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National Health Care System

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National Health Care System

Posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:

As I spent the first 30 years of my life in Europe (mainly in Greece, but also England and Sweden), I've been exposed to what is called a national health care system long enough to compare against the system in the States (I've been here - in the LA area - for almost 10 years now.)

I was talking to my sister the other day and we agreed that national health care wins hands down.
Are there problems with the system? Absolutely!
Does it ever make you feel desperate, lost or bullied? No, it doesn't.

I believe that more than anything, it's the mentality of doctors that makes the difference. Because as part of a national health care system, they don't feel that they are super-powerful or that they have to fill a certain quota for tests and prescriptions.
When you visit a doctor in Greece, the first thing they do is to try and make you feel comfortable. They ask you about yourself, your family, your hobbies and they reciprocate the information. They give you their home and cell number so you can reach them at any moment. They make home visits if you are too sick to go to them. In other words, they establish a relationship of mutual trust with their patients and they don't hide behind receptionists and nurses. Access to them is direct and immediate.

Then, the other thing, tests. Tests are performed right away (usually within 24 hours) and the results are sent to the patient and not the doctor. You, as the patient, own your results and may do with them as you please.

All in all, you feel like you have a lot of power when it comes to your own health.
I felt very strange when I first visited a medical center here and realized they treated me as if I were an idiot of sorts who had to do as told.

Strangely enough, private medical practice is also thriving in Greece. But because doctors have to compete with a system that is free for everyone, they offer their services at affordable prices and they follow the same basic rules: respect for the patient, trust, accessibility etc.

The prices of drugs are state regulated so they are fairly cheap as well and all in all there is a great freedom for choosing the best doctor for you.

The main "flaw" of the system? There is an unwritten law that you have to "tip" doctors, especially surgeons, specialists etc, as they do all this for you for free. (Actually they don't do it for free, but it's a habit that's hard to break. The better the care, the bigger the tip, but at least there's a conscious effort on the doctors' part to do their best.)

Sylvia


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by ukchris [10820.8189] on September 23, 2009 at 13:34:34:

In Reply to: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:

Wow, that tipping thing is odd! I've never heard of it happening here in England. To my knowledge, it's actually against NHS guidelines to accept money donations or gifts. Only small gifts like chocolates are acceptable, and even then they might need to be documented.


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:41:48:

In Reply to: Re: National Health Care System posted by ukchris [10820.8189] on September 23, 2009 at 13:34:34:

Hi ukchris

It's illegal in Greece as well. But it happens. It's the one thing that really bugs me and I've never done it myself. The system isn't perfect. But it's heaven compared to the situation here. I try to do most of my dental, GYN and physical app. when I visit Greece every year because it's just so much easier and simple.
By the way, I loved the health care in England as well, I spent 2 years in London studying at King's College.


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Re: National Health Care System -- SIGH! Archive in monopoly.

Posted by Walt Stoll [93.7902] on September 23, 2009 at 14:21:56:

In Reply to: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:

Thanks, Sylvia.

It helps to hear from those of you who have first hand experience with both systems. The only people who are benefitting from our current system are the AMA types, the Big Pharma types and the fat cats Disease Care Insurance Industry. When they win, all the rest of us lose. The current system is SO fat that there is almost unlimited money available for lobbying. This system has a new record for lobbying: it has now put nearly $400 million into the lobbyists pockets to distribute among the congress for opposing this bill alone. This is a new record. Now, why do you think they are doing this?

Walt


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by ukchris [1490.7642] on September 23, 2009 at 15:05:54:

In Reply to: Re: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:41:48:

That's good to hear Sylvia. Your opinion is very valuable, as one of the minority to have experienced a number of different healthcare systems. Hopefully you'll motivate a few people to reconsider their stance.


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Re: National Health Care System -- SIGH! Archive in monopoly.

Posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 15:22:59:

In Reply to: Re: National Health Care System -- SIGH! Archive in monopoly. posted by Walt Stoll [93.7902] on September 23, 2009 at 14:21:56:

Hi Walt,

History has taught us that those in power have never relinquished anything unless they were forced to.
They will do their best to keep and increase their wealth and status. They will fight the bill with everything that they have. They are not willing to lose 1% of their income, let alone 80% like you did! They want us to be ignorant and naive.

To me, it's incomprehensible that somebody should prosper from our sickness. Especially when that someone isn't even a doctor or a hospital!

Sylvia


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by Jan DeCourtney, CMT (Happygal) [7244.8178] on September 23, 2009 at 22:24:40:

In Reply to: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:

Thank you for sharing your experience, Sylvia!

Your post reads like a breath of fresh air!

Best wishes,
Jan


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by sarah-t [80.706] on September 25, 2009 at 02:05:54:

In Reply to: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:


I can understand if people don't like the new proposal for healthcare. What I can't understand is the number of them who don't seem to think that we need any kind of change at all. Living with blinders on.


