Opponents of President Obama's healthcare reforms have been spreading a great deal of lies about the British NHS in the American media, so I decided to start this thread to help counter these lies.
People say that healthcare in Britain is rationed, with 'death panels' and so on:
-Healthcare in Britain is rationed according to need and how much good it can do.
Healthcare in America is rationed according to how much you can afford to pay for it.
It is absurd to say there is no rationing of healthcare in America today, and I know which I think is fairer, kinder and more righteous.
-Life expectancy in the UK is higher than in the USA, because more people get higher quality care, despite that fact that we pay much less for it. Many other average national patient outcome indicators also show better results in the NHS.
-People have been saying that the NHS doesn't support innovation whereas the American system does, but in actual fact the number of new healthcare innovations coming out of Britain is nearly as high as the number coming from America, despite a population roughly 1 fifth the size. The top few hospitals in America may be better and may be centres for excellence, but innovation in britain doesn't depend on just a handful of hospitals - it is across the board, and the average hospital is better.
-The NHS has near uinanimous support in Britain - last night twitter crashed as a result of outraged British people going online to say how much they love it - would we really love it so much if it was as bad as people are saying?
And just in case you think I am just being patriotic here is another thought - the actual proposals given by Obama are much more similar to the French model than the British. Independent global health bodies have repeatedly named the French system as the best in the world, despite the fact that they spend less per capita than the USA (although more than Britain as they share the American problem of overprescribing).
Now leave your opinion of the NHS!
I never held a bad opinion of the NHS when I lived in the UK. Now I don't, it's even higher.
I'm used to being registered with a local GP, being able to make a 'same day appointment' (useful when you're ill!), being reminded by the practice when I'm due a blood test - then having said results given to me in due course - plus any medication changes altered accordingly.
I knew that in the event of an emergency, I could attend A & E. and be offered a full medical assessment. Equally, should it be life threatening, I could call for an ambulance - which always arrive in minutes.
Whenever I needed a stay in hospital, I got one. And any treatment that was considered necessary. And after paying NH contributions via my wages, I never once paid for treatments.
And so on.
Now - I live in a country that has a chaotic 'national' health system. I worry about becoming ill - I still haven't found a GP for eg. And I know that if I do become ill, I'm going to have to pay for the luxury of being ill.
And so on.
Good luck I'm in Canada and feel the same way as you. I, and people from Britain, have been tellling people the way it is but certain people don't believe us, have never lived in either country and think they know better...
Thanks for trying Uninvited Writer and kephira to spread the truth. I envy so many of the things you have.
My state of Massachusetts is trying a hybrid approach (which was championed into place by a Republican governor). And many of us have coverage as a result. The conservatives mock us by calling us the Republic of Massachusetts. But many of us are very proud to live here.
My nephew is a self-employed film editor who also has asthma. Because of the new state program, he has great health insurance for $220 a month. He was going to move to California, but no health insurance company would insure him. So he will be staying in the great Republic of Massachusetts with great health insurance.
Thanks for ur positive comments, its great to hear about personal experiences as well general opinions and stats!
For whatever flaws health care in developed nations have, in general it's pretty good health care. Without getting into a whole tit-for-tat thing on what each country has, I do have an issue with "-Healthcare in Britain is rationed according to need and how much good it can do. " Many people in the US don't want health care rationed and decided by anyone other than the people they choose to involve in something as personal as health care."
I haven't lived in either the UK or Canada. I've grown up and lived in the US all my life. I don't know what other countries have for governments, but - believe a lot of us - the US Federal government is a huge, huge, bureaucracy. How things are done is with dirty dealings, and a whole lot of the people who run things aren't exactly of the character, integrity, or intelligence that would make them worthy of the responsibility of deciding for other people. Then you have the local and state-level "shufflers" and "rubber stampers", hired in because they're someone's sister-in-law or got keyboard training from the welfare department or else meet a minority quota. It's built in that they have no power, and different agencies don't have anything to do with other agencies. This doesn't even address the numbers of people in the government arrested and/or "invited out of office" for questionable or criminal behavior. Maybe other governments have better and smarter people in them, but - "God bless America" - ours doesn't.
I don't get why people keep bringing up other countries anyway. That's a case of "If your friend jumped off the bridge would you want to jump off the bridge too?" What works for one country, and what people are happy with there, isn't necessarily the same for all countries.
