In 2004, I’d just finished a novel and by way of celebration had taken my family for an extended visit to Australia, where I was born and raised.

I didn’t expect that trip to save my life. But I’m convinced it did, because of Australia’s “socialized” medicine…

Two weeks later, I was in a Sydney hospital, discussing treatment options for my invasive stage II cancer. According to testimony by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) at last Thursday’s health-care summit, I should have been heading for the airport at that point. Like his unnamed Canadian state premier with the heart condition, I should have been hightailing it to the U.S., to avail myself of “the best health care in the world.”

No thanks, Senator. I elected to stay in Australia. We had ample U.S. insurance; cost wasn’t an issue. I simply wanted to remain in a humane, rational system where doctors treat a person as a patient, not a potential plaintiff, and where the procedures ordered for me were the ones shown by hard science to produce the best outcome for the most people.

Australia adopted universal health care in 1984. Since then, life expectancy for women has increased to 83.5 years from 78.7 (for males to 79.1 from 72.6), while spending on health care has risen less than 1 percent, to 4.4 percent of government outlays (in 2008-09). The scheme is funded by a levy of 1.5 percent on taxable income, and all political parties, even the most conservative, support it.

RTFA. Try it! It won’t harm you.

Geraldine Brooks suggests, you might pass this along to a Republican or some other reactionary.

Thanks, honeyman




  1. jccalhoun says:

    I thought the claim that health care is 1.5 % of taxable income in OZ was a lie meant to sucker in the brain dead
    I’m not sure what you are talking about. the original article says it is paid for by “a levy of 1.5 percent on taxable income.” I didn’t see anything specific in the article you linked to that contradicted that.

  2. mattg says:

    To decode the link in #70 (jccalhoun), The funding for the public system is indeed from the 1.5% of income levy, which is calculated and paid through the income tax system.

    If you are in the armed services or earn less than $20K a year you are exempt from the levy.

    If you earn over $140K and do not have private health insurance you pay an additional 1% surcharge (total 2.5%)

    This levy probably pays for less than 1/3rd of the total govt cost of healthcare though, the rest coming from general tax revenue.

  3. Mr. Fusion says:

    #48, smittybc,

    The problem with quoting from wing nut sources is they show their bias.

    Here is the actual study. The graphs start on page 11. The US does not have the best outcome in every category. Cuba and France regularly tops the US.

    Check it out.

  4. MalaySwimmer says:

    # 43 BmoreBadBoy – If Australia was so great, they’d have our immigration problem

    australia has a notorious immigration problem. people from all over asia and the pacific islands are trying to sneakin. sure you heard about cubans floating to florida but if youd read a paper youd hear abut indonesians floating to australia.

  5. BmoreBadBoy says:

    #65 tcc3 – I think what you meant to ask was: What do you do about sick people who just can’t afford health services from a health care provider? My question to you is, who’s responsible for his health? Is the doctor responsible? Should the doctor be forced to work to heal someone for free? No, of course not. Should the owner of the hospital be forced to pay the doctor because that sick person can’t afford to pay the doctor? Um….not as clear cut, but if you spend one second thinking about it, No! So, someone has to pay the doctor, right? Are you saying it’s ok for the government to rob someone (ie the tax payer) to pay for the services the sick person got? Is that person responsible for his health? I understand empathy, don’t get me wrong. But coercion and extortion are not the way to help those who do not have the means. There is charity. And then there is progress. With competition in a free market comes efficiency and innovation in order to gain market share. Just like electronics in a much less regulated market, health care would become cheaper while becoming more advanced. Ask yourself a simple question, why is it electronics get better exponentially over time while getting cheaper, but health care gets more and more expensive while less and less people can get access? The latter is an aberration caused by heavy government regulation. Eventually, just like when TV’s just came out, only rich people could afford one, but now even households in the poorest neighborhoods have 3 minimum, health care would also become cheap enough and efficient enough for even the poorest members of society to gain access to.

