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US: Health care

Daryl DeBell agrees violently, I should say vehemently, with Eric Weiss: "Market forces are certainly not my God. They appear to be the god of Capitalists. but really a secondary god, after profits. Everybody wants profit, but to get it from hocus pocus management of health care is simply wrong in my book. Doctors are indeed often greedy, but their bite is a nibble compared to the chomp of HMOs". RH:Could we have some hard facts on this?

Tim Brown says: "Having lived, as many WAISers have, in many countries as well as the US I do not hesitate to say that better health care is more widely available to more people in this country than anywhere else I've lived. The variations were, however, dramatic. In Honduras and Paraguay, for example, services were good for me and the well off, but very poor for the great majority of persons. In France and The Netherlands private services for me and my family were excellent and available to anyone with money. Public services, those used by the vast majority of Dutch and French citizens, were not of the same quality but were still very good. But neither those available to me nor those available to the general public were as good as those the average American receives. But, based on having worked in most of these countries , I can also guarantee to all WAISers that it was not FREE anywhere. Americans routinely complain about the high costs of service here, and on the bills medical providers send it most certainly is that. By way of contrast, in France and The Netherlands people pay little or nothing directly to their providers. Instead they pay indirectly via such things as 18% sales taxes and 50% income taxes, without deductions, at the $25,000 per year income level. Only two rules are universal - the better the service the more expensive it is, and you always pay for it. The better the services you demand the higher the cost to you, directly via medical insurance and co-payment or indirectly via taxes. Only how you pay varies. But you pay, regardless.

RH: I have lived in many countries and have an impression of their health services, but I would hesitate to make any categorical statements. I believe there are a number of countries where the indigent get medical care free. I understand that many US hospitals cannot turn away indigent patients. Could Eric Weiss provide information on this? I was once hospitalized in the famed Hopital Pasteur of Paris because they doctors thought I had a rare disease in which they were interested. When they decided that I just had a bad cold, they threw me out. I got that top-level care FREE!

Ronald Hilton - 3/19/03