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Darwin Meets Health Care

This should be a story about a candidate for the Darwin Awards:

With a belly full of food and sake, Armand Nelson Schneider just wanted to get rid of his nausea and empty his stomach before hopping on a train back to his study-abroad home in Yokohama, Japan.

Schneider, 22, was throwing up over the platform when a high-speed commuter zoomed into the station and smashed into him.

Fortunately for Armand, someone pulled him back just enough to save his life. Unfortunately, the train hit him so hard that it's left him a little delusional:

"It's a miracle," his mother said. "This kid should be dead."

Schneider said he doesn't struggle with alcohol and has always been a safe drinker -- his mother calls him "Mr. Responsibility."

"There's no denying I was very drunk," he said. "But I don't think the accident was caused by that."

Riiiight. Alcohol had nothing to do with sticking his head over the tracks and puking. But the point is not to ridicule Armand. Rather, this passage caught my eye:

His recovery, however, wasn't as fast as he had hoped. Schneider stayed in the Japanese intensive care unit for 12 days, kept his spot in the ward for four weeks and was moved to a nearby rehab facility for another four weeks. Nelson stayed by his side -- along with the Japanese nurses and doctors who "fell in love with him" -- for a month.

Endless droves of friends and his Japanese family members visited him often. His Oregon study-aboard peers folded him 1,000 origami cranes, following an ancient Japanese fable symbolizing a speedy and safe recovery.

Nelson returned to the United States after "I saw him get out of that hospital and go upright." When she returned to Japan weeks later, the doctor gave Schneider the surprise go-ahead to return home with his mother.

Nelson said she was prepared to make a hefty payment -- above $300,000 -- for the months of care. Instead, she said, they informed her of the national health care system and asked her for about $3,000.

"Twelve days in the ICU would have cost a quarter million in the United States," she said.

There were some trade-offs for the less-expensive treatment, Schneider said. For instance, he had to pay for meals and to use the TV and refrigerator. He also had to share a bedroom with six people, and pay for his pajamas and diapers.

"But you're happy not to have the frills to walk out with no bills," Schneider said.

And, he said, his treatment was unparalleled.

"I thank God he was in Japan when this happened," Nelson said.

The United States is currently grappling with health care reform that would introduce some kind of universal coverage, with Canada's system frequently held as an example. The typical arguments against universal coverage range from 1) it's run by the government and therefore bad, 2) long wait times for elective surgery, and 3) it costs too much. These "arguments" are all silly. First, the Canadian government doesn't run health care, it pays for it. Doctors bill the government and doctors what treatment to give. At no time does the government step in and decide who gets treatment and who does not. Wait times are an issue in the Canadian system, but waiting for an elective procedure is far better than not getting any treatment at all. Costs, too, are always an issue, but even though there are more Americans without health care than there are Canadians covered, Canada still manages to spend less per capita than the United States.

Had this accident occurred in the US, the mother would probably be paying off the bill for the rest of her life. As a Canadian, I can't figure out why the US hasn't gotten around to adopting universal health care. This accident seems like a good reason for it--you shouldn't have to face financial ruin to get medical treatment.

(via FG)



As a Canadian, I can't figure out why the US hasn't gotten around to adopting universal health care. This accident seems like a good reason for it--you shouldn't have to face financial ruin to get medical treatment.

Spoken like a typical extreme Commie Canadian! I don't want MY hard earned money to be taxed at a ridiculous rate so as to fund misadventures of the morons and working-class. If these deadbeats - like that boy - bring bad health upon themselves, they should probably foot the bill.

Make no mistake: Universal health care is a nonsense, and should never be implemented in the USA. If that buffoon Obama has his way, we will all be paying taxes through the nose.

Nate, you're so uninformed

You already pay for the misadventures of of morons - medcaid and medicare - they are all funded with your tax dollars. The system is broken and the line of reasoning that universal "is nonsense and should never be implemented" marks you a myopic. uninformed, fringe element. You've been fed lies and you've eaten them up because it's all you have known. Even the doctors are fed up with the insurance industry.

That's right, Nate. You always have paid, and you always will. The only question is: how much do you get for your buck when you really need it? The answer in the States right now is 'not a lot'. By the way, I hope you don't live in California. What an embarassment that bunch of 'we don't want to pay taxes' morons are. They've wrecked the whole state, and they still don't want to pay up.

"As a percentage of GDP, (U.S.) national health spending is projected to reach 17.7 percent by 2012"
From here:

It's 9.7 percent in Canada

It's obvious, capitalism doesn't work. NATIONALISE CAPITALISM NOW!

Vote Stoney Burke!