    Now, in your twisted, narrowly focused mind, you have equated my option as a doctor of whether or not to treat you as a patient to my stabbing you in the heart with a sharp object. They are two very different things. I didn’t make you sick. I’m performing a service by treating you. I’m not advocating killing poor people, I’m saying whether you are poor or rich, someone has to be responsible to pay the doctor for his work. But, Americans are indoctrinated in the government schools to have a feeling of entitlement. That’s the problem. We all feel that we are entitled to things you don’t deserve. You don’t have a right to health care. You exchange something of value that you possess to pay for a service a doctor renders. I don’t think I can explain it any more clearly…

    #67 bac – Not necessarily. Remove the myriad and ubiquitous regulations on insurance (if I’m not mistaken, insurance is the most heavily regulated industry) and you will allow many more competitors into the market. With the new found competition, the major insurance companies that made all the strict rules would lose doctors from their plans, who would go to upstart insurance companies who gave more of the control to doctors, required less paperwork and attracted the highest number of insured’s by offering the best insurance policies for the lowest price. With the government, there is no competition, the government is a monopoly and there is no true accountability. Monopolies are never good for the consumer. Competition is always great for the consumer. And to answer your last question: a company that sold beef that killed or made sick its customers would go out of business pretty quickly without the protection of the government.

  6. BmoreBadBoy says:

    #73 Malay – lmfao. ok ok. What I meant to say was, if australia’s so great, why don’t you move over there? (thought I’d beat you guys to it…)

  7. Mr Ed says:

    All you uninsured people! Listen up.
    Just go ahead and die, please.

    This message brought to you by the selfish party.

  8. amodedoma says:

    As someone who’s been enjoying socialized medicine for over 20 years I’d like to dispel a few myths, if I may…

    Social medicine makes it impossible for private medicine to exist – false, private medicine is doing quite well here – there will always people who will want to spend as much as they can on their health.

    Social medicine is inefficient and makes people wait – false, I get to see my GP on a next day basis – or off to a hospital emergency room at anytime. what’s more, doctors order the tests they need as there’s no need to seek authorization from an insurance provider. I had a magnetic resonance scan on my head when they were investigating my migraines, even spent 10 days in hospital for a large battery of tests to find the cause – they even did a sleep study. Try that with your crappy copay.

    Death panels, you’ve got to be kidding right?

    I’ve had 3 kids – OB/GYN, pediatricians, the works, I’ve had surgery on my deviated septum, they’ve sown cuts and mended bone. I’ve never had a complaint. I’ve seen what the insurance companies are doing to family and friends back home. Go ahead keep thinking it’s impossible, serve your masters even while getting the lash.

    I pay taxes, now I know some of you dipsticks consider taxes a dirty word, and government and even dirtier one, but the alternative to trusting your country is trusting a private corporation whose principal interest is to make a profit.

    It really sucks reading about little old widows about to loose their homes because they can’t afford the medical treatment they need to stay alive. I sure am glad that doesn’t happen here.

  9. Uncle Patso says:

    Dear Aussies: Good on yer, mates! Care to trade some politicians? Or maybe some lend/lease?

  10. Uncle Patso says:

    The question seems to be: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    The popular answer seems to be “NO! IT’S MINE, ALL MINE! MINE! MINE! MINE!”

    Well then, the only answer is to embrace the Death Panel idea. We must kill the old and the sick so the rest of us aren’t held down, chained by the tyranny of caring.

    How old are YOU? How do you FEEL?

  11. amodedoma says:

    Um, forgot to mention a visit to the emergency room for a kidney stone attack (very painful, Valium? Yes, thank you!), or the time they determined me to have sleep apnea and came to my home to install a respirator and show me how to use it (couldn’t get used to it, so it didn’t work, hence the operation on my deviated septum). Finally beat the migraines though.
    Many of the things I got treated for would find exceptions in the current american insurance model, pre-existing conditions etc.
    Sure we pay a lot of taxes, sure we have corrupt politicians, but to say it just can’t be done, that’s stupid.

  12. BmoreBadBoy says:

    #80 amode – I’m sure it can be done. Only problem is governments are horribly inefficient and spend way too much money because there is no market feed back on their operations. Only a government can rack up the deficits the US government has right now. Any business that tried to do that would be bankrupt and looking for a bailout right now. It’s like if my wife asked me to buy a toyota camry, and I went out and bought one for $90,000. Yes, it got done, but we are going to be in some serious financial trouble as a family. I fear the same for socialized medicine in the US. It might turn out great at first, but there are already record breaking deficits, what’s going to happen once those debts have to start getting paid?

  13. Nitroneo says:

    Look its very simple. Nationalized Health care in the US is unconstitutional. Congress will be stepping out of the bounds allowed. We have allowed congress to overstep their bounds far too often already, its time to put a stop to it for the REAL better benefit to society. Keep Freedom in the USA!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n2m-X7OIuY

  14. MalaySwimmer says:

    #75 BmoreBadBoy -What I meant to say was, if australia’s so great, why don’t you move over there?

    if by ‘you’ you mean me, i’ve been to australia and felt there were entirely too many australians there. i’ll stay here in belize, thank you.

