Professor Lawrence Gostin — US Health care

Went to hear Lawrence Gostin talk about US President Obama’s health care plan, and its chances of being enacted.

Gostin works in the US for a Health Law thinktank. He said Americans are fearful of ending up with a health system similar to Canada or the UK (Australia doesn’t rate on the US radar), which they believe is rationed so noone gets good health care.

Gostin pointed out that the US system is severely rationed — only the well-off can afford to have proper medical coverage.

He said many in the US objected to having their ‘freedom’ taken away — i.e. everyone would have to pay for health care, instead of those who “chose” to have it. However, Gostin said it’s essential for young, healthy people to subside the elderly and sick, otherwise the whole system goes into a “death spiral”. So, it’s no good just opting in when you fall ill — you have to pay throughout your lifetime.

It may seem silly to us that Americans are getting their knickers in a twist over this, since we’ve had Medicare since 1975. Gostin did address the view that Americans tend to think they’re an “exception” to everybody else in the world.

He has personally experienced the health systems of the UK, Canada and Australia (lived in each country), and likes Canada’s system best.

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