Scared of Public Health Care? No Worries!

medicareAustBy: Debosophy

Debosophy hails from Kelmscott, Australia.  Her spitfire insight has been a delight to her readers.  She makes her online home in several places but suggests you  start here: http://debosophy.com.  We are glad to welcome her downunder and down-home realism to our subversive family.

While it’s far from perfect, the health care system that Australians have is still worth mentioning.

Here in Australia, our public health care system has the same name as America’s welfare health option. Medicare.  It is publicly funded and operated by the government organization Medicare Australia.

The Medicare health system is funded by the public during tax time when an income tax surcharge, or Medicare levy of 1.5% is paid by all Australian tax payers with the exception of people who are on a low income.   For people who earn more than $70,000 a year the levy is an additional 1% .  This means that people on an income coming to the value of $70,000 or more pay a minimum of $1,750 for the financial year.

In comparison to the average employer based Health Insurance in the states, which costs around $300 a month for a family of four, this is a much smaller price, which doesn’t stress anyone’s pocketbook.   Australians get a little confused when they see U.S.  Politicians stating that “trillions of dollars” would be spent on a health care system in the US.  Taking into account the population of the U.S. it doesn’t seem like that much.

In Australia, you also have the choice of having private health insurance, with the government paying a Private Health Insurance Rebate that subsidizes 30% of a person’s insurance premiums with an additional 5% to 10% subsidy for people over 65 who choose to have private health insurance.  Currently about 43% of Australians have private health care insurance.  Our private insurance companies usually make money by raising  their premiums – negating the benefit of the rebate.

We  have seen Americans on the news scared about what their government backed health care might look like when they actually need to use it.

Here, when you go to hospital, you can go in as a private or public patient, and as with a regular office visit you can pay for it up front and recoup your payment from Medicare by sending them your paid bill. The other option is you can bulk bill  or pay nothing till tax time with that 1.5% levy.

There is also a Medicare Safety Net, so that low income earners need only pay $519 in medications and $1,039 for those in a high income bracket before Medicare steps in and reimburses 80% of out-patient expenses.

You hear all these horror stories about people having to wait for surgery or not getting the right medication or being denied services.  However most of this is  people asking for elective surgeries and really… if you want breast implants or a tummy tuck then you can pay for it with your private health insurance.

This has been MY experience with the Australian health care scheme.

I had three babies in public hospitals and the only charge I had was through the Medicare Levy at tax times.  The first time, I was put in a room with 3 other women who helped me with invaluable information because I was a first time mother, and a couple of them weren’t.  One woman’s baby was stillborn, we hugged her, talked to her and helped her stuff cabbage leaves down her bra to relieve the discomfort of her milk coming in.  With my other two children, I had my own room, and still didn’t pay anything. The nurses and doctors who attended to me and my newborns were professional, courteous, compassionate and friendly.  I was not treated poorly because I was using public, rather than private insurance.

Over the years my family has been to hospitals for sprained and fractured bones, had x-rays done, casts put on and further care done for those fractures.  All of this was paid for by Medicare, with no out of  pocket cost until tax time when we paid that minuscule 1.5%.

As for office visits to the doctor,  you might wait a day or two for a cold or something minor, but if you walk in with a kid or an adult whose arm is dripping with blood, you get seen immediately.

I had my tonsils out the day I was diagnosed with tonsillitis that was bad enough to warrant their removal.

I have gone to hospital with suspected appendicitis, which turned out to actually be ovarian cysts, this was treated with no hassle and it cost me nothing.

I have never, in my 41 years had a reason to complain about the Australian health system and I can honestly say that I probably visit the doctor or hospital an average of 20 times a year.

Still, all I pay is a 1.5% levy of my taxable income.

I can only imagine that the US is looking at all the health schemes available and they’re picking the best from everything that’s out there.

There will be no “death panels”, it is mind boggling to us that people might actually think that the US government could even get away with something like that.

It is difficult to understand why American citizens are hindering what could be the best thing to happen to ALL Americans,  not just the extremely wealthy.  A doctor is supposed to heal,  not rake thousands of dollars in from people who need them.

American people, please give this a chance.  If not for you, then for your kids, or your kid’s kids.  You don’t know what the future will bring and while you may be sitting pretty with a high income and good health, that may not be the case for your future generations.

A well functioning public health system that benefits ALL the people in a country is a good thing and being government operated doesn’t mean you lose your liberties, your privacy or your rights.

12 Comments on “Scared of Public Health Care? No Worries!”

  1. what a wonderful and informative blog about a topic that has reached hysterical levels here in America. It might not be evident, but we are a nation in turmoil, we seem to have lost our moral compass and are struggling with many issues and problems of our own making. Thanks for this first hand information. I hope that somehow the President can frame this as a moral issue, that affordable health care is a right and not just an option for the rich.

