Universal "health" Care
or, I told her she didn't have cancer
Socialists in this country want to accomplish the same thing they accomplished in Russia: a universal health care system. Even though many of us have a healthy disrespect for government controlled programs like this, especially when it involves more than 10 percent of GDP, it still has a nice ring to it. And even though I envisioned it would be the WORST thing imaginable in this land of the free, home of the brave, the cradle of the free enterprise system, none of this could have prepared me for what I experienced when actually came face to face with the most renowned, most promoted, and in an ironic way the most accepted, universal health care program in the world.
This revelation occured when a gynechologist friend in Moscow invited two of us Americans to her office one snowy Monday morning, where we were able to witness firsthand how this most touted in the world health care system really works. We stopped at the post office on the way to buy stamps, stood outside in the snow in a huge line for an hour and a half, only to discover they were out of stamps and nobody bothered to tell any of the others standing in line. Walking down the street a bit "disappointed", we saw another line even longer than the last, and discovered that it was people waiting to see HER. Naturally we had to "cut in front of the line" to get to her office, and got a lot of sneers and dirty looks for doing so, until they recognized her. Her salary was six rubles a day, which at the time was the equivalent of six cents. Knowing that it took at least a dollar a day to live in Moscow, we asked how she managed. The answer became apparent when the first patient got impatient with waiting in the line, and came to the front with a tip, and was instantly admitted.
Her office consisted of four chairs, one wooden table, a dimly lit light stand, and a telephone. It turns out the telephone was a luxury she didn't need. There were no stethoscopes or rubber gloves or embarassing nudity or humming machines or bright lights--only a doctor and one patient at a time in various states of happiness and sadness.
The happiest look we saw all day was a woman with cancer. She went into the office looking very glum, but came out with the widest smile you could ever imagine. At dinner that night with 8 Russians and three Americans, during which time a retired Russian admiral lit up like a Christmas tree when Stalin's name came up [another story, entirely] , we asked her what made her so happy:
Needless to say, all the Americans there were interested in hearing a bit more about this story, but ALL of the Russians nodded their heads in agreement and complete understanding. So we with incredulous looks on our faces pressed on to get at the heart of how the WORLD'S BEST universal health care system actually handles such delicate matters as patient confidentiality, psychological condition of patients, and, er, "health care":
Q: Wouldn't it be illegal to lie to the patient like this?
A: No, it's illegal to TELL a patient that they have cancer.
Q: Why would that be illegal?
A: There's nothing we can do about cancer anyway.
Q: What do you tell her relatives?
A: It depends on the situation, but usually we tell them the same thing.
Q: You don't have drugs or surgerey or any other way to treat it?
A: Not really.
Q: How long do you think she'll live?
A: A case like hers could be anything from one to six months.
Q: You mean to say that the *government* is the one who says it's illegal to be honest with patients?
A: [all that was needed at that point was the kind of look that makes you realize you just asked one SILLY question].
Even weeks later, this still hadn't fully sunk in, but so many other discoveries in Russia [most of them positive, by the way] made this pale by comparison. Who are the Russians going to sue? The government? It's the GOVERNMENT who runs universal health care systems! You don't like standing in long lines in the snow just so you can be LIED to by your government about your health? Then don't stand in line. You have cancer? No you don't. You have a headache? What about the headache you're causing your government by wasting our time by standing in this long line? You have a complaint about your government? Then why don't you just LEAVE, and go to America.