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To feel sorry for American's as their healthcare system appears abysmal

(156 Posts)
Wowthishurtsalot Mon 27-Oct-14 15:55:41

I'm a member of a support group for a health condition I have which is fairly rare, this support group attracts a global network of posters who draw on it for support and advice.

The American posters almost all have the same complaints:
'My insurance won't cover a referral to the right specialists'

'My insurance only covers one prescription a month so I have to pick and choose which attack I use it on' (the condition can mean you'll have several attacks or flares a month)

'I've had to quit work, I have no insurance and therefore no meds'

'My insurance doesn't cover/considers these meds non essential'

It's appalling. Its a condition that renders its sufferers in hospital several times a year but with the right medication can be managed. It can, in its extreme form, kill or trigger a life changing side effect.

How does that country function?! I Really count my blessings and am so grateful for the NHS when I speak to american sufferers or carers. AIBU?

hanflan Mon 27-Oct-14 15:59:32

YANBU. Friend of a friend over there has two small children and has brain cancer. Their family has been left financially crippled and they are now relying on donations from friends and family. It's so sad to see! I count my lucky stars that we have the NHS, no matter how flawed it may be sometimes!

OraProNobis Mon 27-Oct-14 15:59:55

YANBU - I have a 30 year old friend who I keep up with through FB - she has a rare cancer and is currently undergoing chemo which her insurance will pay for but not at the specialist cancer center she attends and not for a lot of the peripherals. She has to put out a 'please help if you can' plea to her FB friends every 3 months or so as she can't afford her rent/phone/car repairs etc. She was, before this, a brilliant international Ecological Sciences student doing her year abroad in Aus. Bloody tragic.

cailindana Mon 27-Oct-14 16:00:05


I am Irish and I am always really shocked when people here in England complain about the NHS. It's by no means perfect, but it is an enormous, incomprehensibly life-enhancing luxury in my eyes. I do feel sorry for Americans, and I also feel sorry for the younger me, when I ended up hallucinating with a temperature of 104 because I wanted to avoid spending 60 euros to see a GP for a kidney infection.

Wowthishurtsalot Mon 27-Oct-14 17:11:31

I've heard from relatives the Irish system isn't much better than the American one and costs a fortune!

BalloonSlayer Mon 27-Oct-14 17:25:01

The Australian one isn't great either although they do have some basic free healthcare.

My DS and my nephew (in Aus) both have severe allergies. My nephew has one epipen because my sister has to pay for it ( she suffers from Tightarse Syndrome, no cure yet discovered). My DS has six, courtesy of the NHS.

flowers NHS I love you

Bunbaker Mon 27-Oct-14 17:29:24


When DD was a baby she had a tracheostomy. I was her full time carer and couldn't go back to work.

To maintain a healthy airway I used a new, sterile catheter every time I suctioned her. I also used a new, sterile trachy at every trachy change.

I joined a forum for carers of kids with trachies and their medical insurance allowed them a handful of catheters a month, so that meant they had to reuse them. They also had to wash and re-use the trachies so there was increased risk of infection in both cases. There was a lot more invasive surgery in the US to deal with airway problems that time would have resolved. This would have been so the doctors could make more money.

In DD's case time did resolve her airway blockage and she has now been a nose breather for over 10 years with no lasting issues.

Also many parents went back to work within a few weeks of having these medically fragile babies, so that they could pay the insurance premiums for their children's medical bills. They employed nurses to look after them while they were at work (covered by the insurance).

Our NHS is struggling, but I know which system I prefer.

RevoltingPeasant Mon 27-Oct-14 17:35:18

I think YANBU in that the system is rotten but YABU in that with good insurance, you can often get faster and more advanced treatment.

My DSis3 is a case in point: as a baby she had a highly aggressive form of cancer with a ?terminal diagnosis. We were referred straight away to a specialist unit which treated her with an experimental therapy then not available widely. She lived.

Mind you, my dad's health insurance was absolutely excellent - as 'rich' people comparatively, we were okay.

Fast forward to adulthood and my sister is on a low income. Now, she has trouble getting simple ailments such as a spider bite treated as her insurance excludes them.

Basically if you are well-off it is great. If not, not so much.

That said, many Americans I have met do not want the NHS - hence the massive opposition to ObamaCare. The NHS is seen in certain quarters there as a govt agent rationing people's access to healthcare. So I wouldn't assume all Americans are green with envy.

magicmeaway Mon 27-Oct-14 17:35:56

The irish system is not perfect but it's not that bad.

In the last month I've been diagnosed with cancer - no waiting periods at all for MRIs and mammograms.

I went to the GP on a Monday evening and was called into the hospital the following morning. Due to have surgery in 2 weeks.

Everything free & quick. I'm not saying its perfect but it's closer to the NHS than it is to the American system

shebird Mon 27-Oct-14 17:40:52

I have a English friend in the US who is pregnant. Even with her wildly expensive health insurance she is not covered for everything. It's also seems like a complete money racket as her pregnancy and birth are obstetrician led and even a straightforward birth involves a weeks stay in hospital.

RevoltingPeasant Mon 27-Oct-14 17:41:10

Equally...... (and then I will shut up!)

I think shuddering at the American system can be a way for us Brits to ignore the problems with the NHS.

Really, if you want to find an effective comparator, look at another European country with a socialised medical system. That would be a fair comparison.