As someone who grew up in Canada and has lived in the United States for over a decade, I can tell you that the U.S. needs health care reform BIG TIME. Yes, there is sometimes a shorter wait in the U.S. for surgery, but what difference does wait time make if you have to go bankrupt to get treatment? My family of 4 spends over $700 per month for medical insurance and we still have a $3000 deductable (each) and have to pay $35 every time we see a doctor. Recently, I had to decide whether we could afford for me to have a necessary medical test that wound up costing $2500 out of my pocket even with health insurance. A former classmate of mine didn't get a broken limb set because she had no insurance and another former classmate went through a bankrupcy because of emergency surgery she needed while she was a student. Only the very wealthy and the very poor are doing OK with the current health care situation in the United States. Combining my family's medical insurance premiums, prescriptions and copays; we spent forty percent of our annual income on medical expenses last year!!! If I were wealthy enough to pay more in taxes than what I paid for healthcare last year, I'd be happy to help pay for other people's healthcare!

Healthcare is expensive in the US for one big reason.
Lawyers, and all the consequences.Multi-mllion dollar malpracitce payouts, and thus huge insurance costs for hospitals, which all gets shifted onto you, the patient.
Even if you want a simple procedure done, the doctor has to order every single test and procedure he can to cover his own ass should you decide to sue him/her later, he/she can say "I did everything medically possible"

When the G.O.P. tries to introduce bils to limit medical malpractice payoffs with some kind of maximum.
Say medical costs plus a mere(!) $250,000, the Democrats scream bloody murder. They claim to want to be sure the family of poor fat Big-Mac-a-day bastard who couldn't be saved by the quadruple bypass can sue the surgeon for $10,000,000.
Because they don't want the system fixed. They want it to get so bad that they can nationalize it, and control it. They get to decide what "elective" surgery is. In Japan, a heart transplant was NOT covered by national insurance until about 5 years ago. In Japan, even with the population decline, artifical insemination, heck, even CHILDBIRTH itself, is NOT covered by national health insurace. WTF?

And is it not ironic that when health care is nationalized, well, the maximum limit on malpractice payments suddenly becomes ZERO anyway. You can't sue the government (or a government doctor) unless the government LETS YOU sue it!

Anyway, if you put politicians in charge of health care in a democracy, someday, the OTHER side will be in control (even in Japan it can happen once every 50 years) and will write all the regulations. In most countries this is less of a problem, but in America, Democrats giving the keys of the hospital to the government only means that someday, when Republicans are in charge, (in 2012) well, they can say whether abortions are "elective" or not, or even permitted. Whether AIDS treatments are covered or not, especially if the patient is gay. And they won't even have to change the law, just have some bureaucrat rewrite the regulations.
[On the flip side, extreme leftists in the US will want to control what is legal to eat or drink, all in the name of health, as they are already doing in New York City and California, and by the way, California's collapse...uh..does insanely huge spending on social programs just seem to have slipped you lefties' minds? Highest taxes in the country still not enough to cover the huge budget and you blame the *taxpayers*? Guh? But of course, me thinking this way must mean I'm legally insane and in need of treatment, is that covered under your national health care?]

National health care is probably good for other countries, but in the current US political hyper-politicized environment, it will just be another battlefield in the cultural civil war, and the only actualy casualties will be patients.

BTW, the US getting all but 3 of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine in the last 20 years..does that still mean the whole system is broken?

I remember reading that malpractice amounts to about 5% of total medical costs in USA.


Do you have your facts straight? It would not be covered? You are implying that heart surgeries could be done in Japan but you would have had to pay for it in cash. Maybe you were saying heart transplants were not done. Perhaps due to law or lack medical advancement - or both. That has nothing to do with the insurance system here. Once it was legal/available insurance the insurance system was always ready to pay for it.


You get some tax reimbursement that pretty much covers the costs. If the mother does not have a natural birth (i.e. C-secition) that is covered by insurance so in that case you woud profit from the child birth.


That's great. Some people (like myself) might think they might get more if the insurance system was centralized.

You seem a little off on your facts and want to scare everyone. Why are you scared? Are you a major stock holder for Aetna or something?

I've lived in Japan for a while and anyone I know who died in Japan- probably no dr. in USA could have saved them either.

Drs. in Japan and in private practice can make money if they run a good business.

I don't think health care should be "free". I like the idea of a co-payment. Which would make costs manageable- not free.

My friend - Rush Limbaugh type republican - god bless him - is proud of his Blue Cross insurance policy of $12,000 per year which is about 4x what I pay in Japan. He likes the free choice. But is it really 4x as good? Really?

Should watch the movie "Sicko" by Mike Moore. It is about the US health system. It is an excellent documentry.

For a Level 3 I would have expected a lot more research into the facts that you have stated. For example, "childbirth is not covered by National Health". If you truely are a Japanese citizen and have had children you would know that up to a certain amount you are covered. You get reimbursed the money at the end of the hospital stay. Get it right before you state it buddy!!

It’s always been the same in Japan – outspoken and ignorant American Republicans, backing sick companies like Nova Corporation all the way, and canning SH.

