I know it's boring to hear about how efficiently Singapore is run. Matthew Yglesias got accused of being soft on authoritarianism for this just the other day (read the comments). But, I really have to tell you something amazing. The other night I went to the hospital at 4 am for monitoring, after many hours of irregular contractions. Long story short, Braxton-Hicks, and they sent me home just as pregnant as when I came, baby is fine. But here's the thing. I was in the hospital for about five hours, on a fetal monitor, being checked on by nice nurses who brought me tea. I saw a doctor for a few minutes, and got a big shot of steroids (to help Violet's lungs develop). The doctor was nice and knew what he was talking about. Now, in November, I spent about 7 hours in a US hospital, getting monitored periodically. I got no medicine but an IV drip that they inserted just for the fun of it. I saw a doctor with possibly the worst bedside manner I have ever experienced (and I've been to some crappy doctors), one who was totally ignorant about how a normal placenta could look on an ultrasound (i.e., it could have little "lakes" or open spaces in it, but that's not bad.) He also mumbled something alarming about baby's heart and then didn't explain it (I really can't express to you what a bad idea it is to say something like that to a nervous, bleeding pregnant woman.) In both cases, I was paying out of pocket. Total cost in the US: $1,800. Total cost in Singapore: Sing$125 (US $ 75). Look at those numbers again. Now, I don't know what the Singapore government is up to here, but it's working. Part of it is that you can't sue for massive amounts in cases of malpractice, so insurance is cheap. Singaporeans also have individual Medisave accounts, which are tax-free. I don't know all the ins and outs of it, but I think some money is withheld from your paycheck and depostited into your individual account, and that you can also top it up with more of your own money up to a certain amount. From what I know, there isn't the link between employment and insurance that we have in the States; everyone just buys their own insurance (we do). This means that some types of coverage are hard to get or expensive, while something covering only catastrophic care is cheap, so many people just pay out of pocket for routine medical care. Which is cheap cheap cheap! The hospitals are nice, and even if you go to the emergency room you get seen quickly, and it's cheap. I got a doctor's visit, X-ray and some meds when Zoë broke my nose (oh, don't ask) for Sing $50. I think the US should really look into whatever they're doing here, and maybe we should do that thing, too. Hey, and they're repealing the gum ban as part of the US/Singapore FTA!