Universal Health Care – US Health Care

I am sick to death of Americans bleating that their health system is the best in the world and that universal health care in general (and the UK system in particular) is the road to ruin. At least that’s the popular conservative right-wing bleat.

It is, is it? Right, first a short story.

My mother is 75 and her partner is in his nineties and they both live in the UK. Recently he fell and broke his arm. Because of his age and the fact that he’s on heart medication an operation to set the arm was rejected and so he had to spend time just letting it mend having had it set in plaster.

Time waiting to see a doctor in the ER: less than 2 hours.

Cost of seeing the ER doctor: $0

Cost of x-rays in the ER: $0

Cost of treatment in the ER: $0

Cost of pain medication: $0

In addition the local health authority provided a home-help nurse twice every day for the next four weeks to help him dress and undress.

Cost of 56 visits by a nurse: $0

The local health authority also had someone come and fit a support rail for the bath so that he could safely get in and out of said bath.

Cost of support rail: $0

Cost of fitting support rail: $0

For the first couple of weeks the discomfort/pain was severe enough to warrant visiting his own physician for additional pain medication.

Cost of visiting his own physician: $0

Cost of prescription medication: $0

Several weeks later he had the arm x-rayed at the hospital to make sure that it was healing ok.

Cost of x-rays: $0

Finally, the plaster came off after the arm had healed sufficiently.

Cost of plaster removal: $0

Now then. I wonder just how much that little lot would have cost over here in the US?

For your information America…

The only medical charges a UK patient would pay would be prescription charges. We do not pay for visiting the doctor. We do not pay for him/her writing a prescription. The only charge we pay is per item on the prescription itself, which is paid to the pharmacy. Ah-ha I hear you cry. That’s expensive inĀ  itself. Well, yes. It is. In the US. We pay $12 per item only no matter what the cost of the medication. So when you co-pay $50 an item we only pay $12.

Not only that, but anyone under the age of 18 who is still at school does not even pay that charge. It’s 100% FREE.

What about medicare you shout? What about it? All citizens in the UK who have reached retirement age (60 for women and 65 for men) get their prescriptions totally free as well.

The US pays twice as much as the most expensive of universal health care systems, and almost three times as much as the UK spends. And for what?

Statistics/data show that:

It takes longer to see a physician in the US than it does in the UK. It takes longer to see an ER doctor than it does in the UK. It costs way more to fill any prescription in the US than it does in the UK. US citizens often do not see a doctor because without insurance they can’t afford to. All UK citizens can see a doctor for free. Anytime. Anywhere.

If the US system performed as well as the best of the universal health care systems 100,000 Americans per year would still be alive.

Is the UK system perfect? No. It isn’t. But it’s better than yours America. Health care is about staying alive and living longer right? UK citizens are healthier and live longer than US citizens. So next time anyone over here has a thought about telling me that their system is the best in the world…

Let it go.


  1. Neena 06/07/2009
  2. Dsent 06/21/2009

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