Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Two Cents on UK's Socialized Medicine

From my year-and-a-half experience with socialized (not considered a four-letter word here) health care, I have developed a few opinions on what works, and what doesn't.

NHS (the National Health Service) works if you are not really sick.  

Meaning, it works if you are a little sick - standard stuff like common infections, healthy pregnancies, and non-chronic illnesses.  I got treated yesterday for a standard infection at no charge, paid 7 pounds for my prescription, and am already getting better.

However, if you are likely going to die, have chronic pain or illnesses, have pregnancy complications, need back surgery, or have any kind of back pain, pray that you are employed and have private insurance.

I am told that patients with a low chance of survival in hospitals are taken off the expensive machines and "made comfortable" - the state doesn't want to pay for your expensive death (or the chance that you could be kept alive).

While not covered by private insurance, I had to wait 8 weeks to see a physiotherapist, and only then was I given 5 one-half hour appointments.  My back still hurt when I left, but the government didn't want to pay for me to start feeling better.  Once on private insurance, I waited 3 days and had 6 one-half appointments, with the option to renew if I still needed it.  Because I was able to pick the provider, my care was substantially better and I didn't need to go back.

The best example of NHS not working is when a friend of mine who had back surgery scheduled.  Luckily, she didn't have to wait the full two months *after* a consultation appointment, as she was in excruciating pain.  She was given a date when another had cancelled, but arrived after fasting for 12 hours (meaning no pain meds) only to be told that the "theatre" (operating room) had been booked, but there were no beds available.  This after taking off work and canceling a much-anticipated trip.  She came home frustrated, convinced there were beds available for private-paying patients.  She was lucky that the next week the theatre and a bed got booked simultaneously, and no emergencies happened in the interim to take up either.

The inefficiencies and bureaucracies of government have a terrible affect-taking lives and creating much pain - when applied to health care.  And even though all methods are employed to save money, NHS accounts for something like 50-60% of the budget.  Oh, and even though I'm now on private insurance, I'm still taxed as if I take advantage of NHS.  I love paying for the government to not help those who need it most...

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