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:  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.