 1:38 PM, Gemini846 (49.76) wrote:

So what you're saying is that if you had a choice of insurance companies you wouldn't choose that one again. You'd tell all your friends not to choose that company and if they continued to treat people like that they would have very few customers and would either trim thier costs (downsize) or they would go bankrupt.

I'm not disputing the story. My wifes old insurance company took 2 years to resolve a billing issue and we are making the last payment on that hospital stay next month. I'm just telling you that Meritain would NOT be an insurance provider that I recommend to anyone. I promise if the employees where she used to work had a choice they would dump them like a bad habit just like she did. Her employeer even paid her $1/hr extra to get coverage elsewhere.

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#30) On May 21, 2009 at 2:52 PM, jmt587 (99.88) wrote:

Great blog and discussion.  Thanks Sauna.  I especially appreciate hearing the level-headed right wing point of views (# 25).  Not the nut-jobs though (# 8).  Best quote so far:

 

"I am a proud American striving to be an OBJECTIVE American."

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#31) On May 21, 2009 at 3:37 PM, saunafool (98.59) wrote:

gtobnyj,

Once the cost of health care is added to my income tax rates, sales tax rates and property taxes, I am taxed about 4% more than I would be in the UK and that is before any out of pocket medical expenses are counted - the difference is not that big.

You are making a big assumption that your "out of pocket" medical expenses are not going to be substantial. In the European system, out of pocket expenses are extremely low for almost everything, even long-term cancer treatments. In the U.S. system, depending on the insurance you have, you can pay 20% of the costs up to a very large number.

jstegma

I guess I don't buy into the success of other country's systems of healthcare all that much.

It's not something to "buy into" it is something you should do a little research on. If you look at all the sources (not just stuff from the Cato Institute) there is a lot to learn by looking over seas. Looking at health outcomes, here is what you will find:

Other developed countries (Western Europe and Japan) have longer life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates, and generally better macro numbers.

You'll also find that other developed countries have higher rates of smoking than the U.S. and lower rates of obesity.

Finally, you'll find that the survival rate for certain types of cancer is better in the U.S.

So now that we have a recession and plenty of financial problems of our own with promises of socialized medicine for those over 65, we don't need to go handing it out to everyone else too.  We just can't afford it.

You are already affording it. You are just paying several hundred dollars from your paycheck every month to the insurance company (probably matched by a large payment from your employer). You can say it's "free market" because it doesn't go to the government, but what is free about it. For most people, it is chosen by the employer and they have very limited choices.

catoismymotor,

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. – Frederic Bastiat

Oh yes, the old ruse of having a neat quote that fits all situations as though that solves the debate.

However, with certain basic services--police, fire department, health care, education--everyone ultimately does pay for everyone else. That is why they are called basic services. The Right likes to say "health care is not a right" but that is not true. There have been many court rulings that say emergency room treatment cannot be denied to someone in need.

So, everyone is going to pay for everyone else. The poorest and sickest will never be able to pay for themselves, but they will still show up at the hospital and they will still receive care. Call it communism and swear and cry, but anywhere you live in the world, that is the way it is with health care. And, unless you are a barbarian, that's the way it should be.

OneLegged,

saunafool, you wouldn't happen to be of Finnish desent would you? 

We have a winner! Kipis!

 

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#32) On May 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM, gtobynj (< 20) wrote:

"You are making a big assumption that your "out of pocket" medical expenses are not going to be substantial. In the European system, out of pocket expenses are extremely low for almost everything, even long-term cancer treatments. In the U.S. system, depending on the insurance you have, you can pay20% of the costs up to a very large number."

My comment was perceived incorrectly - that was exactly what I meant.  The actual difference in "take home pay" is minimal - but that is BEFORE the out of pocket expenses which are not insignificant and can be cripplingly substantial!

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#33) On May 21, 2009 at 9:39 PM, devoish (98.52) wrote:

wrparks,

You are calling me out on "only"15,000 doctors, but letting Dare slide on having a few that he knows? Good for you!

farmnut,

You are correct that anything that reduces Dr's costs will help if the savings are passed through to us. I wanted to point out that on both sides of your problem stand the insurers. We are charge a fortune for healthcare and Dr's are charged a fortune for malpractice.

Gemini,

Can we admit that the US government is a mess. Its a wasteful mess and that in our current state socialized medicine would still cost us more than it does in Europe

No. I went to the Nationmaster website and using their 2004 per capita data I calculated that a basket of government run healhtcare countries totaling a similar population to ours spent 1 trillion dollars less in 2004. 1 trillion is a lot of room to find savings. look at your example of the Dr who charged $150 for a family, verse what gtobyni says he pays. Substantial room for savings. Read the posts in this thread and others destroying the myth of long European wait times and lower quality care. Then read your second post and gtobyni's and tell me if your business can afford to wait to get paid like that while racking up- interest expenses to cover the loan you are giving the insurer.

