Paris – France : In 1997, a very stubborn French Doctor in a State run hospital did not give up looking. When endoscopies and ultra-sounds turned up no explanation for the severe pancreatitis I suffered from, he sent me to a ‘private’ clinic specialized in invasive procedures. There they found the tumor in my pancreas and four days later the doctor in the public hospital conducted the queen of all operations: a whipple. It did not cost me a penny to save my life! Think about it. An eleven-and-a-half hour operation, followed by twelve days in intensive care and another two weeks in a hospital room. My once a year Cat-Scan or MRI every three and the medicines and blood tests I have had over the past ten years have not cost me.
When I finally woke up to a world of pain in a dim room God-knows-how-long-after the operation, the first thing I saw was an angel fiddling with some of the many tubes going in and out fo my body. Her face was as black and smooth as her teeth were white. She smiled and I knew I was in good hands.
My care was good. Doctors and nurses were professional. Nobody counted the And I am alive today to tell the story. Socialized medicine saved my life!
There was no promise I would live. The operation itself is a killer. Initially, after the hemorrhaging and other accidents past, doctors refused to forecast beyond three years. Yet, here I am, cared for by doctors of the highest caliber, making a living by trying to save lives. No, they are not millionaires, and yes, French people are free.
But who ever said that Freedom means letting poor people be sick and die or that doctors have to be millionaires?
Let us do some comparing of democratic countries with socialized medicine. Life expectancy in France and Spain is 80 years, 79 years in Britain and Germany. And these countries spend half as much in health care per person as the United States. So where’s the error?
And let’s demystify doctors. These are basically mechanics (engineers at best) with good memories and the money to pay for expensive studies. You don’t have to be a genius to be a doctor. Nothing justifies that they should be millionaires a few years after certification. Surgeons are cowboys. They love cutting people up and putting them together again. I am happy they do it well and it saves lives but that should not entitle them to special status any more than firemen or airline pilots.
I do not regret a third of my salary is taken off at the source in social taxes for such things as welfare, health care and pensions. I also expect companies and the well-to-do to give back to the country which gave them so much. I do get angry though when I see many people take advantage of a generous system without putting anything back into it and, even though I would force many to work, I would never dream of allowing a homeless alcoholic to receive less good care than I would expect for myself.
Americans have a very bizarre idea of what freedom means. I have often found, as have my European friends, that “We are a free country” is the argument of last resort Americans use when they are out of answers.
Americans should realize that for more and more Europeans, the US is not a real democracy and Iraq, torture and Guantanamo Bay are not the only reasons they feel this way.