PORTLAND— I’m far from the first American living in Europe to proclaim the virtues of universal health care. It’s almost a cliche at this point, but might have renewed relevance as the pandemic has actually laid bare the failures in medical systems around the world. After enduring COVID-19 in France, a trip home would offer me at least a glance at how that old comparison is holding up.
Working for a number of years as a self-employed journalist in the United States, I had experienced the struggle of getting health insurance. The cheapest plan (identified by my limited earnings) under the Affordable Care Act still cost over $100 a month with few benefits. When I required an oral treatment, I had to pay of pocket and went to a trainee at a dental college rather of a certified expert to conserve numerous dollars.
My relocation last year to Paris as a graduate student granted me instant access to complete protection from France’s national health insurance, despite the fact that I’m not a person. I now pay pennies for the pills I consider my chronic disease and, contrary to the stereotypes back home, I have never ever needed to wait long to make a physician’s visit.
When the infection hit, I ‘d check out all the American health centers– working within an economic model of scarcity and having simply sufficient materials at hand– needing to bid versus each other to obtain PPE, ventilators and other equipment. On the other hand, medical facilities in France and Germany established emergency treatments to triage resources. Of course, the situation in France hasn’t been best: President Emmanuel Macron was sluggish to promote extensive mask using (partially because of a scarcity) and the nation’s much touted StopCovid app stopped working to assist in widespread agreement tracing.
Fortunately, I have not gotten sick, and never even needed a COVID-19 test throughout the very first wave. However as I prepared to fly back to my home town of Portland, Oregon, I knew I would need to get tested– twice.
Individuals in cars and trucks line up to get totally free COVID-19 fast tests at a drive through site in Florida– Image: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/ZUMA
Before leaving Paris, as would be expected, getting a coronavirus test was bound to be smooth. After a fast phone call, I had a consultation at a clinic down the street from my apartment. I appeared to the outside website and had a complimentary test completed in less than five minutes. My unfavorable result came in less than 24 hr.
After landing securely on the West Coast, I would need a test in order to limit the time quarantining in my childhood bedroom (with my mom providing meals on trays). However hours of research study yielded complicated results. I no longer have medical insurance in the U.S. and can’t join my parents’ strategy because I am over age 25. I might go to a center but that might cost more than $100.
The only free service: a massive screening website in a convention center parking lot, where the waiting time was more than 3 hours. But even more significantly, unlike France, it would take up to five days for a result.
A few of the hold-up was due to the virus dispersing significantly in Oregon and around the country, with the number of brand-new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. topping 200,000 for the very first time this past Friday. And while France has also struggled to limit the toll, the second wave of the coronavirus aims to have actually slowed after a series of federal government measures, including national face mask requirements.
Maybe the hour for cliches and contrasts have passed.
8 months approximately into a pandemic, there is no “design” management to mention throughout the West. Still, the view showing up back in the U.S. is especially troubling, and made more so in my mind as the hours passed in the dark concrete lot, breathing in the vehicle fumes as I awaited my test.
A momentary burst of light arrived the minute I was in the hands of the health care staff. They were effective, friendly and made any nervous test taker at ease. It was the only part of the experience that mirrored my test in Paris: In spite of months of heartbreaking and exhausting work, the nurses, physicians, cleaning personnel of often broken healthcare systems worldwide continue to shine on the frontline of the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, perhaps the hour for cliches and comparisons have passed. And I question if this crisis (and a new president in the White Home) will finally be the tipping point for Americans to choose that excellent medical treatment must not only be scheduled for those who can afford it. France and the rest of Europe will be asking their own concerns about how the crisis has actually been handled. Yet there is nothing like a highly contagious, possibly fatal health problem to confirm what has constantly driven universal health coverage: if my next-door neighbor is ill, it is of priceless worth to me that she is taken care of.
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