I’m so thankful I live in the United States of America. I used to say this a lot when Gina was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Now I’m chanting it again.
Why am I so happy? I’m happy because we currently have access to the best healthcare system in the world.
I know…this is political territory, but please let me explain.
When it comes to healthcare you can have two out of any three of the following:
- Universal Access (immediate access to care regardless of an individual’s “coverage”)
- High Quality Care (the latest procedures, best standard of care and newly developed drugs)
- Affordability (Low cost, not dependent on an individual’s ability to pay and/or fully governmentally subsidized healthcare)
Unfortunately, you can’t have all three – as a society we must pick two of these and live with them.
Just like everyone can’t live in a world where everyone gets everything that they want all the time for free – that’s called a fantasy.
But why is it that we can’t have all three and must choose only two you may ask?
Economics. The basics of Supply and Demand along with human nature and our desire for excellent health and also remuneration for investment risk (investment of time and/or money) and services provided.
We have currently decided in the US which two we’ll take. We have 1 and 2.
In the US there is Universal Access to Healthcare, and it is of the highest quality on the planet.
If you don’t believe me then point me to another system anywhere in the world where poor people regardless of their ability to pay can walk in to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and receive world class treatment immediately, while other poor people can go on Medicaid and receive world class gender re-assignment therapy (nearly immediately) at institutions like UCSF Medical center – all while we can pick our own gynecologists, orthopedists, internists and receive breast implants as long as we pay in cash or sign on the dotted line for the plastic surgery.
Is this a perfect system?
No. It is costly as hell. That’s one of the reasons why we keep spending more and more on healthcare every year at the federal level and why private health insurance premiums keep going up.
But it does work.
At least it works far better than foregoing number 1 and choosing 2 and 3 (like Canada).
Let’s look to our neighbor to the north where they have chosen 2 and 3.
But you say, “Bill. Canada has Universal Healthcare. Doesn’t that mean that they also have Universal Access?”
No. It does not.
In Canada you have to wait in line while your cancer goes from Stage I to III and beyond before you can actually be treated.
Just ask this young, 33-year-old mother with anal cancer.
If Canada’s system, choosing numbers 2 and 3 isn’t the right choice, then how about picking numbers 1 and 3?
That’s what places like Cuba have.
In Cuba there is absolute Universal Access to healthcare. But the solution for many people’s illnesses like cancer in Cuba is Ibuprofen and morphine. They’re not interested at that point in curing you. That is expensive. They can’t afford to use high quality (and high cost) drugs like we have in the US.
Instead, in Cuba they make you comfortable while you die.
Options 1 & 3 and 2 & 3 really end up being a life and death choice (the choice of death for any serious illness) over the choice of 1 & 2 (what we have in the good ‘ol US of A).
I thank God that I live in the US every day, and now more than ever.
The cost of our healthcare will mean that Gina and I may lose our home.
We already have lost our savings. But…that’s ok.
Gina and I CAN LIVE with that outcome.
What we can’t do without is Immediate Access to High Quality healthcare.
Without that she and I would be leaving Will, Andrew and James all alone.
Tomorrow’s blog post will pick up the story from here.