Before I moved to the US seven years ago, I really didn’t have much experience with the health care system here in the UK. In my entire life, I’d only needed to see a Doctor a handful of times…once for a bad case of the flu when I was about ten, and once more for a bad chest infection shortly before I left for the US.
Well, shortly after getting back, I went to the Pharmacy with my parents so my dad could get some cough medicine. While I was there I noticed a sign on the wall, it said:
Medications not covered by the NHS are subject to a charge of 7.50
My eyes just about popped out of my head.
“Dad?” I said. “Does that mean all medications, no matter what they are, cost 7.50?”
“Yeah,” he said, looking at me like I’d grown an extra head.
“I know,” said my Mum. “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? It’s just gone up again.”
Ridiculous is right…ridiculous that everyone thinks it’s expensive. My diabetes meds cost nearly a hundred bucks a month, and just one of Sunny’s medications, despite the fact she had decent insurance, cost nearly $500 a month.
This was when my mum pointed out that you can also get a special deal, purchasing NHS vouchers that half the price…and that a lot of medications are completely free anyway.
Thinking about this, I remembered the broadcasts by the big pharmaceutical companies back in the States that held up the NHS as a ‘horror story’ of how bad things will be if ‘Obamacare’ came into being.
Yeah, it’s a real fucking nightmare. If I get sick over here, I can go see a Doctor for free. If I break a leg, I can go to the ER for free. If I need to be taken there by ambulance, it’s free. If I need to be airlifted to a hospital on a fucking helicopter, it’s free. Any medication is either going to be free or cost me a whole seven-fifty.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
Oh, and I guarantee that the taxes we pay to fund the NHS don’t even come close to the insurance premiums the average American citizen pays for healthcare . Why? Because healthcare over here is a service and not a business. It’s about healing sick people…not making a profit. My taxes pay for materials and expertise…not to pay for some insurance executive’s third yacht.
Of course, this is when people point out that you’re doing away with ‘choice’ and you have to put up with waiting lists etc…and I’ll concede the point that waiting lists are a pain in the ass. For example, I went to register Sunny and myself with the local Doctor and we’re having to wait two weeks before we can go for our medical checkup to get registered… but on the other hand, if I got really sick tomorrow, the Doctor would see me anyway.
As for choice…well, you’re right, your choice in the UK is a little different from the choice offered in the US. For example, if I need minor surgery for a non-life threatening condition in the UK, I can go on one of the dreaded waiting lists and wait a few weeks and get it totally for free…or I can choose to pay for private insurance and go see a private doctor immediately.
That’s my choice. Pay for now or wait and get it free. Oh, and if it’s a life-threatening condition, I get seen immediately…private insurance or not.
Isn’t that just horrendous? Can you think of a worse example of commie, socialist bullshit than treating the sickest people with the most urgent need first? The American system of treating whoever has the most money first is so much better. For example, when I discovered I had diabetes and woke up three quarters blind, I had the far more reasonable choice of coming up with $800 to see a doctor or… well… I could do nothing and die.
I mean, come on…what’s really more important? A person’s life? or making a fuck-ton of cash? It’s not like the Doctors don’t earn that fee.
I mean, the ER Doctor that saw me when I had strep throat spent at least 45 seconds in the room with me and the batteries for that flashlight she shone down my throat don’t come cheap. That’s worth $450, don’t you think?... and I know the wear and tear my ass caused on the waiting room chair for an hour and the electricity they used to light the room I sat in for two hours cost at least $870…so the $1400 bill I got was more than fair.
Oh, and I completely understand why they charged me $250 for the $1.50 pill they gave me. The nurse clearly walked at least a hundred yards to bring it to me.
Sarcasm aside….this is what you’re protecting when you argue against health care reform. Cheap, affordable healthcare for everyone. After all, why should you care that 50,000 people die every year from easily treatable diseases. If they got the healthcare they needed, literally hundreds of insurance execs might have to make do with six figure salaries or smaller bonuses… and only bad people are unemployed, right? Just like the entire population of Detroit.
Some issues are too complex to fit the “Capitalism Good, Socialism Bad” mindset. Capitalism is great…but not in all cases. Things like healthcare should be about healing the sick first and profits second.
Let me end with a question. If you were at a restaurant and someone started choking, would you demand they pay you a few hundred dollars before you’d consider performing the Heimlich maneuver on them?
Of course not…but that’s exactly how your healthcare system works.