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International Socialist Review, Winter 1964


Marvel Scholl

Comparative Medical Care


Source: International Socialist Review, Vol.25 No.1, Winter 1964, p.27.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Medical Care and Family Security – Norway, England and USA
Drs. Karl Evang, D. Murray Stark, Walter J. Lear
Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1963. 344 pp. $6.50.

This book is timely indeed. A symposium by three medical men from Norway, England and the United States, its main value, in my estimation, is the striking contrast it exposes between health and security standards existent in Norway and Great Britain, where national health services have proven their worth, and the situation in this country, where health and family security are treated as commodities for profit, not a human right and a national social obligation.

Dr. Evang traces the history and accomplishments of the Norwegian Security Insurance program from its inception in 1911, when it covered only the lowest paid workers, to today, when it takes in the whole population. Security insurance, administered by the Minister of Health and thence down through the smallest government bodies, is compulsory. Workers pay a payroll tax equal to 3 percent of their annual wage. The balance of the total medical and social security bill is paid by contributions from employers and the government. The plan encompasses all phases of medical care, as well as pensions for the aged and disabled, and cash grants to sick workers and new mothers. The one remaining “bug” (in my estimation, not Dr. Evang’s) is the 30 percent of the doctor bill each patient must still bear on his own.

Norwegians of all political stripe consider health a human right. Through many generations of differing political governmental leadership, the right of the citizenry to adequate care when they are ill and preventive medical care to keep them well has grown apace. Dr. Evang describes in full the structure of the program, the benefits derived by the whole people from it and the falseness of all the arguments we hear today from the AMA about the evils of “socialized medicine.”

Dr. Murray deals with the results of fourteen years of the British National Health Service. A comprehensive study of the NHA appeared in the Summer 1963 issue of this magazine.

Dr. Walter J. Lear, for the Americans, is a strong advocate of group medical practice, centralized Health Centers, and, as an interim (he doesn’t say to what), more private, non-profit health insurance based on communities, not small groups. He cites his own organization, The Group Insurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP), and the Kaiser Plan (Permanente) on the West Coast as proof of his contention.

Dr. Lear presents a clear and devastating picture of the whole health insurance industry, including the faults of the Blue Plans, but the only government financed and sponsored health plan he actually supports is Medicare for the aged.

I advise reading this book for the contrast it offers between national health services, which take off the shoulders of the individual the onerous burden of illness and its economic and social consequences, with the anarchy and inequality which exist in this country.

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