Most people in countries that have generally good health care (even if imperfect) don't know any different. Most people probably don't want whatever it is they have changed into something drastically different. In the US we have the added "complication" (commitment) that the country was founded on the principle of keeping government out of private lives as much as possible. This isn't just about health care for those of us who don't know what it's like to live in a country where there is still (the remnants of) a monarchy.
Lies and not knowing what it's like to live in the other country go both ways. This is going to sound fresh (and - honestly - I don't mean it to), but I'm wondering why people from other countries are even paying any attention to US health care issues. If the UK or Canada were about to privatize all their health care it would never occur to me to be online, telling people how excellent private health care can be. I know people may be trying to reassure Americans that socialized health care is all fine (or maybe even, in their opinion, great)? Maybe I'm just not friendly enough, but if some other country were in a similar debate about their health care I'd just figure, "Hey, it's their business. What do I know about their country."
I don't know what people in other countries think is going on here, and I'm not about to get into what really is going on here on this already long post. People who don't have young sons and daughters who will be inheriting what drastic changes in US health care will involve (which includes the cost of some of this proposed stuff); or people for whom the principles on which the nation was founded mean nothing; aren't going to fully understand the US debate and issues. What my opinion of the NHS is not relevant. I have no plans to move to the UK, and neither do my kids. My concern is my own country and its future.
I don't think people outside the US gave a flying toss about your debate about healthcare - until Americans involved us by taking out ads TELLING BIG FAT LIES about our healthcare services such as "scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless", when actually the man is British, lives here and is cared for by the NHS, plus other assorted lies too numerous to list here.
You have to understand that once you start making up lies about us, you are attacking our national honour, and of course we will do everything to expose the fibs and sheer nastiness.
Nobody in Britain (or Canada for that matter) takes out ads on TV attacking the American health system, it's bizarre pointless behaviour. So why are you doing this, what is wrong with you? It's the kind of thing you'd expect from North Korea, where they have to make up lies about other countries, and pump out the propaganda to ensure people don't feel so bad about what is going on at home. Healthy democracies don't do this.
Those who have the most to gain from maintaining the status quo will no doubt be those with the most to say, and inevitably it will include a fair smattering of generalisation and misinformation. We in the Uk need say nothing at all about this to prove the case either way. There are plenty of eloquently worded hubs written by American citizens who are living examples of why change needs to happen.
Oh, and BTW, I love the NHS too!
I, personally, have never made any statements (online anywhere or off) about what does or doesn't go in any other countries' health-care situations; so you can count me out of your generalized "you" in your reference to Americans. Lies go on. There's no doubt about that. They're flying all over the place, and coming from all directions, when it comes to the health-care debate. Like you, though, I don't give a "flying toss" about whether people in other countries love or hate their health-care systems. You, of course, have your right to like your own health-care system and defend it; just as I have my right to like whatever I like about mine and defend that.
That is fine and I understand what you are saying, but someone has to tell the media and critics to stop bringing it up
absoluley, the reason British people are geting involved is because we've been insulted and lied about and don't like it - and Lisa HW says "Many people in the US don't want health care rationed and decided by anyone other than the people they choose to involve in something as personal as health care" - but it is already rationed by your insurance company unless you are one of the lucky rich people who can afford the very best available plan where no questions are asked.
I'm not a debater. I am going to argue "lucky rich people who can afford the very best available plan where no questions are asked"....my hubby works for a British company that has an American subsidiary. We get GREAT private health insurance. We pay 10% of the bill after a $250.00 deductible per person. The insurance company is open access, so we can go to any doctor at any clinic we want to, or any hospital we want to. We pay for the insurance too, every month it comes out of his paycheck. Guess what? We are NOT RICH! Our health insurance is amazing! We are lucky!
A lot of Americans don't want the government involved with decisions and would prefer it be the company of their choice. If they have differences with the company of the choices they can decide what to do, if anything, about it to fight with them; but they feel that at least it is not the government.
I don't know how many "lucky rich people" people think live in America. I don't have the exact figure, but something like 80-whatever percent of Americans have health coverage; and 80-whatever percent of Americans are certainly not "lucky rich people". (And just a note, many "rich" people did not get that way by being "lucky".)
People who do have their insurance through their employers often have excellent plans; and as far as I know, at least in my state, "welfare insurance" (for people under a certain income) covers things like dental, vision, and maybe gives discounts and help with things like quit-smoking programs, fitness centers, etc.
