If you're an American and you ever find yourself in a bar overseas getting into a friendly little argument over who comes from a better country, there are tons of things you can list that make America pretty darn great.
When it comes to decadent food, look no further. Our entertainment industry produces some of the most influential films in the world - I mean our primary export is basically culture, and a lot of that shines through in our TV shows and movies. In recent history, we've also had some powerfully influential political figures, not to mention getting a lot of credit for "saving the day" during World War II. And have you seen our shopping malls? Epic bro, even if the "Mall of America" is owned by a Canadian family, who cares because it's named after us, bro.
So if anyone's trying to bring up military might or entertainment or music or gut-busting foods, or malls in a "who's-country-is-better" bar argument, Americans can make a pretty good argument for themselves. They can sit back, relax, and sip on their beer without fear while the screaming caw of a majestic bald eagle echoes in the distance.
That is, until, the other country brings up healthcare. That's when you silently bury your face in your glass and the eagle shuts up.
America spends more on healthcare than any other industrialized nation in the word, and that number has recently hit record highs. Now one would argue that that's because we provide the best service possible patient service on the planet, but sadly, that isn't the case. Compared to other industrialized nations, we have a higher percentage of relative amenable mortality rates, lab and medical errors, and generally provide a lower quality of service despite spending more than everyone else.
In layman's terms: we're getting screwed. But you probably don't need a bunch of fancy statistics and studies and countless hours of research to show you that. In fact, just taking a look at some medical bills shared by people who were unfortunate enough to get injured in the U.S.A. should be more than enough to convince you that we're getting shafted by the healthcare system.
Like this Redditor who posted the medical bill for his brother who fell while rock climbing that reportedly came out to a whopping $367,435.80, aka the price of a nicely sized home.
Because the best part of Reddit is the comments section, people expertly pointed out how ridiculous the pricing was to treat his brother's injuries.
Childbirth is a very stressful time and there's nothing as tragic and horrifying than when new parents learn that their baby is suddenly fighting for their life after they're born. "Preemie" births, health complications, any kind of issues for a newborn are super frightening and anyone who's a parent knows they'll do anything to guarantee their child's health, no matter what the cost.
And apparently that cost is really, really high in the United States, because take a look at this Redditor who posted a copy of their cousin's bill after giving birth in a US hospital.
One commenter mentioned that since their baby had to undergo care in their hospital's NICU that they encountered a similar bill. Thankfully, their out-of-pocket expenses weren't anywhere near what the invoice mentioned, but they still had to pay a heck of a lot, despite having health insurance.
If you've ever had to spend time in the hospital and snuck a peak at the payment notices you've received in the mail, particularly the itemized list of treatments, you probably picked up on a few charges for things that seemed a bit unnecessary.
Like this guy who was expected to pay $303.80 for a social worker who allegedly walked into his hospital room to tell him that smoking was bad and that he needed to quit.
The craziest part is that there's a good shot that he'll be fully expected to pay for that very effective talk. Honestly, I'd probably quit smoking just to avoid being hit with an "unrequested lecture charge."
If you have a strong sense of justice, then you might not want to look at this next person's medical bill.
This redditor's friend was hit by a person who was driving while under the influence of heroin. The injuries they sustained necessitated a month long stay in the hospital. This was the invoice they were sent in the mail for spending receiving 30 days of care.
How are these figures reached? And is anyone really expected to pay these large sums of money?
Although these figures are overwhelming and absolutely terrifying to look at, it turns out that they're inflated kind of on purpose in order for healthcare workers, doctors, and hospitals to get paid in this very broken system America's currently employing.
Take a look at this ridiculous cost to treat a rattlesnake bite: $153,161.25.
Yes, this would make anyone's heart drop upon seeing this figure. Yes it's scary to think that this debt is out there crushing your very existence and the fear of your wages being garnished and never being able to pay this sum off unless you "hit it big" or win the lottery would run through pretty much every person's head.
But as reddit user Iatros, who reports that they are a doctor, explains, there's a reason why this figure is so darn high. Note: this isn't a justification 0f the cost per se (as he constantly reminds people), just an explanation; they do admit that the U.S. healthcare system is messed up, even though they do kind of try to blame "gangbangers" and patients for all of the high costs.
As it turns out though, not everyone is fortunate to get a "free bed" and have their time in the hospital subsidized like "gangbangers" do, and there are some people who get their wages garnished and have their financial identities completely ruined by the healthcare system.
Now for the purposes of comparison, here are some pictures of other country's medical bills. Like this one from Canada.
In all seriousness, there are some charges associated with medical care in the great north. A couple requested a private room to be more comfortable after the delivery of their baby.
They were charged $160, aka moderately priced hotel stay.
Even back when the UK was still part of the EU, someone was complaining about a hospital charge they received while on holiday in Belgium. The amount that they were expected to pay? $155.93. Or, about half of a "smoking is bad talk" to treat an actual injury.
Even then, they weren't expected to pay it.
Now it's easy to chalk up the great healthcare offered by other countries to the fact that they're "socialist" or they take a large chunk of income tax from its citizens.
But there are lots of problems with that argument. For starters, the US has one of the lowest federal minimum wages when compared with the rest of the world and are still expected to use that comparatively paltry wage to foot the cost of their medical expenses. Now the US might have one of the lowest taxable incomes when compared with other industrialized nations around the globe - about 25% of all our wages go to Uncle Sam. But if you think the buck stops there, then you're not seeing the whole picture.
The average cost of an individual's health insurance in the US is $321 a month, or $833 for families, and that doesn't include the cost of copays and other pricey deductibles for procedures, costs that are virtually nonexistent in other countries in the event you or a family member requires treatment.
Then there's the cost of universities, which people go into lifetime debts for. So if you want to get a job that requires a degree, you better hope you're getting a scholarship or have rich parents who can afford a premiere university tuition. Not to mention that United States university rankings are falling sharply, and don't even get me started on the abysmal state of our country's public school system. So if you want to send your kid to a decent private school in America then you're looking at $7,770 on average for elementary/yr, and $13,300/yr on average for high school.
Then, there's the question of housing.
Home ownership in the US has reached a record low, and those figures look even more dismal when you consider that there's a staggering number of families that own mortgages they'll probably never be able to realistically pay back. Even if you do get a mortgage for a home and can pay it, there's the little question of property taxes - aka, money you'll never get back. Even if your home is completely paid off, you still need to pay taxes on your property that you already own. Imagine buying a computer, and paying the tax on it, then, because you still own it, you're expected to pay $50 a year for every year you own it just to have the privilege of owning it, or else it goes under foreclosure and someone else can snatch it up for a steal.
So when you incorporate all of those factors, you're probably paying the same or more than all those "socialist" countries do just to live your life only to have a worse standard of living. Oh yeah, and America's also got a huge for-profit prison system that financially incentivizes the legal system to keep people behind bars, sometimes, bribing judges to do so. So have fun paying price-gouging tickets from police departments, that are solely designed to separate you from your money, but rescuing a kid stuck in the back of a minivan dying from asphyxiation for two hours? Yeah, there ain't no time for that.
But I'm sure there are bigger problems that our country is facing, like when we're getting a wall to separate us from Mexico erected, so it looks like it'll be a long time before the healthcare situation in America is ever really solved.