It is no secret that the US has a failing or failed healthcare system. Crisis is putting it mildly. The thought of being without health insurance to most US residents is terrifying. You imagine yourself dying in a public hospital (if you have one near you...since Bush II, they have been closing down due to lack of funds)or worse.
The amazing thing is that I read several months ago that healthcare regardless of your economic status is at best considered mediocre in the US.Study:Most get mediocre healthcare It doesn't seem to matter if you are black, white, hispanic, poor, or otherwise. Healthcare seems to be the same.
When you live in the U.S. you tend to get this ethnocentric notion that the best healthcare is in the U.S. regardless of how bad the system is. The Noble prize winners, the technology, etc. So even though you pay a high premium to have access to the system, you figure it is worth it in the end, or is it?
As someone who has been a victim of the U.S. Healthcare system, I do not agree. Years ago those lovely people at Blue Cross decided that the surgery to fix my one droopy eye lid was OK, but to make the other one even or look symetrical constituted plastic surgery for the second lid...not covered by my policy of course.
The cost to fix the second lid was $4000.00. No amount of arguing would change those lovely people's mind. They figured my life would be fine with a funny looking face. I went south to Mexico and had both eyes done for $2000. (Less than what my deductable was.)
In the last 5 years I lived in the US I became a definite victim of the crappy healthcare available. It wasn't until I moved here to Argentina, that I realized how bad the system in the U.S. is. American doctors would have you believe that outside the U.S. and maybe some parts of Europe, you will basically fall prey to horrendous standards of healthcare. The picture they paint is that you will be attended by some witchdoctor using leeches and hocus pocus in a filthy environment to cure you. There is this arrogant attitude that only the U.S. has the technology and the apitude to cure people. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am not a sickly person. I am not an unhealthy person. I shudder to think what would have happened to me had I not moved here. I had two situations in my health that were out of control until I came here to live.
Anyone who knew me knows I went through hell with my teeth for 3 years. I had a dentist with many lovely initials after her name. She is a past president of the San Francisco Dental Society, she teaches at UCSF. Her name invokes among her peers a hallowed breath of respect.
In reality she is not a good dentist. When 3 lawyers saw how she kept my chart, one said outright, "She should not be allowed to practice." Considering all her credentials, she didn't follow even remotely close, the guidelines set by the ADA for xrays and general procedures. But hey, she insisted I ground my teeth and pressured me for years to buy an expensive bite plate. (A claim never substantiated by any dentist afterwards.)
The upshot of my perfect dentist from hell is that I lost a front tooth and lots of bone. The cost for care via 3 private dentists I went to was around $18,000. Knowing what I know now, NONE OF THEM would have provided either adquate or accurate care. Out of deperation I went to UCSF. Three years and 2 failed implants later, they insisted it was all my fault. I was one of the 3% who could not have an implant.
Here I am in Buenos Aires. I visited 3 dentists. They all came to the same conclusion - there is no reason why I could not have an implant. All of the 3 dentists here came to the same conclusion with what procedure they would use to do another bone transplant and to the final implant. All of these dentists have studied not only in Buenos Aires, but in the U.S. and Europe. Most felt that the dental procedures used in Spain were more advanced than the U.S.
None of them agreed with what had been done in the U.S. They were polite and professional and also shocked about how my procedure had been done. They say that the reason most implants fail in the U.S. is that the procedure is rushed. The emphasis they feel is getting it done fast rather than done well.
I am now into my 8th month since my bone transplant here. My dentist says it will probably be at the earliest another 3 months before he could consider placing an implant. He has done all kinds of incredible xrays to measure the growth and density of the bone. None of these procedures were used on me before. He showed me if he had just taken a normal x-ray of the area the bone looks ready for an implant. It is only because he did these other x-rays that he knows it is not.
In the U.S. as I stated before it would have cost me $10,000 - $18,000 to have this procedure. In Buenos Aires if I did not have insurance it would cost around $3000. My insurance does not cover the cost of the implant, but I get a discount. When all is said and done, I will pay around $1500.
I wish I could tell you that it is only my dental issues that have been resolved here. I had some other health issues that I had complained about for years. My doctors when I was younger would write them off as PMS, then when I got older it was menopause lurking at the door. It was neither of these. Not even close. I have an autoimmune disease. (Don't worry I am not going to mutate to another life form..)Properly diagnosed, all my symptoms have gone away.
Why is this? My endocrinologist here in Buenos Aires taught at UCSF and at UofM. (University of California San Francisco and University of Michigan) Both have very prestigious medical schools. He was part of a group practice on Nob Hill in San Francisco. He made lots of money and he was miserable.
He told me he came back to Argentina because he wanted to be a doctor. He said that he would go to staff meetings and they never discussed patient care. They talked about the drug companies and the insurance companies. They were business meetings. He said he found it incredible that a group of doctors would meet once a week to talk about money but never about patients.
He said that he was always getting called out because he took too long with his patients. The first time I saw him here in Buenos Aires he spent almost an hour with me getting my medical history. I did not fill out a form - he asked me the questions and wrote down the answers. He said this is so important because a form does not tell the whole story, the patient does. In the U.S. he was given 15 minutes to spend with a new patient and 12 minutes for an existing. Then 5 minutes to update the chart. He found it impossible to be a good doctor with these restrictions and decided that this was more important than making money.
He spent 45 minutes with me on my first visit. Each visit after is never less than 20 minutes. For the first time in years, I feel healthy. I was given tests that he said Blue Cross would never had paid for. I once read an article how insurance companies would turn down tests that in the long run keep their costs down, but do not approve them because of some statistic. Then they end up paying 10 times more to treat something that would have been caught early and there for less expensive to treat.
People are always afraid of witchdoctor equipment here. You know, like the doctor goes in the back room and brings out the leeches to draw blood. Nothing could be further from the truth. My HMO has spent millions on the latest up to date medical equipment. Their facilities are modern and very clean. They a fanatics for customer service. If I do not want to use the HMO I have a book full of doctors I can go to who subscribe to my plan. My plan has unlimited visits and dollar amounts.
Not all the doctors I have met here have been wonderful. I wanted to smack the orthopedist I saw last week. He would not listen to me. He had his agenda and was going to go forward with it. The nice thing here is I have all my records. The doctors here do not keep your records, you do. I getting referrals from friends and will try these doctors. With private insurance you rarely wait more than a week to get an appointment.
You have to wonder why does a third world country, have excellent healthcare, modern equipment, and at prices that are not breaking the bank? Why did drugs that cost me $300 a month in the US with my insurance only cost me $60 here? Healthcare in Argentina is a right, not a privilege. Everyone here receives healthcare whether they are a resident or not. The public healthcare here is better than the private healthcare in the US. All doctors who go to UBA either teach at the medical school or volunteer time in the public hospitals. They give back from receiving. Can you imagine this ever happening in the US?