Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

All items relating to Healthcare: Medical insurance, company policies, insurance coverage, policy costs, and more!
User avatar
spot
Posts: 38691
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Brigstowe

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by spot »

National Health System poll

BTS has invited a poll on whether European, Canadian and any other members with access to socialist health care (a National Health Service) regard it as "better than Americas pay as you go, unless you are broke or an illegal then it is FREE system?"

There's a parallel US poll to go with this requested by Bryn Mawr.

Please only vote in this thread if you live outside the USA and have access to access to socialist health care. Thank you for your cooperation.
Nullius in verba|||||||||||
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game!
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

spot;699642 wrote: National Health System poll

BTS has invited a poll on whether European, Canadian and any other members with access to socialist health care (a National Health Service) regard it as "better than Americas pay as you go, unless you are broke or an illegal then it is FREE system?"

There's a parallel US poll to go with this requested by Bryn Mawr.

Please only vote in this thread if you live outside the USA and have access to access to socialist health care. Thank you for your cooperation.


I voted in both
User avatar
spot
Posts: 38691
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Brigstowe

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by spot »

ThePheasant;699669 wrote: I voted in both
and you, being so peculiar and strange, are permitted.
Nullius in verba|||||||||||
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game!
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

spot;699672 wrote: and you, being so peculiar and strange, are permitted.


:wah::wah:How did you find out!

I thought it was a requirement for all FG members (..............and moderators) :D
gmc
Posts: 13566
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 9:44 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by gmc »

spot;699642 wrote: National Health System poll

BTS has invited a poll on whether European, Canadian and any other members with access to socialist health care (a National Health Service) regard it as "better than Americas pay as you go, unless you are broke or an illegal then it is FREE system?"

There's a parallel US poll to go with this requested by Bryn Mawr.

Please only vote in this thread if you live outside the USA and have access to access to socialist health care. Thank you for your cooperation.


I thought the big problem with the US one was that if you are poor then you don't get treatment. Or if you do get treatment free it is only after you are completely bankrupt trying to pay medical bills.

Apparently it is the second major cause of bankruptcies in the US

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0202-08.htm
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

What about us in ye olde Ireland, we have a health system that involves getting vountary health insurance, or a pay as you go for those who can afford it, or if you are under a certain income bracket (basically if you are living in a box eating flies) then you get free healthcare (except dental, or optical of course because if you are poor what the fsuck would you need teeth or eyes for eh seeing as you won't have any food anyway and nothing nice to look at?) :-5

So I propose that the we have the suckiest health system of them all, except for America of course whose health system is run by werewolves, costs the average military budget of a small European nation for the average person to fund, requires the blood of virgins to keep it going, and is brilliant at producing healthy rich people and dead poor people, though admittedly most poor people are DOA anyway from gun shot wounds so its a bit much to ask even the good people at the Mayo Clinic to raise the dead. :wah:

Though that said, health care in Colombia is also not very good, though they have lots of fairly cheap drugs, oh they also have them in afganistan so its not hard to get anasthetics just a shortage of sharp enough saws for cutting off whatever limbs the landmines have blown off). Hrumphhh. :wah:

In general I would say that France has a brilliant health system, but then the problem in France is that the country has the greatest number of very healthy unemployed people in the western world, and will soon have to resort to selling off Bordeaux to Britain in order to meet pension fund requirements so its give and take init???
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15904
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Bryn Mawr »

ThePheasant;699669 wrote: I voted in both


I believe you've said that the US does not have the best system in the world but that it's better than the NHS?
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Bryn Mawr;699773 wrote: I believe you've said that the US does not have the best system in the world but that it's better than the NHS?


I voted no to both - US system not best, nor is NHS better ..... well thats what I meant anyway....surely no to both would mean that ? :thinking:
User avatar
Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15904
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Bryn Mawr »

ThePheasant;699778 wrote: I voted no to both - US system not best, nor is NHS better ..... well thats what I meant anyway....surely no to both would mean that ? :thinking:


That's what I thought. No, the non-US wording was reversed so that "I disagree" became the US is better than the NHS.
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Not sure which of the two threads to post this - so its going in here.