The problem is not "government" it is having the government in private industries pocket. And that is not even as much due to greed and corruption of government, as it is just government turning to the "experts" for help, and the "experts" believing that running a business means they have to look out for shareholders, instead of clients.

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#34) On May 21, 2009 at 9:47 PM, devoish (98.52) wrote:

Saunafool,

I feel like a heel. Congratulations, I hope your son makes you as proud as my kids do me. I was never as happy as when there were babies and then toddlers and then kids and now young adults in the house. 

I wish you the same happiness or more,

devoish

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#35) On May 22, 2009 at 8:58 AM, wrparks (61.57) wrote:

Sorry Devoish,

I typically ignore most all anecdotal evidence from others as unsatisfactory, so that was my bias coming through.  Though, I admit to making decisions based on my own anecdotes, who doesn't..... Surveys hold a little more weight in my eyes, as long as they present the entire dataset of **% supported, &&% disagreed, n=some large number, though question framing plays a hugely important role.  Petitions hold a slightly lower credibility for me since they only show supporters and ignore the numbers that read them and disagree.

His statement is more meaningless than 15,000 signatories yes.  I may not have even read the comment.......  Besides, no matter who processes the paperwork, doctors will complain about that part, so it's sort of a moot point. Nobody likes paperwork, not even socialists (it's a joke.......not ruffling feathers)

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#36) On May 22, 2009 at 9:24 AM, Gemini846 (49.76) wrote:

devoish  And that is not even as much due to greed and corruption of government, as it is just government turning to the "experts" for help, and the "experts" believing that running a business means they have to look out for shareholders, instead of clients.

To me that's the very definition of corruption. Either that or you have to assume that these politicians are just ignorant, and to me it matters not whether or not they are ignorant or whether they are corrupt. The answer is to take power from them not give them more.  If they don't have time to read the bills they are signing, which is either a lie or laziness, they shouldn't run for public office.

I don't disagree that there is a lot of savings to be had there, but clearly there is a lot of waste in our government when the only solution they can come up with is to borrow, print, or tax more.  

saunafool Other developed countries (Western Europe and Japan) have longer life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates, and generally better macro numbers.

This argument gets rather old. I could be wrong, but does Japan or the UK, or Belgium or Sweden have rafts of Haitians and Truckloads of Mexicans coming across their borders daily?

Now I'm not very "right wing" in my views on immigration since I'm a big fan of more people coming here legally than having to be smuggled unsafely like cargo and being fearful that you'll get caught every day and deported. Most non criminal people who come here do so to work hard and have a better life.

I don't bring this point up to say that these people are a drain on public services, but I bring it up to say that it skews the statistics badly. It could take half a lifetime for these people to reach the per-capita income of someone in Europe, which these people gladly accept because it’s better than the option that they left, but in the mean time they have to deal with unsafe neighborhoods, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and other social ills based solely on income.

Those social ills also plague the large indigenous populations, many of whom have bought into the lie that poverty is a way of life and something that they have to deal with to be accepted. Do any of these countries have a growing population group (representing about 15-20% of the country) who's male members have a 1 in 12 chance of not making thier 21st Birthday? It has nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with not getting shot, knifed, OD'ed or incarcerated.  Regardless it skews that statistic.

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#37) On May 24, 2009 at 3:28 AM, saunafool (98.59) wrote:

devoish,

Thank you for your kind words. I enjoy the debate and posted the story for discussion purposes, so I'm happy to see everyone duking it out.

Gemini846,

This argument gets rather old. I could be wrong, but does Japan or the UK, or Belgium or Sweden have rafts of Haitians and Truckloads of Mexicans coming across their borders daily?

Japan doesn't. Almost all of the European countries have people coming in from North Africa, sub-saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. In Spain, they smuggle them in by the boatload, and it is a much bigger problem than Hatian immigration to the U.S.

I would agree with you that violent crime is a major factor in the lower life expectancy in the U.S. However, what you are saying is, "If we ignore the bottom 20%, the rest of us are doing great."

That's a problem in the U.S. for so many things. If we ignore the bottom 20%, everything is awesome. But, you have to ignore the bottom 20%.

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#38) On May 24, 2009 at 4:29 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

That's a problem in the U.S. for so many things. If we ignore the bottom 20%, everything is awesome. But, you have to ignore the bottom 20%.

well said!!!

 

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#39) On May 28, 2009 at 12:57 PM, BradAllenton (31.31) wrote:

It's unAmerican to compare America to countries that do things better than we do........ shame on you   ;)

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#40) On May 28, 2009 at 1:20 PM, magnym (< 20) wrote:

BradAllenton is right.  Regarding health care, a great leader once said,

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."—George W. Bush, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

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#41) On May 28, 2009 at 1:41 PM, whereaminow (20.00) wrote:

Luxembourg's wealth derives from a long history of Capitalism. It will take many years for the Lefties to piss away that wealth, but give them time. People like saunafool will be happy to do it. They see all these things for "little to no cost" unaware of basic economic realities. Henry Hazlitt would have had a field day with this post.

