Friday, April 02, 2010

Health Care, Schmealth Care. Take a Look at India and Covet

Chowmahalla Palace, HyderabadI’m not sure how to tactfully write this but I’ll give it my best shot. When we told people we would be traveling in India one of the comments I heard was “But you’ll get sick!”

And truthfully, I was rather nervous that I’d spend my vacation with two weeks of Delhi Belly but was assured by my mother that she would, once again, take care of me and save me from picking up any nasty treats. I guess you’d say she’d have my back (side). (Pardon my humor). She assured me that Americans really could travel to India very comfortably and never encounter any bouts of the dreaded dysentery.

India isn’t particularly special when it comes to the “don’t drink the water” policy—in most countries outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe it’s not safe to drink the water. Even in industrialized places such as Hong Kong and Taiwan it’s not a good idea to drink tap water and you should be careful with bottled water because it’s not uncommon for the water to be bottled straight from the local tap then sold as “safe.”

My parents’ apartment building claimed to have purified water but my Mom had her own water purifier in the kitchen just in case and all of our water came from that. Most of the hotels we stayed at—Sheratons and such—claimed to have safe water but I was extra careful and drank bottled. You don’t want to spend your trip to India running from bathroom to bathroom now do you?

Squatty PottyAnd while my siblings who have visited India have been fairly free from intestinal issues (except for the fools who ate at that street vendor’s cart in Delhi and paid for it with their stomachs) India wasn’t quite so kind to me. I don’t think it was anything that I ate or that I picked up any bugs, I’ve just always had a wimpy, weak stomach that quivers over all sorts of issues (did I ever tell you how sick I got when I got married? Horrors!) so I think it was a combination of nerves, heat, occasional dehydration, spicy food and whatever else caught me off guard. Let’s just say for the last week I lived with lots of Immodium safely tucked in my purse, taken at regular intervals. Immodium is my friend.

Part of my fears centered around eastern toilets or “squatty potties” as they’re called and I lived in horror of encountering one at close range For those who may not be familiar with squatty potties they’re simply a hole in the ground. No seat, no plumbing, no water, no toilet paper—just a hole. The user (i.e. woman) is supposed to stand or squat overhead and do her job elegantly enough not to defile her sari and I haven’t a clue how it’s accomplished. I get a little squeamish with public restrooms in general so the thought of having to make a pit stop and experience this side of India was terrifying to contemplate.

Golkonda Fort, HyderabadBut the apartment and hotels we stayed at had great bathrooms so I was able to avoid the whole squatty potty issue until one day on the way to the airport. We were heading up to Hyderabad and suddenly I knew that I needed to make a stop (trying to put it delicately here). I asked Sampath to find a restroom and I was cringing, thinking that we’d stop at a petrol station and I’d finally have to deal with the whole eastern toilet thing and complete my Indian cultural experience.

But lo and behold Sampath pulled up to a luxury hotel and the tall doorman in a white uniform with red epaulettes and a gold turban opened the door to a bathroom with white marble floors inlaid with black onyx, gold fixtures, floor to ceiling mahogany stall doors and baskets of laundered towels on the marble counters next to alabaster bowls of cool water and floating jasmine.

Heh. Talk about your lucky day. I believe the score is Michelle: 1, Squatty Potty: 0.

But you may not merely be interested in Indian bathrooms and gastrointestinal traumas, you may also be curious about the Indian health system. A couple days after our 30 hours of flight a pain started building in my calf. Not bad, but it got worse each day and when I mentioned it to Mom she reacted as a typical mom would and suggested I was about to die from blood clots in my legs. Or something like that.

Anyway, she said I should see a doctor while I was there and I resisted because who wants to spend a day or two of their vacation spending tons of money chasing down doctors in a foreign country? On my “List of Things to Do” it was right below “try out a squatty potty.”

Golkonda Fort, HyderabadBut Mom being Mom she pressured until I agreed and I will never look at U.S. health care the same. EVER.

First off, we took an auto rickshaw from the apartment in the Koramangula district to the office in the Indiranager District which was a four story building tucked in between other urban shops. On the upper floors was the mission office and on the first floor was a local health clinic so we literally stopped in at the clinic on our way to the office.

