I have been looking for a worthwhile topic to write about that had nothing to do with the Inquiry. I have had reason in my life to be grateful to the NHS and like many I probably did not appreciate its full value when I was younger. Now people are probably thinking here I amContinue reading "VALUE OUR NHS."

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I have been looking for a worthwhile topic to write about that had nothing to do with the Inquiry. I have had reason in my life to be grateful to the NHS and like many I probably did not appreciate its full value when I was younger. Now people are probably thinking here I am talking about the years when I was younger and healthier and had no need of the services. In part true, but there are other huge reasons why everyone, of all ages should value the NHS. Regular readers will know I live, in normal times, up to six months of the year in Florida. There I see their alternative to the NHS, the private health version where profit plays a huge role in its development and operation.

The first thing that strikes you is the eye watering costs. I will complete this article with some of examples of this but I want to look at how this private health system throws up problems we don’t experience.

The American system is largely insurance based. Most people’s insurance is paid by their employer who is some cases pay it all, in others they make a big contribution. For many employees these schemes, through their employer also covers their families. The average family insurance cost is over $20,000 dollars a year. What that tells me is a lot of workers are not going to be enjoying a policy like that. It also makes your employer, if you are enjoying a good level of protection a very important part of your life. The more so as most policies end on the last day of the month you lose your job. Just imagine, you lose your job and less than a month later you, and probably your family, are left without healthcare. It must affect job mobility. How many jobs have you had over the years? Now imagine the complication if searching for that new job also required you to find an employer who would match or improve your health protection every time? What happens if a covered family member develops a serious chronic condition. Very difficult to leave an employer in those circumstances as you might find it impossible to find another employer willing to cover those costs if your situation is reassessed as part of the move.

Some schemes are transferable but even these might include a review of existing conditions, additional premiums and a probationary period before full engagement that leaves you with lower, or in some extreme cases, no cover until it has elapsed. The point I am striving to make is that it is complicated, prone to negative reassessment and most serious of all uncertain.

The above chart raises a lot of concerns. When people avoid seeking the right healthcare or find it impossible because of costs it adversely affects their own health but in many cases it can also affect the rest of the community as well. How many additional people become infected with Covid if people delay in going to get tested? How does public health control a pandemic when so many are forced by costs to stay away from healthcare?

How big a crisis is this? Here are some statistics

530,000 US families file for bankruptcy due to medical bills each year

Over 20% of those filing are people over the age of 55

The average medical insurance has increased by 54% over the last decade.

41% of working age Americans have issues paying medical bills.

54% of Americans with medical debt have no other debt.

34% list medical bills as their number one financial concern

A study demonstrated a hospital was charging 11 times the actual cost of tests.

18.6% of those who filed said prescription cost was their biggest expense.

Should we be worried?

The average cost of Covid care without insurance ranges from $51,389 for patients aged 21-40 to $78569 for 41 to 60 year olds. These costs are calculated on an average stay of between one day and five days, an 11-15 day hospital stay for patients under 20 was $324,285.

Costs of treatment, particularly cancer treatments have soared in recent times. The future looks grim.

In the UK, we have not reached this stage yet, but private health is expanding all the time in the NHS. It is crucial this is resisted. We need our politicians to be more honest and open about what is happening. Some think Scotland controls our own NHS. THAT IS ONLY PARTIALLY TRUE. WE DO NOT CONTROL THE BUDGET. IT IS A HUGE WEAKNESS THAT ALLOWS WESTMINSTER TO FORCE CHANGE THROUGH BUDGETARY CONTROLS.

Would they do it? Of course they would.

Maybe this is the time to point out that over 70:MP’s and no less than 140 members of the House of Lords have financial interests in private healthcare companies. Does it make sense for us to allow them to be central to the future direction of healthcare in the UK?

My experience in the US, including a minor scare after I had severe chest pains and was rushed to the local hospital for tests that cost $9000 dollars for some tests which eventually established it was virus related. It seemed very expensive given I was there for less than five hours and was treated as an outpatient so yes I think we really need to be worried and I think we must keep profit out the system.

I am told of a system in the USA called charge master that the hospitals use to Bill their charges, everything is charged, the plastic cup your pills come in, a small band aid plaster after an injection, even in the children’s ward a toy, that many parents think is a gift but are horrified to discover when the bill comes in is charged out at $200!

When I compare the NHS with the US Private healthcare system I am very glad we have it. It needs to be defended, it needs to be respected and offering the nurses a 1% pay increase after the incredible and dedicated work they have put in during the last year is just disgusting.

My advice to politicians never challenge the public to decide between nurses and politicians, in a millisecond it will be all over and the only question people will be asking is “why so long”?

So thank you NHS for all you do. We really do appreciate you, and we can only apologise for these horrible Tories. At least the Scottish NHS workers know we never voted for them!

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland.

BEAT THE CENSORS (read what they prefer you didn’t) actually this article today would have passed the censor’s act, still I guarantee articles later this week won’t!

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