From my British Husband, Nick:
For anyone that doesn’t know me, I recently moved to the US (from the UK) to live with my now wife, who runs this lovely blog. I was initially going to write a post about a few of the differences between these two great places, but with health insurance being one of the big differences, I decided it needed a post all of its own!
If you don’t know, the UK has a publicly-funded health care system, known as the NHS (National Health Service), which provides free* health care to residents of the United Kingdom. The system is not perfect (my father might still be here today if it were), but it works for the most part, and everybody is entitled to a mostly adequate level of care. If you need to see a doctor, you can. If you have a terminal illness, you can get treatment. If you have an accident, you can think about your recovery, rather than the financial impact that it’s going to have. Health care is available to everybody.
However, thing’s are a bit different in the US, which is a new scenario to me. Health care in the US is run by insurance companies that are trying to make a profit, based on risk — in this case, the risk of an individual becoming ill. Now, I have no problem with companies trying to make money, or the insurance model in general, but applying the insurance model to something as important as someone’s health is just plain wrong.
Here is how I understand it: each individual (unless they have group coverage through their employer) is accessed by the insurance company on the risk of them becoming ill. The calculated risk then becomes a premium, which the individual must pay in order to have the luxury of being able to receive care. Then, depending on the plan, you will usually be required to pay an additional cost if you go to the doctor, are admitted to the emergency room, require medications etc. Additionally, if someone has a history of health problems, they can expect to pay a higher insurance premium, because the risk of them becoming ill is greater than someone who has relatively few health problems. You can literally end up paying tens of thousands of dollars per year, depending on your plan (and the treatment you receive).
Sadly, this often gets to the point where that person can no longer financially afford the premium, or worse still, is refused insurance because they are “uninsurable”. Believe it or not, millions of Americans today are in this very position. People are dying and nobody wants to do anything about it, or at least that’s what it seems to me.
Enter President Obama’s Health Care Reform plan. If you haven’t been spending your spare time chasing hot air balloons around Colorado, you will no doubt be familiar with this term. In short, this public health reform would introduce a public health care option, giving every American access to some level of health care. People that currently have no insurance, would be thrown a life line.
“It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.
It will provide insurance to those who don’t, and it will lower the cost of health care
for our families, our businesses, and our government.”
President Barrack Obama
The thing that amazes me, is that there was resistance against this plan. Not just a small pocket of resistance, but massive disapproval. I was astonished. Seriously, does anyone want to stop this madness? People are dying because they can’t see a doctor, and being under treated and over treated left and right. It seems that everyone who was against this plan, didn’t want to see their own coverage affected. They were scared of higher premiums or not getting the same level of coverage they have now. They don’t want change, they don’t like change, and they most likely didn’t vote for Obama. To me, this is extremely foolish (not to mention selfish) and it makes me very sad; these people are worried of being in a position that millions of their fellow Americans are already in.
Anyway, regardless of the resistance, a somewhat mangled version of the health care reform bill recently passed the house of representatives, and is currently in the senate, for more squishing. What comes out the other end is anyone’s guess, but I hope to god it makes even the smallest improvement to this flawed, unfair and unethical health care model.
What do you think of health insurance? Do you think the health care reform plan is a good idea?
* There may be additional costs for eye tests, dental care, prescriptions, and many aspects of personal care. UK residents contribute to the NHS through National Insurance (NI) payments, which is calculated from earnings.