I walked into the small office where four women with saris sat behind the reception desk shuffling paper work and answering phones. In the adjoining waiting room were about fifteen chairs waiting for patients to fill them and as we entered, a pretty woman approached us before we got to the reception desk. My mother (doing her Mom Job so well) stepped up and explained what was going on with my leg and the woman asked us to have a seat in one of the chairs.

Apparently she was one of the doctors who worked there and after we’d sat for all of—oh, I don’t know, thirty or forty seconds—another door opened and a handsome man in dark slacks and a white shirt came out to meet us. He ushered us into his office, introduced himself as Doctor Manohm in charmingly accented yet perfect English, then had us sit down to tell our story a second time.

Me in a SariHe then did an examination on my leg, explained why it was probably nothing more than a strained muscle and would go away in a few days, prescribed a simple muscle relaxant then wrote his personal mobile number on the prescription, saying that if we were to have any more troubles or if the problem were to get worse that we were to call him directly and he’d take care of us.

When we left his office, the visit now clocking in at about seven or eight minutes, we went to the reception desk, I asked how much the visit cost then paid my 200 rupees cash before exiting the office.

That’s approximately $4. For the whole visit. No really, I lie not.

My mother slipped and hurt herself a year or so ago and after all the MRIs, scans and tests they ran on her to make sure she was okay she was bruised and sore but the whole thing took less than an hour or two and she spent a total of $140.

Before my parents return to the U.S. this summer they plan on having full physicals, complete with blood work, scans, stress tests, brakes, air filters and all their fluid levels checked at a local clinic that caters to expat American health care and they’ll spend less than $100 per person for the whole process.

Golkonda Fort, HyderabadNow I know health care is a hot topic right now and that there are all sorts of folks out there arguing over whether we should have nationalized health care like our Canadian friends or our European neighbors across the way but I will tell you that there is something wrong in our country when a visit to a doctor for a sore leg costs you hundreds of dollars and a day’s worth of your time.

And while there is something seriously wrong with health care in the U.S. I’m sick of hearing how great the Canadian system is because frankly, I don’t buy that either. More taxes and longer lines are not my idea of improvement so what I’m really wondering is why on earth more people aren’t pointing to India and saying “THIS is what we need!”

Now I know things aren’t quite as simple as turning U.S. health care into a copy of the Indian system and I know that the U.S. health care system excels India in specialized procedures and rare treatments but why on earth can’t we have our simple, preventative and basic health care based on Asian systems? Are we so Euro-centric to think that the west is the way to go on this? Because I’m just not feeling it after my experience.

Hyderabad AirportWe had some health care issues in the family last fall and when all was over we spent about $6000 after insurance. We could have flown the patient to India to stay with my parents and had the same work done safely there and saved nearly $4000—all with care that is considered to be as good as we have in the west.

What is wrong with us and why isn’t Obama talking about India more? Geesh!

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Stephanie said...

Michelle, Red is your color . You look gorgeous in your red sari!
What a wonderful adventure you were able to have.

P.S. Having a daughter with Spina bifida I wonder if we lived in India if we could care for her better for less money?

Anonymous said...

I agree! If our citizens slowly switched over to catastrophic insurance policies and started paying for checkups and routine illnesses themselves, prices would start dropping, because people would be reluctant to go to the doctor for every little sniffle. (There are an estimated 900 million visits to the doctor for colds each year in the US). When demand drops, prices drop to attract more customers.
When my neighbor realized that she was paying $6000/yr in premiums for 12 office visits/yr for her family, she quickly switched over to catastrophic insurance and saved $4500/yr.
Flood, fire, life, and car liability insurance only pay for emergency events, and no one ever complains about not collecting on those policies! Health insurance should be used the same way -- for emergency expenses only. Health insurance premiums should be used to pay for premature babies, burn victims, cancer patients, etc...

As it stands, the new health care policy will be like the day after Thanksgiving sales. Demand for goods is high that day, and only a select few get the coveted goods at a low price. Others are left out in the cold.
When tens of millions of new health care customers get care for nearly nothing, the demand for care will sky rocket, leaving many without care, in the cold..

meredith said...