  15. amodedoma says:

    #81 BBB

    Yeah OK, I get it. You’re one of the lucky ones that’s got a good job, good insurance, and good health, and the only thing you’re really worried about is having to pay more taxes and make a sacrifice in your lifestyle. You’re living in a dream world if you think it doesn’t affect you. Good job, health, and luck are temporary. Tomorrow they might find a melanoma, you might lose your job, a lot can go wrong, as soon as your insurance company finds themselves paying out instead of receiving they’ll be looking for ways to not pay. But go ahead and repeat the conservative dogma like a ninny. I’ve moved to a country with social medicine and even if I were a bum on the street I could get to see a doctor. Knock on wood, I’m pretty lucky myself, but who knows, I too could lose it all tomorrow, all but my right to medical attention.

  16. MikeN says:

    If Obama had been willing to make a few concessions, he would have had about half a dozen Republican votes, and could have passed a bill without surrendering to Joe LIeberman, no Louisiana Purchase, no Cornhusker Kickback, no nominating a Utah Democrat’s brother to a federal judgeship the same day this Congressman is in the White House to discuss his health care vote. Obama was not willing to go against his trial lawyer backers and put tort reform in the bill. He supported his union friends and took away the tax on Cadillac health insurance plans. Chuck Grassley’s part of the process disappeared.

  17. MikeN says:

    “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”

    Nancy Pelosi

  18. BmoreBadBoy says:

    #83 Malay – Nice. I have a friend from Belize.

    #84 ADD – I get it also. You refuse to look at it from a fiscal standpoint. It would be great if the government could give everybody a job, car, healthcare, food, shelter, etc. Unfortunately, government is too corrupt and too inefficient. Money stolen from the taxpayer at gunpoint is misdirected into the pockets of corrupt politicians and their backers and the endless bureaucracy wastes even more. That’s why the US is up to its eyeballs in debt. And what’s the solution? Give it more control so it can get into more debt.

    I do believe I’m affected otherwise why would I be concerned enough to write about it? And I want to pay less taxes, like zero. And I don’t want to sacrifice my lifestyle to improve the lifestyles of those in power and their backers! And I’d rather rely on my ability to make decisions instead of entrusting politicians with them like you have. And I’m no conservative either. Conservatives today are just Liberals from a decade or 2 ago. (For example, conservatives from the New Deal era opposed programs such as Social Security and Medicare, but they will blast you on Fox News today if you try to touch it.)

    Government can go into debt and not satisfy the customer. Businesses can’t. In a truly free market, as many people as possible would receive the best healthcare possible because of competition, without having to become slaves to government masters.

  19. MikeN says:

    #87, are you still banned from paying doctors extra for treatments not covered by Medicare, if those doctors take Medicare patients?

  20. Somebody says:

    “If Obama is trying to destroy the constitution he is just following in the steps of the guys who had the job before he did.”

    Hold that thought.

  21. Somebody says:

    95% of blog readers are more impressed by statistics than they should be.

  22. Somebody says:

    The reason she was cured was her doctor knew what he was doing. That his fee was extracted at gun-point from some passer-by had nothing to do with it.

  23. Somebody says:

    You can’t reasonably expect “Socialized Medicine” from a bunch of Fascist lackeys. The best you can hope for is a bill from a bunch of pols on the take that forces healthy young people to buy insurance and allows care to be denied to old people for the express purpose of protecting corporate profits.

    You should be able to see that for yourself if you are paying attention.

  24. Somebody says:

    If you are stupid enough to submit yourselves and your children to a “health care system” that the ruling class exempts themselves from, then you are proving that you are the mere livestock that your owners have presumed you to be.

  25. Anonymous says:

    We don’t trust the government. I hear this statement over and over. All of the sudden, we trust the government with our health care. That is my main concern. I’m also worried about how much lazier America will get than we already are. Technology (I love it) has made a majority of things so easy for us that we are able to stay fat and hermit in our lifestyles. We have so many resources to be habitual drug users, obese, homicidal maniacs, etc. that it makes me wonder how packed our hospitals would personally be due to our life choices, not the curve balls thrown at us in life.

  26. Dustin Breiter says:

    Actually, this article is a little misleading. The government of Australia has publicly stated that it’s Universal health Care does not include non citizens, no matter who they are, or how long their stay in the country. Therefore, what saved this author wasn’t the fact that they have universal healthcare, but the fact that she grew up in Australia, and retained her citizenship. If she hadn’t, she would have to either go to America, or die in Australia.


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