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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Healthcare

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
From time to time, I start my research on some of these columns by calling a life long friend of mine who is politically a little to the right of Attila the Hun. I donít mind being conservative but I have found that if you keep turning too far the right or too far to the left you will find that you are walking around in circles. No matter, I still appreciate his opinion and points of view.

Anyway, on my way to Germany a few weeks ago, I had to watch each and every movie on the way over and back. One of these happened to be a documentary about the state of our health care in this country. Since I donít endorse products or people in this column I will not mention the producer of the film by name. But most of you know who he is anyway, so it doesnít really matter. Well, I only looked at it for about fifteen minutes and then decided that I wanted to show it to my wife once I got back home.

We watched it this past weekend and trust me it will get your blood pressure up and make you think. Now, my Attila friend pointed out that he doesnít trust anything the film maker says so he refuses to watch anything he has made or will make in the future. My thought is there has to be some element of truth in the film, so if you disregard 90% of the information, there is still enough to get you mad at what these people were going through.

I decided to look up some information to see if any of the facts in the film were true or false. I found that healthcare for each citizen in this country costs $4178 per person per year as compared to people in the United Kingdom where it costs $1783 to keep them healthy. Our infant mortality rate is 7.2% per 1000 births, the highest of the top 14 countries on the report. We are 37th in the world in overall performance of our healthcare. Our life expectancy is 70 years, Japan is 74.5. We are 24th in terms of life expectancy in the world. The World Health Organization ranks the US between Costa Rica (#36) and Slovenia (#38).

Now, as far as Iím concerned this is just plain wrong. Here we are the most prosperous country in the world and we canít take care of our own people. Weíve got to look into changing this system. Sure parts of the film are political, but you have to think some of the examples really are accurate. My friend argued with me that the healthcare in Canada was really bad and the film was inaccurate. Yesterday I spoke to a young man in Montrťal, and I asked him how long it took for him to see a doctor if he needed to do so. He said it was a matter of walking into a doctorís office (of his choice) and asking to see one. If he needed an operation, then it must be scheduled, but it wasnít like he had to wait six months of a year to get any kind of treatment, and oh yes, it was free.

Free? Several months ago, I signed up for Medicare. Iíve paid into it ever since it came out twenty or thirty years ago. So, now I have to pay for it out of social security as well as the plan D and the drug part. In addition to the social security deduction, they take more Medicare out of my check where I am now working, so that means, Iíve paid for it and am still paying for it and I guess I will keep on paying for it as long as I am working. All total itís about fifty bucks a month less than I was paying when I was on private PPO insurance. Big deal.

We are a nation of problem solvers, we should be able to step up to the plate and solve something like this in a fashion that will benefit everyone and not cause the entire country to go broke. Other countries around the world are doing it, why canít we? If itís because of the insurance companies, then we should do something to stop their influence of our congress. If itís the drug companies, then we should do the same. This is ridiculous and a national disgrace. Itís time we pulled our collective heads out of the sand or wherever they have been and look around the world and see what other people are doing and how they are doing it. We need accurate and fair information about healthcare systems and costs in other countries without any political spin or input. This is not a problem that is going to go away, you and I need to be able to walk into a hospital, see a doctor, get treated like an American should be treated and walkout without having to mortgage our homes or declare bankruptcy.

Think about it, watch this documentary, I donít like this guyís political views but I think he has hit on a subject that rings true for all of us. We better stand up and listen before itís too late.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

December 5, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com


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