Saturday 8 November 2008 3.34pm
Jackie and martinr, as I said, there is one hospital (usually the county hospital) in every big city that must take anyone who needs emergency care, regardless of the ability to pay. (You may have seen "ER", which portrays such a place.) That doesn't mean they all do, and Americans are used to digging out their proof of insurance cards. Most people I know carry the card with them at all times in case of emergency, as if you aren't able to show it you will be sent to the county hospital. (Though in San Francisco, at least, the county hospital is by far the best place for trauma victims.)
For people with insurance, the advantage over the UK is that you don't run into problems such as being put on a two-year waiting list for a hip replacement.
No but my point is that the Govts in the UK and the US spend roughly the same per person on public healthcare. For that in the US you get systems such as Medicare and Medicaid and emergency treatment. In the UK it buys universal coverage. That's not to say that the NHS is perfect - far from it - although I don't know anyone that's ever waited for 2 years for treatment - a friend of mine has just had a hip replacement after a 2 month wait.
The US undoubtedly has some of the best healthcare in the world, for those that can pay. I have friends in the US and am constantly amazed at how if they have a problem they will be having scans and all sorts of investigative treatments. Here they'd probably get told to go home and take an aspirin and come back if it hasn't cleared up.
But ultimately life expectancy in the US is slightly less than in the UK - so what does all that extra spending through private insurance really do other than increase the profits of the various parts of the healthcare industry ?