Health care is probably my biggest political issue. Probably. It is one of the things that keeps me estranged from the USA and represents an actual barrier to returning. Why the have I been silent on the issue? I don't know. It all seems hopeful and frustrating and unreal. Also, I have nothing substantial to add to the issue except that Americans deserve government health care. Government funded health care works and people who disagree are misguided. That is pretty simple.
I love my Japanese health care. It costs a lot. I owe money to it right now. But I don't take it for granted. Here was an article in the Japan Times of someone with a slightly different opinion.
This man in the street poll indicates my general feeling on how non-Japanese in Japan regard health care here. In my experience I have found two general categories of people who aren't crazy about it:
1. Europeans who have access to health care and are put off by the low-tech look of Japanese hospitals or for paying their share of the burden.
2. Young Americans from stable backgrounds who are, for the first time, off their parents plans. This group includes many JETs who complain constantly about who lame Japanese hospitals are. They, even the most liberal of them, represent the barrier to health care in America because they still don't get that the question is about access.
I have no access to medical care in America. The last time I sought medical care in America, it cost my family $10,000. That is a barrier. An insurmountable barrier. In Japan I am free to be competitive in martial arts, hike, surf, get a cold, whatever, because all I have to do is go to the hospital. Any hospital I want to. I have met lots of young non-Japanese here who sound just as petulant as the town hall screamers back home. Their problem with Japanese hospitals is that they smell funny, or the slippers were worn out or that the machines looked more Night Rider and less Star Trek: TNG. Any hospital looks better than rolling around on my floor trying to work up the guts to jam my knee back into joint. That is what America promises right now. And even a good medical plan doesn't let you go to the dentist whenever you feel like it so when your teeth rot out you have to pay to get all of them fixed out of your pocket. Not to mention that the only pre-condition to me obtaining insurance is telling someone my address. That is it. No examination. No family history. No pre-existing conditions. What happens in America isn't medical care, it is the flanking, cavalry attack of class-warfare. It is a real slaughter with a real body count and as much as I bitch about Japan I am very grateful that they have granted me a pardon on this count.