Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
American adventures

My trip to the USA this time isn't going well. I managed to eat something which gave me a nasty stomach bug, and I was flat on my back for two days. That also gave me the opportunity to experience the American health care system first hand, which was interesting. A lot more paperwork than in Europe, and much, much more expensive. Seeing a doctor for like 5 minutes and having him prescribe me something cost me $117, which is 3 to 5 times as much as the same visit would cost in Europe. Not counting the UK, where that visit would have been free.

I'm back on my feet again, but can't follow all my reader's friendly advice on what to eat over here. I need to stick to bland food and isotonic drinks. Most of which don't taste very well. If you make lemonade by squashing lemons, then how is Gatorade made?
You can get things like SmartWater, which has electrolytes added but no flavor (but also no calories). If you need calories too, go for chicken broth and things like jello and pudding. You can get all of these at the grocery store in ready-to-eat containers, so all you'd need to do is get a plastic spoon and you'd be set.

Anyone who doesn't have American medical insurance pays a LOT of money for visits and drugs...Shopping for benefits is a major part of finding a good job here.

Sorry you're sick!
Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Doctor's visits in the US are fairly expensive for the uninsured.

As for the origins of gatorade: Lemonade is made from lemons. Limeade is made from limes. By extension, I think it is safe to say that gatorade is made from gators. *sage nod*
Actually what you encountered was medical service w/o recognized Health Insurance. With Insurance you could have seen your regular GP and it shouldn't have cost you much more than $10 plus the cost of the prescription. Although the cost of making sure you have health insurance is expensive, unless your employer pays for it. Don't get me wrong, as an Australia living in the U.S. I'm not a big fan of our healthcare system either.

The sad thing is if you choose the low road, you actually can get medical service for free, you just have to be prepared to live with yourself, and karma is a real bitch sometimes. Basically you tell the hospital you have no insurance or credit cards of any kind (so they can't get immediate payment). You sign the necessary documents agreeing to be personally responsible for all expenses, get treated for whatever ails you, then later when the bill comes you just refuse to pay. If you were smart you gave the hospital a fake ID so you won't even see the bill, and the collection agency they sell your debt to will be chasing down the wrong person. The only thing you'll end up paying for is your prescription medicine, but just slip across the border to Mexico or Canada and pick it up there, it's a darn sight cheaper.

Just curious, did you have Travel Insurance? That might cover your medical expenses, although you may need to pay the first $100 to $500 yourself, depending on your Travel Insurance.

Sorry you're not well. Follow Rosemary's advice and go shopping at your local supermarket for healthy, cheap(er) food.
Yep, I work in the Healthcare industry here in the states, and I can attest to it being a ridiculous pain in the ass thanks to HMOs and overall poor financial management and planning.

Almost, ALMOST makes me want to move to Canada.

My advice? Avoid US Healthcare at all costs when you don't have insurance here, and even then make sure your coverage actually COVERS what you're going for.

I work at the Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, we're supposed to be watching out for our armed forces vets... and instead we end up charging them more than most private sector practice co-pays.

It's a mess, really... can't wait to get out of this industry.
Welcome to the life of no social medicine! It may cost an arm and a leg but if you find the right doctors you'll get better care than anywhere in the world. Also you can see a doctor here in the states immediately whereas in other parts of the world you are forced into a waiting list.

Competition breeds quality and that includes the medical industry in the USA.

It's why all the Doctors from India can't wait to get over here.
As much as we complain about the NHS over here in the UK, I have to say I'm glad we have it.

Hope you feel better soon!
thats why we have insurance. it would have been a fraction of what you paid if you were covered by insurance and not a free-loading canadian-esqe bum used to free healthcare.
RE: Medical expense comparison between Canada/Western Europe, and the US...

Which way do you prefer to pay, though insurance, or taxes?

In the US, many years ago (~15, +-), before the litigation industry drove health care costs though the roof, the sitation was much better.
But the leeches are killing the host...
I've heard that there are some differences between the food that is offered in Europe vs The United States, but to be honest I have only heard rumors such as Europe supposedly has a ban on High Fructose Corn Syrup, a common sugar agent used in soft drinks in the US.

So does this mean that Europeans look at the US the same way US citizens look at Mexico??? Don't drink the water!!
Wonder why our health care system is the way it is?

Americans labor under the mistaken impression that insured health care (Third party payer system) is somehow "free" to them if they have insurance and that a visit to a doctor's office only "costs" the amount of their co-payment (e.g., $10). I guarantee the insurer receives a bill greater than $10 for an office visit and the cost of providing that care exceeds $10 too.

I have decent medical insurance through my employer (a portion of which is picked up by them). So I (and most Americans) probably spend (either directly from payroll deduction or effectively as wages my employer wont pay me directly) almost $3,000 a year for the privilege of that "$10" office visit for me any my family.

Yes it also provides for catastrophic care in the event, but that is what actuarial analysis and structured insurance products are designed to do-- provide coverage in the event of an unlikely occurrence in exchange for a relatively small premium upfront. Routine medical care simply doesn't fit this model.

