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A Response To The Documentary Sicko

Ed Fesler

Hi, Mike.

Sicko is great but why did you forget Mexico? Uncle Sam wouldn't be giving you trouble on your return stateside, not like going to Cuba. And the Mexicans have been financing public health since the 1940s. Those that aren't covered can go the public medicine route funded by states. It covers hospitals and medicines. They charge in line with one's ability to pay and treatment is free to the very poor.

One of the federally supported hospitals in Mexico does more organ transplants than any other hospital between the Rio Grande and South Pole. A dermatological hospital attracts medical students from all Latin countries. At a spacious medical park of 15 units, they're doing research on stem cells (no George Bush down there!), and separating Siamese twins.

A retired friend pays 63 cents a day for every medical need he has or will develop. His wife gets lifetime coverage because her former husband was an employee under the plan when he died. Her kids were covered until age 18.

Like the airlines, these medical plans overbook their schedules. But statistics show a very strange thing: doctors spend an average of 20 minutes with each patient whereas Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN doctor, reported that American doctors spend only about 10 minutes with each one.

With a data base of roughly 50 million patients and computers on every desk - so it seems - it's no wonder they take a "daddy knows best" attitude when prescribing medicines and treatments. They're don't jump and clap their hands when Big Pharma puts on a zillion-dollar TV advertising campaign for its latest creation. "Tried and true is best for you" seems to be their motto.

The patient has two choices. First, go to the assigned clinic and talk to the doctor. They're all excellent diagnosticians. Or he can go to the assigned emergency location and talk to one of the specialists on duty. In fact, if the patient has a fever, is bleeding, has a pain somewhere in the body, or has trouble breathing, he is encouraged to go immediately to the latter location.

One of the major misconceptions is that the patient has no idea what doctor he will see in the clinic. Not true. The doctor wants to report to the same office every day and his union will see to it that he does.

Another misconception is that medical attention is completely first-come, first-serve. Not true. There will be appointments for everything.

They push preventive medicine. Your passbook is checked at the reception desk every time you come; if you're behind schedule for a shot, you go to the Preventive Medicine door and the nurse gives it to you, then and there.

And the patient can be sure the surgeon who does the operation isn't digging around with his scalpel to buy Christmas presents or take a hunting trip to Africa. His superiors have OK'd the operation.

Any graduating doctor or nurse is hopeful of a job either in the U.S. or the public sector of Mexico's medicine. That's where the money lies. In Mexico they will receive housing loans and retirement is available in the 50s. Pensions are generous. Continuing education is provided. As is lifetime health care.

Yep, Mike, you missed a good one.


Published or Updated on: September 1, 2007 by Ed Fesler © 2007
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