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Russia’s health system: adequate?
Here’s my case; it won’t cover the whole Russian health system, I know it has plenty of issues. Plus, this is Moscow which is another planet compared to the rest of the country. Moscovites are a privileged tribe in Russia in many aspects, including health care.
Recently I had a planned minor surgery just to solve a problem that had been disturbing me for some time.
Before, I visited my local free state polyclinic to undertake some standard checks before the surgery. Then I was sent to the Sechenov Hospital located in the Khamovniki district of Moscow, southwest of the city centre. It is a famous medical institution named after Dr. Ivan Sechenov, a Russian psychologist, physiologist, and medical scientist. I was signed in to the surgery department on Monday, had my surgery on Tuesday, and was released on Friday.
In my room, there were three other guys. One of them was, by the way, from the Lugansk region of Ukraine. He was the guy who was actually fighting there against Ukraine. He was planning to get back there after the recovery. The other one was a guy in his 20s from the Moscow oblast, which stands for the region. The last one, Ilya, had stomach cancer surgery, just been released from CPR. Anyway, they were OK neighbors.
I was getting better each day and my recovery was pretty fast. So pretty soon I left the hospital.
All in all, now, two weeks later, I can safely say that it was a successful surgery done at a quality hospital. I didn’t pay for the surgery or my stay at the hospital because I have free state insurance. However, I paid for the examinations by my surgeon and the anesthesiologist, a total amount of 5,000 roubles, which is around $80 by the current (state-controlled) exchange rate.
The surgery itself was done just fine, with local anesthesia. No trouble, still my first serious surgery in my life; minor sports traumas not counted.
I understand that my case was not the most complicated. Still, from my personal experience, I believe the medical system in, at least, Moscow, works. I could even have chosen not to pay the $80 for the examinations. In this case, I would have been placed on the waiting list for around a month, and it would’ve been another hospital, probably not at the same level. I chose not to wait.
But, as I said, I am from the comparatively happy, by Russian standards, Moscovite tribe. And this tribe enjoys lots of benefits that people from other parts of the country don’t have, or have to pay for them. In general, the Russian health system is very unbalanced, depending on where you come from. Feels a bit like a feudal state.
America’s Health Service – adequate?
Perhaps I’ll start with a personal story: I drink a lot; water, tea, and some alcohol. I drink liquid all the time. That’s because I have had kidney stones twice in my life. Both times have been the day after not drinking while doing something strenuous. Turns out that kidney stones smart even more than when the dentist says: “This may sting a little.” Except it goes on all day. Women may be able to shoot out basketball sized stuff but men can barely handle little pebbles.
The second kidney stone sent me on a visit to the local Emergency Room. So, I see the RN and we scan and test and talk. Turns out I had (and have today) a large stone stuck in a tiny tube that drains the kidney. I can feel it sometimes but it doesn’t affect my life.
After my adventure I get a bill from the Hospital. I don’t remember the amount now but it was like $1,500. I read it and noticed that one item was $480 for the doctor’s fee. I call the Hospital to protest that I never saw any doctor. I was told that the nurse was working on the doctor’s license and so … I thought that was stupid but I had no choice because the medical field in the US is completely rigged to help the rich. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the US is health care.
In America, especially before Obama Care, only the rich and those who worked for larger companies had insurance. I remember one place I worked at offered a Family Insurance Plan for $1,400 a month. This was years ago and I’m sure it’s way over two-thousand dollars a month now. If I remember, mine ran about $400 a month and I was single and in excellent health.
The average family doctor in the US makes $242,000 a year. The average neurosurgeon makes $773,201. The average employee doctor makes $175 an hour and the average partner makes $215 per hour. I assume they are all millionaires after a few years.
The education cost for doctors are crazy stupid and the entire Intern system needs scrapping. So, there are two sides to this story. Doctors don’t really get to start making serious money until they are almost thirty years old.