I've loved following along on your India travels!
I haven't commented in awhile, but for this post, I just have to. I've been in France for 18 years now, I had my babies here, I've been sick here as have my children, and my experience with the health care system here has been very positive (and so much cheaper than in the USA). Once, while back visiting family in the states, my daughter got a case of strep throat, and the cost for treating her (Dr's visit and antibiotics) was WAY more than the cost of giving birth to her here in France. Crazy.

Unplanned Cooking said...

Wow! You are beautiful. I hadzaxsimilar experience when I got sick in Ireland. No wait, not sure there was a cost. Really amazed me.

Peach Rainbow said...

You really know how to write "tactfully"!

I think most of the westerners have started to visit India (and Sri Lanka too especially when the Apollo was here) for cheaper Medical care.

P.S - You Look lovely in that red Saree, Who dressed you?

warmchocmilk said...

I don't know much about India but I work in healthcare here in the U.S.There are many flaws (time in waiting rooms being one of them)but I do think we have great medical care in this country. You are lucky htings went well for you in India (or maybe not lucky maybe that's the norm there, like I said I don't know about India) A friend of our family traveled to Mexico, had a leg pain, went to a doctor, was told to do some streatching excercises -it was a cramp...she died 3 days later of a DVT (blood clot) In the US she may have had to wait longer, but we would have done a CT scan or MRI and would have seen the clot. She would be alive today. Another friend was in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.. she was in the hospital there for just over a week and then was transfered to the U.S.... upon transfer she found she had a broken pelvis they had not cought and her wounds were getting infected because they had not been properly cleaned. I don't know...I'd rather wait in the waiting room here than deal with that sort of stuff.

Anonymous said...

Ooh hot topic! First of all, I can relate to your fears of squatty potties, but can state for the record that they no longer bother me. Years in Africa will do that for you :)
And health care. Could not believe how simple and cheap it was in France. Even Canada is better than the US, I think, having grown up there. The American system is broken and needs fixing. Even in Morocco, I can access good basic care for a mere fraction of the cost of the US. There's something wrong here...
And last but not least (or as I saw, in English, in the middle of an article in French in a local mag, "last bust not least"), you are stunning in that sari! Gorgeous!

Derek, Rachel and Cadence said...

I had a similar experience in Korea. A visit there to the doctor about a UTI plus medication cost $10! And I went to a hospital a couple of times for what I thought was heart trouble. They did some pretty extensive testing and it only cost $200. The same tests in America? $1400!!

Tammy said...

I've been enjoying reading about your trip. So cool.

Thank you for your fair comments about health care.

Scribbit said...

Stephanie--it's probably guaranteed you could live cheaper there. Bangalore is expensive as cost of living goes and it's about $200 a month.

However, you'd also have to deal with the pleasant issues of terrible water shortages, rolling blackouts and pollution. If we could only somehow take the great parts of India and the great parts of the US and combine them into one super nation . . . :)

And as for the sari . . .

My mom put me in her sari--we laughed because they normally wear them very tight around the arm and short so you can see your stomach. Mom had hers cut longer in the shirt and they told her only nuns wear them like that :)

M said...

I wonder if your dear Dr. Manohm had over $100,000 in educational debt...I think the whole issue needs to be approached from the bottom up instead of the top down. sigh Too bad no politician will be convinced of that.

Mrs. Organic said...

Well, you'd make a very cute nun! I love that sari, I hope you purchased one too.

Janel said...


And I love the Sari too! : )

Kris said...

Gorgeous travels, loved seeing the pictures and your perspectives.

Now in defense of Canada...I am tired of hearing everyone say "high taxes and long lines". How about when my mother almost died, she was seen immediately with prompt care and all necessary medical access and it cost her...$0. There is so much more to Canadian health care than "high taxes and long lines". BUT, as for healthcare reform...expect NO change without CHANGE. This might just come in the form of tax increases or other things we may need to suck up. How about we all just get over it because I'll tell you, when I about died 17 months ago from a pulmonary would have been cheaper for me to have died that first day than end up with the bill that we received in the mail at the end of the day (and that is with "the best" insurance policy a bigwig company can provide), that will probably take us YEARS to pay off. If I'd only thought to almost die in Canada...OY. Bring on the change.


chelle said...

