The reason the NHS should be free at the point of ...

The reason the NHS should be free at the point of delivery: Tales from America

It’s Sunday night, it’s been dark for about four hours now, so I’ve got candles burning and the soft glow of some bargain fairy lights casting shadows in the living room. I have Mr Beepies sitting on a cushion next to me, with General Bonkers reigning on high (the top of the cat tree). David is zooming his way back from a family celebration in Cumbria, he’s just passed his old hometown of Rugby. My nurse dress, which I hemmed without too much trauma, is pressed and hanging up and my alarm is set for 5am, ready for another 13-hour (unpaid) shift on placement tomorrow. David will be back long after I’ve gone to sleep, and thanks to my ridiculously busy schedule I probably won’t see him now until Tuesday.

As part of my wind-down routine, I was browsing mindlessly on Reddit when a thread was started: ‘US residents of Reddit: How will the repeal of the Affordable Care Act affect you…positively or negatively?’

‘No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means’

We all know the US is basically Third World when it comes to healthcare. It is. It’s hilariously sad that a country which prides itself on eagle freedom and guns literally has an entire population dying from totally preventable diseases because it’s stay alive and be bankrupt or die and avoid the financial burden being passed on for generations.

The rich buy health insurance, the lucky have health insurance thrown in with their job, and in case they are struck down by illness or injury, the poor die. That’s genuinely how it is.

Obama, as part of his term and in an effort to emulate our amazing NHS, instated the Affordable Care Act slash Obamacare, which gave cheap healthcare to millions who were previously uninsured. It’s as close to the NHS the US is ever going to get. They still need to pay, though. Americans are wary of ‘share the wealth’ style spending, it’s basically Russian communism *spit* so people who opt out have to pay an ‘uninsured tax’ which is confusing but hey ho.

Trump, the billionaire who probably thinks a banana costs $10 and has never had to worry about finances at any point ever, will be repealing Obamacare ‘on day one’ of his taking office, likely leaving many uninsurable thanks to their declared pre-existing conditions.

Anyway, the Reddit post was basically asking what Americans thought about it all. Have a read here if you have hours to spare and a want to experience genuine case of ‘what the actual hell.’

‘A death sentence for my child.’

“I’m under 26 and have a chronic condition. Under ACA I can stay on my parents insurance. When it gets taken away I will probably not be able to afford to pay for my healthcare, and I am scared…” – JumpingTheMoon

“I will become uninsurable again. I have a genetic disorder that causes my joints to pop out of socket. Because there is no “cure” they refuse to insure me.” – Princess-beyonce

“My son was diagnosed with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma. His cancer treatment so far has included 7 different chemotherapy drugs, 25 days of radiation, 3 surgeries, Cat scans, Pet scans, MRI. If either the lifetime maximum or pre-existing conditions provisions are removed from law then my son, at the wise old age of 4, will no longer be eligible for healthcare at all much less affordable healthcare.” – Dogsdawgs

“My son is a transplant recipient with pre-existing conditions and extremely high-cost ongoing medical needs… there’s no way I can afford his medical needs on my own. Repealing the ACA is basically a death sentence for my child.” – Seeking_Starlight

“Assuming the pre-existing condition goes away both myself and my wife could be a world of hurt. Myself especially. I had cancer and I’m sure the insurance companies will either deny coverage or raise my premium to something beyond what I have been paying. But hey that’s my fault, right?” – Blood_Warrior

“My wife is a stage 4 cancer survivor which counts as a preexisting condition. Thanks to an unwanted illness when she was 12 years old, we basically can’t afford health insurance without the ACA… If I don’t qualify for insurance through my work place at any point in time our premium goes from about 260 a month to almost 800 a month.” – Okiimune

“I was talking to my general practitioner the other day. She told me the ACA was a pain for her and her staff… BUT…and an enormous BUT… she said that she saw many people in her office that it was clear they had physical problems but they could not afford to attend to in the past. Diabetes, heart disease, amputations, chronic illnesses, and it was only because of the ACA that they were able to get treated.” – LuvinMclovin

“I was born with a major heart defect that has required 3 open heart surgeries and will require 2 to 3 more if I live to be in my 50s to 60s. If the affordable care act is repealed I may not live to be 40. I am 33 currently.” – asoiaf_fan

“I’m going to be uninsured. My medications will cost about $1000 a month. I’m a college student, I can’t afford this.” – lawyerchick

