Thursday, November 5, 2009

Health Insurance in Brazil

Healthcare reform in the US must be possible.

Take Brazil, for example. We are a poor country. But everyone has access to healthcare. If you have no supplemental insurance you definitely wait for care in the nationalized system that is stressed and can be lacking. But there is care – for as long as you need it. And you don't have to sell your house to get it.

Nobody loses everything trying to pay for medical care. In fact it is against the law to have your house taken away from you to pay a debt. To Brazil's credit - some things are seen as going too far. People need a place to live!

Most employed people buy some form of supplemental insurance that kicks things upstairs a bit, reducing wait times or improving comfort levels along the way.

By way of comparison let me comment on my dental care of late. I just completed a triple root canal. (No pain.) I pay about US$5.00 per month through my employer for dental coverage. No co-pays. No deductible. The quality of care was outstanding. In fact I’m inclined to invite my dentist to our next BBQ.

In the end I paid pennies on the dollar for the service I received. She got paid what she needs and I got quality dental care. Go figure.

UPDATE: With the root canal work behind me it is time to reconstruct the tooth (I have no tooth above the gum line) and then fit it with a crown. This is not covered by my insurance company. All is not lost -- the price for the reconstruction is US$46 and the price for the state-of-the-art porcelain crown is US$200. [If you don't want to be sad or frustrated I suggest you NOT call your dentist and compare prices.]

Easy for me to say, but, the US can (and must) do better.

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