Raising Women’s Voices

In the Waiting Line

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities by raisingwomensvoices on April 9, 2009

In a recent LA Times piece, Ezra Klein dissects the different healthcare “waiting lines” we have in the US compared to those in Britain and Canada. Based on language and location, they are the countries we compare ourselves to most frequently.

While countries such as Sweden, France and Japan have a mix of private and public options, we tend to focus solely on comparing ourselves to Canada and Britain, countries in which the government sets a budget for how much will be spent on healthcare that year, and the system subsequently figures out how best to spend it.

Surveys in Britain and Canada show a larger percentage of those who wait for elective surgery, compared to a minimal number in the US. But before we pat ourselves on the back, many more in the US report skipping visits to the doctor or filling prescriptions because of costs, which ultimately skews the number who wait for surgery: why wait for something you can’t afford?queue

Currently our Medicare system costs are rising rapidly, being run by providing funding based on what is deemed “reasonable and necessary”. Last week House Republicans proposed a budget providing checks for enrollees equal to the Medicare benefit, effectively setting a budget as Britain and Canada do. However, instead of figuring out how service can match the allocated funds, enrollees will spend what they have, and pay out of pocket for, or simply not receive, care after that.

For a full illustration of international waiting lines, see the article here

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