Trade offs in Medical Industry

  • Was going to title this "socialist utopian medicine" but I'm bad at sarcasm / irony and it wouldn't come off as intended.

    Anyhoo . . .

    I have a pain in my arm. No biggie, but want it to get better. Had an appointment already with my regular doctor, so just decided to mention it. Five minutes of talking, slight prodding to determine range of motion, and poof, prescription for an anti-inflammatory, get some blood work since I am due, x-ray to rule out skeletal problem, and referral to physical therapy. Prescription ready in 2 hrs at the pharmacy. Do I need an appointment for the other items? Nope. Walked in to a lab and had blood drawn this morning without calling ahead, in/out 15 minutes (granted, last time they had only one person and it would have taken longer, but this time, at least 3 workers and boom, done). Drive down road to hospital, walk into imaging center also without an appointment, and in/out in in less than 30 minutes. Accessibility very high. Insurance will cover, minor co-pays will be approximately $25-$50.

    Trade off for accessibility -- Cost. My company is very open about what they spend on benefits. They have kept the employee contribution relatively small, about 15%. But total cost for my family plan is somewhere around $28K per year. My company hasn't said whether the total plan cost will go up next year, but just said that the employee contribution would not change.

    Youngest brother just a couple weeks ago was talking about his medical coverage. A little different story there. The cost of his medical plans all went up. Unlike my company, his employer has decided that the employee must cover the entire increase. The company will continue to contribute $700 / month (that's $8,400 annually for you math-challenged folks), the employee pays the rest through paycheck deduction. After the increase in his contributions, he calculates that he will need at least a $2 per hour raise just to keep his net take-home pay even next year. (Not being able to help myself, I told him that was his benefit for being a Union Thug.)

    What's the alternative? Some would say socialize the industry. Gov-run healthcare would mean what? Well, no insurance so you would pay taxes. I have 14% stuck in my head as a rate that has been bandied about that would go just to healthcare. People with lower incomes would possibly / probably pay less for the coverage. People with higher incomes would pay more in taxes. People like me who presently have very generous employers would get the short end, while people like my brother may benefit and see it as a good thing.

    Trade off for that? What happens to accessibility? I've heard horror stories about the long waiting times for basic diagnostic testing in some countries with socialized medicine. Are they true? I'm sure to a degree they are. I am also always mindful of my friends who live in Sweden, both working in the medical field (one in administration, the other an oncology nurse), and their complaints about how inefficient everything is and the 3 year struggle to get a second MRI machine for one of the hospitals. My guess is, I would still have received my blood test and my x-ray under socialized medicine, but it would have been on their timetable, not mine.

    Point of my wall of text? I like my easily access healthcare, but it is sobering to understand how much of the cost I really am not bearing compared to others. I feel very blessed to have a relatively good position in it all. I can also see why so many others are cynical when I compare their situation to my own. No system is perfect, trade offs for everything, and everyone's experiences will be different.

    Brauno in a previous life, followed by LTARget. E25280 on the Forum.

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  • Winston Churchill:

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” —House of Commons, 22 October 1945.

    You’ll get plenty of misery to share if the US goes to socialized medicine. Just look at wait times in countries that have it already.