Attending West Sound Academy presents students with many opportunities, among which is being exposed to many different cultures, through curriculum, and through the population of foreign exchange students who attend our school. This year (2013-2014) there are representatives from nine countries, and a total of 20 international students. A student body comprised of so many nationalities creates a community rich with diverse backgrounds, and students are bound to have their own views based on their cultural upbringing.
It’s fascinating to pull upon those views to offer a different angle on events transpiring in the U.S. The news that has been making headlines for the last few weeks is the standoff in Congress over the health care bill favored by Democrats, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare." A large portion of the Republican Party strongly opposes the bill, the resulting deadlock leading to a shutdown of the federal government. Enrollment for "Obamacare" through online federal marketplaces opened Oct. 1. It was implemented to provide care to the 48 million Americans without health insurance and self-employed.
In an anonymous poll of WSA students, parents and staff, with 40 respondents, 52.63% found the current state of U.S. healthcare to be “very unsatisfactory,” 44.74% found it “slightly flawed,” and 2.63% found it “satisfactory.” None found it to be “perfect.” One of the goals of this poll was to test people’s knowledge of the Act. In regards to this, an adult said “The Affordable Care Act requires all citizens to have health care in some form, or pay a fine. It also requires employers to give their employees health care, and it bans health care companies from denying someone service due to a pre-existing condition.” As far as the question on what the most important values of an effective system are, “provides readily available quality care” was followed by “serves all citizens,” with a common theme of availability to all.
As it turns out, the U.S. ranks fairly low when compared to health insurance systems of other countries in terms of efficiency and satisfaction. The U.S. ranks 46th in Bloomberg's list of most efficient health care systems internationally, with an "efficiency score" of 30.8. According to the study, "among advanced economies, the U.S. spends the most on health care on a relative cost basis with the worst outcome." In contrast, the same study ranks South Korea as the eighth most efficient in the world with a score of 65.1. Also ranked higher than the U.S. are Slovakia, China, Turkey and Iran, all countries represented in WSA’s student body. South Korea also ranks highest in satisfaction, with the U.S. coming in sixth out of the 15 countries profiled, according to an online Ipsos poll from 2006.
An 11th grade WSA exchange student from China rated the Chinese system as “very unsatisfactory,” and worse than the U.S., even though it ranked better in the Ipsos poll. A South Korean student, also in 11th grade, stated that the U.S. had a “slightly flawed” system, and that South Korea’s was “satisfactory.”
Though varying degrees of knowledge were shown in the WSA survey results, a majority believed that there were large problems with the current state of U.S. health care, and that quality health care was a right of all U.S. citizens.