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Off topic: Michael Moore's Sicko
Thread poster: Paola Dentifrigi

Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:25
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 9, 2007

Hallo,
I hope this won't be anything controversial.
I saw the film last night and I'm curious to hear
the impressions of our extremely international community.
Is France such a paradise, is the British NHS that brilliant (well,
I needed a hospital in London and I did not like the experience...).
I travelled in the US 13 years ago and still panic when I think I did it without an insurance.
What if I got injured?
I needed some injections in Romania,
just went to the hospital with my syringe and the nurse made it. For free. Maybe she was just nice.
I needed a doctor in France, I paid, but being in the EU I got completely refunded.
Here, in Italy, my mum needs treatments, and we pay nothing for the specialist she sees. I guess my parents have been paid all their life and this just what they deserve. We'd like to have even more, but I can't complain.
When I saw in the film this couple in their 60s who had to sell their house to get treatments and other tremendous cases I got very sad and angry.
Is it that bad?
Sorry if this is not the place to discuss this as it may involve politics - we can then just talk of our adventures/misadventures with foreigner sanitary systems.
Take care,
Paola


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Flemish to English
+ ...
Healthy and wealthy... Sep 9, 2007

With regard to health insurance, the E.U. is a good place to be... Although the depicted image of the N.H.S does not corresponds with reality (waiting lists).
Quote of an acquaintance of my mother, who made the American dream come true (became millionaire) The U.S. is for the healthy and the (very) wealthy. So, you'd better stay where you are.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the U.S. the situation varies from state to state Sep 9, 2007

Until recently I lived in Pennsylvania. I bought private health insurance which only cost me about $217 per month because I'm healthy. If I ever developed a serious disease, they could have "rated me up," causing my premiums to double or triple (if not worse). This is allowed by law in 45 of the 50 states.

Government-subsidized healthcare is available, however, for people who are extremely poor, and subsidies are available for people with disabilities.

Now I live in New Jersey, one of the five states that does not allow insurance companies to "rate up" existing customers if they develop chronic or terminal illnesses. The initial rates are higher for healthy people, but at least you can budget your money since you know how much your insurance will cost.

[Edited at 2007-09-09 14:22]


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Mostly privatized in the US Sep 9, 2007

I live in Jamaica and there is some government health care here, but generally speaking you need a good private policy (about US$90 per month on average) or certain services will be denied to you, particularly in the case of major illnesses. You tend to get policies of various levels with a full-time job, or if you're a freelancer you could buy one.

My experience in the US is not only that health care is expensive but that there really isn't much in the way of government help. It may be worse even than a poor country like Jamaica because of the price. It would be better for you to get sick here (Jamaica) without insurance than in the US where you could be in debt for the rest of your life. One of my friends recently got diagnosed with a serious illness and had the misfortune of finding out while she was in the States for a few weeks. She did a couple of basic tests which would have cost her about US$1,000 here and was slapped with a bill of US$18,000.

I hear that Canada is really nice health-wise...but you really have to pay for it through heavy taxation. Is this true?


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 14:25
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It make me "sicko" Sep 9, 2007

I saw it back in July (for my birthday!) and it really worried me... I remember turning to my husband in the middle of it saying, "We should change our pregnancy plans and have a baby while in vacation in Italy!" The worst thing is that a couple of weeks ago CNN had this story about how doctors and hospitals are doing everything to "push" C-sections on mothers-to-be so they can make about 3x as much money during delivery...

I've been living in California for 5 years now and haven't had a any problems in this area so far. I'm still upset that, despite my medical insurance, I paid about $300 to have a thyroid assessment done. It was twice as much as I paid to have my wisdom teeth pulled out a couple of years ago, anesthesia and all! About 10 years ago, when my doctor in Brazil said I had to control my thyroid levels, the assessment was just part of the regular blood test and insurance covered 100% of it... I can't help but compare and wonder what's wrong...

When I was living down in Brazil, the only "problem" we ran into was when I was 15 and I needed physical therapy. I had started technical high school to have a diploma in computers, and my arms and shoulders hurt so bad my doctor prescribed 14 sessions of electrical shock and ice packs. The insurance people thought it was strange, for how young I was, so I had to be interviewed and scrutinized. They quickly noticed I wasn't kidding... I wonder if here in California they would take the physical therapy as seriously as a massage session.

Apart from that, when I had feet surgery one year earlier, my parents had to sell a landline number (phones were a big investment back then) to get the $1,000 Brazilian reais needed to pay for the bill... I guess I'd rather hop on a plane and get out of California before having doctors open me up these days!

Well, as far as I remember, nobody I know went bankrupt in Brazil due to poor health. My grandpa spent about 12 years in bed after several strokes and heart attacks and most of his care was covered by his military pension (WWII veteran) and government-assisted programs. Less than 15 years later, when you think about military guys coming back from war to the "most developed country in the world," the treatment they get is unfortunately nothing compared to that.

