Czech Health Care is a Shock to My System – in a Good Way

12 thoughts on “Czech Health Care is a Shock to My System – in a Good Way”

  1. I appreciate that you, as an American blogger, want to boast about the health care system in your adopted country relative to what you perceive will happen in America. But there is so much missing from your comparisons.

    Among the missing considerations, the Czech Republic has a population approximately equal to that of Ohio. Scaling anything up 30x will always be wrought with difficulty. America’s Founders kind of had that in mind when they successfully argued for states to rule themselves.

    We live and work in Austria; thankfully our move happened well after we had children and needed day care. If I had been expecting our first child in Austria, I would have been unceremoniously kicked out of the workforce at 7 months expectant and not allowed back in for 6 months, because the government “knows” what’s best, right? In America, thankfully, I was able to choose when I went on leave; within a couple of weeks after our child was born I was popping back into the lab periodically to finalize some experiments, experiments that ultimately led to three of the patents I hold. Here in Austria? I would be paid 23% less than my male counterparts for the “privilege” of “free” maternity leave, whether I wanted it or not. I agree that America needs comprehensive, quality maternity leave, but it should not be entirely free. Because nothing is ever truly “free.”

    I also agree that the current system in the U.S., “Obamacare” is imperfect, but it is important to distinguish between the persons who have insurance on paper, but can not afford that insurance in reality.

    Of the estimated 47M uninsured in the U.S. prior to implementation of ACA, roughly 20M people signed up. 40% of those (8M) can not afford their plan, meaning that they are one major medical event away from financial catastrophe. Should these 8M people be counted as “having” insurance? There remain 22M uninsured. 57% (15M) choose to remain uninsured because of the high costs.

    Another way to look at the numbers is thus: 20M people “gained” insurance under ACA via too-expensive plans or penalties, but 23M still have no viable insurance.

    It is disingenuous to dismiss any current Healthcare plan being proposed. The debate and discussion over the merits of any plan currently underway is exactly the healthy dialogue that should have occurred before, “We have to pass this bill so that you can find out what’s in it” was signed into law.

    Thank you for reading.

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    1. Hi vkvienna, thanks for reading. A few points:
      1) I feel the tone of this comment is a bit unfair. You have some differing opinions, and your (good) points can be made without accusing me of boasting- the point of this article is mostly to compare through anecdotes, with the exception of the end. I didn’t say that we should adopt the system; I don’t pretend to understand the policy-making scale of health care. Again, it’s an average hobbyist’s anecdotal comparison.
      2) I appreciate your perspective having lived in Austria. I didn’t know that.
      3) as to your last point, I respectfully disagree- I can understand how people feel Obamacare was forced down their throats, esp considering the current state of affairs, but keep in mind Obamacare was in process for at least a year. The current proposed bill has been negotiated in secret- it’s not an open debate as far as Congressional Republicans are concerned- and it has been a mere couple months they have been trying to pass it. To me, that is the definition of having something forced down your throat, something that is so important to so many people.

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  2. Obama promised that (the Administration), “will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”

    While the ACA had been in process for a year, the specifics of the bill that eventually became ACA were rushed.  The Senate Finance Committee’s consideration of ACA was marked up after midnight as the staff whipped up a package of manager’s amendments meant to ensure that the law worked as planned.  Then Senate Majority Leader Reid introduced a reconciliation order to make hundreds of changes throughout the proposed bill, text barely released before the floor debate. The Senate version of ACA, of nearly 17,000 pages was passed on Christmas Eve when no one was watching.

    The actual legislators who voted on the legislation didn’t know how the law would work, but they trusted the experts they hired. One of those experts was Jonathan Gruber, whose reliance on “the stupidity of the American voter” made it important for him and Democrats to hide Obamacare’s true costs from the public. “That was really, really critical for the thing to pass.” 

    As for “Unpopular,” I submit:
    2010 CNN Opinion Poll 59% Oppose Obamacare

    2011 Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health. In its most recent tracking poll, it found that 50 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of the law.

    2013, 2014 Gallup. “38% approved after companies dropped millions of Americans from their insurance plans because the plans did not meet the law’s minimum coverage requirements.” Relying on the stupidity of the American voter, Obama promised, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

    2015 Gallup (Following Supreme Court ruling) Americans’ approval of the law rose to 47%.

    2016 Kaiser Poll. The November survey, conducted after the 2016 election, showed 45% find “Obamacare” unfavorable.

    Really, it comes down to semantics. Volleying legislation around for a year in order to hide the true costs of its unpopularity from the “stupidity of the American voter” in a Christmas Eve vote, and then rushing it into law in the absence of the promised, “opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days,” sounds to me like the definition of having something forced down one’s throat.

    Exit Question. How much would an “Obamacare” policy cost you? Could you afford it? Would you purchase it?

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    1. vkvienna, I was 17 at the time these things were happening and I did not follow politics as closely as now. The most important question for me at the moment in terms of “shoving things down peoples’ throats” is, Do two wrongs make a right? Politics are ruthless, and Obama’s intention was good. You can choose to believe differently, but for the majority of the country that despises the Republicans’ repeal and replace bill, it’s not an attempt to improve healthcare, it’s a party without checks and balances widening the wealth gap without any real concern for people who are not part of the uppermost echelons of society.

