As I said in yesterday’s post, I met a guy while I was in Belize City who was telling me how he was making a living by playing the handout game. I let him go on and on about how great he had it, because I wanted to get a feel for how America and Americans were perceived in that part of the world.

One of the things he told me was that Belize had a health care system that was better than the US model, because all health care was free or subsidized. He then went on to tell me that he was surprised that the US didn’t have free care as well. While researching some things for yesterday’s post, I discovered why that is: Because the US is the majority of the health care system for Belize, at least the portions that require anything more complex than a simple office visit.

A portion of Belize’s system is to subsidize travel to the US for patients that need:advanced care. Even at that, a significant portion of the funding for the health care system comes from the US, UN, Britain, and other countries, as well as volunteer health workers from other nations like the US.

PAP smears, C sections, cancer treatment, CT scans, chemotherapy, radiation therapy are performed in the US. MRI, nuclear medicine is simply not available. All doctors in Belize are educated elsewhere (5 out of every 7 are educated in Cuba) and are employees of the government and receive a salary of US$30,400 (BZ$60,800) a year (PDF alert). Many doctors, clinics, and hospitals will stay open after hours and treat the richer residents (and American expats) for cash, so that they can make some money on the side. All dental work, other than tooth
extractions, is done within this private system after normal business hours.

This is not a free health care system, it is a triage and transport system with a black market way for people with money to actually get care. Since we here in the US do not have anyone to send our sick people to, we cannot have a system like this.

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