U.S. Healthcare: Our Blind Spot


By R. Richards, Founder,
Mountain Spirit Institute
[Don’t miss the chart at the end of this post]
Once again, I’ve crossed  the  U.S. border, and am back in New Zealand (by way of Australia) experiencing medical system the way it was meant to be – compassionate,  not based on profit over people. My wife is pregnant, and before we left, we decided to have an initial visit with a midwife in New Hampshire. Once in Australia/New Zealand, we planned to have further tests. We were traveling to Australia to be with family Christmas, not to have pre-natal tests.

After the Holidays, we returned to New Zealand and are now here on the South Island.  So, in addition to our holiday trip, we’ve also been on a medical tour, getting a sampling  three different medical systems, starting in the U.S.

Our first visit, at New London Hospital, in New Hampshire, involved a pre-natal consultation and exam with a midwife from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical center, and included a blood screening test.  The total bill came to approximately $980.00.  Because the U.S system is based on profit, we suspected the midwife of salesmanship when she encouraged us to stop in again for another optional visit before our departure down under. When we got the bill we were shocked.

Next stop, Sydney, Australia and a brief consultation with a midwife there to get a referral for an ultrasound and further blood tests.  The testing center was in a high-rise office building in downtown Sydney, all very professional and top-notch looking. We had an ultra-scan, blood  tests, results and a genetic counselor consultation all within 2.5 hours from when we walked in the office. The “retail cost” of all this was…..$345.00 (which is reimbursable because of my wife’s health care coverage in Australia.  We were shocked. It would have cost at least 4-5 times that in the U.S.  They didn’t try to convince us to return for another consult.

Our most recent stop was yesterday, at the radiology department at a hospital here in Christchurch, New Zealand. The only cost was $30.00 for a CD of the ultrasound pictures. Again we were shocked, it’s a boy!

Take a look at the chart below. It might take you a minute to see the red line running diagonally from the upper left to the lower right. That’s the blind spot. We Americans think we have the best health care in the world.  Yes we have good doctors and hospitals and cutting edge technology. Who can dispute that, but we’re on our way down. There are cracks showing up in the system. What good is it to have a healthcare system which no one can afford.

The chart states, “The U.S. spends more on medical care per person [by far] than any other country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and [even] many developing nations. ”  Read further and you’ll discover, “Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 U.S. deaths per year.”

Our blind spot is that we are only one of two nations (the other is Mexico) on the graph that do not have universal health care. A lot of Americans are so fearful of “socialism” that they want to continue with  the cruel “fee-for-service” model that has been killing America.

Obama has made an attempt to remedy the situation but alas, there’s another aspect to the blind spot which only becomes clear once you leave the country. Because of the size of our population, conditions are ripe for corruption and, for treating the citizenry more like a number than a human.  New Zealand has  a only 4.3 million people in the country, where the people still feel like their goverment and medical system isn’t trying to fleece them.  It’s civilized.

In the past few days, we’ve sat around the dining room table with some good friends here in New Zealand, and  their jaws drop when we tell them our story, and the stories of many Americans who lose their homes, have no insurance or are under-insured with *high deductibles and outrageous rates.

When you’re in it, sure you’re mad, and you can see how bad it is, and how it shouldn’t be happening. But when you’re out of it, you realized you’ve been getting fleeced, and someone is making a lot of money.  You don’t want to think that the system is corrupt. Then, you awake from the dream and see the blind spot you’ve had.   Then you do something.  You stop buying the crap food or you boycot the insurance companies or… you strike, or march or both. (I’m reminded of the movie V for Vendetta not because of the British Parliament scene at the end, but because the populace finally felt empowered to do something).  Because of the U.S’s sheer numbers, it’s easy to feel helpless to affect change in a corrupt system.  But it’s time.

Med-Care Costs vs. Life Expectancy (Nat'l Geo 1/11)

I invite your comments.
Please see a related post on this blog here.

The author, R. Richards,  is slowly becoming an ex-patriot, setting up shop in New Zealand, Peru, and points outside the U.S.,  and will visit the U.S.  but only long enough to keep his vision clear.  When the blind spot starts clouding his vision again, it’s time.

*My insurance cost for one person in the U.S (fifty years of age, in good health) with Anthem Blue Cross of New Hampshire, is some $380./month with an annual $2500. deductible!

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3 Responses to “U.S. Healthcare: Our Blind Spot”

  1. Wayne & Barbara Clemens Says:

    Great to hear about your son! Concerned about the earthquake. Let us know all is well!
    When is the baby due? Please send us a regular mailing address.
    Wayne & Barbara

  2. Wayne & Barbara Clemens Says:

    Did our comment this AM reach you? Barbara and Wayne

    • mtnspirit Says:

      Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. We got caught up earthquake. The whole story is in a later post. Hugs to you both. Randy

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