Here's an excellent blog post by an American who got an eye infection while visiting England. read the entire post. It's mandatory. It should be mandatory reading in high schools, to stop the brainwashing and the constant disparaging views of "socialized medicine". This is not about anecdotes, of course, many people have had similar experiences. I lived in Italy for 4 years where my second baby was born and my first baby was a toddler. The pediatrician came to see my kids at home when they had a fever or an ear infection, and it was FREE. I had an eye injury (fortunately it healed completely), got first rate treatment, all the necessary tests, and it was free. And no, Italy is not broke now because of socialized medicine, it is broke because of tricks multinational banks are playing on all of us, globally, and because of internal corruption, of course.
Read the entire blog post. It's not only eye-opening, it is entertaining, too.
I woke up in a rented room in London in the middle of the night, feeling like my eyes had been packed with hot sand and the lids were somehow glued together. When I pried them apart, the whites of my eyes were an angry crimson.
Maybe it was nothing. I’d been told that the pollen counts in the UK this summer are sky high. A raging heat wave in a city that doesn’t really do air-conditioning (like my gloriously fogbound town of San Francisco) didn’t seem to be helping. But when I squinted in the bathroom mirror, I saw a greenish-white discharge collecting around my tear ducts. This looked like more than a bad case of hay fever.
Then I remembered that one of the cognitive psychologists I’d come to London to interview mentioned that she’d recently had a bad eye infection. I Googled “conjunctivitis.” It dawned on me that the bottle of water I drank in her office may have been a mixed blessing.
But what to do? I was far from home with lots of work to do and no idea how to see a doctor locally. Thankfully, I didn’t have any appointments for a couple of days, and have health insurance from Kaiser-Permanente through my spouse’s employer. But I knew that getting reimbursed for treatment by a doctor outside the Kaiser network can be complex; what about an out-of-country doctor?
When I dialed the 800 number on my Kaiser card to find out what to do, an automated voice from AT&T informed me that I would be billed at the standard international calling rate of $1 a minute. After navigating a maze of call-center prompts, I sat on hold for 15 minutes.
The first Kaiser rep who took my call fired off a barrage of questions. Was I experiencing “blind spots, double vision, floaters, hallucinations, or any other problems” with my vision? Yes — the goopy discharge from my tear ducts was making it hard to see, and I said so. But that turned out to be the wrong answer. The Kaiser rep simply repeated her question in a more brittle tone of voice and added, “Just answer yes or no.”
Yes, I was having problem with my vision, but not “double vision, floaters, or hallucinations.” Judging by the structure of the question, I suspected that it was designed to fish for a different sort of problem than the one I had, such as evidence of entopic phenomena that might indicate something awry inside the eyeball, or even in the brain. I didn’t want to end up shunted onto the wrong track in the voicemail maze. “Floaters, hallucinations, and double-vision, no,” I explained, ”but problems with my vision yes, because the discharge from my tear ducts…”
“Sir,” she cut me off sternly. “These are yes or no questions. Answer either yes or no or I will not be able to help you.” I furiously tried to calculate which falsely binary oversimplifications were the right ones.
Then back to limbo at $1 a minute. Finally an advice nurse picked up. She ran me through a nearly identical gantlet of questions — hadn’t my previous answers been logged into the database? — but unlike the previous insurance rep, the advice nurse could handle nuance. Given the severity of my symptoms, she told me, I should certainly certainly see a doctor right away — as soon as I had secured permission for an out-of-network exam with someone at the member-services line on the other side of my Kaiser card.
It was 2 in the morning in a strange country and my eyes were oozing green goo, but at least I was getting somewhere. I called the other number, navigated another maze of prompts, and waited. Tick, tick, tick.
Thankfully, the member-services rep was both efficient and sympathetic. Of course, she said, it must be upsetting to be having eye problems far from home. I should definitely go to a local clinic. But before she could give me permission to do that, she would have to talk to her supervisor, because she’d never dealt with someone having a medical problem outside the country before. Several minutes passed.
Then, good news from the supervisor — with one caveat. Yes, I should go see a doctor at a local clinic. But because this was all happening out-of-network, I would have to pay out of pocket. As long as I made sure to obtain all the necessary receipts and forms, however, I could submit them when I got home, and Kaiser would “open a case file” on me so I could be reimbursed.
I wondered how much the visit would cost me up front — $200, $500, $1000? The unfavorable exchange rate had already vacuumed out my wallet, just picking up Chunky Hummus Salad wraps and “flat white” coffees at Pret A Manger. But it didn’t matter. My eyes needed help now, and I was almost certainly highly contagious; I didn’t want to pass this mess on to anyone else.
The member-services rep then explained that a Kaiser doctor would be calling me within the next four hours to give me additional information. I asked her gently if the doctor could possibly call in the morning London time, because I was already sleep-deprived and had a lot of work to do the following day. Sorry, she replied, that was just not possible. The doctor would have to call within the four-hour window allotted for my case — even if that meant the phone ringing at 5 in the morning.
Still, I was grateful to finally have permission to seek the care that I desperately needed. I called a number I found on the Web for urgent care in Marylebone, the central London neighborhood where I’d found a semi-affordable place to stay for three weeks. Amazingly, a human being picked up the phone right away — an affable guy with a disarmingly chummy accent and an empathic manner. Yes, yes, of course I should see a doctor right away. Where should they send him?
