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Michael D LeFevre

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Great Britain, The USA and Healthcare
by Michael D LeFevre   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012

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As an American who now resides in the UK, I share my experiences of healthcare in both countries.

What you are about to read has nothing to do with Michael Moore, although I will say that his film "Sicko" is more accurate than people immagine. Furthermore, it is not meant to serve any left wing agenda. It is simply to tell about my experiences with healthcare in both the USA and Great Britain since I have lived half of my life in each country. I feel that I can share my experiences from an enlightened point of view.

I will start wit the USA, since I lived the first half of my life there. In America, healthcare is privatised. Growing up as a child, I remember hearing about things like doctor bills, but it wasn't until I was nearly sixteen before I had any direct experience of it.

I was on a youth retreat with my church, when I had a bad tumble down a hill and injured my hand to the point it need stitches. The hospital me up and sent me on my way to enjoy the rest of the weekend. However, it was when I got home, my real experience began.

The hospital bill incurred from my fall was not covered by Medicaid or any insurance. I never knew the reason why. The church did speak to my mother about the incident, probably because they were fearing a lawsuit, but made no offer to pay any part of the bill. In the end, we had to sell my sister's horse to pay the medical bill.

My second experience happened while I was serving in the marines a few years later. I was involved in a serious accident, I was the passenger, while on a 72 hour pass and taken to the hospital. After I was patched up and kept in for two days for observation, I discovered that when the hospital learned I was a serving member of the armed forces, they weren't sure whether to admit me because they didn't know who would pay the bill. In the end, they only did so because of the amount of blood I lost.

For the next six months, the hospital bombarded my mother's house with bills and threatening letters about payment, in spite of the fact my mother constantly told them I was in the military and they were dealing with it. Fortunately, my platoon commander was able to sort things out and eventally the Marine Corps paid the bills, but not before a few more letters were sent. However, I wouldn't be surprised if that hospital never admitted a serving member of the armed forces ever since.

There are other instances where I or someone I know sought medical treatment in the US and experienced problems because of payment. Furthermore, there were times when I was reluctant to get treatment because I couldn't afford it or those who I thought were going to pay the medical bills weren't going to.

Circumstances back in 1987 have meant that I have lived the second half of my life in the UK, okay a woman was involved, but that's not important. What is important is the experience I have had with healthcare since I have lived here.

Great Britain has the National Health Service (NHS) which is paid for by the government and supported by taxes. Here' s the first myth about the NHS I would like to bulldoze. That to sustain it, we in Britain pay astronomical taxes. The taxes I pay here in Britain are not any more than what I paid when I lived and worked in the US. That includes the few pounds I pay each month in National Insurance which goes to fund the NHS. Therefore, I can safely say that I am not drowing in a flood of taxes as far as the NHS goes.

Another misconception I want to bulldoze right now comes from conservative Brits who might view me as some sort of "health tourist." in the near 26 years I have lived in the UK, I have only accessed the NHS on a handful of occasions. That in no way makes me a health tourist. However, I know that people have come to Britain from other countries, including the US, to try to take advantage of the service and that has been a problem for the NHS and used as an argument against it.

 In spite of the fact that it's not perfect, I know that from my own experiences that the health service works. Sixteen years ago, when my ex-wife nearly bled to death after giving birth to our daughter, I was glad that the skilled doctors and nurses of the NHS were there to save her. I was glad they did so without having to worry about my ability to pay. It is the same thing with my wife now (I remarried). She is currently experiencing a lot of health problems and I dread to think what the costs would be so, I am very grateful for the NHS.

Likewise, when I had to call an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack, I was glad that the service was there. I was fully checked out and given a free taxi ride home, compliments of the hospital. When the results revealed I was in first degree heart block, I was given access to all the necessary follow up treatment without the worry of bills or future insurance premiums. Again, there are other experiences I could draw on, but I won't.

In conclusion, from my very own expereinces, I can safely say that I would much rather have the British system of free healthcare for all. The National Health Service is the best thing that Great Britain has given to the modern world and I only wish the US would be more accepting of it.

One final note, although I have dared to say that the British system of healthcare is better than America's, this in no way means that I hate America. Quite the opposite, I love America! Even if I don't live there at this time. It is because of my love for both countries, I wrote this article in the first place.

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