I usually listen to Minnesota Public Radio during my commute. For the past two weeks, I’ve been treated to a relentless commentary on President Obama’s health care reform efforts.
What struck me tonight was how this critical issue is being reduced to a debate about semantics. But whether we embrace a “public option” or fear a “government takeover,” the central issue remains unchanged: Our current health care system is untenable.
For years, I’ve been blissfully insulated from the increasing cost of health care. My former employer paid for pretty much everything, save the occasional co-pay.
So imagine my surprise this year when I shelled out almost $700 for some routine tests during my annual physical. What would I have paid if I’d been uninsured?
I can’t help but contrast that experience with the care I received in Paris last January.
I had a cough so severe that I bruised a couple of ribs. So I walked down the street, met with a physician in her apartment, was examined, received my diagnosis, and was sent to the pharmacy for my prescriptions.
My total cost? 25 euros for the doctor, and just under 10 euros for five prescriptions. (And that was my cost for a private doctor. Had I gone to a hospital, it may have been free.)
A combination of private and public health care is working in France. It could work here, too, if only we’d give it a chance.