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Monday, August 17, 2009

What it could and could not do: Universal health care through the British National Health Service

Sarah Lyall's story:
As an American who lives in Britain, occasionally writes about the health service, and uses public and private medicine here (as well as back home, occasionally), I have seen firsthand the arguments from all sides.

For me, the Health Service was a godsend when my husband suffered a severe stroke in the 1990s. He got exemplary critical care; I did not get a bill.

It was only in the aftermath – when I learned that, unusually in Britain, my husband's job came with private insurance – that I came to realize what it could and could not do. A little over one in ten Britons have some sort of private supplemental insurance; others pick and choose when to use the National Health Service and when to pay out of pocket for the top specialists or speedier care.

Told my husband needed a sophisticated blood test from a particular doctor, I telephoned the office, only to be told there was a four-month wait. "But I'm a private patient," I said. "Then we can see you tomorrow," the secretary said.

We should create a system in the U.S. that covers everyone, and gives everyone a choice or public or private insurance. That would be a huge improvement for many millions, though still far from perfect, like in Britain.

Thanks to Sarah Lyall for the source article in the Sunday New York Times.

1 comment:

kevin said...

hey great post. it does a great job of pointing out the pros to having both options. four months would have been a long time to wait in line. thankfully, your husband got in much sooner than that. i work for http://www.icyou.com. here's a video that you or anyone reading this post might be interested in, cheers!: http://www.icyou.com/topics/politics-policy/healthcare-finance/why-healthcare-so-expensive+