Having lived in both the UK and USA. And having experienced NHS, and US and UK private health care. I have found both to be good in some ways and seriously lacking in others. For example, the long waiting lists to see a specialist under the NHS system (have not been under NHS for 4 years so apologise if this is not the case anymore) do not exist in USA - well not so long anyway. However, the GP's in the UK seem to be far more qualified to diagnose and treat. GP's in UK can and will carry out minor ops in their surgery too. The US system allows people to be seen a lot quicker, which, for possible life threatening illnesses, could be saving more lifes than patients in the UK. However, the doctors/specialists in USA seem to be out to make as much money as they possibly can, and will dish out medication far too easily IMO. And over here I have to see a different doctor for each different body part :wah: Makes the US GP's more like one big referral house.

Like I already said, both have good and bad points - I certainly wouldn't say either was the best. I would admit I do not know much about other countries, so really I should say, both need improvement.
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

I am confused: Galbally :thinking:

What about the Swedes they probably have a brilliant one, specially the nurses. :sneaky:



(now don't get shirty anyone, I know that thats gender stereotyping, but you know what I mean) :wah:
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Galbally;699796 wrote: I am confused: Galbally :thinking:

What about the Swedes they probably have a brilliant one, specially the nurses. :sneaky:



(now don't get shirty anyone, I know that thats gender stereotyping, but you know what I mean) :wah:


Just the female ones, or do they have hot male nurses too :wah:
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

ThePheasant;699801 wrote: Just the female ones, or do they have hot male nurses too :wah:


I dunno, do you like blonde guys? :thinking:
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15904
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Bryn Mawr »

ThePheasant;699795 wrote: Not sure which of the two threads to post this - so its going in here.

Having lived in both the UK and USA. And having experienced NHS, and US and UK private health care. I have found both to be good in some ways and seriously lacking in others. For example, the long waiting lists to see a specialist under the NHS system (have not been under NHS for 4 years so apologise if this is not the case anymore) do not exist in USA - well not so long anyway. However, the GP's in the UK seem to be far more qualified to diagnose and treat. GP's in UK can and will carry out minor ops in their surgery too. The US system allows people to be seen a lot quicker, which, for possible life threatening illnesses, could be saving more lifes than patients in the UK. However, the doctors/specialists in USA seem to be out to make as much money as they possibly can, and will dish out medication far too easily IMO. And over here I have to see a different doctor for each different body part :wah: Makes the US GP's more like one big referral house.

Like I already said, both have good and bad points - I certainly wouldn't say either was the best. I would admit I do not know much about other countries, so really I should say, both need improvement.


Maybe I'm just lucky then, when I've needed to see my GP I've walked down to the surgery and been seen within that session.

Whenever I've needed anything more than the GP can provide the wait has been commensurate with the severity of the problem - from nine months to have a sub-cutaneous cyst removed (cosmetic) to less than four hours from diagnosis to operation for peritonitis (GP came round to the house at 18:00 and I was operated on that evening - not sure of the exact time as I was not feeling very well).
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Galbally;699807 wrote: I dunno, do you like blonde guys? :thinking:


:wah::wah:They can't all be blonde..
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

ThePheasant;699816 wrote: :wah::wah:They can't all be blonde..


No thats true, someone has to know how to switch on the machines. Boom Boom! :wah:
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

Bryn Mawr;699811 wrote: Maybe I'm just lucky then, when I've needed to see my GP I've walked down to the surgery and been seen within that session.

Whenever I've needed anything more than the GP can provide the wait has been commensurate with the severity of the problem - from nine months to have a sub-cutaneous cyst removed (cosmetic) to less than four hours from diagnosis to operation for peritonitis (GP came round to the house at 18:00 and I was operated on that evening - not sure of the exact time as I was not feeling very well).