I am going to speak up for Canada as well. We pay less taxes than the average person in California (I do not know about other states). And our higher taxes cover our excellent schools, social programs and other things we value in our country.

And it is a HUGE misconception that we have longer wait times. For some things yes there is a wait, however more often than no you would have to wait in the US for the same things unless you had a lot of money.

That being said I do not think the US should look to our system either. You need to create a system that will work for your country.

You do look fabulous btw :)

Scribbit said...

Thanks for speaking up for Canada guys! Nice to hear an opinion from someone in the know.

And you're right about the comparison to California--I wouldn't live there for anything with all the taxes they have. We're spoiled up here that way.

THough I would take some of their weather . . .

Anonymous said...

It has been SO educational and fun to follow you on your amazing trip. Thank you so much for sharing so many "non touristy" things, as well.

I'm glad that your leg pain wasn't anything serious. Hope your journey home is safe and smooth.

That sari is beautiful. I think the shot of you in the airport is my favorite one you've shared - you look so relaxed and happy - and gorgeous (as always).

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Washington State, and my husband grew up in Montana. It was common place to be at the doctor and see Canadians getting care, especially people over fifty getting continuing care for a life-threatening illness. It was also common to see pregnant mothers giving birth over here because there weren't enough available beds in their area.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and thank you for sharing your trip with us! Your vivid description of everything was exciting to read.

Anonymous said...

I am curious to know if the average Indian citizen is treated equally (for the toilet and/or the health care), or was there consideration because you are a foreigner? And what is the living wage there? Would $4 be a whole day's pay for many people? It sounds like the clinic was in a middle-class area. (I haven't read your other India posts yet, but plan to.)

Anonymous said...

Always good to ask questions about healthcare in the US. But, note your picture in an earlier entry. A man is on a scooter, who I assume has little function of his legs. While healthcare needs improvement in the US, I highly doubt you would be ok with one of your kids using a scooter, insteaad of getting therapy and a wheelchair because you had a short wait and and inexpensive MD appt.
It's important to look at how chronic disease is managed, how are the women in the red light district in India treated in healthcare what are the survival rates in cancer ?
I am a nurse and my husband is a MD. MD's come from all over the world just to observe how our physicians our trained in residency programs, even if they don't speak english. It is far superior than around the world.
You are right, it is also expensive, and we do need to figure out a way to help the underserved. But Americans do not get to choose what is best for their family. A single 19 year male shouldn't have to pay for OB/GYN care or peds care in his insurance plan. I don't drink so I don't want to pay for rehab. Open up the market so we can shop from a "menu" (like we do in auto insurance) what works for our family.
You wrote an amazing article on fostering your children's work ethic and personal responsibility. Shouldn't we expect the same of ourselves when it comes to our healthcare choices and not wait for the gov't make those decisions for us?

Keep asking those questions about healthcare!

Anonymous said...
To learn about the healthcare crisis and some solutions.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought how much it costs a doctor to just be a doctor? The malpractice alone is a minimum of $100,000 a year. Then you have all the other expenses of running a practice, throw in the HIPAA and OSHA rules and expenses and the cost is unreal. You are lucky your injury wasn't worse because I think your experience in India would have been different. I will take a board certified american physician over an India one any day. It is sad that people don't appreciate the great medical care they receive in the United States. That is all going to go downhill now that the government is going to be involved. You have lost me as a reader because of your narrow minded point of view. Shalauna Barker

Scribbit said...

Pardon me but I don't think my argument was that we don't have good health care here in the US--we have great health care. It's just more expensive than it's worth. That same appointment that I had in INdia would have been a couple hundred dollars here and with the same result.

As for more serious injuries actually their system is as good as ours up to a point. India is just as good in basic treatments and procedures which is why it's becoming vogue for people to do "medical tourism" or to go to India on vacation with a hip replacement scheduled on the side.

However, for things like brain surgery or delicate heart procedures the US is better.

I'm simply saying that there is a definite problem with our system when a trip to the doctor to get a Cheerio removed from your kid's nose costs $1500. Just as my sister, she's been fuming about the bills on that one for months.

An Ordinary Mom said...

You look gorgeous in your red sari!