On a second note, as I have criticized saunafool before, he is intellectually dishonest.  America is not a capitalist or free market health care system. Only a complete retard would believe that. America is a Socialist (VA, Medicare, Medicaid) and Fascist (HMO, PPO, forced upon us by devoish's beloved Congress in 1973) medical system.   So saunafool is comparing one socialist country to another and implying that socialism is superior to capitalism. 

So clueless.

David in California

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#42) On May 28, 2009 at 1:50 PM, whereaminow (20.00) wrote:

For more on the myth of Scandinavian Socialism, see the many plentiful articles here.

David in California

 

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#43) On May 30, 2009 at 5:41 AM, camistocks (< 20) wrote:

Saunafool - first of all congratulations and my best wishes for/with your boy! OK, now you need a second child...:-) (yes seriously!)

I have no idea about their health care system, but it sounds pretty good, as you describe. I also think it is somehow good if a country is so small that you almost "know everybody". So you will know who the specialists are. 

As for Luxembourg being a wealthy socialist state, their wealth relies on the deregulated financial system and the bank secrecy (yes, it's not only Switzerland...). There is a huge mutual fund and financial products industry.

But hey, what are they going to do now with the pressure from the country in the north? There is this finance minister who wants to abolish the bank secrecy in other countries, and some in Switzerland (and I guess in Luxembourg too) are calling him an "ugly German", yes even a ..."Nazi"! :-)

Could this be the end of the small, wealthy countries who relied on bank secrecy and low taxes for financial firms and products...?

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#44) On May 30, 2009 at 5:54 AM, camistocks (< 20) wrote:

Gemini - ***This argument gets rather old. I could be wrong, but does Japan or the UK, or Belgium or Sweden have rafts of Haitians and Truckloads of Mexicans coming across their borders daily?***

I would argue that immigrants will actually get older than fat (I'm sorry), obese white people. It's because they do the hard work which keeps your body healthy. Gardening, cleaning, building, cleaning the streets, etc.

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#45) On May 30, 2009 at 6:32 AM, Buckaneer (< 20) wrote:

"but I'm just not ready to jump on board with theirs either."

 Get sick. And have no health care and some money that can be taken, and see how well you fare.

 IDIOT.

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#46) On June 05, 2009 at 11:21 AM, saunafool (98.59) wrote:

I see whereaminow has called me intellectually dishonest because I don't subscribe to his pure libertarianism. He also assumes that I'm over here working as one of Ronald Reagan's welfare queens and that I will end up taking more out of the system that I put in.

I respect guys like him, though. He has an absolute set of principles.

Me, I'm not an idealist. I just want what works. The Luxembourg health system works. For an awful lot of people, the American system does not.

sf

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#47) On June 06, 2009 at 4:22 PM, Alex1963 (28.35) wrote:

saunafool

Amazing post and except for a few snarky and pointless replies a great discussion.

I missed this when it 1st came out but   portefeuille

just linked it to a discussion over here.

rec from me 

Alex 

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#48) On June 08, 2009 at 9:01 AM, Gemini846 (49.76) wrote:

The Luxembourg health system works. For an awful lot of people the American system does not

I would like to remind you that the Luxembourg system works for Luxembourg. It is a farce to believe that you could translate it directly into the US. I don't want to go through the damage that a 20% VAT would do to the US economy right now, but it would be brutal. The fact that your government has to mail you checks to give back the money it stole tells of its inefficiency. (Of course you could argue that the US does the same thing. I agree, and it should be stopped).

I was done with this "discussion" as you call it, because camistocks quotes me out of context and Buckaneer has nothing good to say. If you have money that can be "taken" then why don't you pay for your own healthcare? Perhaps your entitlement mentality blinds you of your own selfishness. Surely you know that most doctors will negotiate for a cash price.

Alex1963 the link you provided takes us back to this blog sadly and not to the discussion you reference.

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#49) On June 08, 2009 at 1:32 PM, Alex1963 (28.35) wrote:


 Gemini846  

Oops

"A capitalist solution: free health care" 

http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?bpid=207746&t=01007422989251003253  

Alex  

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#50) On August 03, 2009 at 1:40 PM, exotctrader (< 20) wrote:

Well with all the talk about " Socialism" in health care I just felt like I should add a comment.

Why has no one mentioned Canada  as an alternative to the Europen countries.  I have lived, and been sick in both.the US and Canada..   Taxes are somewhat similar and a pain, but if you want to get sick I would

sure choose to do it in Canada.  I am not wealthy (probably never will be ) , but after having had

cancer I know that if I had had it when I was in the US  I would be broke, bankrupt now.

My father , american, after working from age 28 or so, with 4yrs in WW II, at age 84 ,and still working, had to have extreme heart surgery.  He had to go bankrupt.

So not sure that Canada''s health plan is the best in the world, they should charge us more, but it is better than getting sick in the US.

 

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