We have a poor system because we are poor consumers.
Sorry to hear about your illness Tobald. Hope you get back on your feet soon.
As someone breifly health care is the sucks because of people trying to make a buck. There are lawsuits over everything in America. You don't even have to have a valid claim, all you have to do is make something up/take something out of proportion and *BAM* you don't have a case you can win but thanks to capitalism, you have a case some corperation will glady settle for millions rather then recieve bad press.

Health care has always been expensive, but thanks to people going for Mal-pratice because "the docotor cut my toe nail to short and it hurts now". HEALTH CARE SUCKS.

The US. is not the land of "sh*t happens" The US. is the land of there is always someone to blame. Most of the time that blame falls on someone, something with money. Take all the law suits against Mcdonalds. In reality though, good companys don't loose money so the real blame(or should I say punishment) is put back on the consumer with higher priced healthcare, food or what have you.

Welcome to America, we hate you, but don't worry, we hate each other too.
End of Us online strategy game
Everyone knows that Gatorade is made by smashing Orcs.
Social medicine isn't free. It's funded by the society via taxation. In England your National Insurance, a tax which is taken from pay for the UK's health and social security system, is 11% on income up to £670 a week. Say you earn that, which amounts to £35k a year. You will be paying £3.8k a year for your NI tax.

In the States that would be the equivalent of earning $68k a year, and having to pay out $7.6k for mandatory health insurance. No choice in who you are going with either. One plan, the national one. (I bet private supplemental insurance is also popular. It is in Germany and Spain. Why??)

Anyway, at $68k a year the English pay out $145 a week for their health insurance.

I earn a little more than that, and pay $159 a week for my health insurance plan + Medicare + social security.

English and Americans would seem to pay about the same for medical insurance and social security.

You're just not insured in America. So it costs you. (Isn't there traveller's insurance for things like unexpected health care costs?)

Now the big difference, and what makes it seem so different:

It's by choice here in America. So people figure they'll save money, skip the insurance, and then rage how expensive things are, or how poor the quality is in the emergency room. (Or you bail on the bill like the patriot above has mentioned. Viva la Revolucion!)

It would seem the English NI system is mandatory. So everyone has insurance.

See the difference? The costs to the person would be the same, and the benefits too.

But in America we can choose to not have it, and reserve the right to complain about it nonetheless.

In America there is a segment of society that demands to be taken care of, and they won't work for themselves, and the Democrats and Liberals derive their power by making promises to deliver.

On the other hand, if America made health care mandatory, like the Clinton Health Care plan from his first administration, the one that didn't happen, and socialized it, the government would simply enlarge it's workforce to "manage" it, and that means less money to deliver actual health care, and service quality would decline.

Does our system work in America? Where are the best hospitals?

Sorry you aren't feeling well. Sucks being sick while abroad, away from the comforts of home. Get better soon.
sorry to hear you feeling sick :(

on the bright side, you will have some new experience about grass and green in other countries ;)
Ah Tobold seems like we are both suffering this morning although I am down about Liverpool FC not taking their chances last night in the CL final...get well soon.
The difference in the UK is, if you are on Welfare/Benefits (eg a lazy bum) you don't pay any money (directly or indirectly), and still get free hospital treatment.
As has been pointed out, you can pay through taxes, or pay directly. Nothing is "free", health care in Canada or europe is not free either, those people also pay through taxes, and through that higher unemployment and other costs to society as a result of higher taxes. Now maybe those social programs are worth it, but it's all a tradeoff, are the benefits worth the costs? Just remember there's no such thing as "free".

The thing I like better about the US system is more choice, doctors and researchers are paid better here. To me, moving to a socialized government mandated system would be the same as forcing an HMO on everyone. I have hated every HMO I was ever a member of. As Bildo points out, our VA care sucks, why expand that to the whole populace? yikes! We've already seen the shortages in vaccines over the past decade thanks to interference from the government.

The things that make it bad have nothing to do with with medicine: too many lawyers, too many managers and accountants, too many politicians trying to improve their career by inciting class warfare.
Nothing is free Tobold. The large comment from anonymous above says it all.
Welcome to America!!! The land of the overworked, overtaxed and underpaid!!!

As for your stay, I'm not sure exactly where you are but if you're on the east coast, try some cheesecake if in NY. PA get a cheesesteak, lol notice a trend?

On the water on either coast? Get some seafood. I prefer King Crab legs myself.

Lost in the middle? Steak, Steak, Steak. Ask some of the locals (if their friendly) about some good semi-fancy spots. Or you can do what I do when I'm in a foreign place, just bumble around until you get yourself throughly lost and eat at the first hole-in-the-wall you come to. I've found some good places like that (i.e. The Cutting Edge Pizzeria in Sydney Australia).
Hrm. You shouldn't ever travel internationally without private health insurance. Just sayin'.

Get better soon!
Hope you're feeling better now ! Didnt you have issurance or do you have to claim that after the trip ?
No worry, I have insurance. I just need to find out which of them will be paying that. No idea whether I have a special traveling insurance when on a business trip, need to ask that.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool