On the NHS (the Brits’ system)

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I am sure you receive many such stories. My father was chronically ill with kidney problems with a very grim prognosis. This was in the 1970’s around the time dialysis became a possibility. The National Health Service paid for the installation of a dialysis machine plus all the necessary plumbing and renovation of a room in his home so that he could use the machine three times a week rather than travel to the hospital in London. The cost was enormous and there is no way my parents could have afforded it. His quality of life for his last years was improved beyond recognition. I don’t recall any bureaucracy or fuss: the entire decision was the doctor’s. After he passed away the NHS paid for the disassembly and removal of everything too.

The NHS may foul up many of the little things and it may deserve criticism, but in my family’s case we avoided financial hardship, and my father benefitted from [what was then] cutting edge technology because of it. I doubt we would have been treated the same way by a private insurance company.

It is this memory that makes health care reform so personal for me, and makes the extraordinary behavior of its opponents so repugnant.

It is worth noting that among health care policy analysts the British system is generally considered inferior to that of Canada and especially that of France, which, from my recollection is often deemed the best in the world. The main culprit, as I understand it, is simply that it’s underfunded relative to these other countries.

That said, considering that in the US many are going around claiming that the NHS amounts to a system of wide scale euthanasia it’s worth countering some of the bamboozlement with some real life stories.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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