2 December 2009

stuck in the middle

the post about the flight is coming. promise. but something else is consuming my thoughts. health care. i know, i know, i just wrote about health care. talk about beating a dead horse. but a situation arose today that really caused me to question everything.

as you all know, i have never been a huge fan of nationalised health care. i think it sucks. but i also think its about time i pointed out some of the strong points of the system i live under in the UK.

the main one being that is free.

i dont pay to see a doctor. ever. the NHS has a flat rate of 7 pounds for prescriptions. and well, everything else?...its free. i didnt pay a dime when i had eleri. we just walked in and out of the hospital; no insurance card, no paperwork, nothing. ok, sure we had to stay on a ward with lots of other people. and bring our own blankets...and pillows...and sheets. and yeah, the bed was all metal, with a metal headboard and it was built in 1950. and ok, no air conditioning. but it was free. according to the american association of pediatrics, the average cost of having a child in 2008 was $3475. that cost was what people had to pay in addition to the costs covered by their insurance companies. ok, so those americans didnt have to bring in their own sheets and pillows; and they probably had a nice padded bed that could be adjusted. but they had to pay. and i didnt.

and whenever i have to go to the pharmacy. its only 7 pounds. no wondering how much it will be and if my insurance company will cover that particular prescription. its a flat rate.

my cancer removal/treatment? free

rhys' x-rays for rugby injuries? free

doctor visits? free

and that is nice. i realise the flip side to that is the HUGE waiting time to see a doctor or a specialist. the way the NHS judges procedure on a cost basis, refusing treatment if they feel it is too expensive. and that is not ideal either. but you know what really sucks? being in america without insurance. it sucks even more than i remembered.

a few days before we left for america, eleri seemed to get a bit of a cold. but that happens in the winter time, plus some of her little friends had colds and we had been around them recently. so no big deal. since we were flying for so long, i figured i would take her to the doctor and see what he said. i assumed he would say it was just a cold. and i was right. his exact words were "she has a cold. it happens. enjoy your flight" fair enough. on we went.

its now been a week and she has the same cough that she did before we left. and since my mother HATES nationalised medicine even more than i do, she really wanted eleri to see an american doctor. so we went to the doctor today. and the american doctor said that she had a chest infection, probably asthma, and needed a breathing treatment. she did one in the office and then gave me 3 different prescriptions. i was told to give her the antibiotics for 5 days so she doesnt get pneumonia, do one type of medicine in a breathing treatment 4 times a day, another type of medicine 2 times a day and come back for a chest x-ray in a week if she is still coughing. wow. know how much that visit cost me without insurance? $437. and that doesnt even cover the prescriptions. just one of the prescriptions she gave me is $207. and i have 3 to fill.

there was no change in eleri in the week that passed. but those are two VERY different diagnosis. one was free. and one cost me nearly $500.

so i am stuck in the middle.

i dont think the NHS does enough. but does american health care do too much? is that too extreme? before you all go thinking that i am bad mother, i filled the prescriptions and i will give eleri the medicine, but i am still questioning the necessity of it all. there has got to be a middle ground. there has got to be a system that checks people out thoroughly, doesnt over medicate and doesnt charge so damn much. because as it is, i cant afford it.

the american health care system leaves people like me out. i cant afford those kinds of bills. its just too much. i buy a lottery ticket every week hoping to cash in on my share of the millions of pounds up for grabs, but until i win, i am poor. too poor to be paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in medical bills just to see a doctor. something in me says seeing a doctor is a basic human right. am i starting to sound a bit like a socialist? perhaps. but the system has some major flaws.

unfortunately, so does the UK system. which leaves me in the middle. i am not a fan of having to wait over 3 months to see a specialist for eleri. i want her to be seen straight away. but when i see said specialist, it wont cost me a penny. but it may be to late to correct her problem. flip to america, and i got to see a doctor straight away who took immediate action. but i cant afford to pay the bill as a result. i really am stuck. people need to be taken care of. but they need to be done so in a way that is affordable. i dont have the solution. i am not sure that it is nationalised health care. i have lived in that system and it lets people down. but i am not sure that private insurance is the way to go either. i have lived in that system. and it lets people down too.

so for now i will stay stuck in the middle; forced to live in the pros and cons of both systems.


Diet DP Loving Mom said...