What? This guy was offering to dispatch someone to examine my eyes immediately in my apartment in the middle of the night?
Read the rest here.
Must read indeed.
From what it sounds, our Canadian Kafkaesque system is not so bad compared to you Kayserian system.
I'd take Kafka any day :-)
I'm a canadian and for me health care provided by the state has always been a real great bonus. And, with a prescription from your generalist, one seem to be able to see a specialist quite easily. Maybe I've been lucky so far... But once you've entered the medical system, you get really good health care here. I can see my rheumathologist within a day or 2 if I have arthritism problems. But now, the sistem is a little overloaded because of the lack of doctors and all these baby boomers patients getting older and having more health problems.
Also, when I lived in London, I didn't have either heath care problem. I was seen if I needed it by a doctor very quickly.
So I'm really grateful for socialized health care...
I think all of us had had good and bad experiences with health care, whether it is socialized or not. But socialized medicine is the only way in my opinion to ensure adequate care for everyone, without constant fear of losing your home, savings, and endangering the future of your children if one has the bad luck of getting a serious illness or suffering an accident. The private health care system is certainly no guarantee of good care. The health insurance companies are out to make a buck (actually, they're out to make a fortune, not just a few bucks), not to help people get better.
There are three institutions of society that from my point of view is that profits cannot be made from. One- Medical care; two- Education; Three- Defence.
A healthy nation is a wealthy nation because the less time lost due to ill health and where the society practices a more preventative lifestyle.
Education repays the society by have a well education population that repays the society by the technological advances it makes to make life easier for the society.
Defence's pay back is by allowing the people of society to carry out there lives without fear and disruption of their lives from within the society and from with out!
Australia has Medicare where the less able to pay for medical services pay virtually nothing but should you have to pay you only pay the difference between the Medicare value and what the practioner charges! But to prevent that and also have the doctor of your choice you can take out private health insurance. Simple, just a matter of what you are willing to pay for!
Yeah the conservatives here also bitch about the cost of Medicare!
We need to have this kind of health care in America. Anything less is insane, IMHO.
Wow. You know, I'm British, and I must say I do take our NHS for granted. To me, it's a hassle to have to be at my doctors'surgery by 8am, because I usually have to wait up to 2 hours to be seen. I can't say I'll never complain again, but it does put into perspective how great the NHS is. The admin side needs tightening up, but where else can you get free examinations and prescriptions? The NHS was created in Wales, where in the 1800s poor people would club together and subscribe to a medical practice that then ensured low cost treatment. In 1948 that idea became the National Health Service, a cradle to grave model of healthcare where everything from the point of contact was free or low cost, where I can today get a pair of designer spectacles just by paying an extra bit of money for the frames; my lenses come free. I pay for my dental care, but I can find an NHS dentist where I pay nothing for treatment. When I had a muscular condition, I got x rays and physiotherapy, and the on call doctor came to my house to see me because I couldn't walk properly. Emergency services are free, prescriptions are free or low cost, unless the medication is essential, in which case it's free for as long as you need them. Prosthetics are free, cancer treatment, surgery, wigs, even support stockings, are all free. You even get a free plastic bag in hospital to take your stuff home with you.
I suppose because it's always been free, that I naturally take it for granted, and because the NHS works,, albeit slowly, I keep wondering why the same model isn't applied to America, where in such a wealthy and forward looking country, healthcare is positively mediaeval. The answer, of course, is ideology. Socialism is such a terrifying word to many Americans, even though a socialist America would be a better America, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, and a portion of existing taxes could be diverted in order to pay for it. So that 'it would cost us extra' Teaparty mantra would be moot.
In America, the biggest provider of mental health services is the California prison system. In Britain it's the NHS. Isn't that a travesty, that a person basically has to be sent to prison to get mental health care? That alone is worth the United States implementing a national health service.
I experienced the same kind of service when I lived in Italy. It's not perfect, there are long waits sometimes, etc., but when my son as a baby had an ear infection and high fever, the pediatrician came to see him at home. There is no such thing as home visits here in the US. Even for newborns, or elderly people. The crazy thing is that many of the right-wing voters would themselves benefit tremendously for having socialized medicine, and a universal health care system; yet they get duped into thinking their grannies will be put to death if such a system gets implemented. As a result, scores of people lose their homes, and all their savings when they get sick, and many end up declaring bankruptcy. It is crazy.
We have the same healthcare model in Canada. Same long waits and complaints with overworked nurses and doctors.
But we all have this magic card that we use whenever and wherever we need healthcare services. We never actually have to think about the costs, expect perhaps when we do our income tax returns.
And it's not that expensive that it undermines our quality of life. And it's of a high enough caliber that it can take most of what it's thrown at.
Getting the facts to the American people is the problem IMO. If they knew, they'd immediately require a similar HC system for themselves.
Overworked nurses and doctors are a big problem here in the US even though there is no universal health care.
The big issue is how to transmit the message to the American public. People are just not receptive, and they keep electing the wrong people. The private health insurance industry is big business. Check out the annual salaries of their executives. It's scandalous.