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Montana Experiment Brings NHS-Style Health Care to USA; Saves State Millions, Patients Delighted

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Reprinted from dailykos.com

by  james321

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Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has pledged his support for single-payer health care in the past, but his recent efforts to bring zero-cost sharing primary and preventive care to Montana government employees and retirees may be doing something that most progressives would only dream could happen in America: bringing NHS-style, socialized medicine to Montana.

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This is a big deal and -- while currently limited to state employees and retirees -- could be laying the groundwork for America's most socially-just health care system. NPR has the details:

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A year ago, Montana opened the nation's first clinic for free primary healthcare services to its state government employees. The Helena, Mont., clinic was pitched as a way to improve overall employee health, but the idea has faced its fair share of political opposition.

A year later, the state says the clinic is already saving money.

Pamela Weitz, a 61-year-old state library technician, was skeptical about the place at first.

"I thought it was just the goofiest idea, but you know, it's really good," she says. In the last year, she's been there for checkups, blood tests and flu shots. She doesn't have to go; she still has her normal health insurance provided by the state. But at the clinic, she has no co-pays, no deductibles. It's free.

That's the case for the Helena area's 11,000 state workers and their dependents. With an appointment, patients wait just a couple minutes to see a doctor. Visitation is more than 75 percent higher than initial estimates.

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