I can tell you this, no matter how bad you think the NHS is, our system is worse, seriously they should have a sign in Dublin Airport:

WELCOME TO IRELAND. DON'T GET SICK!
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Galbally;699823 wrote: No thats true, someone has to know how to switch on the machines. Boom Boom! :wah:


:wah:oiy! :wah::wah:
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

Galbally;699825 wrote: I can tell you this, no matter how bad you think the NHS is, our system is worse, seriously they should have a sign in Dublin Airport:

WELCOME TO IRELAND. DON'T GET SICK!


Why whats bad about Irish health care? Is it like NHS or is it all private?
User avatar
Chookie
Posts: 1826
Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 11:55 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Chookie »

To get back on topic for a moment (OK, that's unusual from me, but what the hell, I'm feeling generous).

There can't be a real comparison between a universal healthcare system and the profit-based American system.

However, as someone who has been a victim of both systems, I much prefer the "socialised" medicine option. I was luck in that the only healthcare I've needed when in the US was the replacement of a filling. I was unlucky, in that I was asked for insurance before they provide would treatment, indeed, they asked for my insurance information before they asked why I was seeking treatment.

Here's a post I just offered on this subject elsewhere:-

Unfortunately, for that to happen your taxation system will need radical reform and there will have be a sea-change in American attitudes to healthcare.

I, and most others who live in countries with universal health care, expect my government to provide a high level of health care in return for our taxes. This provision does not bar us from having private health insurance, or from taking part in occupational healthcare schemes.

Your healthcare industry however, is predicated entirely on corporate money-making. This, in my opinion is inimical to the provision of healthcare.

Having said that, healthcare in the US is first-class - if you can afford it.
An ye harm none, do what ye will....
User avatar
Galbally
Posts: 9755
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:26 pm

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Galbally »

ThePheasant;699829 wrote: Why whats bad about Irish health care? Is it like NHS or is it all private?


Its just *****. But if you have a credit card with loads of money its excellent of course. Basically we don't have universal health care, and voluntary health insurance only covers in-patient hospital, not GP, dental or, or eyes, so if you work, you pay. You can get a medical card if you are poor, which covers GP, but being a public patient in an irish hospital is not very good. Its pretty terrible really for a European country, but then Ireland has always been pretty much a right wing economy. So you mmay think the NHS is bad, but really its not that bad, at least you have universal health care.
"We are never so happy, never so unhappy, as we imagine"



Le Rochefoucauld.



"A smack in the face settles all arguments, then you can move on kid."



My dad 1986.
User avatar
nvalleyvee
Posts: 5191
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:57 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by nvalleyvee »

What I know is that I can get into a doc ASAP if they determine it is life threatening within 1 week. All I need do is go to an Urgent Care and I am into the Doc within the week.........geez sometimes within the day or 1/2 day.
The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement..........Karl R. Popper
User avatar
BTS
Posts: 3202
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:47 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by BTS »

Chookie;699870 wrote: To get back on topic for a moment (OK, that's unusual from me, but what the hell, I'm feeling generous).



There can't be a real comparison between a universal healthcare system and the profit-based American system.



However, as someone who has been a victim of both systems, I much prefer the "socialised" medicine option. I was luck in that the only healthcare I've needed when in the US was the replacement of a filling. I was unlucky, in that I was asked for insurance before they provide would treatment, indeed, they asked for my insurance information before they asked why I was seeking treatment.



Here's a post I just offered on this subject elsewhere:-


The key point here..........



"There can't be a real comparison between a universal healthcare system and the profit-based American system."



Let me get this straight:

So while in America you were asked, I am sure, to either pay or show proof of insurance? Is that correct?

You told them you had insurance and then they asked for your insurance info......correct?

Now you say that you are unlucky? And why?

Because a for profit dentist asked you to prove that you could pay...Correct or not?

