When people get sick, in the U.S., the Philippines and many other countries, one of their worst fears is the prospect of long-term hospitalization and medical care. Medical and hospitalization costs are so expensive nowadays that many middle-class families will suddenly find themselves impoverished if a member were to be hospitalized for more than a few days. The poor will probably find themselves so deeply indebted after the hospitalization of a family member, that some will simply opt out of the commercial health system to seek help from indigenous healers.
It is unfortunate that Philippine medical authorities have patterned our health-care system after the U.S. where medical and hospitalization costs have skyrocketed as health care became less of a calling for doctors and a duty for governments, and more of a business.
Is there a viable alternative to a highly commercialized health and medical system, where only those who have enough money get properly treated?
The documentary video on national health systems, Sicko by Michael Moore, is truly an eye-opener. Every Filipino must see this video, which compares the practices of the U.S. health system and those of the U.K., France and other countries.
The U.K. and French systems appear so superior that it is a mystery why our authorities would emulate the U.S. system.
In countries like the U.K. and France, anyone who gets sick – especially if it requires immediate attention – gets treated. It doesn’t matter if you are a local or a foreigner, young or old, millionaire or pauper. You will be treated, be operated on if necessary, and be given upon discharge all the necessary medicines you ought to continue taking. In short, you will receive the proper medical treatment, for free.
The British national health system (NHS) does have problems. There are waiting lists of sick people who need medical but not emergency attention. Those who cannot wait, or who are not satisfied with the NHS, go to private doctors or hospitals, who charge them commercial rates for medical care. Dental services are excluded from the NHS, forcing dental patients to pay the same prohibitively high fees to dentists.
But, as Moore’s documentary video Sicko clearly showed, those who are not in a hurry but still need medical attention will eventually get it. While those who need emergency attention will get it immediately.
And to us Filipinos, that is nothing short of miraculous.