Re: socialized medicine, etc

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For another comparison: In Switzerland, we have private insurance – paid by the individual not the employer, but everyone is required to carry health insurance (I guess if you are unemployed or disabled the unemployment insurance covers it). Insurance companies cannot refuse anyone coverage (for pre-existing conditions for example) and they are required to provide a ‘basic coverage’ to everyone – which pretty much covers everything you really need except dental. You might be required to use the government sponsored hospitals rather than a more expensive private one if there is one in your city – eg. a university hospital like where I live.
So it is not socialized medicine exactly but it is a way that gets everyone covered. – private insurance but with alot of government regulation and with government filling the gaps.

You can pay more for extra coverage which might get you things like dental, health club & spa discounts, more alternative medicine treatments, more choice of specialists and special private hospitals. I’ve heard the doctors charge these patients more too. (I don’t think there are fixed charges for visits or procedure)

I had my baby here with basic insurance and had one week in hospital with a private room and great care (in the university women’s hospital). It was great and I was so glad I was not in the states. I have never had to wait long for appointments but have never had anything seriously wrong with me either.
I think it’s a pretty good system but I’ve never heard of another country that does it like this. There don’t seem to be malpractice issues here either- i.e. I’ve never heard of anyone sueing a doctor, but maybe it happens.
Sorry for the long post…