Posted by Sari
One of the things that does create some friction between Jukka and me as far as the cancer is concerned is the fact that he is completely happy with knowing the mere outlines of his treatments while I really want to know more. I have surfed to Suomen Lymfoomaryhmä, National Cancer Institute and Lymphoma Information Network, I have checked out what chemo agents he is getting (Etoposide, Prednison, Vincristine, Cyclophosphamide and Adriamycin(Doxorubicin), if I have dechiphered the information correctly), and I even have resorted to old fashion means of igathering information like (gasp!) books.
Lately I have been reading an American book Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Making Sense of Diagnosis, Treatment & Options by Lorraine Johnson. it is a relatively jargon-free and quite useful primer about NHL to patients and families, and I have already filled it with little post-it notes. It is, however, also written for American audiences which makes chapters like Finding the Right Oncologist and Insurance, Finances, Employment, Record-Keeping not only unapplicable but sometimes also baffling. Take this for example, from the chapter If You’re Hospitalized:
If this is a return trip, bring the phone the hospital may have sold you during your prior stay.I mean say what? Even in our wellfare state the hospital charges Jukka for the calls he makes, but to buy a phone from the hospital? What is up with that?
I have to say also that reading the chapters about medical insurance and doctors and HMO’s makes my head spin, and there seems to be greater uncertainties in the system compared to ours. Stories of people unable to change jobs because new health-plans would not cover pre-existing condition of a family-member, or Lance Armstrong calculating if he can pay for his treatments if he sells his house and car do not exactly inspire confidence.
On the other hand, good health-plans seem also to offer more than what communal health-care can offer to us, like a private room at the hospital.There is also more choice. USA is a larger country with lots more hospitals and doctors, so going shopping for the right doctor is sensible.
We are lucky that we live ten minutes drive away from Finlands largest (I think) University Hospital which is also in charge of cancer treatment, research and training of doctors for most of South of Finland, so Jukka is getting competent and up-to-date care so near home that on good days he can take the bus to and from the hospital.
It needs also to be added that I have no practical knowledge of the ins and outs of US health system, just a lot of prejudices and few random examples. I missed my chance to gain first-hand experiences when I could not presuade Jukka to go to the emergency room in Priceton when he had an ear infection even though I had paid quite a lot of extra to make our travel insuracne covered medical expenses in States.
The phone thing still baffles me, though....
Medical care in Helsinki is good, no need to worry. US system is very unequal: if you have good HMO or other private insurance you are in very good hands. On the other hand, if you have no insurance like ca. 20% of US population, you are screwed. Go to county hospital and pray. Even then you may get slapped with thousands of dollars of hospital fees. I know one person who had to declare bankruptcy in his 20s because he got benign brain tumor that had to be treated with expensive operations. He is only now back on his feet, 10 years later.
And don't get me started with the malpractice lawsuit circus here in US... That alone jacks up the hospital rates, even driving some doctors out of business!
Long live universal health care! Get well soon, Jukka! Best regards to you Sari!
Posted by: Tapani | October 18, 2003 at 23:52