The American healthcare system is quite extraordinary. For Americans do not have healthcare, they have health insurance. And 50 million Americans do not have that.
For the poorest, there is Medicaid. For the richest – access to the best doctors in the world. And for most Americans? A living nightmare of rules, regulations and monopolies.
America is all about standing on your own two feet, personal responsibility. About the free market. Its system of health insurance is everything that is opposite to that.
For example, I’m in NYC and having problems standing on my own two feet – achilles tendonitis. So off I trotted (limped) to the pharmacy to buy some anti-inflammatory gel as I’m not too keen on what the pills do to my stomach. This is hardly dangerous self-medicating. This is just taking some sensible primary care into my own hands. Why bother anyone else with it?
According to the pharmacist, to get the gel, you need a prescription – i.e. you have to PAY for a doctor to write you one. Completely and utterly ridiculous – a waste of time and money. You are just feeding into the great American healthcare conspiracy.
The cost to hard-working Americans of healthcare is extraordinary. In the UK, the most expensive private health insurance I know of (for the best care, with pre-existing conditions) is around $5000 a year. That is because there is COMPETITION in the UK, in the form of the NHS – the public healthcare option. In the US, to get average healthcare, it can cost around $12,000 a year. Average healthcare. And if you have a pre-existing condition? They’re changing the rules, but at one point you may not have been able to get insurance at all. All because there are monopolies and special interest groups, all fighting their corner to keep squeezing the average American – and small businesses – into the ground.
It is an absolute disgrace. I’m inflamed on their behalf. To fix it, root and branch reform is required – from everything to the education of Doctors so more can afford to remain in primary care to the way in which health insurance companies operate.
However the virtue and the albatross of the American political system’s nature is compromise. “Obamacare” was fudged. But until real crisis and although it’s bad, rock bottom has not yet been hit, every solution will be fudged.
And until that point, the American healthcare system will remain contrary to America’s core values.