Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Not Perfect, But Better than Us

I've been waiting for someone to respond to the recent op-eds attacking the British National Health Service. Today's Strib includes this letter from Lisa Surber of Minneapolis, who has lived both there and here:

Actually, there's much to envy about the U.K.

So the average Briton is ignorant when it comes to their belief that the NHS is the envy of the world ("Unenviably meager medicine," Aug. 10)? After living in England for several years and now finding myself back in the United States, I envy the Brits and their NHS every day.

If average Brits really understood the risks and the costs of the U.S. health care system, they would treasure their NHS even more. From my experience of both systems, the NHS provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if you are hurt or ill, you will be taken care of quickly, completely and competently.

People and institutions profiting from the U.S. system want us to believe that health care in the U.K. is unfairly rationed. People in the U.K. love their NHS because it ensures that every citizen has a right to adequate health care. Just like in the U.S., if one wants additional care or a specific service, private health insurance is available.

Unlike Americans, Brits don't need to choose between food and medicine. They don't have to wonder which services are covered under their plan during a medical emergency. They don't need to fear medical bankruptcy.

Our system forces people to gamble with their health and make choices that can have devastating consequences. The fact that in our first-world country any citizen can find that he or she is one health care crisis away from financial devastation is absurd. Why do we tolerate it?
I'm sure the NHS is far from perfect, but when compared on overall health outcomes and cost, it comes out ahead of the U.S.

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