What the poor buggers don’t seem to be able to a grasp of is that Nova Corporation died (along with several other Republican style businesses of a similar nature), right wing Fox News is no longer broadcast in Japan, SH in relation to the language gig in Japan is pretty a snow ball rolling down hill and gaining momentum (it is not going to go away), and the Republican cause in the United States of America is more or less dead in the water, not likely to ever raise it’s ugly head again.

One of the greatest supporters of Nova I have ever encountered on the web (no need to mention his name), was (a) the self-appointed President of the Nova Fan and Recruitment Club (b) vehemently opposed to SH and (c) and was unashamedly, Sarah Louise Palin’s number one supporter. He actually wanted her in the White House.

Humiliated Republican ex-Nova vermin, think the US Health system is fine as it is. What a surprise, not.

America has a fresh outlook now – let’s hope the new administration can make something of the total mess they have inherited.

It will be a tough job, but not as tough a job and futile job as it is trying to breathe life into the Nova corpse.


I'm sorry, but Moore and "excellent documentary" do not go in the same sentence. Maybe if you said Moore and "excellent mockumentary" I'd give it credence.

It was an excellent documentary. What's your problem?


I wonder what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s view of Moore’s on screen efforts are, and I wonder what Ronald Reagan’s would have been?

Let’s face it – Republicans in America know the most about acting.

They tell me Arnold has done a sterling job of sinking California into the economic abyss meantime – seems he has similar skills and abilities as George Bush Junior did.

Frankly, I think Arnold would have made an excellent Eikaiwa teacher.


Simple experiment:
Try asking Canadians, Japanese, Europeans etc, who have free health care, if they would like to change to an American style system. How many would say yes?? I bet the number would be small. Let's generously say 10% (and trust me, that is VERY generous. I have NEVER heard a fellow Canadian make such a comment).

Now ask Americans if they would like to change to a universal system of coverage. What would that percentage be?? I have heard that the percentage is over 50%.

But that money is not reimbursed by the national health, is it? It comes from elsewhere.

Armand Hammered


[golf clap] You win teh Internets, HelloKitty.


Yeah. I got it too. Just didn't know where it came from as my wife took care of it. I do know, however, that this is not really coverage. What it is, is a fixed lump sum reimbursement that is only nominally related to actual costs. In my case, for example, my son was born on a public holiday. this meant that we had to pay double price; something that had no effect on the reimbursement we received. As you are no doubt aware, hostpital costs during childbirth itself are only a part of the total expences associated with pre-natal and ante-natal care. So, even though this money does come from National Health, I wouldn't call it coverage. More like compensation. Not that I am unhappy to be corrected on the source of these monies: thank you.

What really should be addressed is this whole notion of choice. U.S. citizens are so worried about not being able to pick the specialist they want to see. That seems like a compelling argument, however, most people usually only pick doctors that their friends or family have recommended. The other situation is that the company's insurance will provide a list of doctors that are associated with the health insurer. That narrow's down the selection significantly for many people.

The biggest thing that is hindering the current generation of U.S. citizens from 40-70 right now is the indoctrination of Mccarthyism. Communism scares the hell out of people in America, despite the fact that America is probably more communist than ever.

According to most Americans, any country except for (a Republican) America would be classified as Communist.

Now that is funny.

The joke of the matter, in Eikaiwa, where basically it is all about PUT UP or SHUT UP, it is Republican Americans who bark the loudest, as the gaigin watchdogs of the corrupt Japanese, like they are members of the KGB from back in the Cold War Days.

Most of the Republican geese I have met, simply love it when people get screwed (they really, really, really like to see their fellow man get a good dicking over) – they honestly get a perverse satisfaction out of window dressing exploitation as “freedom of choice and opportunity”, and feel sexually gratified when people can’t see the loop holes, and fall into the bear trap.

That’s why the don’t believe in investing in education – the more stupefied people are and become, the more those bear traps keep go off, and the more orgasms they consequently have.

The problem is that their love of illiteracy is now infecting their own – as if Bush was not enough, they had to take it one step further, and try to put Sarah Palin in the White House.

Can you imagine the world today if the Republicans had actually succeeded? It puts a shiver down my spine, to even think about it.


Yes that's right. Any form of government that allows abortion is communist. And outlawing firearms is a very communist notion. Perserving the envirnment is the most Marxist propaganda ever. You don't have to ask about state assisted health care.

Walmart is very non-communist. Cheap goods made in sweatshops, where folks are abused in oppressive third world countries, sold at retail outlets by the western working poor, now that's some good old fashion capitalism.

There are good communists, like China. They let us exploit their peasants to make us are beloved cheap consumer goods. They are using this revenue to build a giagantic military to over throw western power, but by golly the free trade activities taking place between those little guys and us is very capitalistic. It makes a patriot like myself feel so proud to see this glorious progress.

Then you got those bad communist, like the damn Venezulan's who allow oil substaties fund government programs. That does us no good. So screw them!!! Damn commies.

Carl Hogan

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