My daughter, Amy, is in acupuncture school in Berkeley. A friend of hers just moved to Norway and sent this email discussing health care in a truly civilized country.

Mom,

Here is the last email in a thread from my friend Catherine who I went to acupuncture school with. She recently graduated and moved to Norway with her husband and 2 kids. This is a bit of her experience with the health care system in Norway. I thought it was interesting.

The interesting thing about Catherine is she is an insider. She used to be a pharmaceutical rep for a big company. But she decided she would rather not sell her soul, so she got out!!

Email from Amy to Catherine:

I’m good, thanks Catherine:) Just trucking along as usual, a little burnt out on school but that is to be expected especially when you are on the 4.5 year plan like me!

Thanks for the paper. It is so eye opening when we juxtapose how things could be (Norway) with how things are in the US. I completely understand why you would want to live in Norway, it sounds like a much more grown up and reasonable place than the US. You are so right about elder care in the US-it is downright sad. I fear for the time when my mom and step-dad will need more help with daily living. It creeps me out to think that they could be in such a place as we have here!

Did you hear about the health care leg that passed the house? In order to pass reform (and its a watered down version at that) the house had to put provisions in the bill that the public option cannot cover abortion services. Its a massive blow to the pro-choice movement. Way to go USA! sheesh.

Hope you are doing well Catherine! Healthy and happy in Norway!

Best,

Amy

From Catherine to Amy:

Well, my husband started a bioenergy company here, so he’s getting very busy. He’s also starting to teach at the Technical University here and we are planning to start up 2 more companies (of which I will be CEO). One will be based on my acupuncture and herbs practice, and we’re talking about another one which will be a biotech company focusing on dermatology. I was planning to start my practice sometime next year, but a patient just literally walked through the front door of our house and asked to be treated. She is a neighbor and when she found out that I’m an acupuncturist, she started telling me about her fertility problems. Now she’s a patient. I also had another person a few months ago, but I had to turn her away (also for infertility) because my house was just a maze of boxes. Now, at least I have a spare room set up with a massage table. It’s pretty exciting. I still have to figure out how to import herbs, etc., but I can get by on what I brought with me. Just today, my daughter’s teacher asked me to teach a Qi Gong class!! Goodness sakes, I guess they’re just desperate for things like that since Suzanne would probably laugh that I’m going to be teaching Qi Gong!

Integrative medicine is very good here. People here still complain, but that’s because they don’t know how good they have it. When I complained about this bump on my knee, my doctor scheduled an MRI. It took 3 weeks for the appointment, but so what? The whole thing cost about $30 and that was including an X-ray. If I had been a tourist, it would cost $300, which is the actual cost of the MRI. So my question was, then why would an MRI cost me 10 times that in the US? I just don’t get it. My doctor didn’t get it either. They were very worried that I might have to pay $300 if I didn’t get my resident number in time, but I thought that $300 would be a reasonable co-pay in the states. My doctor’s appointment cost about $20 per visit and I can go see her as often as I want. In fact, I can always see her within a few days (or that day if it’s an emergency). In the US, I can’t see my PCP unless I make an appointment the month before. I asked my doctor to recommend me for physical therapy for my back pains, and she wrote me a referral which allowed me to get 10 treatments for which I paid $30each time. If my physical therapist thought I needed more, then I can always go back and get a continuation on the referral. Plus, any chronic diseases are covered for free. So, for my diabetes, all my medications would be free and any hospital stays, or hospital visits related to diabetes would be free. Doesn’t that make sense? When I told my doctor that people in the US with chronic diseases (especially diabetes) are being dropped from their insurance plans, they just thought that’s crazy and stupid since it just costs more if the disease progresses.

Preventative medicine is a bigger focus here than in the states. Also, I found it interesting that vaccines aren’t pushed here. The doctor recommends certain vaccines, but they don’t make even certain childhood vaccines mandatory. In fact, they’ve stopped giving chicken pox vaccines to children unless the parents specifically asks for it since they’ve found that the chicken pox provides immunity for other viruses and when you get it as a child, it’s far milder and the children seem to be healthier in general. Duh!!! In the US, we couldn’t even enroll our kids in daycare unless we got a signed paper from the doctor with a list of all their current vaccinations. Here, the school didn’t even ask us about vaccines.

I can go on and on about it.

I have been keeping up on the whole health care reform. In fact, all of Norway is keeping up with it. Since people here are generally liberal, they are appalled by what the US is going through right now. They can’t even believe the issues being talked about. They can’t imagine taking away any choices for women in general. But then, this is a country that made it a *LAW* that every company board must comprise of least 40% women. Talking about shattering the glass ceiling. Another subject that I get all riled up about and go ranting and raving.
All this from your 3 short questions.

Catherine