  2. Thank you very much Deb, for this informative and clearly thoughtful article. I keep wondering myself who skewered the needle that is supposed to read due north. You’d think there’s a magnetic storm on the horizon. I was reading the local paper online last night and scanned the comments to the articles, as i habitually do. I quit commenting on the newspaper so long ago, i’ve lost my membership, mainly because i grew tired of debating with “commentators” who were obviously in the employ of lobbyists, fabricating life styles to prove anybody can be rich and successful if only they were smart enough and not too lazy. Sure enough, the spin masters were hard at work. Their latest take on health care; medical insurance is like automobile insurance; it’s a privilege, not a right. That is as much to say that only the privileged are allowed to be healthy.

    Those who would object to the objections are brow beaten into submission. The paranoid are fed the fear of a Nazi-like dictatorship, even though the character of Obama would make the suspicion ridiculous. The position that he’s in, if you wish to use pre-World War II as the comparison, would be more like Germany’s democratic president before Hitler over-threw him. If you wish to use America’s examples for this time period, the hate mongers have effectively tied his hands, placing him in a position more like Herbert Hoover’s, who sat and did nothing while America sank deeper and deeper into a depression.

  3. Personally, I’m of the opinion that a government (any government) has only two duties – to provide for a common order and coordinate a common defense. Funding a health-care program (or the vast majority of those vote-buying schemes called a “social safety net,” for that matter…) falls into niether catagory, hence I do not see why the government has any business putting its grubby paws on it.

  4. I have to disagree with you Christopher. When people are dying and experiencing a low quality of life they are not going to be able to provide defence for anything, and they get disorderly, self medicating being one of the issues. In a country where we have doctors who are unable to practice they way they were trained and see fit, due to insane insurance company policies, it becomes meet for the government to intervene.

  5. I can’t think of anything more important for the implementation of thriving communities than adequate health care. Even more than the lack or availability of a good education, good health is the main deciding factor in whether we flourish or flounder. How can a person work with incorrectly set bones or other injury that won’t heal on its own? How can a person function who needs life saving drugs on a routine basis if s/he can’t afford them? How do we control bacterial and viral epidemics without the means of affording medication? What’s going to stop the flow of transmitted diseases? Poor health in any one sector affects everyone. It spreads. It brings its salmonella, its e. coli, black mold, its scabies, herpes and inexplicable boils. Do we wish to see a rise in hepatitis, mononucleosis, respiratory tract infections, new strains of once eliminated diseases? This is what we’ll have without adequate health care.

  6. {QUOTE]When people are dying and experiencing a low quality of life they are not going to be able to provide defence for anything, and they get disorderly, self medicating being one of the issues.[/QUOTE]

    Perhaps I was a little vauge in my statements before…

    – Common order: I define it as providing infrastructure (roads, schools, etc…) and a basic (and I do mean *basic*) ability to eforce rudimentary laws.

    – Common defense: a military force capable of defending the borders and territoral waters of the nation (of course, I’d personally like to see such a force counter-balanced by citizen militia forces – just in case the feds decide to go rogue).

    As far as I can tell, a nationalized health care system would do nothing to further either of those goals – all it would do is give more power to the government (which I am very distrustful of – regardless of what party is currently in office).

    [QUOTE]In a country where we have doctors who are unable to practice they way they were trained and see fit, due to insane insurance company policies, it becomes meet for the government to intervene[/QUOTE]

    But there’s the rub – once the government takes control of the system, what guarantee does anyone have that it will actually allow doctors to freely ply their trade? From my perspective, all that has happened is that the health care system traded one master for another.

  7. “all that has happened is that the health care system traded one master for another.”
    Well since nothing has happened yet, I don’t see this being a problem of trading masters.
    However I do see your point and concerns. This is a moral issue at the core which gets touchy with a lot of people. However my feeling is why let people have substandard to no care when we have the ability to care for each other?
    Why is it okay to make it mandatory to insure our vehicles so that people aren’t out money when they are in a wreck, but we get all pissy when we talk about caring for actual human beings? That seems f-ed up.

  8. To be completely honest with you grainnerhuad, I happen to be anti-vehicle registry and mandatory insurrance as well (all I see in such things is a means for governments to track people’s movements and give kickbacks to the corporations that fund their re-election campaigns) – so, even if you don’t agree with my stance on this particular issue take note that (at very least) I’m consistant in my attitude towards government control of the individual’s activities.

  9. Thank you for educating us about health care in your country. I think the more information Americans have the better. Generally speaking I think Americans are a lazy lot when it comes to politics. They are use to the political retoric machine fired up and rolling it out. We have so much special interestes, power brokering, and corruption in and around our politicians that it is clouding the typical American’s ability to see the issues clearly. The Washingto spin factory is running 24/7. And they are good and deception. The fact of the matter is that America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and the medical establishment (AMA, pharmacuitical companies, HMOs, lobiests,lawyers and politicians)are all exploiting us for our $. If we don’t pull the life support plug on this system then we will be sucked dry and kicked to the curb while those companies shift their focus to another wealthy host.

  10. Thank you for every other informative blog. Where else may just I am getting that kind of info written in such an ideal manner? I’ve a project that I am simply now running on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

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