Monday, March 08, 2010

More on Healthcare

On the subject of healthcare in the US, a topic with which I have way too much experience, I previously argued that a good solution would be a system that is privately owned and operated but government regulated. I also said that there is no such thing as a perfect system, but that should never stop us from trying to improve what we currently have. Based on some of the comments I received and other reactions to my idea, I decided that healthcare needs to go in the same category as religion and dieting - one of those things that are often based on the beliefs handed down by mommy and daddy and should never be questioned or re-evaluated because then the baby Jebus will cry and the terrorists will have won.

In any case, despite my interest in Japanese culture, at the time I didn't realize that my idea was exactly how it is handled in Japan. Since then I have read several articles and blog posts describing the state of healthcare in Japan, and it appears I was 100% correct in that it's both a better system and yet still imperfect. In case you disagreed with me, allow me to extend the olive branch by saying NEENER NEENER NEENER ha ha on you, fuckers. Besides, I think we're all agreed that the universe just makes more sense when I'm right.

The funny thing is that the negative things I've read about Japanese healthcare have often come from Americans living in Japan who apparently believe in the myth of American healthcare and don't think the problems in Japan are already shared by us. Inexperienced doctors misdiagnosing? We have that. Older doctors who don't listen or show concern for their patients? Check. Rural clinics with limited resources? Ditto. Doctors scheduling unnecessary follow-ups to pad their wallet? If we didn't invent the concept, we at least mastered it. Issuing prescriptions that are too weak to be effective. Okay, I'll admit I don't hear that one often, although I have known several people who got addicted to industrial strength pills who informed their doctors of a desire to get off the medication only to be answered with a new prescription, so I think we're working the opposite end of the spectrum on that one.

An interesting story written about one gaijin's experience with J-care is here. If you're too lazy to read the whole thing, basically the man got cancer while living in Japan, went to a hospital, had a week-long stay including surgery and treatment, then at the end had to pay about $1,000 (full disclosure - that amount was the 30% of the full bill his insurance didn't pay). I agree with the author that the amount was "probably" less than he would have paid in the US. In fact, that's what I paid for a single day in my hospital room, not including any actual medical care - just the room fee. The writer of that article complained that the front desk nurse was brusque and that you have to bring things like toiletries and eating utensils because they're not "free" like in a US hospital, but if my weeklong bill of $85,000 could have been reduced by $84,000, I would have gladly provided my own washcloth and fork.

And now, of course, I close my brilliant post with a picture of a hot Japanese nurse.



Jay said...

Get ready for all the "experts" on Japanese health care to come here and tell you how wrong you are about everything. They will quote their "Japanese friend" extensively. They also have a "Canadian friend" and a "British friend" if you would like to discuss those country's health care systems also.

I'm not feeling well this morning. Could you please send that Bunny over to take care of me. ;-)

April said...

During one of my many stays in the hospital after my car accident, I was charged for my toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and even the plastic bin they kept all the aforementioned stuff in. Since I do have medical billing experience, as that's part of my job, I can tell you that there are certain things that the insurance companies will not let hospitals and doctors bill for separately. Things like the bags that hold the iv fluid, the tubing, the needles, etc. So for an example, they give you an iv drip of morphine. They can bill for the morphine itself, but the stuff used to administer the morphine is considered incidental or "bundled". Not that it really makes a whole lot of difference, because they charge an arm and a leg for the morphine. So even though some stuff may be considered "free", it really isn't.

Prata said...

Your blog ate my damn comment =-(

Prata said...

Bah..can't get that comment back either. Anyhow - health care needs to get put back in check and the Canadian, British or Japanese forms of health care as an industry would suit me just fine.

SJ said...

If you believed in God you wouldn't be sick in the first place. If only enough people would worship me there would be no need for health care.

SJ said...

And by enough people I mean everyone.

Kira said...

I'll take the French system over the Japanese one. Yes, yes, I know Grant--the French system comes with no bunnies so it loses automatically. But I still would prefer how their system is run. I've seen it firsthand, and I've seen it work out great for my husband and his family/friends. I still groove onto the idea that if I'm vomiting my guts out and need help at midnight, the doc makes a house call. House call! We haven't done that in America since what, 1900? :P

Whitemist said...

I have a new an upcoming job for you Grant. if the current version is passed, there will be a job for secret shopper of doctors. This to determine fraud on the doctors part. You, having so much experience in the health care system would be a perfect candidate!
Just hink, you would get paid for going to a doctor!
I like the sound of that, think I will apply!

Grant said...

Jay - by calling out the "experts" with foreign friends, I think you scared them away. Good work!

April - the first hospital I went into gave me all that stuff for "free". I have no idea what the $1,000 / day fee was for.

Prata - Blogger knows you are not one of the faithful.

SJ - if you're god, that means we can blame all of our problems on you. When are you coming back for a visit?

Kira - baby steps, Kira. Considering how many people freak out over my suggestion that the government simply regulate what the hospitals are allowed to do and how much they can charge, I think they'd go screaming to their lord if you suggested an evil hippie socialist system based on the FRENCH.

Jay warned me that so-called experts who claim to have foreign friends would try to chime in. Sure, you know French people...likely story.

Whitemist - I could camp out at Deathstar hospital and make a career without leaving that building.

Ricardo said...

Something needs to be done here because the current system blows. I'm sure as Jay stated that a bunch of People from Japan will come over and talk about how people are left dying in the streets. The Republicans will have put them up to it because as long as they have care, who cares about people like you and me?

Grant said...

Ricardo - actually the Japanese that I know love to talk about how wonderful their healthcare system is and they tend to forget about the problems it has, like no insurance for the unemployed and no free clinics for the homeless.