Tertia at So Close spent the Freedom Day long weekend in the Pediatrics unit of her local hospital first with one and then the other of her twins, both sick with a stomach bug.
Like other North-American readers, I was surprised that her kids were admitted so quickly — would never happen here in San Diego. Even though we have great medical benefits and a wonderful family doctor, it is hard to get to see or speak to him and doctors typically take a wait-see-and-keep-them-hydrated approach with tummy bugs. You tend to get stuck in phone purgatory, talking to receptionists and waiting for call backs from nurses. Either that or seeing doctors at walk-in clinics who don’t know your kid. Case in point, our recent three-week bout with Rotavirus.
Tertia has readers from all over the globe. And having lived in South Africa, Canada and the US, I can echo the comments on her blog posting.
Medical care in South Africa? Extreme disparity between the high and low ends of hospital care, and access to great family doctors and specialists if you have the cash or good medical aid. The cost of medical-aid premiums rests firmly on the shoulders of the individual in most cases.
Here in the US? Similar disparity between the haves and have nots, only high-end health care is not quite as state-of-the-art as in South Africa. (A childhood friend in South Africa and I were pregnant at the same time and she always seemed to have way more advanced scans and testing available to her.) But then the low end in the US is no where near what you see in State hospitals in South Africa either. And most good companies here offer extensive medical benefits. I don’t pay a cent for my medical or dental care premiums.
When we lived in Canada, we had free basic health care and paid very little for our provincial “extended medical” plan, which covered prescription meds and everything over and above the basics. From what we have heard over the six years since we left, things are shifting to more of a two-tier system with long waits for public services. You hear stories of the wealthy flying to the US or Mexico for treatment. And hospitals are increasingly underfunded and closing in rural and poor areas, as they are in the States.
I don’t pretend to know much about this. Just thought it interesting that we face the same issues the world over. And that we are likely all moving to the same solution: two-tiered and privatized health care.
For those of you in the US, Tertia’s post gives you a peek into the extreme socio-economic skewing of health care in South Africa. For those of you in the old country with private medical aid, know that you currently have access to some of the very best care in the world.