Friday, May 29, 2009

Prostate Laser Surgery for the Equivalent of $1500

I'm a permanent resident of Japan and therefore am an automatic Japanese National Health Insured Payee; I had the latest laser surgery (as per date of surgery) for prostrate complications, for around $1,500 on February 5, 2008. Period!!!!! It's called HOLEP.

I've researched the internet and wasn't able to come up with the costs in the US, but I do recall it cost almost $1000 alone to get checked in NY. And people who are familiar with this procedure are well aware that $1500 would barely cover the room costs in the US.

PJ Johnson
New York

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Make Life Worse for High Risk People

I feel that in the United States there is a general tendency to be more nervous about the government trying to "help" with health care support than one really needs to be, and those of us living outside the United States in countries with government-supported health care plans which are really helpful do have some insight into how useful such programs can be.

I retired a few years ago, and am now receiving a state pension from Austria as my main source of support - after having paid into the system for more than 30 years. (The minimum for receiving an Austrian state pension is 15 years - which I exceeded by more than a factor of 2.)
The Austrian state pension is very generous if compared to some countries like the United States, but I presume that you also pay much more into it during your working years.. (This is basically a good idea, I think.)
Being retired and receiving an Austrian state pension, if I were to be living in Austria (including perhaps certain other EU countries as well), I would still be eligible to be participating in the Austrian National Health Insurance.. But, living in Japan now more than in Austria I am not currently eligible to be in the Austrian National Health Insurance program. I am eligible however for the Japanese National Health Insurance program, which I have joined.

The impression I have is that with the National Health Insurance plans,
"everybody" is eligible, irregardless of whether you have the "bad luck" of falling into a high-risk group or not. But, when there is no National Health insurance program, and you must get health insurance from a "private" group, or have none at all, these companies may well discriminate against high-risk people, and they may be left "out in the cold". These people are in an "unlucky situation" anyway, and to make the situation for them even harder, that is something one should want to avoid somehow, if possible. By including a substantial fraction of the entire population of the country in a National Health insurance program of some kind, one can spread the risks over a very large number of people, so that individual people do not need to be "singled out" for difficult situations.
This is even more true in countries with large populations like the United States.

Jim McNaughton

Moving Abroad for Treatment of Genetic Illness

Several years ago, a reporter told my story in the WSJ ( about how my husband was fired (and later rehired when I was now pre-existing) when I started showing signs of a genetic autosomal dominant disease. We have a self-funded health plan through his employer. My husband was a die hard believer that the USA is best in everything, esp. health care, since his father was a doctor until he died in the early 1990's. When we lost our care, and I started going downhill fast, I suggested we go to Belgium and see what kind of care I can get there. I must add that I was previously married to a Belgian, lived there for a while and became a citizen. We went, talked to the leading geneticist in the world for the disease, and got a game plan for treatment--all for free. My husband cried. We are now trying to sell the house here in CO before I die. I am already becoming very ill, but we need the cash from our home in order to move. I was featured on a Flemish TV show as an example of how health care is issued in the USA. Also, I corresponded with several high school students in Belgium about how poor the US system is, even for those who have insurance when they get ill. I write to Obama, Max Baucus, etc., daily because this madness has to stop.

Please pray that our home sells so we can move. My Ehlers Danlos syndrome is getting worse. I can hardly walk. I was able to qualify for a free colonoscopy (when my husband lost his job. We had to pay the medical bills our insurance reneged on, we were close to being destitute and lived on my husbands unemployment and what aluminum cans my then 11 year old could pick up). The doctor doing the colonoscopy said he did not believe in Ehlers Danlso-he said it was what people who bend a lot think they have. After the colonoscopy he thought I belonged in a hospital because my colon tissue was so fragile he wondered how it still held up, and because my colon had no structure and was falling apart. He asked me never to come back to him because it took him 3x as long to do the procedure since he had to be so careful and go so slowly. He said, I don't know what is wrong with you, but is is not good.
Can't wait to sell the house and move.

Thanks for all you do for the movement of HR 676.
Barbara Calder, dying in Colorado Springs, CO