You should also know that almost every drug in the US requires a prescription. In the rest of the world, common meds are over the counter. Need a blood pressure pill? No Problem. Need the same pill in the US? You must give your doctor $150 for three minutes of his time. He asks how things are, looks at the blood pressure test the assistant took a minute ago and scribbles something illegible on a scrap of paper. You are required to go back every few months to make another donation. Remember, many Americans don’t have Insurance – broken system.
Drug companies are the worst. Drugs cost about twice as much in the US as the rest of the world. Big Pharma says that’s because the FDA (US Government Agency) requires all these tests and studies to get approval. I read once that the paperwork required would fill the back of two long-haul freight trucks. While I’m sure that’s true, I’m also sure they are gouging.
Most countries in the rest of the world simply say that if the FDA approved that drug, it’s automatically approved for the nation in question. The upshot of this system is that I subsidize Roger’s meds… and I’m the guy with no insurance. Do I think this is a good system? It’s great for the multi-nationals; they only need to get their new drug approved once. Sucks to be me.
I’ll close with this thought: this is only one topic; healthcare. Now imagine that everything the average person touches mirrors this rigged system. Perhaps now you can see why so many in my tribe are pissed-off. Americans are ready to believe crazy lies because they simply hate what the rich have done to the country. Politicians and business owners make tons of money on the broken system and democracy itself is at risk. Adequate? Are you serious?
Britain’s Health Service – adequate?
Our National Health Service still remains the envy of almost the entire globe, despite the wicked, corrupt and clueless Tory party systematically ripping the NHS’s heart to shreds over a period of many years.
It was less than three years ago when the British public applauded, weekly, from outside their homes, the nurses and healthcare workers who risked their lives every single day in dealing with the totally out-of-control Covid-19 pandemic. A year later, the nurses were offered a pathetic, pitiful, derisory 1% pay-rise for their troubles. Some lost their lives while dealing with the then unknown dangers of Covid. Many of them had to isolate from their families for long periods of time, only to get treated like dog-shit by the government.
The morale and basic energy of the overworked and underpaid NHS staff has just led to the very first industrial action by nurses. Never before in the 106 years of the Royal College of Nursing has this happened. Just a few years ago, it would be deemed unthinkable.
Waiting lists are getting ever-longer, ambulances are taking far too long to get to their patients, that’s if one is available, and the whole system is beginning to crumble.
Yes, the NHS still provides free treatment, both in hospital and in the Accident and Emergency departments, which I know many Americans find hard to believe. (If there’s no profit to be made, what’s the point????). You can have the most complicated surgery and a long stay in hospital, and there’s no bill to bankrupt you afterwards.
But how long this much-admired system will be able to function, with the pathetic politicians running, or should I say ruining, the country, is anybody’s guess. If I tell you that there are, right now, 135,000 vacancies within the National Health Service, you will begin to understand how difficult it is to be anywhere near adequate.
Not fit for purpose, sadly, and that is no way a reflection of the wonderful medical staff who give immeasurable service, only to get so little back.
One thought on “Our health system: adequate? ”
Unfortunately I don’t have any comment on the Russian health service. My only experience of the USA health service is that I stayed with a dentist in California. He had a loaded shotgun by his bed because he often had people breaking in to steal the drugs he kept in a cabinet in his house. Also he told me that if a passenger had medical problems on a flight any doctor passenger would ask if they had insurance before they treated the passenger! My first job was working for the NHS in the UK in the early 70s and I kept the hospital waiting list. I thought things were bad then but now I cannot believe the things I hear. Anyway I just want to say that recently I had experience in the local clinic and hospital in Northern Cyprus. The treatment was exceptional, and although I had to pay, the cost compared to the private treatment in the UK and USA was unbelievable. Also my friend had to call the ambulance twice recently and was attended within minutes. In the UK it takes hours and on arrival at the hospital they have to wait in the ambulance which takes hours and consequently that ambulance cannot be on call for another emergency. Anyway I could go on but I don’t want to be boring. I hope this comment is acceptable.
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