Shine A Light

Letter from America: You've got universal healthcare. Why would you give it up?

A glimpse of England's future as the Health and Social Care Bill, paving the way for NHS privatisation, returns to the House of Lords today

Daniel Wolfe
8 February 2012

A glimpse of England's future as the Health and Social Care Bill, paving the way for NHS privatisation, returns to the House of Lords today

Living in a country without universal healthcare is difficult and complicated.

It means making a mental calculation every time you feel unwell: "Is this something I can afford to see the doctor for? Or can I tough it out?" Most of the people I know choose to tough it out. I am lucky to have a job that provides health insurance, but even so I am reluctant to see the doctor because it is never clear how much I will owe and how much the insurance company will pay.

It means holding on to a job you may not like because they give you benefits, instead of starting your own business or striking out on your own. You have a family, after all.

Living without universal healthcare means learning an entirely new language, full of codes and exceptions and exemptions, and getting into a mess of paperwork every time you have anything to do with a doctor or a hospital. It means getting three or four separate paper bills in the mail, and trying to piece together what was covered, what was not, and what you owe, and to whom.

It means getting told that they won't pay, because you have a pre-existing condition.

It means they won't pay, because you've maxed out your benefits for the year.

It means they won't pay, because you didn't read the fine print.

It means falling through the cracks.

It means going on State health care, if you're poor enough to qualify, and then getting kicked off when the budget is cut.

It means staying up late, poring over websites from different insurance companies, desperately trying to find private insurance that covers your family's needs. It means trying to figure out what on earth "Managed Choice CA 5150" is, and whether it protects you better than "Managed Choice CA 9072".

It means swallowing the rank hypocrisy of watching your elected leaders — all of whom have excellent, state-sponsored healthcare for themselves and their families — lecture you on the freedom of the marketplace . . . while you're working extra to pay for the dental operation your child needs and which insurance barely covers. Even though you have a good job.

Having no universal healthcare in the country means that getting sick is a privilege.

Having no universal healthcare is a statement that money is more important than people.

It is a disgrace, and I'm sick of it. But unfortunately, I can't afford to get sick. Because we all know they won't cover it. 


See also:  The Health Industry Lobbying Tour, by Spinwatch, presented by Tamasin Cave, Alliance for Lobbying Transparency. This short film exposes the tangled web of connections between the healthcare industry, lobbyists and Parliamentarians including former health ministers Lord Warner, Lord Darsi, Patricia Hewitt, Alan Milburn, Nick Herbert and Melanie Johnson. . .

And 'The end of the NHS as we know it', by Allyson M. Pollock, David Price, Peter Roderick, Tim Treuherz, David McCoy, Martin McKee and Lucy Reynolds, republished from The Lancet.



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