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  3. I am fascinated by topics like this. As a matter of fact, I learned a lot talking to residents of Czechia, Hungary and Poland when I visited last year.
    The waiting system on a clinic is very similar to what you will find in Puerto Rico (I grew up there) and other Latin American countries. You take your number and wait to receive care. In my perspective, that system benefits you when you need that care the same day. I get so frustrated with the appointment system here in the United States. Sometimes, I feel so bad and I am told the next available appointment is in 5 (or more) days. On those cases, I go to an urgent care facility.
    The parental / maternal rights are so good there!
    Thanks for all your insights! #WanderfulWednesday

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  4. I find it so interesting to learn more about health care systems in different countries! From the outside, the German and Norwegian one (the only countries where I’ve lived so far) seem rather similar but actually they’re not. In Germany for example, you have to pay a monthly fee for healthcare whereas in Norway, you don’t have any expenses until you actually go to the doctor’s. So in Germany you basically pay in advance whereas in Norway you pay per visit. Visiting the dentist is quite expensive in Norway though as it’s not part of the government scheme, whereas it’s included in your coverage in Germany… The Czech system seems rather similar to the German one though in that there are secretaries who’re also nurses. The drawing a number system though, can only be found in Norway.

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    1. and when you go to the doctor in Norway, how/how much do you pay? Dental care is so expensive everywhere… in CZ I think only basic things are covered; you have to pay extra for yearly cleanings, for example.

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  5. “Obama’s intention was good.”
    His good intention relied, no, depended on, “the stupidity of the American Voter;” and, when trying to sell the ACA he stated, “we will keep this promise to the American people: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” That statement, issued more than 30 times by then-President Obama was voted, “Lie of the Year” by PolitiFact. Do 30+ lies make a right?

    “Checks and Balances.”
    Former Senator Harry Reid threw shade at checks and balances with his procedural changes in order to push through a massive social-policy change. I reiterate that the current discussions underway are exactly what should have taken place before ACA was signed into law.

    “Widening the Wealth Gap.”
    From the Gini Index, 2016. “The distribution of income in the United States has been more unequal under Obama’s presidency than any time since the 1930s.”

    Parsing the numbers (available through census.gov), with the exception of 2009, the share of the richest 20% (the “upper echelon”) throughout the Obama administration was higher than any year under his Republican predecessor. The bottom 60% had a lower share in every year Obama was president.

    This all being said, there is a lot of disparate anger in your last comment; I, like one of the above commenters, find discussing these topics interesting, but the creeping sense of ad hominem attacks suggests it is time for me to leave this conversation.

    I wish you all the best.

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  6. Hi Chloe,
    I just came across your blog post, and I find it quite interesting. I am a Czech girl currently living in the USA, so I am comparing things from a slightly different perspective myself. 🙂 And honestly, I really do miss health care at home.

    From my quite brief (2 years, luckily without any medical problems) experience, I find the American medical staff a little bit more attentive and sociable, but that might also be just the difference in national mentality. People do not dwell in small talk that much in Czech republic, haha. But even though it may be less fancy, you will get an equally good medical care standard (and sometimes much higher than US standards – e.g., gynecologist visits) in Czech Republic and most other EU countries. 🙂 Also, I completely agree with you that American insurance policy terms are SOOO confusing. I still don’t have a quite clear idea of how much I would need to pay for things if I got really sick…

    Also, I have a few comments for you. I am not sure about Tišnov, as I have never lived in that town, but I would say that in general there are doctors everywhere in Czech republic who are making appointments. Not all of them, but you can definitely find them quite easily, which will help you avoid the long waiting times. Of course, there may be some patients with an urgent problem that would get to see the doctor immediately but usually with an appointment the waiting time is no longer than 15 min anytime during the day (my personal experience with several doctors). Some younger doctors even accept appointment reservations through email or online system now, and sometimes you could even get a prescription for a drug electronically without going to doctor’s office in person (assuming it is something you use over a long period of time without issues). So quite a jump from key chain numbers (at least for some doctors). 🙂

    Regarding the medicines, there are lots of them sold over the counter actually. The major difference, I would say, is that you cannot buy them in a grocery store. But anyone can buy these drugs in pharmacies, and as a bonus, you always have a knowledgeable pharmacist there to advise you, if you are not completely sure which pills in which dosing to take – not something that Walmart personnel can offer (in the grocery store part). 🙂

    And lastly, I am not sure if it is fair to compare prices directly between the US and the Czech Republic. The USA prices are ridiculously high in health care, that’s for sure, but wages in the Czech Republic are incomparably lower so looking simply at the cost difference is not quite possible this way.

    I really like your post! It is great to hear a foreigner’s perspective to something that I take as a norm myself. 🙂 I hope you will have some more good time in the Czech Republic without any need to visit doctors!

    Kristýna

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