Hope I didn't get too political, but "health" being a multi-million-dollar business really worries me...

[Edited at 2007-09-09 15:52]


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Liliana Roman-Hamilton  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
English to Italian
my experience Sep 9, 2007

I haven't seen Sicko, but I have heard a lot about it. Here's my story:

I'm Italian but I have been living in the US for the past 6 years and my experience with the US health system is not so positive. Knocking on wood I am healthy. When I arrived here I had to choose a health insurance plan (I was told I'd better get it or I would have paid up through my nose), so I chose the least expensive plan I could find, a PPO plan which at the beginning was costing me $ 98 a month but now it's been raised up to $ 148 a month...yeah, because I'm in the 35-40 years of age range now (the older you are the more you pay....do you think it's right? in my opinion, no) and because almost every year the insurance company increases the monthly fee. Of course I could go with an HMO plan, but if I need a specialist, let's say a dermatologist, the nearest doctor accepting that HMO plan is about 50 miles from my house.

A couple of years ago I cut my finger, a pretty bad cut (I basically left the tip of my finger on the cutboard). Run to the ER. First thing they asked was not "what 's the problem?" but "do you have insurance?" and then "what's the problem?". They could not stitch because on the tip there was no room to stitch, so they just disinfected, put an antibiotic ointment and wrapped the wound with gauze. You can go home now.
Overnight the gauze got glued to the wound and there was no way I could peel it off, so back to the ER where they literally ripped the gauze off, rinsed the wound, wrapped it up with a BIG bandaid this time and sent me home. Even if I had insurance, I ended up paying $ 450.00 for that freaking run to the ER, and what did they do to me? put ointment and a bandage... In Italy all this would have been free.

So as you can see, even if you are insured, you end up paying no matter what. The only things that so far are free are the yearly OB/GYN screenings and I think a basic blood test, but that's pretty much it.

I had a mammogram some months ago (I am at high risk for cancer occurrence as 3 generations of family members from my mother's side died of cancer), and according to my insurance plan a preventive mammogram would have been free. Wellll.... guess what, they charged me for that. At that point I picked up the phone and had a pretty pissy talk with someone at the insurance company and they blandly admitted their "mistake"...so you always need to be on the watch with the insurance companies that charge or overcharge you.

My mom spent the last 4 months of her life in a hospital in Italy (first a public and then a private hospice for cancer treatment) and she didn't pay a penny. Here it would have costed her thousands of dollars.

What I have learnt so far? If God forbidding I should have a serious health problem I'd better fly back to Italy and do everything there, because even if insured, here I would have debts for years.

I even thought of going under MediCal, but you have to be almost on the brim of poverty to get that. So yes, I think Michael Moore has shown the rotten situation here.

Now they are talking about a "Universal Health System", so that everybody in the US can have health coverage (as there are millions of people who don't even have insurance), but I really doubt that will happen. There is so much involved, the insurance companies will end up losing billions, so I don't see the whole thing as likely to happen.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Border Sep 9, 2007

If one lives in the US, there is a big advantage to living on the Mexican border: good, inexpensive medical and dental care on the other side.

It is imperative to have good contacts in the community, because quality can vary quite a bit. But top quality can be found at very reasonable prices.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
German to English
+ ...
Maybe a different thread name... Sep 9, 2007


Sorry if this is not the place to discuss this as it may involve politics - we can then just talk of our adventures/misadventures with "foreigner sanitary systems".
Take care,
Paola


Ciao Paola,

Maybe "international healthcare systems" would be a better title?

If you really meant "foreigner sanitary systems", I cannot help but be reminded of entering a lavatory cubicle in Piemonte, which for me was the equivalent of reversing a Mack truck into an underground car park.

Williamson wrote

Although the depicted image of the N.H.S does not corresponds with reality (waiting lists).


Too right, my friend! The NHS is not just something that we run to annoy foreigners but also ourselves. Perhaps it is a form of sado-masochism?

An Italian (translator) friend of mine here sadly discovered that her baby had a hole in the heart and leapt home to Italy to get it sorted out (which went perfectly).

I am very lucky in that respect, being covered by the private sickness insurance which my wife's company kindly donates.

And ss far as I know in Germany, freelancers have to take out private health insurance.

Alla salute!
Chris









[Edited at 2007-09-09 17:24]


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Liliana Roman-Hamilton  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
English to Italian
totally agree Sep 9, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

If one lives in the US, there is a big advantage to living on the Mexican border: good, inexpensive medical and dental care on the other side.

It is imperative to have good contacts in the community, because quality can vary quite a bit. But top quality can be found at very reasonable prices.


I totally agree with Henry.

My colleague had some work on a couple of teeth just across the US border, in Mexico, and she paid $ 800.00 for a filling + a root canal, post cast and crown. It would have costed her at least twice in the US.
She is not the person to go to any Joe Schmoe in town, she went to a good professional she knows there.