I can understand that people from the UK would get insulted if they're hearing whatever they're hearing (not spoken/written by me because I don't ever bring up other countries' health-care issues one way or another). At the same time, many Americans are also insulted that people from other countries want to tear down the health-care system the majority of us have enjoyed for so long. No, it isn't perfect (no system is), but - really - people from other countries don't have any more complete an understanding of America's health-care system than most Americans have of others. (Statistics so frequently thrown around often don't reflect the circumstances that lead to them. Example: America's "infant mortality rate" is higher because so many under-30-day-old newborns who would die in other countries live in the US; which means that sickly newborns live to be sickly "infants" who are likely to die in the first year.)
I think a lot of people in the UK are cross, not because of the criticism (although that's annoying in itself) but because of the blatant and absolute lies being told about our NHS by some people in America.
Hi Lisa, I genuinely believe that most British people could not care less anymore about Americas internal bickering and their health policies. I certainly would not have become embroiled had those arguing against a national health care system not decided to use the British NHS as an example of a failed system.
There is a big difference between launching an offensive at American people because of their life style choices, and simple defending your own country against downright lies. America often feels like the victim, but who are the victims here? Britain has long been famous for the quality of it's healthcare system - quite rightfully - and we will defend that reputation (as an entire nation, right up to our two most powerful political figures) against these libellous/slanderous statements.
When America makes its own internal affairs external, by bringing other countries into a debate, then we have every right to become involved. Considering that the British have lost lives fighting your war in Iraq (a war without our public support), and had thousands more injured - who have been and are being - treated by the NHS.... I feel that we deserve more than to be used as a political tool.
Now that it has been established that we spend half of the amount of money on healthcare in the UK, for a similar quality of care, which is available to more people.... perhaps Americans can simply acknowledge that our health care system is adequate and move on by fighting about what works for them?
Speaking as an American, I actually really appreciate hearing from people within different systems. It's certainly true that every country and every population's needs are different, but I think it's very important to have as thorough an understanding of what works for them and what doesn't as possible, so we can see more easily what is likely to work for us.
Thanks for a very reasonable response, I don't think anyone in the UK is saying America should copy us, every country is different and needs an different system, just as long as you know that you that conservative sponsored ads in the US and politicians writing online such as Sarah Palin are not providing an understanding of what does and does not work in the UK system, they are spreading misinformation and lies.
I LOVE the NHS, perhaps you would get a higher standard of care if you went private, a foot rub thrown in and a mint on your pillow every evening, but if you're broke (physically and financially) the NHS will do their best to fix you up, and they do it well.
I love the NHS, and all those who work long hard hours to keep it working.
LOL! Foot rubs and pillow mints! That's about the size of it though. My husband's company paid for him to be seen by a private doctor when he had some health problems a few years back. After the initial diagnosis, he was signed over to the care of the NHS, and yes, you've guessed it, the NHs doctor that he was allocated was the exact same guy.
I've had friends with a similar experience - the private hospital had nice decoration, and SKY TV - the cheap stuff if you like - but they didn't have the really expensive high tech machinery that costs millions, and they ended up shipping the patient by emergency ambulance to the NHS.
The NHS tends not to bother redecorating walls more than once every ten years, but they do have all the best equipment, and of course all the doctors are trained by the NHS. Indeed I understand that private hospitals won't hire doctors who arn't licenced to practice in the NHS as well, because they can't be certain of the qualifications of non-NHS medics.
I think private hospitals are OK for things like varicose veins, and if you want cosmetic surgery, pay for it yourself by going private. For serious illness, nothing to compare to the NHS.
LOL, doesn't surprise me at all, doctors fix things, abstract paintings and chrome sculptures don't.
They did have some very comfy armchairs in the waiting area though, and free coffee!
Talking of free. I was visiting a friend and their child in hospital and we heard rhythmic music floating down the ward, so we went off to investigate.
In the childrens play room there was a group of children (some attached to IV drips) sitting in a semi circle with 3 adult musicians. One had a cello, the other had some kind of African drum and the other had a violin. All the kids were playing an instrument of some kind too: tambourine, shaker, cowbell etc.
The musicians were from a local music workshop and came in every other week to give music therapy to kids with long term illness. Anyone who was on the ward at the time could just walk in and sit down and be part of it. There was no fanfare, no fuss, and completely free.
The absolute joy on those kids faces sitting in front of those musicians and playing along was something to behold and my opinion of the NHS went right up on that day.
