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Diet & Nutrition

Why we should care about Medicare

After recently relocating to the US, The Weekly's Caroline Overington offers some insight into the Australian and American healthcare systems and their vast differences

NO question, we in Australia adore Medicare.
No question, we put up a fight, when Medicare comes under threat. Even the $5 co-payment proposed by the Abbott government sounded to most of us like an attack on something precious.
The fight for Medicare is one we probably don't want to lose. In case you want to know what health care looks like, when you don't have Medicare, well, our family recently moved to the United States, where there is no universal health care system (Obama is trying, but he's not getting far.) We looked into the cost of what they call 'an insurance plan' (basically, private health cover) and it's about $900 a month for a family. That's US dollars.
Extraordinary, right?
Right. But here's something else we didn't take into account: the cost of basic medicines, when they're not subsidised, as in Australia.
I went to see a GP today. My insurance hasn't kicked in, so the visit cost was $90. That's not cheap but nor was it as bad as I thought it was going to be. What knocked off my socks was the cost of the prescription. I needed something called Tretinoin. It's basically Retin A, and it's a lotion I need for a scar on the side of my head. The GP - or physician, as they're known here - happily gave me the script. I happily took the script to the CVS, which is the pharmacy (they don't say chemist.)
In Australia, something similar would cost around $15 because it's subsidized.
Here? You can see for yourself.
The US health system does not subsidise even basic medicine.
This tube cost $205. That's USD. No, you're not seeing things. This tube of cream cost two hundred and five dollars.
Only... Breaking Bad would be a casualty of Medicare.
Don't take Medicare for granted. Medicare is precious (of course, as the children pointed out, Medicare is also why Breaking Bad couldn't have got off the ground in Australia. I mean, how would that look? Walter White: 'I have cancer. But it's fine. Because, Medicare.' The end.'

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