Saturday, July 18, 2009

RE POST...Happy Anniversary NHS (National Health Service)...Info on both English and Canadian Health Care Systems

What is the NHS, or the National Health Service, you ask? It is the official name of the National Health Care system in Britain. This July 5th it will turn 60 years old. I really knew nothing about this system prior to last April, 2007. This was when I went with my main squeeze on a business trip. I love these trips, he has to work and I have to sit alone by a luxury pool for 2 days. Anyway, on this particular trip we were in Phoenix. I went to the pool and happened to grab a spot next to a couple from London. We began to talk about, can you guess, politics. The conversation quickly turned to their health care system. I learned that day from them many things: government health care is not free it is simply pre-paid by higher taxes, government health care is great unless you get a major illness, there is always a line, there are always long lines for dental care as well,there is always a LONG wait for tests or scans.

There was one other thing I learned that I don't believe is covered in this country when this topic is discussed. This couple told me that they actually buy supplemental insurance, privately, to cover things that are not under the National 'free' coverage and it usually pushed them up in line when a wait is involved. There are also doctors that opt out of the National Coverage and will take only those patients with this supplemental insurance. There is also the same scenario when dealing with dentists. I found this fascinating. Doesn't the ability to buy better or more coverage go against one of the main reasons for nationalized medicine? That reason being all people should have the same type or amount of health care despite class or financial means. I read an article today by Doug Bandow that talks about this very thing. This article also suggests that a British subject could loose their nationalized health care if they opt for the supplemental insurance. (so where is the tax refund if they loose the national coverage?)

I had another experience while on yet another business trip. This time I was on my way to NYC, and because of circumstances my main squeeze and I were not traveling together. I got on the plane and sat next to a nice young man (early 30's) that happened to be Canadian. We had a great conversation which turned to, can you guess, politics. We eventually got around to what I refer to as socialized medicine, better known as national health care. He was under the impression that there were Americans that were denied health care. I then explained to him the fallacy of that statement. There are people that are not insured, but they are not denied health care. I told him that our emergency rooms are used as Dr. visits for the uninsured. I personally witnessed this on an ER trip with my mom. There was a lady in front of us in the check in line. We were able to hear her partial interview with the admitting nurse. When asked why she was at the ER today, her answer was 'stuffy nose'. Anyway, getting back to the conversation with the Canadian, he was shocked to hear about a typical ER and I also told him of the many charity hospitals found in most cities and towns. He had no idea. It looks as though mis-information abounds all over the globe. Our talk turned to the health care in his country. He said he has been OK with the service given, but he had never been real sick. He would rather not pay the HIGH taxes associated with it, but like he said "You get used to it". We also talked about the 'Brokers' in his country. They actually help very ill patients find hospitals in the US to do needed tests or to perform needed procedures for Canadians that know if they wait in a line for a test in Canada, they could be dead before they can even get a diagnosis. These people use the brokers and the charity of American physicians and hospitals to save their lives. They still have to pay, but they negotiate lower fees. I read another article by David Gratzer that discussed the current issues the Canadian national health care is dealing with presently. Apparently, the gentleman considered the father of this enterprise is changing his tune.

We must keep all this in mind during the upcoming election. National health care has major issues in both Canada and Britain. I encourage you to do your own research. I think it was Reagan who said "Trust, but verify." We must verify what we are being told. We must check the facts.

Remember, nothing is free, except Salvation!


feisty 'bama princess said...

Well, being "uninsured" does equal being denied health care for many people. They simply cannot afford to pay full (or reduced) price and hospitals will demand a large amount of money up front if you do not have insurance. Also, I wouldn't step foot in the emergency room of most "charity" hospitals. Ick. There are always two sides to the coin and it's going to be difficult to come to a solution. All I know is that we are one of the wealthiest nations on earth and people die everyday from lack of health care. It's shameful.

Kris said...

You are correct. There is no perfect situation or system. There are always some that will fall through the cracks and it is shameful. We should work to have this happen less often.

As a child, I got my health care from a free clinic and my dental work done at a dental college. My parents had these options, as uninsured, and we took advantage of them. We were an uninsured family until I was 10 or 11 and my brother was 13.

However, giving the responsibility to the government is not the answer. All we need to do is look to our neighbors who have taken that step. The Nationalized plans have even more that fall through the cracks. Take a look at This site gives example of those who have fallen through the cracks in these nationalized systems. The government created bureaucracies end up doing as much harm as good, take the IRS for example. So many forms, so many exceptions, and deductions. This is another fear for handing it to the gov.

Yes we are the richest country, but having money and then throwing it into a bureaucracy does not make a perfect system and does not insure that none will fall through the cracks, the public school system for example.

Anyway, thanks for your comments. i do not disagree with them.


Kim said...

There are actually community clinics set up that will ONLY accept uninsured patients and these clinics are of the utmost quality (I've personally been to a few for research.) Professional doctors and nurses volunteer their time to serve those who have no insurance. The cost is minimal for standard medial care and patients are often referred to hospitals for more specialized procedures at a reduced cost.

So, in reality, while it may be difficult for uninsured patients to be seen by a doctor they prefer or at a location they prefer, I don't believe they have to die from lack of healthcare because it's available. After working in the nonprofit field for 5 years, you'd be surprised at the kind of professional care, physical and mental, you can receive for very little cost.

Kris said...

thanks for the insight kim.