And if you were not able to pay he has every RIGHT to say no deal......



Now on the other hand, if you were poor and destitute and needed care in the good ol US of A.

There are MANY programs that you can apply for.... legal or illegal



Now tell me about how great this "socialised" medicine REALLY is.....
"If America Was A Tree, The Left Would Root For The Termites...Greg Gutfeld."
User avatar
Bez
Posts: 8942
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:37 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Bez »

The NHS has always done OK by myself and my family. I'd award them...



maternity care ~ 90%

emergency care ~ 99%

surgery ~ 95%

outpatients ~ 98%

Hospice care (not NHS but charity funded) 100%

GP ~ 80%.....hard to get the same DR each time.....silly sytem where yoiu can't make an appointment in advance.



NHS dentist OK but you get the basic treatment. I now pay through a private insurance and get top class treatment.....pity I only have half the teeth I should have...:D



Eye test free for pensioners and 30% discount off glasses at certain opticians



Prescriptions free for pensioners and people in other situations....not sure of details



Probably more but I can't think of anything at the moment.



I believe that there are plenty of flaws in the NHS, but nothing that can't be fixed .
A smile is a window on your face to show your heart is home
gmc
Posts: 13566
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 9:44 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by gmc »

Posted by BTS

Now on the other hand, if you were poor and destitute and needed care in the good ol US of A.

There are MANY programs that you can apply for.... legal or illegal

Now tell me about how great this "socialised" medicine REALLY is.....

I think what a lot of americans can't grasp is that the NHS is not over and above private medical cover it's instead of it. Although you can still take out private cover it's over and above and in the UK if you have a chronic illness you find yourself back on the NHS anyway.

It's not free, everybody pays but the key thing is that at the point you need treatment you get it regardless of whether you are rich or poor, who you are what you do. You might lose your house because you've lost your job through ill health and get sacked, not because you need the money to pay medical bills to stay alive.

More to the point how can you trust a hospital or a doctor whose sole motive is tom make a profit not to give you treatment you don't need? The number of people suing private clinics in the UK over cosmetic surgery going wrong is enough to put anyone off-guess where patients go to get the mess sorted out?

If you are on holiday in the UK and needed hospital treatment you would get it free without anyone asking if you can pay before you get it. personally i think we should invoice tourists from non eu countries.
User avatar
Pheasy
Posts: 5647
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:56 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Pheasy »

And, yet again I find myself having my annual battle with the insurance company! :-5

My daugter requires 10 twinject (epinephrine) injections (2 in each emergency kit - home, my handbag, in her pouch (that she wears at school and when out in crowded places), classroom and nurses office). Now as these where issued at the same time, they all expire at the same time.

Every year I have this same battle - they only will issue 2 at a time :-5 Of course! 5 X my copay is $150, if I had them all in one hit it would only cost me $30.

I don't think they should be allowed to do this - I think the restriction should be for 'controlled drugs' for obvious reasons :mad:
User avatar
Nomad
Posts: 25864
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 9:36 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by Nomad »

I AM AWESOME MAN
User avatar
BTS
Posts: 3202
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:47 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by BTS »

Nomad;1026347 wrote:


Kool..........Are you taking a plane or a boat?
"If America Was A Tree, The Left Would Root For The Termites...Greg Gutfeld."
User avatar
BTS
Posts: 3202
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:47 am

Poll - BTS v Bryn Mawr regarding health care - non-US posters only

Post by BTS »

I found this and think it paints a pretty good picture. There are good and bad on both sides of the Atlantic.........



MSNBC.com

A tale of 2 sickbeds: Health care in U.K. vs. U.S.

A journalist's treatment for same condition in two countries is worlds apart

By F. Brinley Bruton

Reporter

updated 6:42 a.m. MT, Mon., Sept. 22, 2008



LONDON - A few weeks ago I found myself curled up in a hospital here in London, my feverish body shaking violently back and forth. The pain in my side and back made it hard to straighten my torso, and I’d thrown up in a friend’s car on the way to the hospital.

