Sunday, May 17, 2009

One More Perspective on Health Care

A couple of weeks ago, as I was returning home from a two-week trip to the mainland, I found myself sitting next to an attractive 30ish woman on the Hawaiian Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Maui.

Just before we took off, this attractive lady made a cell phone call and I noted she was speaking a foreign language. It was Portuguese, leading me to guess correctly that she was Brazilian because, as it happens, there is quite a little enclave of Brazilians here on Maui.

Maria has been living on Maui for almost 20 years and now holds both a U.S. and a Brazilian passport. She was returning to Maui after visiting her mother in Rio de Janeiro and remarked that she makes the grueling trip – something like 20 hours in the air each way – twice a year.

I remarked that it was nice that she could see her family that often. “Yes,” Maria said, “but I also go so I can see my doctors.”

At first I was concerned that she had some kind of serious medical problem. “Not at all,” she said, “In Brazil the focus is on preventative medicine. Health care there is much more thorough that it is here, the doctors are excellent, and it is much less expensive … even with the cost of travel.”

How’s that for a commentary on the state of health care in the U.S.?

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