Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Who Wants To Pay For Healthcare?

By Sarah Kingston

As a person who is a complete and utter klutz, (that’s an uncoordinated person for those of you who need to brush up on your Yiddish), it is a small wonder that I’ve avoided the hospital for most of my life. Up until a week ago I had survived with constant bruises, minor cuts and sprains as a result of my lack of grace but never hurt myself badly enough to sample the delights of the emergency services. This is not counting one incident that involved a car and black ice, not my own lack of coordination.

Last Thursday, however, I had my first run-in with NHS emergency services when I woke up in St. Mary’s  A & E at 2.30 in the morning. The story goes that I was running for a bus, tripped and cracked my head on the pavement. I don’t actually remember any of this but have had a constant reminder throughout the week with the pounding of my brain and a terribly attractive clump of glue holding the back of my skull together.

After finally regaining consciousness I attempted to calm my tear-soaked friend Shell, one of my saviours that night, and proceeded to recite my name, shoe size and address several times. Not at the request of the nurse but for my own peace of mind. Satisfied that I was still the same person, my next overwhelming concern that trumped all others was that I had been cut out of my brand new dress, destroying the thing entirely.

I was feeling quite upset that the NHS had cut me out of a fair amount of money until I spoke to my American aunt the next day and her reaction (following concern and relief) was to point out that it was lucky I received a head injury in the UK instead of the United States. After getting over the fact that she’s used “lucky” and “head injury” in the same sentence, I thought about it and realised it really was quite fortunate.

Whatever anyone says about the inefficiency of the NHS, I was picked up quickly by an ambulance, received rapid and efficient care and even had a very attractive male nurse to look after me! Had I been back in the States I would have woken up with a much more excruciating headache due to an extremely large bill.

This led me to wonder how any of my fellow Americans back home can be fighting so hard against national healthcare. Do they enjoy paying a hefty bill after leaving the hospital? Many argue that the quality of care isn’t as good when health care is nationalised but isn’t it better to start with standard care for everyone and work up from there?

It seems that people are either resigned to paying too much for quality care or receiving sub-standard care for free, but I wonder, why can’t the government of the United States manage to offer free quality care for everyone?

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