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    Posted November 2, 2008 by
    João Pessoa, Brazil
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Issue #1: Questions on the economy

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    Healthcare US vs Brazil


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    The politicians are engaged in a huge debate about health

    care in America.  They should because it is the most expensive

    in the world without providing the best care possible.





    In Brazil

    we have great medical coverage.  I am

    personally with Unimed, one of the two largest insurers in Brasil.  Right now, we are paying about US $420 a

    month for two people.  That is without

    belonging to any group or from an employer.

    For this we are totally covered for office visits, hospitalization,

    tests, all meds given in the hospital, and no

    co-payments.  Everything is covered except

    prescription drugs.  Those are so

    inexpensive here, it hardly matters.  The

    co-pays alone in the USA

    would cover the cost of my medications here.

    In many cases, the government subsidizes the cost of some drugs such as

    those for diabetes.  Citizens below a

    minimum income level also receive essential care at reduced prices or at no






    For example, for my blood pressure I take two different

    meds, Lisinopril 20 mg, and Amlovasc 10 mg.

    I also take one aspirin a day, too.

    Six years ago in the USA,

    this was costing me, with discounts, about $105 a month.  I just bought a 3-month supply here and it

    came out to be about $30 USD a month.

    The drug store delivers, too.  So we

    just call it in and they bring it later that day.  If it's urgent, they will come right






    Care here is of the highest quality, too.  In November 2005, I had a bulging disk that

    was pressing on the sciatic nerve and had been causing me constant pain for

    several months.  The treatment for this

    is often a “slice and dice” procedure that is risky, painful, and requires an

    extended recuperation period.  Here, I

    had a neurologist that was trained in a procedure called nucleoplasty.  It was invented in São

    Paulo and available only in Brazil

    and England.  It involved inserting a needle into the disk

    and using RF (radio frequency) energy to temporarily soften the disk material.  The excess material was extracted through the

    needle until it no longer pressed on the sciatic nerve. 





    I had this procedure done at ten

    AM and was home in my own bed by ten

    PM.  Not only was the

    recovery (if you can call it that) measured in hours, I have had no trace of

    pain since then.  The hospital care was

    excellent.  Care was organized for the

    convenience of the patient, not the staff.

    There were no $25 charges for an aspirin or a band aid.  The food was far better than I have had in

    any US

    hospital.  Only the charges were

    “substandard” by US

    experience.  In any case, it was all

    covered by my insurance.





    Dental care is inexpensive here, too.  I have had two tooth implants done at about

    $340 USD each.  Regular dental exams,

    restorations, and cleaning are equally inexpensive.





    It seems strange to me that a country as prosperous as the USA

    should find it impossible to provide health care at the same level end costs as

    Brazil.  Yes, it’s true that drug companies spend a

    lot on developing new drugs and need to recover those costs.  But how long should they continue to recover

    them?  For example, generic-brand drugs

    in the USA,

    even many years after being introduced upon the market, are more expensive than

    similar drugs in Brazil.  Then there is the question of new procedures

    such as my nucleoplasty.  Why are these

    things so often pioneered in other countries and only slowly introduced into

    the USA?  Is it excessive government regulation?  The constant malpractice suits?  The greed of the drug companies and the medical

    industry?  Or is it a “combination of






    Whatever the causes, there is no doubt the country could do

    far better.



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