And way to tackle the controversial health care issue :) !! I for one think something needs to be done about the horrific medical costs in this country. I think a lot of it has to do with the cost of education and also the insurance companies themselves. It is not fair that they pay such cheap rates, yet if we visit a doctor and want to pay out of pocket cash for a visit it costs us several times more?!?

And before someone gets offended at what I say, I am grateful for my health care, but that doesn't mean that it still can't be improved.

Anonymous said...

I also question whether tje average local can afford the sam elevel of health care - and it must be placed in context of what other things cost locals - ie a latte is also not 4 dollars. In Canada, everyone gets care.

Anonymous said...

In the US, everyone can get care. Some of the poor are unaware of the community health centers which charge nominal fees for dental and healthcare. Some doctors will charge a steeply - reduced fee for the poor, and hospitals will treat patients for a reduced fee. They are all required to treat patients who cannot pay.

There are no Americans dying in the streets.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Look at you in that sari! Beautiful. I honestly don't know much about the health care situation, but the way it is now isn't the greatest. It's really dependent on insurance companies, and I believe hospitals and doctors pad the bills or indicate one condition instead of another just so the care will be covered. I'd be interested to learn more about the Asian / Indian system.

Laurel Nelson said...

I've been loving your posts and now think that maybe India wouldn't be so bad to go visit. I loved your experience of the doctors and the health care system there in India though and really think our system has issues. First there is the monumental cost of just getting to be a doctor, plus the cost of running the office and paying staff and all your overhead, plus the malpractice insurance, which is HUGE. Also, we've got the middlemen in there, the insurance companies mucking things up. I really think that in order to bring down costs you need to take it all over and put it under the control of 1 entity - in this case the government. I see no problem with nationalized health care at all. Honestly, if something hadn't been done I really would have been considering how to make a move to another country because I don't like the system here. My daughter's last doctor visit cost nearly $3000 for an office visit, and a chest echo (she has heart defects and has to regularly see a pediatric cardiologist). She is one of the people in this country that no one was mentioning in the whole debate - one of the many who are born with a severe chronic condition, who did not bring it on themselves by poor lifestyle choices, who will always need care, and who would never be touched with a 10 foot pole by an insurance company unless it was a group plan.

PS - Many people don't realize it, but the new fixes just passed were based on a plan implemented by a REPUBLICAN - Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. They tried this there a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

That would be fraudulent to 'pad the bills or indicate one condition instead of another' and a physician would lose his medical license. It is so important to understand the issue as to why our healthcare is expensive and not give our healthcare decisions over to politicians so willingly. Actually, physicians have very little control over the costs of the visits. Medicare/Medicaid only pays for 38-40% of what's billed. After time, insurance companies follow with similar reimbursement. A MD on the east coast started charging a flat fee of less than $100 for total charges (labs and exams included) for his visits and the state he practiced in penalized him because he was competing with the state insurance company. He was forced by law to stop. Government regulations are in between the physician and the patient and it's only going to get worse.

Anonymous said...

You are right. The patients with chronic illness did get lost in the healthcare debate, but a universal system will only lower the standard of care. Look at our education system, run by the government. It ranks near the bottom worldwide, yet it is one of the most costly. Impoverished neighborhoods are terribly neglected in the education system. Think about No Child Left Behind. Teachers are frustrated with the 'one size fits all' approach just to pass the test to get funding and that is exactly what will happen to healthcare. Compare that to preschools. We have competition and have diverse choice. Some are focused on arts, other language, religions, etc. It's inexpensive. Do we want a one size fits all for health. Do you want your doctor to just treat what gets enough funding for the clinic? Especially in your situation, you know the needs of your more than anyone and unfortunately chronic illness is so expensive. Increasing our choices of Insurance over state lines would help lower the costs. It's cheaper in the South, than in NYC. We lose that freedom when government chooses for us.

Lori said...

Well I can see there's a lot of California haters going on, no wonder my husband wants us to get the heck out of here and head north!

While I am very impressed with the quality and cost of care your received I would add that part of what makes our doctors' prices so high is their liability insurance that they have to pay for being medical practioners in case they are ever sued for malpractice. In India there is little to no malpractice cases (I'm siting my friend from Gujarat and a quick google search here so if I'm wrong I will eat my words).