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 23:25
Swedish to English
+ ...
All for free? Sep 9, 2007

Liliana, Just a quick question...Don't people pay taxes in Italy? And don't you pay at least some charge when you visit the doctor or ER? And don't you pay a daily fee when in hospital.

I live in Sweden and we most definitely pay taxes, we do pay to see a physician or gain admission to an ER and we do pay a daily fee when hospitalized.

In my experience, you get nothing for nothing and the chance of getting healthcare for nothing is pretty slim.

If you compare what you pay in taxes in the U.S. with what you'd pay in Italy, do you come out ahead or is it pretty much equal? This is a genuine question - I don't know but I'd like to...

All the best
Catherine


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:25
English to German
+ ...
Not a must Sep 9, 2007

Textklick wrote:

And ss far as I know in Germany, freelancers have to take out private health insurance.


Chris,

As a freelancer you have the choice here in Germany. You can pick the private one, but I picked one of the government-subsidized ones. The reason being simply that the private one is only good if you are young, male and healthy. If you are old, female and sick private health care insurance can quickly become overwhelmingly expensive (just as it is in the US).

My husband and my children took a private insurance, and I can tell you that you still have to pay a lot. On the other side, they are much better treated when they see a doctor. I usually just get the obligatory 3 minutes attention from my physician - so far he never kicked me out of his office but you never know. Gladly I am not ill very often (knock on wood), and thanks to my medical background I usually know how to treat myself (or if the condition requires a thorough diagnosis).

Sonja


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You better stay healthy Sep 9, 2007

But here in Finland things are not bad yet, though people of course complain a lot.
The biggest problem here is operation queues, that is if you need hospital care you have to wait your turn, sometimes half a year or more. The same for public dental treatments, I was lucky this year when I reserved time in February and got an appointment for May. (There was nothing wrong with my teeth, only check-up, if you're in pain you get treatment within a week or so).
But usually I go to private doctors, because I do not like to wait. Two years ago I went for a general checkup with a lot of lab tests, and paid 220 Euro, a dental crown was 720 Euro including one filling.
And the public insurance covers part of these expenses when I send in the bill, about one quarter.
When I use the public healthcare system I have to pay a small sum once a year, about 25 Euro. And the prescription drugs are paid by the patient, but chronic treatment is covered by the insurance system.
I think our system is quite balanced, treatment is not completely free as it was in GErmany (at least in the 1970's it was), but small fees make people consider, if they really need to go or not.
Especially maternal care is excellent in Finland, regular checks during pregnancy, delivery and regular follow up for mother and child until school-age to make sure developement is normal.
And the most important fact about our system is, that it is very cost efficient, only half the money is spent per head of the population compared to German healthcare costs.
Still we could save more than half of even this if only people would stop smoking and drinking and excercise more...

Cheers
Heinrich


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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:25
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
waiting lists Sep 9, 2007

Yes, that's a problem in Europe and most of the time tou have to see a private doctor or pay for your exams if you need a quick test. But what shocked me in the film (and Liliana
in a way confirmed it) is paying at the ER if... you're lucky enough to get treated. Some doctors have to say no, just because you're not insured or you have the wrong insurance company.
And that is utterly scary.


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 06:25
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
My experience Sep 9, 2007

When I came to Germany three years ago, my kidneys failed and I had to be hospitalised and go for dialysis. I knew it would be expensive, and so at first I refused to accept treatment. The doctor kept assuring me that he would find a solution for that. In the end, I accepted treatment and stayed in the hospital for about three weeks. They did many tests (including a renal biopsy) and I had at least nine dialysis sessions, each at EUR 220. My total bill at the end of my stay was EUR 9,000. I did not have to pay a single cent for it. The Sozialamt paid my bill. I was not a German citizen nor did I have insurance! Well, I am now a PR in Germany, and I have insurance. I do not have to pay for my dialysis, though I have to pay EUR 5 for each medicine I receive from the pharmacy, EUR 10 for each day I stay at the hospital, and EUR 10 for each taxi trip I take to the dialysis center. The insurance system is really good here. That is why I do not complain when I have to pay more income tax or VAT...

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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
German to English
+ ...
Thanks Sonja Sep 9, 2007

Sonja Tomaskovic wrote:

Textklick wrote:

And as far as I know in Germany, freelancers have to take out private health insurance.


Chris,

As a freelancer you have the choice here in Germany. You can pick the private one, but I picked one of the government-subsidized ones. The reason being simply that the private one is only good if you are young, male and healthy. If you are old, female and sick private health care insurance can quickly become overwhelmingly expensive (just as it is in the US).

Sonja


I didn't realise that, so thanks for the clarification.

Gruss
Chris

[Edited at 2007-09-09 22:03]


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