Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care

I've recently read here in the UK of the escalating debate in the US about health care reform. Apparently, some politicians there are attacking the NHS as an "Orwellian" system that would diminish health care provision, and at great expense to boot.

Actually, life in London is plenty Orwellian, for other reasons, but in this case, I can report we've all had good experiences with nationalized health care.

Here in the UK, one's doctor's office is determined by their address; we've been going to the same place for 10 years now. It's easy to get an appointment to see your GP, and they're the ones who see and treat you first. If needed, they'll authorise a visit to a specialist, or for tests, therapy, etc. For example, my local office was very good at finding and administering our TBE vaccinations last year.

Last year, I spent a night in the hospital for an urgent problem, had a couple of tests, an ambulance ride, a 'procedure' or two, and a bunch of drugs. (It wasn't as much fun as it sounds.) The upshot, though, is that I'm perfectly fine, and I never paid anyone a penny for my care. I'm sure the same experience in the US would have been thousands of dollars, plus hours of paperwork and haggling over the phone with my insurer, assuming I was lucky enough to have an insurer.

To bring the topic back to Sweden, Sooz had a short hospitalization in Stockholm when we lived there, and she received excellent care at the Karolinska Institute. These are the people who decide the Nobel Prize in medicine, so they're no slouches. And again, paperwork- none; cost to us- none.

Of course, we do pay in the form of higher taxes, as per my previous post, but the key element is everyone here gets the same access to care, which I think is the biggest failing in the US.

As far as island health care goes, there is a doctor boat on call in the summer for both pressing needs and general medical care, such as vaccinations. (I should ask Margaret to share her superb story about Ann's visit to a doctor boat). There's always the air ambulance as a last resort, too. It landed near us once during our summer visit.

UPDATE: Criticism of the NHS is becoming a cause célèbre today.


Anonymous said...

Excellent references--Mom is proud of her boy!

Margaret said...

Janne is arguing with me because I pointed out that here we actually do pay fees for doctor visits and hospital stays, although of course a fraction of the US cost. So he is insisting that you pay something in the UK. Please tell me that he is incorrect.

Don said...

Marg, not to add fuel to an argument, and especially not to contradict Janne, but- I did not pay anything for any of my hospitalization, nor do I pay for a doctors visit in any way.
Sooz in fact went to the Dr. today and the cost was 0...!

Margaret said...

Fantastic! I want to move to the UK and I love winning arguments!