Friday, June 15, 2007
Let's Hear it for the NHS
We British are peculiar lot when it comes to health care. Having set up a(virtually) free at point of use system, we grumble that it is not free enough or not as good as our taxes merit. So it is salutory indeed to read of what it's like to live with a system which is certainly the best in the world but which is most definitely, not free. The recent article by Ed Pilkington provides a chilling glimpse at the insecurities of living in the USA. Its system is ferociously cash oriented, as I recall from an occasion when my former wife was taken into a New Orleans hospital having injured her throat eating some salad roughage.
'Would you like a lozenge to soothe your throat, honey?' asked the nurse kindly while we waited for an X-Ray to be taken. When we got the bill some time later(paid for of course by travel insurance)I noted the item 'lozenge... $1'. Nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance and so have to rely on cut-price bargain basement, Medicare. And even those with insurance find they have to pay thousands of dollars extra in hidden charges. The average costs of medical insurance have doubled over the last seven years: for a family of four it's about £6000 a year.
The article details case-studies of people who have suffered the downside of the best mnedical system in the world. Michael Gray, for example, who broke two neck vertebrae playing five a side football. Because he was only about to apply for insurance through his work at a glass company, but had not yet done so, he was charged £13,700 surgeon's fees plus £16,700 hospital fees. His earnings? only £5 an hour. Other cases are harrowing in the extreme and the clear desire of poorer Americans is to have a free health system, something which every US student I have taught passionately echoes.
Michael Moore's latest broadside, Sicko, criticising this state of affairs in his home country, finds time to praise the NHS fulsomely for the free care and the level at which it is provided. My point is that, whoever is in power, we should reconsider our whinges and appreciate, cherish and care for the wonderful continuing boon to the nation which is the NHS and which Labour has helped renew to a level which is far above its condition in 1997.
The NHS is not "free". It is an abuse of the word. When I was in the UK, it cost me a fortune and I never used it.
It is right that people should have a chance to spend their money how they see fit. The NHS, and well as being filthy and disease ridden, is institutionally useless. Trust me, I have been in other systems and the UK is third division. Even Japan, which 25 years had a terrible system, is light years ahead of the UK.
I am sorry you had to pay for your lozenge. The point is that until these sweets fall down out of the sky, someone will always have to pay for them. Far better the person who uses it, rather than the poor man who gets it stolen from his pay packet when he has a family to feed.
If people don't have insurance then it is tough. If they are too stupid to have it, then Darwinism should be allowed to run its course. There will always be providers prepared to offer a basic level of care.
I trust the disgusting Moore has very good medical cover. I see he didn't like the fact Canadians dared to object to his portrayal of their Soviet style system as perfect. For he is a funny type of socialist. One who lives in a multi-million dollar house. One who profits enormously by exploiting American war heroes and using them in his films without their permission. Moore is best friends with tyrants like Castro. I sincerely hope he gets a form of cancer that his expensive medical insurance can't deal with.
I know your views on the NHS quite well by now but even you would have to agree it's better, by some distance compared with the US one IF you are poor rather than rich or comfortably off.
Where did you get the figure of 20,000 from? My researches produced one of 3000 a year; too many of course but not in your category.
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