Someone recently asked me about the healthcare system as it operates over here in England, or more specifically, they expressed their fears over a socialized healthcare system in America, and this opened the dialogue. This is a subject I am extremely passionate about and figured it’s high time I address it in blog form. Hey, that’s what I’m here for.
It’s one of those subjects, as anyone knows that follows the news in the United States, that is contentious at best, not to mention loaded with misconceptions, fear, and misdirection by our fine media and political machine. As 'socialism' in itself has become the dirtiest word going – how this came to be still causes me to chuckle – especially in our proud capitalist society (that has really been functioning well over the last fifteen years. Don't you agree? Ah hem), I thought I’d dispel some myths when it comes to the healthcare system as it operates over here. At least in my experience, I’m sure everyone will have a horror story for you no matter what side of the Atlantic you are on.
For starters, the healthcare system, in this country I call home, is free. As it's seen here, medical treatment is a basic human right, full stop. I am not worried my government is trying to control me, I’m not worried about paying for the next guy, or who gets what and are they really entitled to it. I am more focused on the fact that when the King and I need to see a doctor we do. If we need to go to the emergency room (and boy oh boy do we often), we just walk in. They don't turn us away for not having the right insurance. To date, I have never waited an excessive amount of time for an appointment or surgery to address a medical condition. If the King or I is sick, we go to our local doctor that day early in the morning and usually they can fit us in. If they can’t usually they can see us by the next day. My doctor in the States has a month’s waiting list for an appointment and I pay for him. So, as far as waiting months to see someone, I suppose it happens to some, but certainly never for a serious medical condition. And well, to reemphasize, it's FREE, so if I have to wait some time to get a hangnail looked at, well it seems worth it to me.
When it comes to care, I had the King at a modern teaching hospital with some of the top specialists in the world teaching there and felt like I was in very good hands. More importantly, I have the contented feeling every day I walk this planet that if I ever got very ill (which I hope I do not any time soon), I would be taken care of (well, the Tories may have something to say about this, but that's another matter). I would not lose my home to pay crippling medical costs, I would not be beholden to find a certain type of job that had good medical, and I would not have to go to a certain type of hospital or doctor that honored my health insurance. I could concentrate on the things I should be concentrating on which would be kicking the illness's ASS. The other and often overlooked consideration in a system like this is that if you want to take your hard earned dollars and go pay for some high rolling private doctor on Harley Street (medical row, if you will) just like in the States, you can. In fact, you can have private medical full stop, or make use of double insurance (both private and public) if you're a total hypochondriac. For those that can afford it they have that option. It's almost, dare I say it, capitalistic, if you think about it. And yet, for those that can't, afford it, they aren't denied. It's that simple.
Now, is the National Health system in this country a flawless system? No, of course not. Does it have problems, and backlog and bureaucratic b*llshit plaguing it left, right and center. Of course it does. But show me a system run by humans that is trying to service an entire nation and I’ll show you a litany of issues that could be run in a more effective way. It’s beholden to politics just like in the United States. But saying all this, would I prefer this system to the one where I grew up? Any day of the week. We in the States pay for our insurance, some pay egregious sums of money to be insured in fact, and yet, we still have problems, backlog, corruption and malpractice coming out the wazoo (sorry, not so eloquent, but you get my point).
Furthermore, I lived for several years with someone who was deemed uninsurable by the American government because he was born with a list of internal problems as long as my arm. He was born with these conditions; he couldn’t not control it as much as I cannot control my height. He’s had transplants and surgeries and more doctor visits that you can shake a stick at, and of course, because of this he is in debt to a frightening sum of money because our government considers him not worthy of insurance – or as I see it, not worthy of care. From where I sit, there is something fundamentally wrong with that. From where I sit, there is no argument in the world why my old roommate, a kind, giving, hard working amazing woman, could not find a job to give her medical so she simply did not go to the doctor, ever. No matter what her ailment was because she simply could not afford to.
So if you ask me if I’m for socialized medicine. I suppose my answer is a proud yes. And if that answer scares you, go speak to someone who has come down with cancer, living in middle America that has to choose between their mortgage, feeding their kids, and paying their medical bills. Then we can talk. Or better yet, sign them up to your policy and take care of them as a kindhearted good American citizen. :-)