Socialised medicine

June 12, 2008

I am tying this on my laptop, sitting in a hospital room while I wait for my husband to return from surgery. He has been limping around since injuring his knee in January and after a few months caught in the cycle of GPs, physios, specialists and ACC he is now finally getting the cartilage repaired.

I could complain about the waiting and the paperwork and the wasted time, but I’m not going to. Because last week we watched Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’, and now all I feel is grateful.

ACC (the NZ government accident compensation corporation which replaces private insurance for accidents) may have taken 3 months to arrange the surgery but he is getting what he needs. Completely free. And in a nice comfortable private hospital.

We have also been through years of struggle with his head injury and subsequent migraines, and he is only just getting the care he needs, but that is more to do with unhelpful doctors than the system itself. As with the knee injury, all specialist appointments and any tests required are paid for by ACC. And presriptions for his expensive medicine are significantly subsidised.

When our little girl was born the midwife and hospital stay were free, as were 6 weeks of midwife visits at home and the all health care for the first 6 years of her life.

When my Dad had 2 heart attacks last year he got full emergency care immediately, cardiac catheterisation (twice) and all follow up rehabilitation care free.

I have posted on this subject before, and my opinion has not changed. Having have seen both ends of the system, as a nurse and as a patient (and obviously as a patients relative!) I simply cannot comprehend the American fear of “socialised medicine”. I remember having drawn out discussions about it with American friends, who mirrored the concerns shown in Sicko- worries about government control, higher taxes, rationing and waiting lists. There is of course some validity to it. Prioritisation and rationing are facts of life in this system. Private hospitals exist here because those who have the money prefer to have thier surgery as quickly as possible, and in hotel-like surrounds. But I’d much rather live in a country where everyone is able to access health services regardless of socio-economic status, and where I know we will get emergency care immediately than the alternative. And I’d rather pay for it with my taxes than through an insurance company. At least I know the government isn’t trying to make a profit out of me.

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