What's being poor in England and Australia like?

This is all true. People start using slogans like ‘communist’ when socialized medicine comes up. And they bring up stories from Canada of people waiting 6 months to see a doctor.

I think the american people are more open to the idea than most realize, especially in this economy when alot of people know they could be unemployed at any moment and alot get their insurance through employers.


Responding mostly to mrsface:

We have the same problems here and we are paying through the nose for it, as well. I don’t think it’s registered, but I think it’s starting to occur to a few people that we have a problem.

And they don’t make sexy commercials when you want to say “The communists are coming to get you! 4 months to see a doctor!”

I know something about it because of boards like these and, also, because of Bowling for Columbine. Michael Moore caught a Canadian guy coming out of the emergency room and interviewed him and it was just shocking to think of going to the emergency room without paying through the nose for it. I happen to have semi-decent emergency room coverage–and they DO have to treat you in our ERs, but you have to pay for it–but still, it’s shocking and it’s even more shocking that in 2003 it’s shocking that some people can go to the emergency room for free. And we call ourselves civilized.

And, see, a lot of people over here don’t know the difference between socialism and communism. And there’s a lot of Red Fear and, well, stupidity, left from the Cold War. And the politicians play to it. The idea of nationalized health care calls up spectres of the hammer and sickle, collective farms, waiting in lines for toilet paper, etc.

Although I think we’re finally reaching the point where something will have to be done about it, it’s not going to come from The People. It’s going to come from business. I think once health insurance premiums go sky-high enough, businesses will start pressuring Congress to do something about it, then something will get done.

Australian emergency rooms are free. If you cannot afford to pay the gap fee for a doctor who doesn’t bulk bill then you can theoretically go to an emergency room and see a doctor for free.

We’ve been having an outcry over here about the demise of bulkbilling. It was a scheme where the doctor accepted the set fee from the government and the patient paid nothing. To see a specialist you usually have a gap fee – my paed charges me $85 a visit and I claim $50 or so back from medicare. Paediatric gastro was free for one child with medicare paying $104 and I was charged a $15 fee for the other child. Still trying to figure that one out.

So even when you get into needing to see specialists, it’s still affordable for most people. P the Younger probably needs an endoscopy in the next few months and that will be about $100 out of pocket. The waiting list to be seen publicly is longer than I care to wait.

Prescriptions can be very pricey in Australia though if you don’t hold a concession card.

To get unemployment benefits, you also need a permanent home address. So that’s a hurdle for the homeless.

In Ireland as in the countries mentioned we have homeless people and people who’ve fallen through the cracks but I’ll talk about somebody who hasn’t and is out of work.

We get a basic social welfare payment of something like $120-150 a week if you’re single and out of work. You have to prove every now and then that you are looking for work. You also have to join a agency called FÁS where you can be sent out on interviews etc(Think Spud in Trainspotting). There is no time limit on how long you can be signed on for.

There is also a rent allowance scheme that cover a large %age of your rent up to a certain level and during the winter months you get a extra fuel allowance of a few quid a week to cover extra heating etc. If you are unemployed you usually get a medical card which covers all medical expenses. Even without a medical card an emergency room visit will cost something like $20-30 and this will also cover any subsequent visits relating to the injury and whatever was wrong with you. If you don’t have any money on you you are still treated and expected to pay later.

There are problems with the Health Service much like Britain but lot worse IMO.

When I sober up and get rid of this headache I may post more coherently about this stuff later :wink:

Being unemployed and single in Britain is no fun (most Brits experience the occasional spell at some time in their lives). You get £55 a week from the state plus your rent and local taxes paid.

You also get free the medical treatments that aren’t free on the NHS (specs and teeth), you also get free prescriptions (which cost £6.10 an item otherwise). However £55 is about £8 a day and you have to find fuel bills, food and transport out of that.

It isn’t intended to be pleasant - merely a safety net.

The situation for those with children is much more complex, with tax credits and allowances for childcare etc. The governement are attempting to make sure that working is always the nost financially viable option.

However there are people who make a mockery of the sysytem. The most recent cause celbre of scroungers is a couple from a TV programme called wife swap who have eight children and were receiving £37,000 a year (after tax) in benefits - as well as a free house. THey seemed to spend most of the money on fags.

Well, see, this isn’t quite accurate. Medical care is not “free” - anywhere. The differences are in how individual countries have chosen to pay for it. The US has traditionally chosen to make it the responsibility of the individual to pay for his or her own care. Medical insurance offered by the workplace actually came into being during a time when there were more jobs than workers, and companies started offering it as a fringe benefit to entice workers. It turned out to be a pretty popular option, and now it is something that can be very difficult to live without.

Other countries collect taxes from their citizens to provide health care as a universal service. One giant stumbling block to this model in this country is the average American’s enormous aversion to additional taxes. I think a lot of folks would be quite amenable to universally-provided health care, but if they are told their taxes would be going up $X because of it, you’d see a lot of people change their minds. There is no free lunch, and a lot of folks in the US can’t quite seem to grasp that concept.

I also see a fear that freedom of choice would be taken away, and that quality would degrade, but freedom of choice is already being limited in the US by managed-care plans, and lack of access to health care is, IMO, a serious quality problem - you can’t say you have a quality system overall if there are people who can’t afford to participate in it.

Being poor is rubbish wherever you are but it’s more bearable in some places than others. My partner and I live on benefits in England. I get £42 a week and he gets £69, he gets more because he has spina bifida and gets DLA ( disability living allowance), which you receive whether you are working or not. It means you can’t go out, or buy nice things but then, you knew that. We can eat reasonably well, pay our bills, and occasionally maybe go to an art gallery or something. We also get £50 per week between us towards rent and we are excluded from having to pay taxes. In fact, everyone whose income is less than the tax exempt marker ( about £5000pa) doesn’t pay tax, and if you work and get paid less than the minimum tax thingy the government gives you tax credit ( money that brings up your income to the min. level). All healthcare is free, for everyone, forever. My partner was born disabled and would probably be dead if he was born in the US. The really hard thing is the loss of dignity. The dole really do treat you like thieving scumbags, even if you are trying to work yourself out of the dole queue. There are a lot of barriers to getting out of the benefits system. One of the worst one is the partner rule. If I get a job, my partner loses all his benefits and I have to support him, however, with my various limitations, I can’t get a job that can reliably do that, so I can’t take the risk of losing our home and our meagre income. It’s pretty mental. But for all that, I’m glad the system is there, and I will be pleased to contribute through taxes to support it. My mother grew up on benefits and went on to become a headteacher and enriched society. It’s well worth it.