I’m a citizen of both Canada and the UK, countries where universal health care is taken for granted.
What’s critical for universal health care is the principle that underpins it — all have a right to good health care. No matter how much or how little you contribute, health services will be provided to you. If you abuse drugs and alcohol, or eat your way into ill health, if you never pay a penny towards the National Insurance scheme – because your earnings are insufficient, if you have a chronic illness where you will require pricy care your whole life, or a disability that prevents you from working, if you have ten children that you can’t support and they have many health needs, if you develop an illness that has high treatment costs – doesn’t make a bit of difference, you will receive health care.
What is right and holy is how the contract recognizes that each of us is of value, that the physical and mental health of each separate one of us is the concern of all of us. It’s John Donne’s no man is an island, put into action.
I’m lucky. Until last year I rarely saw my doctor. My kids, growing up, were rarely sick – partly due to the NHS immunization program – free of charge of course.
But during the last nine months here is what I’ve received from our National Health Services :
An early hours ambulance ride to emergency; assessment and treatment of a blocked bile duct; surgery — removal of the gall bladder; follow up care.
Two GP appointments for symptoms that led to investigations for cancer; blood screens, urine screens, xrays; assessment and treatment by a consultant gynaecologist — minor surgery and biopsies. (BTW I got the all clear).
I should add to this list:
routine annual appointment with practice nurse for assessment of blood pressure
routine biannual test for bowel cancer
routine breast cancer assessment
annual invitation to avail myself of the influenza shot
and recently, invitation to come in for a (once in a lifetime) pneumonia shot.
I’m getting old. The invitations are coming thick and fast. I understand I can have a shot to prevent shingles. I will accept the invitation. I should mention too that the health care I received during the last nine months was stellar — compassionate, efficient, effective — and free.
I receive no bills for any of the above. I am post retirement age therefore any prescription medicine I require is free of charge. Whilst in gainful employment, had I needed prescription medicine I would have paid a small fixed cost at the pharmacy. No matter how much the product costs NHS, the cost to the patient is fixed.
I no longer make NI contributions. My measly offering to the treasury consists of small income tax deductions. Long retired, my income, and therefore my contribution, is much reduced. Luckily, especially at the peak of my career I earned good money, so was privileged to be able to contribute fairly to our social security system. I hope I’ve paid in more than I’ll ever take out. I hope I’ve helped those less fortunate than I am.
Thankfully the majority of Canadians and Brits think as I do. We value our social security and healthcare system. We fight to maintain it.
We think the USA is mad.
Why don’t they be like us?