The hospital couldn’t find an extra hospital bed, so I spent my first night hooked up to an IV on a gurney in the middle of a row of men and women, my sweaty skin sticking to the plastic. A shriveled woman in the bed to my right issued loud and largely unintelligible commands to nobody in particular. A steady flow of patients visited the bathroom right in front of my bed. A shouting match broke out between some of the nurses and nurses aides until a man at the other end of the room yelled, “Could you please take it outside? I’m trying to rest.”

Sometime in the midst of this I was diagnosed with pyelonephritis, a severe urinary tract infection that had spread to a kidney, and ended up in the hospital for three nights. I had already been on two courses of antibiotics, but that hadn’t cleared up the initial infection. Finding myself sick and alone thousands of miles away from my mom was bad enough, but scarier still was just how familiar the illness felt.

I’d been sick with the same thing almost 10 years ago when I was in my 20s and still living in the United States, where I’m from. In both cases, my side and back hurt and fever shot up. And each time, I recovered after serious doses of antibiotics and lots of bed rest. But apart from that, my experiences were a world apart.

The biggest difference: Money. Getting sick in New York City decimated my bank account. In London, I didn’t pay a penny. I should note, however, that a full 9 percent of my gross pay goes towards the equivalent of a health tax. (For comparison’s sake, according to the Commonwealth Fund, in 2007 about half of working-age Americans spent 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket medical costs and premiums.)

And while I recovered fully in both cases, the care I received felt quite different. In New York, I never feared that I would be overlooked. At my doctor’s office in upscale Gramercy Park, he and his nurses took their time seeing me, and were always at pains to reassure me. On my first visit, the receptionist let me sit in an empty consulting room so that I wouldn’t have to weep in the waiting room. She checked in on me and brought me water.

But unlike the personal care I received in the U.S., in London, I felt like I was on a vast and often creaking conveyor belt, and there was a big risk of falling through the cracks. British care is socialized — and feels that way.

Affordable, but at what cost?

Amid the fever and pain, and the crushing boredom of my London hospital beds (I spent each of my three nights in different wards of the huge Royal Free Hospital), I couldn’t help but compare my two experiences and think about the presidential campaign happening back home and the growing impetus for health care reform in the United States.

Would the elderly woman in my ward in London who repeatedly pleaded “Can someone help me please?” after being left on her dirty bedpan for almost an hour, recommend a version of the National Health Service to Americans? What would British patients who are denied certain drugs because of funding constraints or because they’re deemed too experimental say about it?

And how about Professor Paul Goddard, one of the England’s senior doctors, who said recently that thousands of hospital patients are “starving” because over-burdened nurses don’t have time to feed them?

I saw what he was talking about. In the third ward, I spent a day next to an ancient-looking woman who refused to touch her food. A few times the harried nurse tried unsuccessfully to get her to eat. Mostly my neighbor sat with her eyes closed, her chin resting on her chest.

Being mouthy and mobile, I felt confident that I could cajole the hospital workers into paying attention to me. As it turned out, I had to be very, very patient. Nurses paced the corridors all the time and we could call them from our beds, but doctors were a bit harder to come by — unless there was a real emergency everyone had to wait their turn. And about twice a day a pack of lean and well-dressed physicians clutching clipboards would lope into the ward, pull the flimsy green curtains around our beds and ask us to share intimate information within earshot of the other patients. Being shameless and forthright, I got along OK — I pressed the doctors for answers and they sent me for a battery of tests to make sure that there wasn’t anything else wrong with me.

But I wasn’t so confident for some of my companions. One of my three roommates in the second ward was a woman who said she had a dislodged stent in her chest and was waiting for urgent heart surgery. She gasped for breath when hobbling across the room to the bathroom, and rarely spoke to the doctors except to say “thank you.” She confessed to me through tears that she had tried to kill herself a few weeks earlier. At one point the nurses left her in a corner in a wheelchair for about two hours as they looked for a bed for her on the cardiac ward.

