Notes from the Zeitgeist...

One of the most surreal things about the entire health care "debate" is the reaction I get when I tell people about what it's like to REALLY live under socialized medicine.

I've spent about 1/2 of my adult postgraduate life living under socialized health care in the UK and Canada, and it's atrocious. Completely and totally horrible.

I ask advocates of making our system more socialist (rather than freer) whether they'd like to argue with the dentist over whether his tooth cleaning was comprehensive -- as I did in the UK. The dental care I got was so bad that after a year, my dental health had "materially deteriorated" according to my US dentist. I ended up scheduling dental visits in the USA -- and paying out of pocket -- rather than use the "free" British dentistry that my $2,600 a month "national insurance" tax paid for.

I spent almost 7 hours in an emergency room in the UK with serious food poisoning -- only after I passed out in the middle of the ward and stopped breathing did someone decide that perhaps I should be bumped up the line.

To select a new GP in the UK took over a month -- most doctors weren't accepting new patients. When I found a doctor who was accepting patients -- across the neighborhood (about an hour's walk), I had to wait about three weeks to see him. Neighbors told me I was lucky to find a GP "so close" who could see me inside of a month.

That was still better than in Toronto, where I had to go on the waiting list for some of the most basic things -- including yearly checkups, where I was curtly informed that checkups "weren't medically necessary and take away from the system" when I tried to schedule one. When I offered to pay out of pocket, I was told that was illegal. So yet again, I had to schedule a trip to the USA and pay out of my own pocket.

When I relay these experiences (and other similar ones) to health care socialists in this country, I am inevitably attacked three ways. First, they insist that I am "making it up" -- that one is usually handled with a quick chat with one of my British friends from my neighborhood, who can confirm everything. Second, they insist that the USA "won't make the same mistakes" -- as though socialism isn't the mistake in the first place. Finally, they just ignore it or tell me my experience "wasn't typical," and they know this because they watched some documentary (including the Moore film).

Worst of all, health care in this country is NOT expensive if one takes care of himself. One woman I knew who complained endlessly about the cost of health care was uninsured. I went on Kaiser's web site and found a basic plan that would cover her for about $1,600 a year.

She claimed she couldn't afford it -- but she had a T-Mobile Sidekick 2 with voice plan and e-mail minutes. When I pointed out that she could cancel the plan, play the termination fee, and still have enough for Kaiser, her response was "the quality of my life shouldn't go down just because of health care." She didn't take too kindly to my pointing out that she's essentially demanding the quality of my health care go down -- and that I and everyone else should pay her way so she could have a fancy cell phone she couldn't afford.

But that's really the root of the problem, folks. Americans, Canadians and Europeans have been bamboozled for the most part and taught by political and media culture that they really can have something for nothing -- the infamous free lunch. The continued problems in our economy only underscore this delusion, and if folks don't learn from the School of Analysis, they'll eventually get their PhD from the School of Hard Knocks.



Philip Berg <> wrote:
Notes from the Zeitgeist...