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Universal Health Coverage Doesn’t Mean Universal Health Care

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:56pm
As I have discussed in this column before, universal coverage for medical expenses doesn’t mean universal access to health care. Patients commonly confuse the two and politicians are more than happy to oblige because it scores the easy votes with the AARP crowd.

On a recent trip to Europe, there was a major news sensation because women had finally started complaining that they were not receiving adequate coverage for breast cancer. In Ireland, the media report that from the time a woman requests a mammogram until she actually gets one ranges from 5 months to 2 years. If you actually detect a possible lump, you get expedited care (usually about 4 months) [See BBC ] In the UK, it’s a bit better at around 3-6 months. In the U.S., it’s usually less than week.

In the United States, if a woman had to wait months for mammogram, the Susan G. Komen drones would go absolutely jihadist and lead a revolution. There would be protests the likes of which this country has never seen and would make ACT-UP look like the elementary school drama club. It would be organized, loud and very, very ugly.

Women should take heart that their sisters in Europe are finally getting sick of this. But their sisters in Europe don’t really have a choice – they live in systems of “universal healthcare.” So they have three choices – wait it out, pay huge amounts of money at private clinics or travel to the United States or other medical destinations for quality (and timely) medical care.

I’d love to have free healthcare. But I’d like to have the health care when I really need it. I don’t trust my insurance company to do what’s in my best interest. But I trust my government even less.
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