Good old American health care is all I’ve ever known. I remember when the family doctor made house calls. I think I even remember when the insurance company existed to help us (but that could have just been a dream).
We can’t really call what’s happening a national “debate” on health care — more of a national shriek– but there are those who think we have the best health care in the world. Since I haven’t been a lot of places in the world, I decided to get the opinion of some of my over-seas pen pals.
Keith Povall lives in or near Birmingham, UK and has recently had more of their national health care than he would have liked. You can read his full assessment in the comments, but here’s an excerpt:
“In modern times, much criticism has been leveled at the NHS because there is a lot of truth in the opinion that it is a monster grown out of control. It is the largest employer in Europe for example and many say / believe that there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians (to coin a phrase). Over the years, governments have thrown billions at it and the monster gobbles up the cash. It is believed governments would like to introduce a private service to replace it, but in the main “the people” love the NHS, something that is there as a safety net for when they need it and whilst you will hear complaints about income tax and stealth taxes, no one complains about their NI contributions.”
Peter is a psychiatric nurse in the Netherlands and –as a health care provider– might be less than objective on this subject. On the other hand, he has first-hand knowledge of his country’s system.
“The insurance companies want to control everything; they even want to control what professionals like me should do or not. The basis of their policy is not what the clients want (those who put money in the big jar) but what the shareholders want. Their goal is not good health care for their members, but profit and big bonus for a couple of hotshots. A very bad development which surely will be changed the moment the issue is hot again and elections are due. As you see we are quite a normal country in this.”
Again, I hope you’ll read Peter’s full email in the comments.
I’m still waiting to hear from a friend in Belgium and will add her thoughts if and when we get them. My thanks to Keith and Peter for taking time to respond to a serious inquiry from me. Something they are rarely called upon to do.