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$18 Baby Aspirin

   The other day, I went to the orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up examination of a torn calf muscle. I can only guess how much this would have cost in the States, but here in Japan where everyone--citizens and foreigners alike--must participate in either the government-run health insurance scheme or have their health insurance provided by their employer, it only cost me ¥380 (c.$3.50). The first visit, including painkillers, bandages, and medicated compresses cost about twenty bucks out of pocket. Because everyone under the age of 65 must pay 30% of the bill at the point where the care is given, the treatment of my calf has only cost forty dollars. (Contrast that with the U.S. where you might have to cough up as much as eighteen bucks for baby aspirin. Talk about headaches!) 

   Incidentally, I also took my son to the pediatrician's twice last week for treatment of a nasty stomach virus. It cost me nothing as health care and medicine for children under the age of 15 is free in our prefecture.

   Americans really have no idea what they are missing out on. They are told repeatedly by politicians that the U.S. has "the greatest health care system in the world!" but in reality they are being screwed.

   I suspect the misinformation has been intentional. A lot of professionals, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies would surely lose money if Americans ever woke up and demanded a fairer, more affordable, less profit-driven system, like the one we have here.

   More on the so-called "horrors" of socialized medicine:

   PBS's Frontline had a good documentary called "Sick Around the World" that looks into the different health care systems in six  different countries, including Japan. It's worth watching.

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