National health services: Real and imagined

Brazilian NHS

This week, a close relation had back surgery in London, and a dear friend got a root canal done in Paris. Both used their respective countries’ public health services. Both were very happy with the excellent care they received. During the health care debate in the US, Brazil was held up as one of the countries that offers its citizens a universal public health system. That is a travesty. The above photo, which recently circulated on Facebook, shows expectant mothers waiting to have their babies delivered in Brasilia. This is what this country’s national health service (called SUS, or Universal Health Service) looks like. Brazil has the worst of both worlds – on one hand, predatory insurance companies that often fail to cover life-saving services like radiotherapy for cancer without being taken to court (my personal experience), and on the other, a taxpayer-funded public health system that is an option of last resort for the truly desperate.

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