So I got sick…
I had a slight sore throat Tuesday evening and by Thursday afternoon it had affected me enough to get a fever. Got home and fell asleep, by 10pm my fever was 38.5c (about 102f). Not good and my throat was completely raw. It hurt drinking water.
The next day I decided to go to the doctor. He checked me out, prescribed a LOT of medicine and sent me on my way. Total cost in US dollars for doc visit and prescriptions was about $17.
Now I’m no fan of socialized medicine but here, in Japan, it is the law of the land.
It is well known that Japanese are among the longest-lived people on the planet with a life expectancy at birth of 84 years, ranked third globally. The U.S., by comparison, ranks 50th as of 2011 with a life expectancy of 78.5 years. At the same time, the infant mortality rate in Japan is 2.8, while in the US it is 6.9 per 1,000 live births.
So how can they do it?
This is the difference, the costs are about half of what it costs in the US because the Japanese government keeps costs down is by setting fees for procedures, office visits, and so on and preventing insurers from competing—all insurance pools pay the same rates for the same services and drugs.
If you become sick in Japan, you go to one of the numerous clinics or hospitals, most of which are privately owned and operated, present your insurance information, pay a small co-payment, and receive good care. Perhaps the most significant thing Americans can learn from the Japanese in terms of healthcare is not simply that their system works better than ours, but that the Japanese government conceptualizes the health of its population as a component of national security. There is a widespread attitude among both government officials and many citizens that the health of individuals contributes to a healthy society and that having a health citizenry is a fundamental element in maintaining a secure and prosperous nation. It’s not that I disagree with healthcare, nor do I feel that many on the right in my country disagree either, I feel that some of us disagree with its implementation in a society that was built upon freedom of choice. An unhealthy population is just as much a threat to national security as terrorists and other political enemies.