While the U.S. Supreme Court continues to deliberate the constitutionality of portions of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, local residents got another take on public health care from visiting Australians.
The Australian system is a private-public system, distinct from both the United States' and Canada's, and, based on the words and tone of one young pharmacist, the country is pretty darn proud of its system.
Australian pharmacist David Gullard, who is visiting as part of a young professionals exchange program, gave an overview of the Australian healthcare system to the Covington Rotary Club Tuesday.
Similar to Canada, any resident, and any tourist for that matter, can receive 100 percent free health care.
Emergencies are treated on the spot as needed.
However, another similarity to Canada, and one of the strongest arguments against using such a system, is the long waiting lists for non-emergency care, which can be up to a year in some parts of the country. But that's where the county's private insurance industry kicks in.
Australian residents can buy private insurance, at a reasonable rate, which allows them to jump to the front of waiting lists. As of the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Gullard said Australia spent $121.4 billion, or 9.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product on healthcare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion, or 17.9 percent of its GDP, on healthcare in 2010.
The two countries obviously have stark differences, but, while we're not sure what the U.S.'s system will eventually look like, we're glad to get different takes from people all over the world. Health care is serious and so is health care spending, and the more information we as a country, and as individuals, can gather the better off we'll be in finding an eventual solution.
In the meantime, we'll have to await the Supreme Court's decision before we know what we have to work with.