On Thom's show today on AirAmerica, which I receive on XM 167, a caller claimed that many people come to America for treatment because our health care is so great. B.S.
Aside from this being largely [and merely] an anecdotal assertion from the health care industry and it's paid representatives and congresspersons, the reality is that some people do come here from around the world for treatment - they do not, however, come to our neighborhood doctors and hospitals.
We often hear of some dignitary or celebrity coming from overseas for treatment to places such as The Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Sloan-Kettering, and such. They come because they believe one of these centers has a specific program, specific expertise, or specific doctor, which will provide a level of treatment they cannot find in their home countries. Steve Jobs went to Tennessee for his transplant for the same reason - obviously he thought that he could get better treatment outside Silicon Valley. These are the exceptional cases.
In my community in Southern California, we have many of the world's finest physicians and surgeons, yet I have friends who have travelled thousands of miles to one center or another, or to visit some special doctor, where they felt they would get better treatment - one friend flew to London for a week to have laser vision surgery by "Dr. Dan", an American who practices there because his procedures and instruments have yet to be approved in this country - they felt more comfortable having him work on their eyes. These people can afford to go where they want, and pay what they want, for the level of care they perceive they will receive. The rest of us settle for local practitioners, assuming we are going to be treated well, and most of us with good insurance receive adequate or even great treatment.
The other side of the problem is represented by clients I meet to drive to Mexico for medical care or medications they can't afford here.
I can afford a $40 co-pay, a $5,000 deductible. For my employees, however, that is a stretch. I wish I could afford to pay for better coverage for them, but as my insurance rates increase at 25-40% per year, we must have cutbacks somewhere. One of my associates had a major medical insurance plan - as a male of 40, he was in good health and thought he had good enough coverage - a fall from his mountain bike proved otherwise - just the deductibles and copays almost wiped out his savings - the coverage was, fortunately, good enough to allow him to keep his house. Weekly, I meet someone who simply cannot afford to keep there health insurance - these are white, middle class, Americans who have worked all their lives - yet they feel they cannot afford something that I view as a necessity of life.
We need basic reform in our medical system, something far better than the recent health care bill, and we don't need false claims that the world is beating a path to our door for our cheap, bountiful and effective health care as an excuse not to try to achieve that goal - the data does not support the claim.