Going broke to pay for clean bill of health

Complaints about health care straddle both sides of the Atlantic, of course.

With both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama devoting time to the issue of reform, politicians in the United States are responding to the feeling that something fundamental has to change when it comes to taking care of Americans’ health.

That’s because “the system is breaking down,” says Jacob Hacker, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work on health care reform influenced Obama and his former rival in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton.

“We have people who are facing financial ruin even if they have medical insurance,” says Hacker, the author of "The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care and Retirement — And How You Can Fight Back.”



Ten years ago, while living in New York, I was out of work and paying more than $200 a month out of my meager savings into a group plan for health insurance. Still, I put off going to the doctor until I was quite sick, fearing that things could get out of control and I would end up paying for something I couldn’t afford. By the time I did go, I was in a waiting room doubled over and weeping from the pain.

During the first consultation in a small, neat but spare clinic on the West Side of Manhattan, I asked the nurse to call my insurance company. She informed them of my condition and there seemed to be no payment concerns so they were able to turn their attention to my health. My fever was very high and the doctor wavered on whether to send me directly to the hospital, but instead decided to send me to a specialist downtown. Unlike the clinic, with its plastic seats, cramped waiting room and harried-looking staff, the specialist’s office in a brownstone was warm and inviting. A fleet of nurses busied themselves with paperwork and smiled at the patients in the waiting room.

The doctor immediately put me at my ease with his twinkly eyes and a hand on my shoulder. After an ultrasound, the doctor sent me home, armed with prescriptions for painkillers and a potent antibiotic. It was good to be at home instead of a hospital but I was knocked out and slept much of the time. I soaked the sheets as I sweat through my fever.

I saw the doctor two times during my convalescence and he called my home several times to check on me. After several ultrasounds, he determined there was no permanent damage to my kidneys.

After I recovered, I was hit with another shock: my insurance company refused to pay the roughly $4,000 I owed. There had been a mix-up with the nurse in the first clinic; my insurance company now said they would have paid for a hospital stay, but not at-home care. The company also blamed the mix-up on me as I did not call them directly when I was first diagnosed.

Had I been older and more self-confident, I wouldn’t have dropped the issue after a couple of incredibly frustrating calls.

Unable to pay the bill, I felt guilty for years that the doctors who had cared for me had been left holding the bag. With my family’s help, I finally was able to pay what I owed, but by that point my finances were a mess and my credit record had taken a hit.

I was far from alone. Americans are hemorrhaging money into the health care system. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. spent 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care in 2005, almost two times that spent in the United Kingdom and other wealthy nations. And Americans are not healthier for it. By many measures, in fact, we are markedly worse off, something widely agreed on regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum.



“If you ask Americans if they are in favor of reform, you get everything from diehard Republicans and diehard liberals saying yes,” says Robert Moffitt, the director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

A 2007 Center for Studying Health System Change study showed that one in five Americans surveyed reported going without or delaying health care in the previous 12 months, up sharply from one in seven doing so in 2003. The cost of care was the main reason for not getting medical attention, the organization says.

In my case 10 years ago, I ignored the initial illness and just drank a lot of water and cranberry juice and took over-the-counter painkillers. If I had gone to the doctor with my initial complaint — a simple urinary tract infection — it may have cost me around $200 for a visit and drugs, even if insurance hadn’t paid. Waiting for it to get really bad ended up costing me thousands instead.



U.K. the way to go?

Most agree there’s a problem with health care in the U.S., but is the United Kingdom’s system the way to go? Certainly, the U.K.’s health care system has been held up as an example of how to go about things.

Polemical documentary maker Michael Moore took on the issue in his 2007 movie “Sicko” and gave the NHS, established in 1948, a glowing review. He interviewed a number of people to show that the NHS is in good shape, with everyone from brand-new parents to family doctors giving it rave reviews.

