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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

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Hilary

Written by someone who doesn't live in a country with a socialized healthcare system ;-). Believe me, with people dying on waiting lists for operations, six-month waits for specialist referrals and drugs whose availability is determined by a patient's ZIP CODE, we in the UK are praying for a system like the American one.

scott

I'm sorry, Hilary, but I'm going to be very blunt: I do not believe you. I do not believe you're from the UK. Hell, I don't even believe HIlary's your real name. I believe you're simply a paid shill for the current health care system.

To be fair, however, I don't actually know that. It could be you're shilling for this immoral system for free.

'Cuz here's the thing: we have six-month waits for specialists here too. I can tell you that from first-hand experience, since two of my kids have had to wait that long more than once. As in about a dozen times. As in, we're still waiting for appointments for my son right now. Going on four months. And counting.

For that matter, sometimes you don't have a six-month wait. Sometimes the insurance company--to which you pay incredible amounts of money--simply tells you you can't see a specialist. A six-month wait starts to look pretty damn good compared to Never.

A six-month wait to see a specialist. For pete's sake, call a doctor here for a simple non-emergency check-up and you're likely to have to wait three months. That's just standard.

Here's a lovely, lovely story about a little boy here in our great nation:

Three months ago a homeless seventh grader in Prince George’s County, Maryland, died because his mother could not find a dentist who would do an $80 tooth extraction. Deamonte Driver, 12, eventually was given medicine at a hospital emergency room for headaches, sinusitis and a dental abscess.

The child was sent home, but his distress only grew. It turned out that bacteria from the abscessed tooth had spread to his brain. A pair of operations and eight subsequent weeks of treatment, which cost more than a quarter of a million dollars, could not save him. He died on Feb. 25.

There is no system in the western world worse than ours. Our care is generally top-notch (although judging from our infant mortality rate, not The Best), but our system is immoral and financially wasteful. There is no excuse for it, except to make the rich richer.

Hilary

Ouch! I'm actually just a regular person who reads (and enjoys!) both yours and your wife's (several) blogs (I came here from one of hers) and I do happen to be from the UK! I spent several years in the States and honestly, your system was PARADISICAL compared to what we have here. While the story you post is undoubtedly tragic - and OBVIOUSLY - should never have happened, we read the same type of thing in our papers every single week. In fact, where I live, there IS no NHS dental treatment. They simply can't get the staff. (please see link for more articles http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1254)

I realise through reading both of your blogs that your family is more than familiar with your healthcare system, and is obviously much better qualified than I am to talk about it. I have to say, though, that I never experienced anything but top-level service while I was there, whether it was seeing specialists (I was referred within a week for a serious concern), ER visits or regular checkups. Heck - we don't even have regular (or non-emergency) checkups here - no male in my family has ever had a prostate exam or seen a urologist. There just isn't the money in the system. If you have an email address, I'd be happy to contact you to try to smooth over any problems my comment may have caused - and to prove to you that I'm a real person who simply felt moved to comment on something I feel strongly about! (Believe me, I'd love to be paid to post things on people's blogs ;-)).

scott

Hilary--

I apologize whole-heartedly and without reservation.

As I said, our care in this country does tend to be top-notch, so I'll certainly agree with you there. However, we spend roughly twice as much per person on our care as you do over thar. One of the problems we have with fixing our system, however, is that whenever the topic is brought up, paid representatives of the reprehensible insurance industry immediately begin shouting "waiting times! Waiting times!"

Which isn't to say that other countries don't have such things, as you yourself can clearly attest. It's that we have waiting times too. Yet somehow they never mention that part.

Neither I nor, as far as I know, anyone thinks the UK's or Canada's or France's or Germany's system is perfect. But they're certainly better than ours, at least in many respects, whilst being significantly cheaper—in some cases, half as much. And they cover everyone, whereas we have 40,000,000 folks without health insurance, many of them children. So right now we'd be much better off looking at other systems and seeing what works and what doesn't, as opposed to simply saying that ours is fine. 'Cuz it ain't.

It's like the major bridge collapse we had over here recently—did you hear about that? If we were to approach that problem the way we approach health care, we'd point out that bridges collapse elsewhere too, so…oh well. What are you gonna go? And then make sure the richest of the rich had their own bridges.

Thanks for writing, and for being so understanding with my crankitude. :)

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