A woman in the audience at the healthcare and mommyblogging panel I somehow walked into here at BlogHer ’09 just stood up and said that she’ll use google rather than go to a doctor simply because of the cost of healthcare. Her family has “good” insurance but it still costs them $300 to take a child to the ER!!! And more to go to the pediatrician.

Could I just say that the more I hear about the US health system the more horrified I am. And even more horrified that so many Americans, despite this, are against universal health care for everyone.

I genuinely don’t understand how Americans can think that free or close-to-free, universal healthcare as most other Western democracies have is a bad thing.

8 thoughts on “american mothers use google rather than go to the doctor because it costs $300 to go to the emergency room – WITH insurance!

  1. Eira

    And even more amazing is it that the US spends more public money per inhabitant on the health care system than do countries with equal-quality health care that is free (or nearly free) to the public. So where does the money go?

  2. Ellen

    I know. It’s unbelievable, and yet the antipathy toward any kind of universal healthcare plan is so strong. My only guess is that two things are at play: an ideological holdover from the cold war–that is to say a knee-jerk reaction against anything and everything that smacks of socialism (which in the US is rather ridiculously equated with totalitarian Stalin-style communism); and a kind of nationalist panic over even the suggestion that a country other than the US might have developed a good idea that is worth adopting. No, only the US is innovative, only the US should be a model for the rest of the world, and “those foreigners” can’t teach “us Americans” anything. Those two things together practically guarantee that Obama is doomed to fail in his attempt (and then, ironically, he personally will be blamed for the failure). A third factor I suppose is the rhetoric of “choice” from the right wing. Somehow they think universal healthcare will limit their choice–but realistically speaking, how much choice does an individual have in the US today, with the rise of the HMO. We already have the very worst case scenario of a universal system within the HMOs, with few (or none) of the benefits.

    One of many ironies, of course, is the fact that social security (state run pension plan) is perhaps the most popular social program in US history. How is that different from universal health care?

    Hmm. Raise a child in the US or raise a child in Norway? No question. That’s one of many reasons we moved.

  3. profgrrrrl

    Yikes! I wouldn’t call that good insurance, not by a long shot. Mine only costs $50 for an ER visit. And $200 for the entirety of an inpatient stay.

  4. Omer Rosenbaum

    I the reason for why Americans don’t want free health care is due to cultural and political reasons. For the average American free health care rhymes with communism and the whole concept contradicts what the US is based on.

  5. Laura

    One word: taxes. Paying for healthcare will require increasing taxes. Most of the people who will bear a greater tax burden have fabulous insurance, so they have no idea what other people have to deal with.

    For the record, we never have to pay for ER visits or hospital stays. We pay close to $400/mo. (discounted through the employer). Imagine a middle class family buying that kind of insurance on the open market. I’m guessing it would be $800 or more/mo. So, most people opt for cheaper insurance which means paying $300 for ER visits, etc.

  6. Jill Walker Rettberg

    But if, as Ellen says, the US already spends more public (i.e. taypayer) money than most other countries having universal heatlhcare, IN ADDITION TO all the private money that’s poured into it – you’d think taxes would DROP if the US simplified their healthcare system more along the lines of, well, Europe.

    In conversations with friends here in the US a huge issue seems to be the idea that heathcare will get worse with a universal system – this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either: Especially hearing all the horror stories. And not just from people who don’t have insurance – from a friend who has a pre-existing condition and can’t get ANY coverage for issues related to that no matter how much she pays, or another friend who has a long-term condition, works for the government and thus has the same healthcare plan as senators do, and still has to pay 20% of all her medical bills (including hospital stays herself. AND who stands to lose her job because disability leave is so limited. Which is, I suppose, a different issue, but also an important one.

    Ellen, I think your three reasons do, at least, largely, explain it. It’s very frustrating!

  7. Jen

    I am one of those people who use Google in place of a physician. I’m American and I do support an overhaul of the American health care system.

    I’m self employed. I’m making enough to cover my expenses, but not enough to buy into my partner’s plan at $280/month. If I could even meet the $1000 deductible, the out of pocket total would be about one third of my annual income. One third.

    My business contributes to the local economy. I eat responsibly, take care of my body, and believe in preventive medicine. I’m a good risk. But I can’t afford a doctor’s visit at $90 for 15 minutes. I would have to file for bankruptcy if I (god forbid) had an accident or major illness.

    I don’t expect a free ride, necessarily, but I wouldn’t mind a hand up.

  8. Jen

    Incidentally, the Americans who oppose health care reform are the people who invest in health care institutions. They put profits over people.

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