My take was more mixed than Moore’s. The good part was that my local doctor is part of a cooperative that allows patients to see someone after-hours instead of resorting to the emergency room. The doctor who saw me first seemed to take a real interest and helped admit me to the hospital within minutes. The obviously over-worked nurses treated me gently, calling me and everyone else on the wards “dearie” and “love.” When they saw me, the doctors focused on me intently and made sure I underwent a series of tests to make sure nothing was overlooked.

But as I was being rotated through different hospital wards, it didn’t always feel like I was benefiting from a gold standard of care. I had to be alert to any opportunity to talk to a doctor and nurse about my condition — it wasn’t that I felt the staff didn’t care, only that they had so much to do and so many people to look after.

So, I looked out for myself. I made a point of showering, washing my hands often and getting a clean gown every day — nobody else seemed to be paying very close attention to my hygiene or anybody else’s. I thanked God every day for lovely friends who visited and made sure I ate properly.

The wards were always noisy, making it impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Visitors wandered in and out throughout the day and late into the night. On my second night, I woke up to find that the woman across from me had fallen out of bed. She lay on the ground moaning while I dragged my IV down the hallway to look for the nurses.

The NHS is relentlessly picked apart in the media here, and the government is under enormous pressure to fix its problems, such as high cancer death rates, deadly infections flourishing in some hospitals and alleged understaffing and incompetence.

Medical care is extremely variable across the service, says Vanessa Bourne of the Patients Association, an advocacy organization, with the care and treatment highly dependent not only on what part of the country the patient lives in but also on the quality of individual family doctors, or general practitioners, as they are known here.



These highly independent professionals wield enormous power because they’re responsible for referring patients to specialists and tests. If yours is good — and mine is great, for the record — then your health is in safe hands. But if she or he is lazy or incompetent it can have a serious impact on your health. And there is very little recourse if you have a complaint because you’re pretty much stuck with whatever GP practice is in your neighborhood.

One friend here refuses to visit his GP’s office because they don’t listen to him and assume he is only there to get a pink slip off of work. He has tried raising a number of issues to deaf ears. This cannot be good for his health in the long run.

The NHS is often criticized for being unresponsive to the regular user and instead largely answerable to its own enormous organization.

And we are talking humongous: The NHS is the largest employer in Europe, with about 1.3 million people on its payroll. It has an annual budget of around 90 billion pounds, or roughly $160 billion dollars.

Another criticism is the practice in some parts of the country of stopping care if a patient pays out of their own pocket to get a treatment that is not on the NHS. In other words, if you have cancer and can afford an experimental drug that has not been approved for general use, the NHS will force you into totally private care.



The system’s problems, real and perceived, are such that the best jobs in this country offer private insurance. A few of my friends have paid thousands of dollars extra to get private care when they gave birth. For this private care you get your own room instead of sharing a ward with other new mothers and their babies, and extra care from doctors and the nurses.

This frightens me. Certainly, I’m nervous about depending on the over-stretched and arbitrary organization if I have a baby or when I get old. I can still hear one old woman next to me in the hospital crying “Mummy, Mummy,” when she realized no one would come to comfort her. Still, even if the system here is riddled with problems, I’ve come to appreciate the U.K.’s efforts to care for the health of all of its people, including me.

When I got sick I wasn’t afraid to call the doctor because of money. I was run through myriad tests and attended to by a fleet of nurses and doctors. I am now fully better. I can and do make appointments at my neighborhood doctor’s office a five-minute walk from my house, without ever having to worry about being bankrupted.

Brinley Bruton first came to Great Britain to live and work as a journalist in 2002. She had previously lived in New York City. Earlier this year, she became a dual citizen.

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26794291/
"If America Was A Tree, The Left Would Root For The Termites...Greg Gutfeld."

Return to “Healthcare”