Sunday, March 15, 2009

I wish Obama would consider single payer health care

I have a couple good health care stories since I first came to Japan 4 years ago but the one that sticks in my mind the most was 2 years ago at Christmastime.

(For reference I am under the Japanese National Health Care System which is a single payer system that takes a fixed percentage of my salary every month)

Two days before Christmas 2 years ago I had developed a extremely sore throat and was worried so I decided to go to my local hospital in Chofu. When I arrived I had a severe fever and I could barely swallow. I walked into the hospital and was seen by a bi-lingual physician almost immediately (maybe a 5 minute wait after showing my National Health Care Card) who examined my throat, asked when it had began and took my temperature. He decided that a throat culture was necessary and it was sent to the lab. In the meantime he prescribed a painkiller and antibiotic and asked me to come back in 2 days. While the painkiller certainly helped my throat pain, it seemed that the antibiotic was having no effect. When I went back to the hospital they informed me that I had a severe case of Strep throat and I needed a much stronger antibiotic, which was prescribed immediately.

After 1 and 1/2 weeks of antibiotics I was healthy and able to enjoy the New Years celebration (unfortunately no alcohol)!

The total cost of this treatment including prescribed drugs and lab work?

Roughly 7000 yen ($70.00)

I honestly can't imagine if the same thing happened to me in the states, nor how much it would have cost as I usually never could get affordable coverage back home. I am a firm believer in the Single Payer Health Care System, and I wish it was on the table for the upcoming Health Care Initiative that President Obama will be working on.

Michael Hoctor

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