Portugal certainly has its share of problems, but one thing its citizens don’t have to worry about — even if they have lost their jobs in this miserable economy — is the “luxury” of basic health care.
This narrative, written by a marine biologist and freelance science writer, is a jarring illustration of just how bad the health care situation in the US has become.
I tell my kids not to do things that I certainly enjoyed doing as a kid, like don’t climb high on trees, run a little slower on the trail, watch out for roots and stones! It’s not just the usual parental concern either. I’m consciously thinking “oh my god, I cannot afford to fix them if they get broke!”.
This is the luxury gap between the between the 20% of nonelderly americans who are uninsured and the rest. The luxury is, of course, being able to just walk into a doctor’s office and see them at the appropriate times.
It’s not a luxury in Portugal…or any EU nation, or Canada, or pretty much any other developed nation and quite a few developing ones. But here’s what happened to the author when his kids needed their regular vaccinations and check-ups for school — and this was with a health insurance policy, which cost $1,400 for six months of coverage:
Exactly 6 months later we received bills, after I no longer had insurance (I had to leave my phd for variety of reasons), and addressed to our kids’ names and not mine, the policy holder, for substantial amounts. Apparently, my daughter owed over $400 and my son owed over $1600 to the doctor office, which was the net left over after the insurance contributed about $200 for each visit.
Naturally, I was dumbfounded. I already paid $1400, which I had to ask my department head for an advance to cover their own insurance (there were no monthly payment plans offered by the way), but they only covered about 20% of the medical bills? Ironically, as an uninsured I would have been able to get a discounted rate and probably pay less than the amount I actually owed after the insurance company gave their dues.
So the 6-month health insurance cost $1,400, and then two children’s check-ups and vaccinations cost an additional $2,000. And then…it got worse.
It’s a long read, but very compelling. This single issue is one of the main reasons I can’t see ever returning to the US. Not unless I could find a job with stupendous health coverage — and those jobs are fast disappearing.