The kids in that music therapy session were from all walks of life, and it didn't matter how much their parents earned, or what insurance plan they had. All of us (adults included) received the benefit of the music on that day.
That's what the NHS is about. And that's why the private health care funded lobby groups campaigning in the US right now aren't just wrong they're uncivilised to boot. Individualism has to be tempered by social responsibility.
The propaganda being peddled by the U.S Republican party at the moment about the NHS is just that, propaganda. And guess who the lobbyists producing this propaganda are funded by: the private health industry. Hmmm, what possible interest could the private health industry (worth billions of dollars a year) have in maintaining the status quo?
I really think that many right wing supporters in the U.S. equate social responsibility with communism. The fear of that ideology is still alive and kicking in American mainstream politics. Less so in the UK, where the main parties jostle for position in the centre. Even the Tories recognise the importance of free healthcare for all, regardless of income.
In the U.S. at the moment 15 percent of the population don’t have medical insurance. That’s 45 million people whose only eligibility for medical aid is under the means-tested Medicaid scheme which offers ‘basic’ care. Being on a low income doesn’t even automatically make you eligible for that program either. So how can anyone say medical aid is not rationed in the U.S?
I love the NHS. I wish it was better managed, more efficient and all the rest of it, but the importance of free health care for all can't be overstated.
(I just wish we could swap footballers salaries for nurses salaries and vice versa. I know who I think is worth more.)
I used to think the NHS was inefficient till I realised what was going on in other countries.
The best way to judge is to compare the WHO ranking for performance with the WHO ranking for cost.
France is at number 1 for performance and at number 4 for cost - so they are getting slightly more than they pay for. Italy is at number 2 for performance and number 11 for cost, so they are getting a lot more than they are paying for. Britain is at number 18 for performance but only 26 for cost, we too are getting a lot more than we are paying for.
Japan is at number 13 for performance but number 10 for cost - they are getting less than they are paying for. Germany does worse - they are number 25 on performance (way below us) but at number 3 for cost. The US does worst of all the developed countries - number 27 for performance but number 1 for cost.
Since the above shows that the UK system is pretty damn efficient, the only way to rise in the performance rankings is to spend more (we could easily take Italy's number 2 position for instance if we spent as much as them). But we don't want to pay more - most people here are generally pretty happy with the current level of spending and the trade-offs therein.
The NHS might be more efficient relative to other countries, but I think it's inefficient in that it could achieve its goals at lower cost. The public sector in the UK is notoroius for it's inefficiency in this regard.
E.g. re-organising some of the behemoth like internal management structures within the NHS has saved millions of pounds, without impacting on service delivery. Performance in some areas (treatment waiting times for example) has actually improved.
When the NHS is achieving it's goals at the lowest possible cost, then we'll be able to tell critics the service is efficient. At the moment I don't think it is. But I'm glad, compared to other countries, we're going in the right direction.
One of the tiny ways that the NHS could improve is on their appointment system. A few years ago I was mortified to discover that I had missed my daughter's eye appointment. It was a six monthly check that ran into a new calendar year, and I'd somehow forgotten to carry the date forward into a new diary. The letter advising me that I'd missed the appointment was polite and friendly, and a new date was soon agreed by phone, but I felt really bad about it. I would like to see a reminder system in place. Surely in these days of modern technology reminders could be automatically generated by text or e-mail?
"This is going to sound fresh (and - honestly - I don't mean it to), but I'm wondering why people from other countries are even paying any attention to US health care issues."
The British in general only got remotely interested in the US health debate when people started telling downright lies about it all over the place. That pissed us all off.
Spot on. I am one of the many people that were bored many years ago by Americas self inflicted imploding. I followed the election, because I could not stand Bush, but that was more to do with international relations then anything internally.
I could not care less about Americas internal politics, I only care about their external politics. Like any country (I am aware that many Americans do not pay attention to world politics, thank you for further supporting that point). But when America begins to tarnish the name of one of the few things that Britain can and does remain fully proud of, then that internal politics does become external.
We live in a truly globalised society, I read my news on the internet, I cannot avoid encountering articles about America and I cannot help but notice when something is inaccurate.
If America does not want foreign countries to become involved in their internal affairs, then don't publisise antagonistic media about those foreign countries.
I should add that my nephew's insurance is with a private insurance company and not a state sponsored program. Insurance companies in Mass must cover everyone now and offer affordable programs. Because everyone is covered the rates are lower.
