I’m convinced that the only country in the world who really has gotten it right when it comes to health care is Switzerland. In the U.S. we have timely high quality health care, but it is expensive and not everyone can afford what they need. In countries like Canada, costs are lower and everyone has health care, but they have long wait lists and compromised quality(higher death rates for cancer, less testing, etc.). In Switzerland, everyone is covered by private insurance. It’s cheaper than the U.S., but with similar quality. Why does it seem we can only focus on two extremes(single payer or totally unrelated private health care like in the U.S.)? I can’t understand why no one else seems to be looking at Switzerland.
Why tear down what we have now, when with a few minor modifications, everyone could have health insurance?
[Allow everyone to put their health care costs on line 71 of their tax form, so they get a complete tax credit for all their expenses including insurance.]
What, in Switzerland, is the status of what we here call “tort reform” … meaning in Switzerland can lawyers sue doctors at will?
I think we also need to define what we mean my health insurance. Insurance was originally developed as a way for individuals to share costs rather than one person taking a total loss. The example I was given was of villagers crossing a river. One boat sinks. Without insurance, the owner of the boat loses everything. With the owners of six boats splitting the costs among themselves, when the one boat sinks, the risk is shared by all.
Moving on. Insurance has become more than insurance. 30 years ago, a family could obtain insurance for $30/mo or about the cost of one office visit. This is no longer the case. Even a single person cannot obtain insurance for the cost of a single office visit. With the development of HMOs, the cost of healthcare has increased with 1/3 of the cost going toward paperwork, and not the actual care provided. When I lost my job, I was given COBRA as an option. However, the cost of COBRA being $300/mo would mean choosing between health insurance and putting food on my table. How is $300-$600 a month and more insurance? It seems more like extortion to me.
Some doctors have even started an anti-insurance movement, thereby lowing their costs so that they can afford to treat patients and patients can afford to pay out of pocket. Yes, 30 years ago, a person could pay out of pocket the cost of an office call. Insurance paid only after the deductible was met, much like car insurance.
I saw John Sisal’s report on 20/20 and healthcare plans that actually work. These plans encourage a person to take care of themselves. They can use there medical savings plans for alternative methods of treatment and that which is not used rolls over to the next year. Patients know what their cost are and can seek the best value. The report pointed to companies like Whole Foods using this type of plan for their employees.
Insurance coverage is provided for devastating illness or injury.
Sort of. It’s cheaper than the total cost of an insurance policy in the US, but in the US most people pay only a small fraction of the cost of their policy and their employer pays the rest as a benefit to the employee. So, in the US, a policy may cost (for example) $10K while in Switzerland it costs $8K, but in the US the employee is paying only about $2K and the employer is paying the other $8K. In Switzerland the citizen pays the full $8K, yes less than $10K but WAY more than the average US citizen is used to paying… also Swiss wages are higher because of this, but with such an entrenched system in the US dating back to the wage freezes during WWII, it would be a big psychological adjustment that I doubt could make it. Also, in Switzerland, health care is price controlled, the only way their system works. Their country is small enough-- geographically and population-wise to do that-- they only have about 7.5M people. That’s the size of only one state in our union, and not even a big state.
George W Bush did look at a system based on choice and private insurance like the Swiss system when he attempted to get health care reform going. He was vilified by the Dems.
Medical costs will continue to rise as long as we continue to develop more and better medical technology. Take that as a principle in any discussion of health care costs.
When insurance was $30/month we didn’t have the following:
Blood pressure medicine
The list goes on and on. When we buy these treatments it costs money. Now that they are available, we can spend money on them. We like to live, so we buy the treatment. When our life is saved by a given treatment, we live to spend more on another treatment down the road. We are buying years of life. We are buying quality during those years.
The problem is we expect someone else to pay to keep us alive, then we complain because it costs money to keep us alive.
Anyone reading this who is alive because of one of the treatments listed above? Well, forty years ago, you’d be dead. But it would have been cheaper.
Costs have indeed gone up because of greed. It is the greed for life and health that each of us has.
Many of the items on your list did exist.
Rather than look at some of the catastrophe care items, let’s look at something a little more routine such as a broken ankle. Because of the insurance paperwork involved, the cost of a broken bone is more expensive (taking into account inflation), then it was at that time.
