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