Here if a doctor makes a mistake the issue is tried by jury of peers and the patient awarded compensation for pain and suffering, in addition to procedure costs and legal fees. But in India my friend says that no one questions the doctors and per the googled medical journal articles I just read there is a panel of people who will give a patient injured at the hands of his doctor the cost of medical procedure back but that's it.

Our family however would greatly benefit from $4 doctor visits, however, since we're all pretty healthy (knock on wood). Thanks for giving my husband more ammo for working on me to leave California!

Jolanthe said...

I will shy away from all the healthcare talk and say ~

~ love the sari
~ and yeah for no squatty potty!


Avoid, avoid. That's me!

Kayris said...

I left a long comment and then blogger ate it.

But basically I said that the poor in India are VERY poor. There is a huge class gap. There are no leper villages in the USA where people die from a totally treatable disease.

I wonder if people who advocate only having catastrophic coverage have actually had to use their insuracne for non-emergency but totally necccesary means. My daughter had eye surgery to fix a muscle problem last year and my husband had a partial thyroidectomy to remove a benign tumor 3 years ago. And I personally have a chronic genetic condition that means I need basic care freequently. We'd be in the poorhouse if not for our insurance. Covering only emergency care would take the incentive out of preventive medicine and would, in the long run, drive prices up. How many people already skip the doctor because they worry about paying for it? If you make them pay for bloodwork, pap smears, breast exams, etc, so many treatable diseases would get missed and end up more serious or deadly.

I also get tired of hearing comparisons to Canada. This is not Canada. Canada has a tenth the population of the US and so many people living in the US don't actually pay taxes. If they did, we'd have more money and more options. I recently read about a Canadian woman who had premature multiples and her babies were transferred to a Chicago hospital because no Canadian hospital had enough isolettes for all the babies. And I read a comment last week on a blog from a Canadian considering coming to the US for surgery because at home she'd have to wait 7 months to see the surgeon.

IMO, it would be better for Americans to stop comparing our system to others and start looking at themselves. The vast majority of diseases and conditions that Americans suffer from are avoidable. Rather than treating problems after they arise, it would be cheaper to change lifestyle and prevent those problems in the first place.

Janelle said...

I love the picture of you in the sari -- beautiful!

Anonymous said...

If people would switch over to catastrophic insurance, even the chronically ill, they would save so much in yearly premiums that they could easily pay for a higher deductible. Once the deductible is met, the rest is covered at 100%. There are also hospitals and clinics that have a charity fund to pay for needy persons.

Once people pay for their own visits to the doctor, prices will drop because people will comparison shop and will not go to the doctor for every sniffle. The need to pay people to work on billing in doctor's offices and insurance companies will drop if people pay in cash, further lowering costs.

It's immoral and against the principle of free will (liberty) to have all citizens buy a consumer product, especially one that most do not want or do not think is a good value.

In this economy, many people simply cannot afford the thousands of dollars the government will require to be insured, and most of us will be required to have coverage for things we will never need. Each citizen should be able to choose what he will pay for his own needs.

Kayris said...

We actually had the choice of a high deductible catastrophic plan. With a *ten thousand dollar* deductible. It was MUCH cheaper to pay for the premium for non-catastrophic and have surgery and preventive care covered.

FWIW, no one I know goes to the doctor for every sniffle. Most people I know wait until they are very ill before they go to the doctor.

I'd much rather see some reform for the pricing of medical services. It's practically impossible to budget for health care expenses when no one, including a doctor's office, can tell you how much something will cost ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

I've priced catastrophic insurance polices for our large family and a policy with a $2000 family deductible and ten office visits/yr is very cheap. A policy with unlimited office visits and $10 co-pays is $5000 more per year.

No one is recommending policies with $10,000 deductibles.

As reported in the news, there are hundreds of millions of office visits for colds each year. Most of these need to be eliminated.
I have noticed that people in my neighborhood with "really good" government or employer-based insurance (with free or nearly free co-pays or deductibles) go to the doctor far more often than people with $50 deductibles. When I ask them how they are feeling, they themselves have admitted that that many of their visits turned out to be unnecessary and they should have waited a few days before running to the doctor.

