Toward humane healthcare

February 06, 2015

Rutland Herald: I write in support of the many Vermont citizens, elected officials and public servants who are working hard to create a health care system that will serve all Vermonters fairly and well. Can’t we Americans learn from people in other nations that are doing better?

Here is my personal experience. A few years ago, I suffered from a condition which required emergency care at a hospital in Vermont and again later while my wife and I were visiting her relatives in Scotland.

For 30 years, my wife and I have received excellent care in Vermont hospitals with one exception. That one-time experience in an emergency room put me through terrible pain and required extensive follow-up which was expensive. Medicare and good supplemental insurance helped.

The care I received in a hospital in Paisley, Scotland, for the same emergency involved the care of a doctor who was careful and took time to help me while causing no pain and solving my problem with no further care required. Three hours in the emergency room there cost me nothing, either from my insurance or out-of-pocket. And I was a visitor from another country.

In the last several years, my wife and I have traveled extensively, often asking people about health care in the countries we were visiting. We found that in countries with a national health service, care was provided for people on the basis of need, not based on citizenship or residency or any insurance they had to pay for.

What people are spending on health care in other advanced nations is less than what we spend in this country for insurance, co-pays, deductibles and all the rest. And the care is often better. I pray all the time that in our great country, especially right here in Vermont, we will work through the details so that everyone’s basic need for health care will no longer be the cause of deep anxiety, financial crisis and desperation, the way it is for too many people here now.