Jan. 11th, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
My college-age cousin broke her leg while travelling in Thailand. We haven't actually talked since we were children, but we're facebook friends, and this is the sort of thing one FBs about a lot. Today she observed how much better the Thai system is than the US, because it is based on compassion and not money. You can tell because strangers are spontaneously bringing her flowers and food, and the whole thing cost only $2100 for the week*. And I want to scream at her "it's not based on compassion, you just have enough money to buy everyone's goodwill without even noticing." Do you think the average Thai person gets this experience? No. Physicians earn on average ~$1000/month (source: http://www.worldsalaries.org/thailand.shtml , although presumably an English speaking surgeon makes more). Thai per capita income is $5400 (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand ). If American salaries and land were as cheap as Thailand, we could totally treat a broken leg for $2000, although of course her parents would not be able to pay it quite so easily. So if she enjoyed this experience, congratulations, she now understands why rich people are so loathe to change the US system. And even with that, she only stayed in Thailand long enough to stabilize, and is returning to the US for further treatment.

I am, as ever, not saying the US system is good, or that it doesn't suck to have one little accident cost you tens of thousands of dollars**, or that her insurance company isn't being a huge dick about paying for her care. They probably are, and in terms of systems, "let the insurance company decide what their contract requires them to pay for" has some serious flaws. I am saying that "but Thailand was super nice to me" is not a compelling argument.

*unclear if this includes the multiple surgeries, or just the stay in the room, and if it's before or after insurance.

**although actually, what the accident cost her was the structural integrity of her tibia. Getting that back costs tens of thousands of dollars

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