I’ve had a little voyage into the bowels of socialized medicine recently, and it never ceases to amaze me. The amount of paperwork and forms and things that need to be faxed back and forth is dizzying (but then, oops, the thing is classified as the wrong kind of appointment, so you have to call everybody back and try to re-classify it, but then you need the other form, which you can’t get until the other form is sent around, but you can’t get that form until the first form is approved–and so forth). But then–magic. No money, no scary surprises, of course you get to have your health issue taken care of, why wouldn’t you?

Or, in my case, due to the fact that the right classification of appointment would have meant an appt. date past when I’m supposed to be in Israel, I decided to pay out of pocket. It was minor outpatient surgery and lab tests (and yes, I’m totally fine). Which cost me–wait for it, Americans–a whopping $131. For surgery, doctor visit, local anasthetic, stitching up, nurse helping out, diagnostic tests, everything. Now, I recognize that that’s some groceries or a good contribution towards rent, but really? Chump change for those of us used to terrifying bills from insurance companies even when we are covered by insurance. It’s neat when health care is not a for-profit industry.

To wit, GoingJesus’ contest to find out how much it costs to have a premature baby in America today. Not sure the answer yet, but most of the guesses in the comments (including by other parents with preemies) run between a quarter mil. and a million bucks. And you’ll note that (and the implied how much) the parents of this cute kid have to pay over and above what’s covered by insurance.

ETA: The cost has been revealed, it’s almost half a million dollars. Dang, that’s a lot of money.

There is, of course, a list of countries that do have universal health care. Quite a few, I’d say.

Also on the list of things that are free, This is a very cute idea–bookswapping for points. I generally just prefer to give away books to people who I suspect will enjoy them, but it’s a nice way to take that globally or to use your read books as a way to levy specific other titles you might want.

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