People still see a doctor for routine treatment of upper respiratory infections, rashes, and the stomach flu. These are what the $30 office visit paid for. They still needed X-rays to determine whether or not the injury was a broken ankle or simply a sprain. Yes, the cost of X-Rays and the Radiologist who read the X-Ray were added to the $30 office visit.
I am thankful that with my last broken ankle, the orthopedist was willing to accept my $5/mo until the bill was paid off. The hospital where I was originally seen has not been so generous.
Good point. Another example of non-catostrophic care is daily medicines that are keeping millions alive. These things cost a fortune to develop, and must carry the cost of all the failures, too. And they finance the current costs of developing tomorrows new drugs.
We could reduce the cost of these drugs by halting all research into new drugs.
If it wasn’t for medicare my disabled wife would either be dead , or we would be homeless.
Was there no research taking place 50 years ago?
What about the smallpox and polio vaccines?
Were these sponsored by large pharmaceutical companies?
Many of the medications being developed today have unforeseen side effects which actually cause more problems than they solve. What good is a blood pressure medication that causes such cramping that a person cannot walk?
When we look at healthcare, why do we only look at the medical end and not preventative measures that would keep us from needing the medications to start with?
Diseases like Cholera and Typhoid can be vaccinated against. They can also be prevented by improved sanitation methods. Consider third world countries where a disaster like Katrina leads to epidimics. While some of us may have foreseen the possibility in New Orleans, were there any cases?
I am not against research or medication properly used. We have in many ways become a pharmaceutical country, medicating our overactive kids instead of letting them run off steam in the woods or on a playground. We have an obesity epidemic that was unheard of 30 years ago. We have schools that do not have regular recess periods for elementary school students. Prescription medications have become the leading cause of drug abuse.
What I appreciated about the pediatrician I had for my daughter is that he would dispense “home remedies” rather than chemical compounds when possible. Instead of Ambesol, he recommended rum and honey for teething (of course he forgot to tell me I was supposed to rub the rum on her gum). It was also before the recommendation not to give honey to a child under the age of one.
Instead of steroid sprays for my sinusitis to which I have adverse reactions, I rinse with salt water. I had a doctor who prescribed a hot shower as a first course of action for almost everything. The only thing I have ever taken for a stomachache is ginger ale, sometimes after popping a mint. My migraines are a bit trickier and that is where chiropractic care helps.
We can medicate, or we can work on the root causes.
Cinnamon has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. Exercise helps stabilize moods reducing the need for psychotropic medication while improving cardiovascular health.
Again returning to the 20/20 episode with John Sisal, Whole Foods and a few other companies provide a healthcare savings plan that encourages gym memberships and a healthy lifestyle that reduces the need for high blood pressure and heart medications.
Nobody should be placed in the position of deciding between paying exorbitant health insurance premiums and buying the healthy food that minimizes the need to see a doctor.
How does Switzerland handle the “issue” of lawsuits for medical malpractice?
I saw an interview on television where someone said that in the U.S. the premiums that doctors pay for medical malpractice lawsuits is about 50% of the total cost of healthcare.
Hi every one I am new for this forum. I like this forum discussion.
Why do I now have a vision of Swiiss surgeons with scapels that have three different flip out blades and a cork screw…
Just their military surgeons!
This thread has been dormant for a considerable period. With rare exceptions, reviving threads after a protracted period of inactivity is discouraged because:
the issues that spurred them are often no longer "hot" or current topics, explaining why thread activity ceased originally. posters originally involved in the discussion are sometimes no longer active on the forum and, therefore, unavailable to reply to comments added to the thread.
Our experience suggests that, when a topic merits revival, it is best accomplished by initiating a new thread that draws on recent events and can be posted to contemporaneously. This eliminates the baggage of folks being frustrated by asking and not receiving responses to issues raised in early posts (because the new poster didn’t notice that the post he was responding to was made a long time ago).
Posters are very welcome to open a new thread on the subject or any other topic, as well as to actively participate in the myriad active threads in the fora.
Thank you to all those who have participated in this discussion. This thread is now closed.