Monday, August 17, 2009

Setting The Record Straight

I keep hearing as a part of the "healthcare debate" that the U.S. has the best healthcare system in the world. Uh… not as such. Sorry.

According to most independent observations, we have about the fourth or fifth best healthcare system in the world. We spend more money per-capita on healthcare and still do not deliver the best care… how is this a good thing?

A lot of negative things have been said about the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Other than my initial brush with it (in June of 2006) which I played-up for editorial reasons, I really can see very little to complain about. Other than that the NHS system does assign you a doctor (to more equitably balance the load and to make sure everyone has access to one) I had no qualm with the care I received in the time I was living over in the UK.

Sure, I had to sit for three hours that first day when I went to the Casualty Department for my allergies, but the fact that they saw me at all and at no charge was amazing! At the time I was not yet actually on the UK's healthcare roles, so I was impressed that I paid nothing for my consultation and I paid less than five pounds (about ten bucks at the time) for the prescriptions.

When I was actually on the NHS, the two times I saw my doctor, I paid nothing for the office visit, and next to nothing for the prescriptions I was given (I think it was £2 for the lot).

And let's face it! What we have now in America is a system by which the working poor, homeless and other uninsured are going without until their ailments get bad enough that they sit in an emergency room. By that point, something that may have been easy to prevent becomes life-threatening and expensive and hard to cure. We've shifted the cost of preventive care to the cost of emergency treatment. And with the law being that a hospital cannot turn away a patient because they are indigent or otherwise unable to pay, we all pay for the uninsured by the hospital raising the rates so that they do not lose money on treatment of the poor.

Instead of paying a de facto premium on healthcare, why not take the best of both worlds. Reform healthcare so that we can contain the costs within a reasonable zone, provide healthcare to all, maintain freedom of choice, and finally make all the boasting you hear these days about us having the best healthcare in the world finally true!?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're well and your needs are being seen to.

Don Bergquist – August 17, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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