This sounds like a great scheme. If it's possible to resolve the issue in Massachussets, then surely the same kind of legislation could be introduced elsewhere.
It's not that bad a situation; but as with all approaches, there are people who have one "issue" or another with it. As with all approaches, it has some imperfections. Still, it is proof that there are ways to make sure everyone has coverage of one sort or another.
Lisa, I see from your profile that you're also from Massachussetts. Do you feel that things are better in your state than elsewhere?
Since I haven't lived in other states I don't think I'm in a position to have a solid opinion about that. I wasn't entirely thrilled when it became law that people who preferred to opt out of paying for health insurance were essentially forced to pay for it. I know the reason for the law, and that is to eliminate having people without insurance or without the money to pay for the treatment have others pay for it (one way or another). The other side to that, though, is that a lot of the people who choose to opt out are young and feel invincible. In reality, they're not invincible, of course; but as a group they generally aren't the ones needing the most health care. Some of them wanted to just wait until they got a better job, for example. They were prepared to pay for the routine stuff themselves or for things like strep throat treatment. So, as I said, I saw both sides to the Massachusetts law. I have to say, though, that there is something to be said for the combination of available insurances and the state's having all its people covered by one or another.
Massachusetts, though, is a state where citizens can feel The Constitution (the Federal one, not the state's) doesn't apply. Things are out of control with state government (not one to be too proud of in terms of integrity either) seeming to disregard The Constitution and the rights it guarantees people. So, keeping in mind that this is the context within which the new health insurance laws were instituted; this may sound really stupid, but I was really "creeped out" to see a giant state banner hanging over the cashier's head at CVS with a sign that reminded people of the new law. It reminded me of these countries where pictures of dictators are all over the place.
Is it good to have everyone in the state (who wants his Federal tax refund back) insured? Sure. Do I think we're better off here? I don't know. In some ways, yes. Then again, if I were a 24-year-old person just out of college and trying to keep an apartment until I found the right job, I'm not sure I'd think I was better off to be forced to spend x amount a month on insurance and maybe falling behind on the rent because of it. Some of the people forced to get insurance have had to sign up for "welfare insurance", and although that covers people on the necessary stuff, it is nowhere near the same as private health insurance.
One thing that's good about the Mass law is that it meant making some more options available to people who hadn't been low income enough to qualify for welfare insurance. One thing that's bad about it is that it forced some people to sign on with the welfare insurance (which is, from what I've seen of people on it, a confusing can of worms with a lot of restrictions, less-than-the best being available (for example, they'll only approve a certain quality of tooth cap, rather than the best one for the person's needs; and they'll only approve - I think - one kind of eyeglass frames and people wait months to get them), and a confusing set-up with how people can find some kinds of help. For example, a person can't just select the doctor he wants. They tell them who they'll get. Then, if the person wants to, say, see a psychologist he can't just call one. He has to get a referral from that doctor he didn't select anyway in order to just get one appointment with a psychologist. I know a young mother who was on this insurance, and she said every time she went to one doctor or another it was brought up that she was on MassHealth, as a reminder that what applied to others didn't apply to her. She stopped going to any doctors because she didn't want to deal with it. People who find this kind of thing a can of worms don't want it, and don't want to be forced to have deal with it. So if I had to say whether I think people in Massachusetts are better off, I think I'd say, "back to the drawing board" on the health-insurance issue here. It might have been nice if the state did a better job with jobs, education, and whatever else it would take to reduce the number of people without jobs that offer health insurance or at least that pay well enough to pay for one's own.
I can tell everyone that the NHS is fantastic.
People have been saying that the NHS lets people die because there is no insentive to keep people alive.
I can safely say that I have been broken several times and the NHS has patched me up perfectly.
The UK has the 2nd best healthcare in the world apparently.
The USA apparently has the 23rd.
I fully support Obama and his decision to alter the health system.
One good thing about this mess is that we Americans are being educated on the truth about the UK's health care as well as Canada's and France too. You all here are helping with the cause and I thank you. I take great interest in this because of my own many health issues. It is not only the Republican Right that is spewing this chit but others as well. How about the Blue Dog Democrats? The media of course is no help either.
I'll second you on this one, ryankett.
I wonder if you ever read LondonGirl's hubs on NHS?
Here, a fellow Brit that backs up your point:
http://hubpages.com/hub/The-National-He … is-covered
http://hubpages.com/hub/What-the-Nation … ents-extra
http://hubpages.com/hub/From-a-patients … n-practice
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