Bridget said...

Fascinating read! Sweden also has the high taxes and the health care along with government funded university education for anyone inclined to attend. They do pay dearly for these "benefits!" "Getting ahead" is not something they can really hope for with the taxes they pay.

photog said...

It was Regan, referring to the Russians, who said, "Trust, but verify."

While it is true that some services may be available some people some of the time, it is also true that some people have died of easily curable diseases simply because the didn't have access to the care they required.

I don't know the answer. I only know that in America, a wealthy nation rich with doctors and medical facilities, the present situation is unacceptable.

Kris said...

the current situation is not perfect, but it is the best going. turning it into a government agency will turn a not so good thing into a horrible thing.


Neil said...

When I hear people pushing for universal health care, I just mentioned 3 things: Walter Reed Hospital, the DMV and the Post Office.

Yes, no system is perfect, but we could do some simple things to make our system even better.

Imagine what auto insurance would cost if you filed claims for every oil change. So why don't we go with higher deductibles? Give people more incentive to take care of themselves.

More competition and less insurance coverage = lower prices. Look at how the cost of cosmetic and lasik surgeries increase at much lower rates than general medical costs.

There are other ideas as well (push health savings accounts more), but the Dems want to just have the gov't take over. Yeah, that'll work.

photog said...

Or we can continue to let the rich white people look out for other rich white people. Yeah, that'll work.

We live in nation of "haves" and "have nots." With few exceptions, the "haves" have one singular purpose - to protect whatever wealth they have acquired, hence the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the shrinking middle class. The "haves" console themselves by thinking they arrived at their present station in life solely on the merits of their own hard work (which I certainly don't discount) and the "have nots" could easily become "haves" if they would simply work harder. But in reality, the "haves" have because they were raised around "haves," taught by "haves," and generally have a "have" mentality ingrained.

Much of my work ethic and professional aspirations are the result of seeds sown by my parents and grandparents. And but for the support of my wife and family, I would not have an undergraduate degree, law degree, and (almost) advanced tax law decree.

This is a long-winded way of saying, if we let the same 1% of the wealth of this country dictate (via their campaign and lobbying dollars) the policies for the remaining 99% of us, we will continue to see a prosporous 1% and an increasingly disinfranchised middle and lower classes.

4simpsons said...

Or we could let 51% of the populaton tax the rest of us into oblivion and kill the goose that laid the golden egg. You've probably seen the stats, but the bottom 50% pay roughly zero income taxes.

They pay FICA, but if we could turn that Ponzi scheme into individual savings accounts then that wouldn't be a tax, it would be savings. And the money wouldn't be there for the 1% or the 99% to manipulate.

Charity is donating your money, not that of other people.

Do you seriously think the gov't will do a better overall job than the free market?

Kris said...

it is not a 'human right' to be a , as you say 'have'. and it is from hard work that you can get ahead. i am not saying that some don't have advantage over others, but that has been and always will be the way it is this side of heaven. to think we can ever have a society where everyone has the same money, opportunity, education, salary, amount of 'things, you name it, is never going to happen. it has been tried: China, Russia for example, and it does not work.

also, it is the 'have's' that put forth money through investment to create jobs. this is called capitalism. though it is far from perfect and some do fall through the cracks, it is the best thing going. we do try to give all people opportunity. Just look around, it there any other current system you would want to live in?.

4simpsons said...

P.S. My apologies if my last comment sounded harsh. In re-reading it I realize I should have softened the tone a bit.

Kris said...

no worries neil, some things make us more passionate than others. i think we all know that this topic does bring out the tiger in some people!



katdish said...


I think you should blog about something less controversial. How about stem cell research or gay marriage?

I kid, I'm a kidder. But seriously, I would consider myself a "have" in the "have and have not" scenario. But I would also say that my husband and I give a considerable amount of money away. Some of it is tax deductible, some not. I'm not making this statement to pat myself on the back. My point is, put your money where your mouth is. If you know someone who can't afford a necessary doctor's appointment, pay for it if you can. Stop pointing fingers and do something to help. We often think "that's someone else's problem; or let someone else do it". Guess what? That someone else is you. (Cue the angry e-mails.)

Kris said...

i'll get to the more controversial topics at a later date. ;)

you are right. we as Christians, especially, need to put our money where are mouth is, especially to fellow believers.


photog said...

well spoken ... er, written, katdish! I firmly believe that if society as a whole (and Christians in particular) loved our neighbors and met their need, we would have no need for formal social services and all the above would be non-issues.

Christina said...

I'd like to point out that, as a Canadian, my health care system has worked extraordinarily well for me and my family. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's not bad either.

EuroMom said...

We went to England for a month recently, staying with Americans and English. Some of the English happen to be family. I was stunned at how much they rave about NHS and yet, one uncle's first wife had died of cancer, which took forever long to diagnose. I wondered, not out loud, if it was a result of the NHS that her diagnosis took so long and what the outcome might have been if her diagnosis had been made earlier.

As a hygienist, I do notice teeth and the dental care, or should I say lack of it, was appalling! Frightening to me, really!

I met a man once, who moved here from France, because their child had cerebral palsy and autism. They left their homeland because, although the care was free or nearly free, they couldn't get proper treatment for their son. He said they would never move back to France. He was totally disgusted with the health care system there.

I know story after story like this and it is a bit frightening.c