I have had a love/hate relationship with the NHS since I started to use it. When I became a full-time resident of the United Kingdom, I was issued a National Insurance number. This meant that as I was now paying into the system via taxation that I was eligible for the English health care program. I did not feel any sort of elation at this development. I rarely go to the doctor for anything other than maladies that do not seem to want to move on.
I first entered into a more serious usage of the heath system in the mid to late nineties. I had a back problem that had made life difficult since the early eighties. After a long drawn out procedure of getting referrals to specialists (that’s spelt surgeons by the way) and multiple MRI’s, xrays, et al, I finally got an operation that fixed me right up. I have gone pain and restriction free from my back problems since the fourteenth of September 1999, well free until the thirteenth of February.
But I am wandering off topic. The point I wanted to make was that apart from my contribution to the National Health Service (NHS) and having to pay for my prescriptions, the cost for my utilizing the service has been nil. Yes, it is a long laborious matter to use the NHS for anything “serious” but again the operative word in the above sentence is nil. No expenditure for anything apart from the prescriptions.
I am only writing about all this because I know that the United States is now working on setting up a National Health Service of their own. From what I have seen on the internet, newspapers, and international news programs Americans are fighting this tooth and nail. I don’t really understand what their problem is.
Let me explain.
In 1979 my first wife gave birth to our son. It was not an easy delivery.The baby she was carrying kicked loose the placenta with the end result of the both of them basically bleeding to death. An emergency caesarian operation was required. I am happy to say that our son and his mother both came through fine, although he did make his entrance into the world about a month and a half too early. Neither my first wife nor I had medical insurance.
Time has made this memory a little hazy, but, I think our bill for all this exciting early entry by our son came to over two thousand five hundred dollars. That was a lot of dough-ray-me in the seventies. I had to take out a loan to pay it all. Of course the running joke for years was, “If we don’t pay it off, will they come and repossess our boy?” You had to laugh.
I look back on that episode and think how much simpler (and less expensive) it would have been if we had the NHS to utilize. I know that most if not all Americans do have a form of medical insurance, they need it. I just don’t understand the mentality of fighting a program that would help everyone to get adequate medical care.
In the United Kingdom, we have the option to be see private doctors. In reality they are usually the same folks you would see if you went through the NHS. But by opting out of the program, you pay and get the added bonus of being seen more quickly. But the operative word in the sentence is pay. So that you have the option, if you can afford it, to opt out of the Health Service system. Surely this is something that Americans could use.
I guess the point I am trying to make is this. Setting up a program that would benefit everyone is a good thing. Stop fighting it folks and figure out how to make the system better. In the UK the system has become a lumbering beast. Management heavy and slow, the system is in drastic need of an overhaul. But, it is still better than having to rely on medical insurance that most of the lower income folks cannot afford.