Here in Spain, shortly after I arrived and before organising myself in the Spanish free health service for pensioners, I paid monthly at a private health clinic , which offered free g.p. consultations and half price specialist treatment. Prescriptions, however, had to be paid for. I remember having to fork out 180 euros for 5 tablets for shingles and was horrified. Now I'm slotted into the Spanish system. Because I'm eligible for free care and prescriptions in the UK, my Government has transferred that eligibility to Spain and I'm now enjoying a free service again.
I wish it could be so for the thousands of US citizens who have no health care and I back Obama all the way in trying to introduce a system that will be of benefit to all. People with money will always have greater choice.
Here is an article from the Financial Times about the reality of all health care systems in the face of spiralling costs.
Home truths about rationing healthcare
By Philip Stephens
The brouhaha in the
Beneath the transatlantic waves lies an awkward truth; one that politicians of all shapes and sizes – conservative and progressive, European and American – would prefer not to discuss. Healthcare is rationed everywhere.
Join an FT debate on health care in US and
Some countries, of course, choose to spend more on health than others, just as they set different priorities for education or defence. Some prefer direct state provision, others more plural arrangements – compare
The NHS stands condemned by US President Barack Obama’s opponents as an instrument of state-sponsored euthanasia. Its socialised medicine, Americans are asked to believe, would have deprived, on grounds of age, Senator Edward Kennedy of treatment for a brain tumour.
Such charges are palpable nonsense, serving only to unite British politicians in defence of the distinctly imperfect NHS. The Tories have been put on the defensive. Mr Cameron has spent years insisting his party cherishes the NHS. Now one or two discordant Tory voices are heard cheering on Republican attacks on Mr Obama’s proposals.
Mr Cameron’s discomfort will not deter Republicans. As my colleague Edward Luce has written in these pages, US conservatives sense a chance to re-ignite
European criticism of the
I say “US model”; in reality, there are two. How many of Mr Obama’s critics, I wonder, realise that the 8 per cent of national income
Overall, the 16 per cent of national income the
What those Americans lucky enough to have top-flight private insurance get for this is care unmatched in terms of technological capabilities and expertise. The
The rationing is applied by the exclusions imposed by employers and insurance companies on all but the most expensive policies and, most obviously, by the fact that many working Americans simply cannot afford any insurance. To say everyone can get emergency care is little comfort to the diabetic or cancer sufferers denied ongoing care.
Yet all this money has failed to improve overall health outcomes. Life expectancy for Americans is a year below the rich country average of 79, while infant mortality is well above the average.
True, there are other social and cultural factors to be taken into account. But that the world’s richest country can spend so much and still lag so far behind the best is an extraordinary indictment. On present trends, this hopelessly inefficient system will soon consume 20 per cent of national income, making it as unaffordable as it is inequitable. The challenge for all
At least, though, the NHS is relatively efficient.