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Friday, October 31, 2008

UNiversal Health Care - Aussi Style

Since we have a little election coming up where universal health is an issue and a campaign promise, I found this story interesting from the who decides what "universal" means category...

Excerpts From:
Australia: No residency for boy with Down syndrome
From TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Writer

SYDNEY, Australia – A German doctor hoping to gain permanent residency in Australia said Friday he will fight an immigration department decision denying his application because his son has Down syndrome.

Bernhard Moeller came to Australia with his family two years ago to help fill a doctor shortage in a rural area of Victoria state.

...His temporary work visa is valid until 2010, but his application for permanent residency was rejected this week.

...A medical officer of the Commonwealth assessed that his son's existing medical condition was likely to result in a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community.

..."This is not discrimination. A disability in itself is not grounds for failing the health requirement — it is a question of the cost implications to the community," the statement said.

...The immigration department said it appreciates Moeller's contribution to the community but said it must follow the relevant laws in considering residency applications.

..."If we did not have a health requirement, the costs to the community and health system would not be sustainable," the statement said.

...David Tolleson, executive director of the Atlanta-based National Down Syndrome Congress, said he was disappointed by the decision.

"What is the cost implication to the community of a doctor shortage?" Tolleson asked. "I assume the son had the same costs for the last two years and they were happy to have the family and use the dad as a doctor."

(bolding mine)

So here we have another real world example of government run UN-iversal health care:
Health care must be prioritized, rationed or denied according to the cost/benefit goals of a central government.


Anonymous said...

Where do they draw the line? Do they euthanize handicapped children? What is the dollar amount determining the person is not worth having in their society? And I thought they were nice people. Wait till their country starts flooding due to global warming and we can deny them entry.

Anonymous said...

As an American expat in Australia, lemme say that the US media isn't really giving good background in all the stories about this and seems to be making things out to be worse than they are-

Australia has a limited amount of various important resources, like potable water, so they're a bit more restrictive on their immigration than even the US (example: it costs about 10x as much money to apply for permanant residency in Australia than in the States, whether you get accepted or not). They're very picky with their health requirement because the government pays for ALL medical procedures, except for people with private insurance (who do get better care in exchange for paying more)

The issue is that there hasn't been much immigration reform, so the country still looks at the illnesses/conditions people have without taking into account whether there is supportive family with enough money for continual care, and things like that. I gather that policy will be changing soon, what with all the media exposure.

Mike said...

I have son wiith autism...we ive in USA. Suggestion to Austalian government...white skin is more cancer prone so no immigration for white people in Australia...or why not check women for breast cacer gene.

Anonymous said...

the boy has a condition - he is not ill, nor his condition contagious.

Down's Syndrome is not a disease.

I was born with cerebral palsy - thank God I'm not going to Australia

Spring Downunder said...


I've never posted a comment anywhere before, but reading the comments by those wishing to write mis-informed beat-ups about universal health care, I felt I need to jump into the fray.

I too am an ex pat American (duo citizen) living in Australia. I am also a student of Health Promotion at Latrobe University in Melbourne.

The title of the news article is totally mis-informing readers. There are strict immigration policies in Australia regarding anything to do with health just as there are in the USA and elsewhere.

A "policy" sets up the conditions/specific rules by which cases are judged initially. When there is a ruling, it can be appealed and I think in this case it certainly will be appealed, and the family, and community where they are highly valued will probably win- I hope so. But you obviously have to have initial policies THEN look at the exceptions, right?

It has nothing to do with discriminating against folks unfairly or making judgments about individual's value in simply looks at possible costs and problems which...yes, need to be considered and ARE considered in US immigration too.

I considered moving back to the US in 1992 with my 10 year old daughter who was an asthmatic. At that time I couldn't even find a US health insurance company that would cover her "preexisting condition" if I came back with my kids (both duo citizens) to live in the US. She had an asthma attack during our 5 month visit and was taken by ambulance to hospital. Fortunately she was covered by our travel insurance, otherwise I was told by hospital personnel in ER that in some places in the US, she would not have been treated!!

I owe my life and my Aussie-born kids lives to the universal health care system of Australia- my son was born after an emergency Caeserean in an excellent public hospital and my daughter survived a childhood with severe asthma all paid for by a very reasonable tax levy (only about 2.5 or 3% of my income I think by memory).

Guess which system I would rather live under, work in, and pay taxes to support...a system as in the US where only those who can afford huge insurance premiums (IF the insurance company agrees to take you on, and if after a medical problem they decide to pay out) can have their children treated when their lives are threatened. Or a system of Universal health care where ALL can receive the benefits of modern medicine. Our system in Australia is happy to care for those born in the country from cerebreal policy to Downs Syndrome to asthma, etc. but is simply needing to assess those that chose to leave their country of origin and its care system (or sadly lack of it as the doctor admitted) and come to Australia and utilize its health care system.

Quite frankly, I believe that democracy ("life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness") can only happen when health care is equitable and available to all. That is why I have chosen study in the field of Public Health Care. And (very sadly, because I am homesick and feel tremendous compassion for the huge number of people who don't have access to medical care in the US) live in Australia. Until America comes to her senses and honours democracy in its fullest sense.

Sladed said...

First,I will admit that I am not familiar with the health care system in Australia. 2nd, I have not read the immigration laws for Australia but know they are very restrictive, not just based on health. But I think everyone is missing the point about Universal health care. When you stop attracting the best and brightest into the health care fields you end up with a shortage of doctors or at least a shortage of high quality doctors (see Great Britain). Perhaps this is occurring in Australia as well. I have a feeling that as the system in the US evolves (devolves?) that we will see the same thing. Who wants to put so much time and effort into training for the profession when the monetary rewards are fewer and fewer and the bureaucratic nonsense continues to grow.

Anonymous said...

springdownunder said: "I believe that democracy ("life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness") can only happen when health care is equitable and available to all."

Isn't it then kind of ironic that you propose that the US emulate the austrailian method of healthcare? How is it equitable for me (a US taxpayer) to pay for your daughters asthma attack without you having to pay anything?

You may not have been able to get insurance in that case, but in the US every hospital is required to provide emergency care even if you cannot pay for it. Even if your story is true, the hospital would not have denied your daughter treatment. They would have only required that you pay for it if you had the ability to do so.