I find that people in this country often say 'Well, it's not as bad as the Americans ' as though somehow that means we can just stop thinking about the NHS. It's a pretty lazy distraction technique.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 27-Oct-14 17:44:03

Cailin I agree with you. The British are so lucky with their NHS. I couldn't believe it a few years back when dd1 was sick when we were in Belfast and a gp came out for free and her medication was free.
Here it's sixty/sixty five euro to go to the gp. We don't qualify for a medical card.
I'm too ashamed to tell you what our health insurance costs, it is so astronomical ( and doesn't cover gp / dentist visits) !

claraschu Mon 27-Oct-14 17:47:26

IF you have good insurance, the American system is absolutely fantastic. My sister can see a specialist for any condition with almost no wait, can see a wonderful psychotherapist for as long as she wants (almost 10 years he has been keeping her sane now), and can get expensive diagnostic tests when she needs them. She can also pick and choose which doctors and therapists she wants to see. She teaches in a state school, and that is the cover provided for her.

Holly have you ever checked if you are entitled to a gp visit card? Threshold is much higher for it and you might be surprised.

Have worked for citizens advise and assisted a lit of people.

In relation to the irish model, public hospitals and consultants are free. Far better than many models but of course none is perfect

Canyouforgiveher Mon 27-Oct-14 17:57:18

I'm in the US and agree with others - it is fantastic if you have great insurance cover. We do. We see any specialist we like, everything is covered for our children - psycho-therapy, physical therapy, well-children visits with a paediatrician, etc. If you have sketchy cover it is a different story (although I am amazed at the woman who is being forced to spend a week in hospital for a birth - I've never known anyone stay longer than 2 days for a straightforward delivery and usually it is one night only).

The NHS is amazing.

dreamingbohemian Mon 27-Oct-14 17:58:49

Yes, I agree with Revolting -- I've lived in France and Germany for the past couple years and I feel sorry for Brits. It is really shocking to me that people have to wait months for biopsies and physio and mental health treatment, the conditions on postnatal wards are often appalling, these absurd GP appointment systems where you have to call every day at 8 am in the vain hope of getting an appointment... I mean, there are plenty of people not getting adequate treatment in the UK as well, it's just government quotas instead of insurance companies that are to blame.

I was in the American health care system for most of my life and it was pretty amazing -- even when I was a lowly waitress and had basic insurance. I know it's not amazing for everyone but hopefully Obama Care will begin to change this. People also overlook all the state health care systems that do provide care for low-income people.

So yes, feel sorry for Americans who are suffering, but to say that all Americans have it bad is not true.

Pipbin Mon 27-Oct-14 18:00:54

I sodding love the NHS and I will march in protest of any government that stops it being free at the point of use.

NotYouNaanBread Mon 27-Oct-14 18:05:57

I agree with cailindana - I'm Irish and have always thought that the Irish system is great, and rightly so, but the NHS is MINDBLOWINGLY AMAZING.

The US system is appalling. It's fine if, like my FIL, you have a great job with a secure healthcare package, but millions of Americans fall between the gaps.

Rebecca2014 Mon 27-Oct-14 18:07:33

I heard a lot of Americans are against free heath care, Obama care has had a lot of criticism so I have no sympathy for them.

I am grateful for the NHS here.

Username12345 Mon 27-Oct-14 18:08:58

It's always the poor who suffer.

LadyLuck10 Mon 27-Oct-14 18:14:01

Yanbu, and yet you still get ungrateful, entitled people In this country complaining about the nhs when they should be so thankful.

Archfarchnad Mon 27-Oct-14 18:28:50

I agree with dreaming and revolting about the European systems being so much better. In Germany dependent children up to age 25, spouses with no income, and the unemployed do not have to pay contributions at all (or very little). Everyone else's contribution is income dependent, thus absolutely fair - you cannot be excluded from insurance because of ill health. It's a world away from the American version of insurance-based healthcare.

The NHS has the potential to be one of the best systems in the world, but is so underfunded that getting humane treatment is effectively a lottery - the solution to that is not to dismantle the NHS, but to increase funding. Great for all of you with heartwarming stories about how the NHS saved your lives and you didn't have to pay a penny (which of course is not true, you just didn't pay at point of access) - unfortunately the holes and inefficiencies in NHS provision contributed to the deaths of several members of my family (in my mother's case there was an inquiry which found several unnecessary systematic errors), and those deaths would probably have been avoidable if they'd been in a continental European or Scandinavian health system. It's a bit sad that people's expectations are so low - you need to be prepared to pay a higher rate of taxation and demand a better service for your health.

Earlybird Mon 27-Oct-14 18:31:59

I use the American health care system, and have never had a problem. But, I have always had 'good' insurance, and don't doubt that there are horror stories.

Historically, low income citizens qualified for government assisted healthcare organised by each individual state. Qualifying is based on proof of income, so lower income people qualify, while mid to upper range incomes don't. Those mid/upper income citizens have historically had insurance provided through their employers, though this is slowly changing.

I can't comment on how Obamacare has changed the healthcare landscape in America other than to say a person cannot now be turned down or dropped by an insurance company for having complex/expensive conditions.

shebird - I have never, ever heard of anyone in America staying in hospital for a week after giving birth unless there were extreme complications. The usual stay is 1-2 days. Those with caesareans are usually out in 3-4 days.

Wowthishurtsalot Mon 27-Oct-14 18:36:41

I wish they would increase taxation if it meant public services got better and it wasn't dwindled away in bureaucracy

Earlybird Mon 27-Oct-14 18:41:37

one additional comment: in the past, people who were dropped by their insurance companies for having complex/expensive/chronic conditions would be counted as 'uninsurable' , and could then qualify for state funded insurance plans - regardless of their income.

And a last comment (for now): hospitals expect many patients to negotiate any portion of their bill not covered by insurance. Perhaps it is partially why the bills seem so inflated.

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