Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Universal Healthcare???

So I just watched Sicko last weekend. Yeah, I know, I know. It's been out for a long time. Anyway, I watched it my first thought is that it is unfortunate that such am important topic was taken on by such a controversial person (Michael Moore). I watched his Bowling for Columbine and he was definitely suspect in the way that he manipulates the viewer and spliced the clips together in a questionable way. I chose not to watch Fahrenheit 911, but when Sicko came out I knew that I wanted to see it in spite of the fact that Moore was behind it. Why?

Well, during our 6 and 1/2 years living in Spain many of my preconceptions of socialized health care were challenged. Lori and I were highly skeptical of the socialized system in Spain and purchased our own private insurance through a Spanish insurance company. Since the private system was competing with a free system, not only were our insurance premiums affordable, but when we went to the doctor or the hospital, they would swipe our insurance card and that was it. No forms, no bills, no co-pays if we stayed in our network (it covered 90% outside of the network). Medicines were significantly cheaper than in the states and cheaper still if you were in the Spanish social-security system. During our time there we saw many positive ways in which the socialized health care system was a benefit to the whole of Spanish society. While not perfect, it made the American system seem both bizarre and expensive.

That said I don't think that everything in the socialized medical system was great. While they were reputed to have better technology they were also known for being less personal. We had some very dear friends who experienced the impersonal part of that health care system.

In Sicko, Moore brings up some great questions.

  • How come we believe that universal education (public school), universal fire protection (firefighters),or universal police protection, but we freak out at the thought of universal health care?
  • How can the richest country on earth rank 37th in world-wide health care?
  • Why are our medical costs spiraling out of control and what, if anything can be done to make sure that the working poor are receiving the care that they need?

So, first I would like to hear from those of you who live outside the USA. My first question is:
1) What are the benefits and the pitfalls of a socialized or universal health care system?

My second question is for all of us:
2) What is the role of the church in the USA in regards to health care? What are some practical ways that the church is already helping people who lack the care they need and what are somethings that we can do that are not being done?