There's no such thing as a free lunch. You are inevitably paying for your healthcare through taxes in the UK. Now I know you aren't working now, but Hubby is and he's paying taxes, high ones I'm sure. Yes, being in the US w/o health insurance is tough, but we have the highest quality in the world and it's not free. Unfortunately people in the US don't educate themselves on their own healthcare coverages and don't purchase supplemental insurance if needed.

I agree doctors tend to over treat and over medicate. However, that's mainly due to fear of being sued, and there's no tort reform on the horizon.

I don't believe the right to see a doctor is a basic right. The right to work hard, earn money, and pay to see a doctor is a basic right. No one should prevent you from doing that.

That's just my basic opinion on healthcare....

kristina said...

"no free lunch" ah, takes me back to economics in university. :)

yes, we pay for healthcare in taxes. and even though i am on maternity leave, i am still classed as employed. you get a year off paid in the UK. so i am still an employee of the same company, still getting my salary and still paying taxes. and they are high. but i pay nothing when i go to a doctor. nothing when i go to the hopsital. when living in america i still pay tax on healthcare (medicare etc...) and then STILL pay when i go to a doctor. i agree the level of care is great. but is it worth what we pay? probably not.

perhaps "basic right" is a bit strong. i lived for several years in the states with no cover. i worked 2 jobs and still couldnt afford health insurance. that is not right. i dont know the solution, but i know that sucks.

i do agree with you that doctors in the states probably go over board to cover themselves because of lawsuits. thats a shame.

thanks for commenting though, i LOVE hearing others opinions.

Stefanie said...

Hey Kristina---I totally agree with you. It is tough to be poor but not quite poor enough in America. We buy our own insurance and it costs a lot and only covers catastrophes, but we keep it around because we feel like we should.

Flora was in the hospital for a couple of days last March (not completely necessary to hospitalize her, in my opinion) and we are STILL paying on that bill. Since then, I have started questioning the doctor about what is medically necessary and what is more of a medical suggestion. Of course, I always preface my questions with, "Not to sound like a bad Mom, but...."

Like you, I don't know what the answer is, but I *think* that my family could benefit from nationalized health care. At least we could save the $30 copay on every visit---that really adds up during that first year!!

And now to answer the question I'm sure you are asking----why is Stefanie suddenly reading my blog!!?? LOL. I saw a note on facebook that you had written a blog about health care and I wanted to read the opinion of someone else (someone who is not a politician or a reporter!). :-)

Your little girl is beautiful!! It sounds like you are having fun with her!!

Stefanie Borkert

Diet DP Loving Mom said...

Unfortunately, we can't have our cake AND eat it too. We either need to have it privatized and keep the high quality or nationalize it, and have rationing, long wait times to schedule and appt. As a recruiter in the healthcare industry, we are in a serious shortage of healthcare providers. And thank goodness for that (kidding of course), it's great job security for me. :) We are having a hard time seeing the people with insurance in a timely manner. If we cover another 40 million, without increasing the # of docs, nurses, etc, it's going to be a nightmare. No one is addressing that problem. Every one thinks that nationalizing healthcare it's going to solve the problem, but it's not. It's going to destroy the quality.

Also, we as Americans make choices that dictate the care we can receive. We choose to grad high school, go to college, choose a major that is going to make your marketable in the work place. You have the ability to interview for jobs, make career choices. If you make a choice to take a job that doesn't offer you healthcare, or the plan you need, then that's your choice. Hubby and I took jobs that provide us what we need for our family and do not expect the gov't to provide that for us.

Personal responsiblity is one of the premises this country was founded under and personally I'd like to keep it that way.

Does this sound harsh, possibly, but I don't like when people want the gov't to provide things that aren't constitutional sound.

Diet DP Loving Mom said...

k-also the next time you visit the US for an extended amount of time you can purchase travel health insurance. It's about 50-60 per month, and have a $50 deductible on ER/doc visits and $100 deductible on scripts. I know it's an added expense, but it may relieve some stress on the trip knowing you and e are covered.

Devi said...

I wonder what would have happened if you had been in the UK a week after the first time you went to the doc and got told it was just a cold. If she still had it a week later, do you think anything different would have happened? The doctor who saw her later in the US was seeing her a little while after the first diagnosis after all.. (You know I've got a soft spot for socialism.. and I live in an amazing country for nationalised health care.. Australia is great).