When I needed to go to the doctor for strep throat last year, I had to wait two weeks because of the waiting list. There were 20 patients in the waiting room, and most of them paid nothing to see the doctor. When price is artificially low, the demand is very high. When the price is reasonable ($50) the demand goes way down.

ewe are here said...

The sari looks fantastic on you.

As for healthcare, a public option is needed in the states; the government wimped out on that aspect.

Living and having my three children in the UK has made me realize that things really could be better back home ... the disparities are so wide, but those 'with' good insurance and no pre-existing conditions really just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for our American Health Care!

I have a friend who served as a LDS missionary in England and he had to wait 3 months to get a sty removed from his eye!

I had two dear friends from Canada that were denied life-saving treatment in Canada and flew to the US to get treatment. The doctor said one of them would have died within three weeks if they had not been treated.

Anonymous said...

I had a roommate in college that was from Canada. Her Grandpa died waiting (three months) for a heart operation that would have been performed immediately in the US, no matter how poor he was.

This roommate also had an outdated leg operation in Canada that hadn't been performed in the US for the past 10 years.

If doctors get rewarded for their work with higher wages, innovation can still occur.

Anonymous said...

I had a roommate in college that was from Canada. Her Grandpa died waiting (three months) for a heart operation that would have been performed immediately in the US, no matter how poor he was.

This roommate also had an outdated leg operation in Canada that hadn't been performed in the US for the past 10 years.

If doctors get rewarded for their work with higher wages, innovation can still occur.

Stephanie said...

Such a fascinating post!

And, oh! Squatty potties! I know [too much] about them. I spent about a month in Bagladesh in 1997 and got well-acquainted with them.

You look stunning in your sari. And in that last photo too.

P.S. I wish I knew what the solution to our country's healthcare crisis is, but...I don't. What I do know, however, is that more taxes and less freedom is NOT the answer.

SM said...

As a student and a working mom living in the US for the past 6 years and having spent the rest of my life in India, these are my personal experiences regarding healthcare in the 2 countries-

Apart from the cheap treatment available in India for the same standards in US,I have found that the diagnostic capabilities of most Indian doctors are much better than that in the US, even without so many modern facilities available to them. I am not sure what causes this. Even an average MBBS in India(i.e. a general physician with no specialization degrees) is much more experienced than the many specialists available in US. The fact that they have a larger pool of
population going to them for treatment can be a contributing factor. Another factor (that I heard someone say) could be that here in the US, doctors fear getting sued if something goes wrong or gets diagnosed wrongly during treatment. I'm not sure of how much this is true.

And no, the treatment available does not vary depending on the color of your skin (as someone ridiculously suggested in one of the comments).All my family possesses brown to wheatish Indian skin and have no problems in getting treatments :-)

On the other hand, I have found that the US doctors are very polite and value the patients inputs a lot. Of course for difficult and rare diseases, they have all the latest research and technology available to them.

Scribbit said...

Well that was my experience--the doctor seemed as competent and expert as anyone in the U.S. I'd been to, he was polite and helpful.

Health care sure can get people riled up can't it? :) What a hot topic.

Anonymous said...

Squat toilets are more intimidating than they look.

I have spend heaps of time in India, Some just travelling around at nice standard hotels (ie 1000 rupees a night = approx 20 USD) to about 6 months at the Bangalore Sheraton Towers which went from 130 USD a night when I was first there, and 12 months later I was paying $400 USD a night, it became a very expensive city.

Anyway. I liked to use squat toliets the most especially when at public conveniences. THe conveniece are not as clean as we like them in the West and with a squat toliet you don't have to touch anything you easily keep your balance even on a train.

I think the big key to keeping healthy in India is to use the water free hand washes (not sure what you call it in India) I have spent over 8 months in India in 1 year, ate heavily from street vendors (make sure it is Piping hot and fresh) and chai stands and never gotten sick there. I may just be very lucky.

Also as an Australian, I know that the general impression of the USA health care is that you would never want to get sick over there. We have a sytem like Canada and USA, sure there can be waiting lists, but not if it is life threatening, you would be rushed through. We do marvel at your technological advances, but the impression is that it is not something people could get access to