First do no harm

While this statement is not in the Hippocratic oath it is one of the fundamentals that is taught to those wishing to join the ranks of physicians. A lot of news shows are focusing on the the state of health care in the US due to the media coverage of the new Moore film. Websites such as reddit.com have at least two to three articles discussing other countries health care systems to our own.

With the upcoming election health care reform is a hot button issue with many politicians promising to fix it. Many in the US believe that a government funded “universal” health care act will elevate the US into the ranks of Canada, France and the United Kingdom in terms of “quality care” for all at lower costs. This is a very attractive and seductive idea since nearly half of Americans have no health care insurance.

However, there is an ugly flip-side. I speak to my maternal grandparents each week, they currently reside in St. Dominick a small village in Cornwall. While the United Kingdom has a National Health plan there is still private insurance available and many people utilize it. This is due in part to the massive amount of time patients spend on waiting lists for surgeries and other appointments.

My grandfather spent over 18 months on a waiting list for a surgery to repair a hernia, the NHS was kind enough to give him a truss but 18 months? In the US most hernia operations are now done in an outpatient setting. Just this Monday he told me that he has to wait 5 weeks for an eye repair (he only has one eye and it is deteriorating rapidly). And up to 3-6 months for a knee replacement, he had his other knee replaced and was told the same time but waited nearly a year (he’s currently housebound and is unable to do anything).

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer she saw an oncologist the next day and began treatment within a week. She even told me that if she were in England she’d be dead before treatment and according to this story she was probably right.

This post is not meant to bash nationalized health care or to glorify the US system but merely to show that each has its own problems. Many people who have seen Moore’s film claim that the US should switch immediately to system much like that of the UK. However, I hope by reading this a little caution is added to the mix.

For those reading this I am probably preaching to the choir but with the press coverage of Moore’s film and my grandparents weekly phone calls I was compelled to write. Apologies for the long winded rant.

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2 thoughts on “First do no harm

  1. Beautifully written. And I love all the support you provide. Many accolades to you!!!!

    I know that many in the U.S. go without health care (and the nasty side of me says so what if they die of curable diseases – overpopulation sucks and no one wants Irish babes anymore), but some things are better left untouched by the federal government. I’m all for loving my neighbors and caring for them, but leave the federal government out of the “touchy-feely” business. Remember that welfare was only temporary support (and a great idea for a country-wide depression), but now there are many who can claim being a third or fourth generation long-term welfare recipient.

    The funny bit is – daalny and I are registered political opposites.

  2. I agree about the cancer part. When Jonathan was researching his possible treatments, we learned that he probably would have died before receiving the right care. One idea I vaguely remember is making health insurance like car insurance, in that it covers the catastrophic stuff (which is usually what puts people in the hole) and not the usual maintenance.

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