This is not usually a political bog, there are plenty of better-informed people out there to do that for me.
However, sometimes my own experiences coincide with political topics, and it only seems right to discuss them.
You may know that I grew up in the States, and moved to the UK when I was 18, so on the one hand I have an interest in the politics and goings on there, and on the other hand I find the place completely incomprehensible, having spent my adult life somewhere else.
I also grew up in a family of left-wing doctors and biostatisticians, so my outlook is a little skewed. As a consequence, I always had excellent medical care and experiences of hospitals while in the States. We were middle class, we had good medical insurance, everything was fine.
Then I moved to the UK, and basically, nothing changed. I could go to the doctor, get seen, get referred and get treated. Sometimes it took a while to get seen (I spent three months not being able to hear very well out of one ear, but it was hardly life-threatening), but there was one crucial step that was missing at every treatment… the insurance card kerfuffle and paying bit. I always remember there being a bit of tension at this point, even when I was a kid.
So now we fast forward to yesterday… where I collapsed in the shower, having pinched a nerve in my back. This meant that apart from the excruciating pain and muscle spasms, whenever I sat up or stood up, my blood pressure dropped and I fainted. Fun, right?
So we called NHS Direct, who took details, and had a nurse phone us back. She talked it through with us, and suggested we phone my GP and get them to make a house call (so deliciously Agatha Christie somehow). So four hours after it started, I’d been seen by a GP, was full of happy pills and bed-bound for the next week.
We didn’t even need to offer the man so much as a cup of tea (although I would have done).
What I can’t even begin to imagine is how that would have worked without socialised medicine. Do they have someone you phone for advice, or do you have to waste the time of the ambulance service (whose blogs I read religiously)? What about the GP, do you have to show proof of insurance before they’ll come in? It just seems so.. scary.
I guess what bothers me about the US debate, is that the people debating the issue aren’t the ones who are going to be effected by it. They should be speaking to the people who don’t have insurance, who might miss out on the kind of amazing care that my Bionic Mother in Law received when she developed a heart condition that is so rarely documented because most people die before they can diagnose it, rather than the ones who might have to wait a few more weeks to ensure that everyone in the home of ‘liberty and justice for all’ gets the care they are so used to taking for granted.