Thank goodness for the NHS

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had more contact with the NHS than I’ve had cause to have for a couple of years. Two visits to the dentist (for one filling & a tooth filing – fun); one trip to my new GP; one prescription; a series of blood tests; and an x-ray.

I spent less than half an hour – in total – waiting for all these appointments and tests. In fact, my dentist is so good, I was out of the chair 1 minute after my first appointment was due to start, because he called me in early. Even the dreaded walk-in blood test clinic involved no more than 5 minutes waiting. (Usually, such trips are like visits to the most boring and painful deli counters in existence.) The longest wait was for the x-ray, but that seemed to be because I’d never been a patient at the hospital before and needed to fill in even more forms.

The total financial cost of all of this? £56.10 – and all bar £7.60 of that was spent on my teeth.

It’s at times like this that I am inordinately grateful for the NHS. I walked into my GP’s surgery with a list of ailments I wanted checking out. I didn’t need to worry that the cost of any treatment I might need would be prohibitive to receiving it. (Unless I happened to need a vast quantity of prescription meds.) I even got to be a guinea pig for a med student, so I was doing my own bit for the education of future generations of doctors.


If only more doctors looked like this…
On Saturday, I read an article about a student in the US who’d just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. [Not going to lie, the reason my eye was drawn to the article was less about the topic and more about the fact that the image that accompanied it was of George Clooney in ER, c.1997.] It explored the cost of her disease and stupid, innocent, British me, thought that the article would explore how it’s affected her physically. But no, it was about the financial costs and it was horrific reading. The medical bills for the hospital stays and tests that resulted in her diagnosis amounted to $13,246.53. I barely understand the workings out of how this was covered, but clearly she was lucky to have good insurance. 
The thrust of the article was that she now faced the dilemma of how to remain insured, as a soon-to-graduate postgrad and as someone no longer eligible to be covered by their parent’s insurance. It’s terrifying that dilemmas such as whether or not to be uncovered for 6 months, just to qualify for a particular type of insurance, have to be faced. Isn’t someone’s health more important that an insurance company making money? But thus speaks the voice of someone raised by the NHS…
What terrified me even more was the fact that none of the comments on the article complained about the state of US healthcare – they simply accepted it and provided helpful hints for generic medications or insurance loopholes. 
Why oh why do Americans accept this state of affairs? I know that’s a massive generalisation and that many are fighting it, but why aren’t more people? Why are people against Obama’s healthcare legislation that enabled those who couldn’t afford healthcare to have it without financial worries? But, perhaps most importantly for those on this side of the Atlantic, why oh why is our current government so determined to destroy one of our country’s greatest social assets? 

Comments

  1. I have inflammatory bowel disease (similar to Crohn’s) and have had almost every test going (including a nuclear medicine one that must have cost a fortune) as well as consultant care for two years now, plus a cocktail of different drugs. I have had two hospital stays during flare ups. If I lived in America, I couldn’t afford to be well and getting on with my life as I am now.

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