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Re: National Health Care System

Posted by samm [1003.2765] on September 25, 2009 at 10:04:45:

In Reply to: Re: National Health Care System posted by sarah-t [80.706] on September 25, 2009 at 02:05:54:

I think price controls would help a lot . We already have price reductions that have been negotiated for anyone with medicare, medicaid, federal employees insurance, blue cross, etc. Our current system charges those people without insurance a HUGE amount more for medical services than those people WITH insurance. That's crazy. We need reasonable charges for everyone that are more affordable when you pay out of pocket.

We also need prices to be upfront and a list readily accessible- A lab test for an A1C test is $30-$40 in some hospital labs, $125 in another hospital lab-people should be able to comparison shop for medical services. Doctors should include cost in the consideration of which of competing meds to prescribe.

Everyone knows waste, fraud, and abuse exist in current government run health care programs. We hear fixing that problem would help pay for the new system. I'd be more impressed if we spent a year or two fixing those problems first- then gov't could show how much money they've saved and how effective they are capable of being and ask for expanded programs with some proof that they can handle them capably and efficiently.
People on gov't health programs receive an EOB
(explanation of benefits) form that lists numeric diagnostic codes for each service that has been billed on their behalf. The patient doesn't have a clue what any of those codes stand for. Let's put plain English on the form- tell the patient what's being billed in their name. Then the patient can report fraudulent charges to the gov't, and the gov't can investigate those providers whose charges get a lot of negative input from patients.

Let's fix what we have and then go forward with the confidence that someone in charge of all this actually knows what they are doing.


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question for Slyvia

Posted by samm [1003.2765] on September 25, 2009 at 10:11:43:

In Reply to: National Health Care System posted by Sylvia [5946.7814] on September 23, 2009 at 13:28:16:

I'm curious what kind of office hours the doctors n these countries you've lived in kept.
Here in the states, most doctor's appointments are only available between 8 or 9 AM and 5 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. This is one reason so many people use the ER (emergency room) instead of making a doctor's appointment- many people can't afford to take time off from work to see a doctor during the limited hours they keep.
Our specialists are concentrated in cities, so one often has to travel a couple of hours each way, plus wait when doctors are poor about honoring appointment times, so seeing a specialist can mean taking a whole day off from work and losing that day's wages. Our doctors increasingly refer patients to specialists, so it's not an uncommon problem here.


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Re: question for Slyvia

Posted by Sylvia [9056.7814] on September 25, 2009 at 12:19:26:

In Reply to: question for Slyvia posted by samm [1003.2765] on September 25, 2009 at 10:11:43:

Hi samm,

Most doctors' offices are open till 8pm. After that, doctors will make house visits for one more hour to see their patients that are too sick or too old to go out.

My mother got pneumonia two years ago. Her doctor did whatever he could to ensure she wouldn't be admitted to a hospital. He had a nurse stay at her house and he visited 3 times a day to monitor her progress. He sent the lab technician to draw blood at home. That way she recovered at home and avoided possible hospital infections and anxiety/depression related with staying in a hospital room.

Oh, another thing I forgot. Your doctor will see you even without an app. if you show up with a fever, pain or anything else that requires immediate attention. My (American) husband was shocked when we were visiting Greece 4 years ago and he got a toothache on Christams Eve. We called the dentist on his cell phone and he dropped everything to see my husband. He had his wisdom tooth extracted and visited us on Christmas day to make sure there were no complications. How much did he charge for all that? $30. It's a story my husband cannot stop repeating.


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Re: question for Slyvia

Posted by Hope [9735.8198] on September 25, 2009 at 13:25:39:

In Reply to: Re: question for Slyvia posted by Sylvia [9056.7814] on September 25, 2009 at 12:19:26:

Wow that would be so nice! House calls?!?!?! I cannot even imagine some of the doctors that I have known venturing out in the middle of the night to help anyone.

You and your family are very lucky. If only we could have that kind of system with those kinds of doctors.....


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Re: question for Slyvia

Posted by Charles [448.8156] on September 25, 2009 at 15:58:41:

In Reply to: Re: question for Slyvia posted by Hope [9735.8198] on September 25, 2009 at 13:25:39:

I can remember our doctor making house calls after work. We lived on a farm with a dirt road and if it was muddy we pulled her Continetial to the house with our tractor and back out again and she didn't even charge us for her having to have her car washed. She was our doctor until she retired. Her father was a doctor also and I guess it didn't hurt that he lived in our community but she didn't after she became a doctor.


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Re: question for Slyvia

Posted by samm [1003.2765] on September 25, 2009 at 19:46:24:

In Reply to: Re: question for Slyvia posted by Hope [9735.8198] on September 25, 2009 at 13:25:39:

the doctor in our village in Germany made house calls when I was a kid-guess it was normal back then. Wonder if Europe just never lost that mentality for doctors?
Perhaps the US evolved it's office-based doctors during a doctor shortage, as a method to be able to meet the needs of many patients with fewer doctors- I don't know. Would be interesting to know if European countries have generally had a better doctor/patient ratio than here.


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