Thursday, April 9, 2009

My first reaction to "socialized" medicine was negative

When I was 11 I moved with my family to France. My first reaction when I heard the phrase "socialized medicine" was negative, since I had heard of socialism only in negative contexts in my US public schools, but I noticed that my parents were thrilled by the affordability of medical care. When we moved on to Africa one of our extended families' main concerns was of course our health, but for expatriats living there, the care at top notch hospitals in Nairobi was excellent and very affordable. I did not have much first hand experience of the healthcare system during my 6 years there, but I visited others and witnessed the care they were given and their satisfaction with the expertise and facilities offered for excellent prices. I found myself thinking that if I ever needed a major surgery when in college in the US, that I would seriously consider a trip back to Africa for the care and service offered by the hospital. Although the flight itself would be pricey, it would surely be a better option overall. The irony of this thought was not lost on my teenage mind.
In the previous 5 years I have mostly lived in Japan, and been covered by the national insurance program for very reasonable fees. Whenever I have been sick I have gone to the doctor and received excellent treatment and follow-up. I am always amazed at the price that I pay when I leave... so low! My only health concerns come when I travel back to the US. I am uninsured there, and I worry what I would do if I had an accident or fell sick. I certainly think twice before I go to the doctor in the US, but I don't hesitate to make a visit when I am sick in Japan. Ever since my first experience with socialized medicine in France I have dreamed of a day when the US put such a priority on keeping all its citizens healthy. I do hope that I will live to see the day that it becomes a reality! There are many good models to follow so we should pick the best of each one to make a great American healthcare system!

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