English patients

July 29, 2009 

As a physician with English in-laws, I have had experience with both American health care and the National Health Service, which is being demonized in the current debate over health reform. These are my stories:

1) I have been sick twice while in England. Both times, I was able to see a G.P. that day at no cost, receiving good quality care, with appropriate referral to specialty care if needed. Total cost to me = zero.

2) Almost five years ago, my father-in-law, while visiting us in North Carolina, required hospitalization at UNC, which provided excellent care. However, since then my in-laws have not been able to visit us, since they cannot afford to buy health insurance coverage for their stay here.

3) In the last few years, both my father- and mother-in-law have needed to be hospitalized in England. They received reasonable care, which met decent American standards. Cost to them = zero.

In England, no one goes without the care they truly need and no one goes bankrupt because they get sick. We could use more of that here in the States.

Harold Carmel

Chapel Hill

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