“I saw a lot of people in my continuity clinic being able to get care that they could not get before, pretty much all of them with chronic illnesses. Some of them presented with scary symptoms, like ongoing chest pain or a new shortness of breath that they did not go to the ER for before because they were afraid it would ruin them and their family financially.” – GreyDeath

“As someone diagnosed at the age of 17 with type 1 Diabetes, the preexisting condition applies to my multiple insulin pens and supplies. Paying for insulin without the coverage will be upwards of $600 dollars every month; it may force me to decide between attending college or staying alive.” – Sousaphone_Larry

“Both my daughters have an immune disorder that makes them allergic to most food. I have to feed them an expensive formula supplement along with what little food they’re able to eat, just so they can get proper nutrition. Fortunately, the formula is covered by insurance.

If the ACA goes away, I may not be able to afford to feed my kids.” – N8TheGr8

“28 yo professional musician here. ACA gave me an option for insurance when I didn’t have any others, especially for my preexisting conditions and medications I regularly take. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen now; hopefully my medication will continue to be $90 for a 3 month supply and not $1,500 for 1 month.” – snakeinahouseofcats

“I didn’t have money for insurance before. Once the act was implemented I was able to get free insurance. I’m now able to receive birth control.. If they take away my insurance I’ll have to go back to having no birth control (meaning constantly living in fear of pregnancy that will ruin my life and more migraines) and I will avoid going to the doctor when something seems off because I can’t afford it.” – maznyk

‘Look to America’

I mean, what?!

There are 11,000 comments and it’s a mix of people complaining that their premiums have gone up (‘It’s really great to see all these people saying how awesome the ACA is, “oh I have great coverage and it’s only $40 a month!” Well guess what, you getting that coverage means that my coverage is absolute s**t’) so they’ve had to sell their ‘nice truck for a little sad looking car’ contrasted with comments like, ‘If I can’t get insurance, my son will die.’

Now, why do I care what’s going on in backwards America? Yes, the world looks at its pathetic view of ‘what’s mine is mine tough luck if you die lol’ healthcare attitude with a mix of revulsion and pity, like a flea-ridden cat that roams the street ripping open black bags for dried on casserole from Number 32 all the while thinking it’s eating gourmet tuna, but when the UK’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt (and by and large the Tories as a whole) says we need to ‘look to America for inspiration’ on how to ‘fix’ our NHS, these comments are real. They could be you, or me.

They might be, in a few years.

The cost of your medication: got £300 a month?

How many of us could afford to pay for monthly birth control? Sure it might prompt more people to try long-term options (£80 for the Mirena coil + doctor/nurse charges, plus pain control) but for those who aren’t suitable, what then? How many people with diabetes could afford to pay between £7-48 for 100 units for their insulin shots? How many people with mental health concerns could pay £50 a session for their therapies?

We know an older generation primarily voted for the current government. But how will they afford healthcare when they need to spend £127 a month on blood thinners? When they need to spend over £300 a year on anti-hypertensives? £100 per year on beta blockers? On placement, many over 65s come into hospital on a cocktail of between three to five (usually more) medications that keep them alive and pain-free. That could cost thousands of pounds, purely to keep living a healthy life. It’ll mean spending at least £230 a year on opioid pain relief patches for those with chronic pain.

That’s for those who can’t afford insurance, of course. And if pharma companies decide to keep their prices the same as today instead of hiking them up.

America’s healthcare works for the rich and leaves the poor to luck out on charitable donations and the goodwill of others. Could the NHS go the same way? It’s really possible.

The NHS is precious, let’s keep it alive

Working in healthcare I see how precious, how incredibly valuable the NHS is. It’s based on the greatest good for the greater number, yes, so there will always be those who miss out. But I’ve seen homeless men withdrawing from alcohol abuse cared for without a worry. I’ve seen elderly people being given all the tools needed for them to keep living at home with once a day care, all without a worry. I’ve seen pregnant women give birth without being handed a massive bill in addition to their newborn.

It takes everyone to make it work. The whole point of the NHS was to educate people into making good health decision, and instead, it’s abused.

I don’t want to worry about my aunty being unable to afford insulin. I don’t want to worry about my grandma having to fend for herself as she can’t afford care. I don’t want to worry about my family, my friends, or even the general population having to go through the incredible pain of someone they love dying when it could be prevented.

I worry, seeing what I see on placement, that there are people who know there is money to be made from the sick, dying and desperate, and they’ll seize the chance to cash in. I just hope we never need to choose between unpayable debt or a life of pain.