Here are the copies of my ranting below:
I would just like to share my experience as someone who DID move from the USA to Hungary in Central Eastern Europe (which is a developed country BUT by no means as wealthy as the USA). The Hungarian system still needs a lot of reform-- so I don’t claim that it is perfect, but I would like to share my experience as an example that the system CAN be different if we CHOOSE to make it so.
When living in the USA and going to college, I had a (minimal coverage) health insurance plan. This was what I could afford then and as a healthy 20 year old, it seemed sufficient (just in case I broke a leg or something).
Then I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes… with one year of college left to go. All of a sudden, my insurance plan with a $2500 deductible and no prescription coverage did not seem to be nearly enough. Though the generous support of my parents, doctors, diabetes educators, I got all the supplies that I needed. But I was worried about how I would enter the “real world” and still be able to afford all of this.
I had already applied for a scholarship to study abroad in Hungary. When I found out that I got it, I decided that I didn’t want diabetes to be the reason that I didn’t go. So I went through a lot of insurance paperwork and found a way to go to Hungary. But I had to keep my US insurance plan so that once I moved back to the USA, my diabetes would not become a pre-existing condition. Thankfully I had family to support me financially through this time. Otherwise it would not have been possible.
Four years later I am still here in Hungary, now married to a Hungarian. Because of this, I qualify to be in the national health care system for the price of 30 dollars a month. When I applied for my national health insurance, they asked me for a lot of papers (passport, marriage license, residence permit, etc). These things determined that I qualified to be part of the Hungarian health care system. NEVER ONCE DID ANYONE ASK A HEALTH RELATED QUESTION. They gave me my national health insurance card without even knowing that I have type 1 diabetes.
Because it doesn’t matter to them. I qualify for the health insurance, not because I am low risk or won’t cost them too much, but because I am part of society here now and that means that I should be included in the health system too.
Now, I pay 1 dollar a month for insulin. On the receipt, I can see that the Hungarian government covered 99% of the cost, paying the market rate for insulin. I pay 10% of the market price for insulin pumps and pump supplies. Free doctors visits, blood tests, medical exams,…
The system isn’t free. But the decision is made that taxpayers should cover the cost of medical care for all. Because it is one society and there is greater security in knowing that all will be taken care of.
What are the disadvantages?
There is greater limitation in the supplies that are covered by the government-- so I can choose from 3 pumps and 6 meters (though some insurance companies have the same problem).
They are slightly behind the technology available in the USA-- CGMS probably won’t be supported by the government for a while (though some insurance companies have the same problem).
Taxes are high. Some reforms to make health care more efficient could significantly reduce that problem though.
I personally like the security of knowing that I can get my diabetes supplies at little to no cost no matter what my situation will be (employed, unemployed, disabled, stay at home mom,…). And I like knowing that there is a system that is concerned about taking care of others with health problems, not a system that only benefits the healthy. I have high-quality health care (equivalent to what i received in the USA) and affordable supplies to manage my health.
I know that many in the USA are terrified of the inefficiencies of nationalized health care. For me, this is a reason to build a nationalized health care system that has some measures to increase efficiency. I think we’ll find that government spending on health care might actually decrease, once all those in our country who rely on the ER for health care are able to get sufficient preventative care. Until this nationalized health care system is in place, I think that I’ll stay in Hungary.