Monday, June 20, 2005

Missing the NHS

Say what you will about the NHS (National Health Service) in Britain, but when compared to the lack of health care availability, options, or coverage in the USA, it is an infinitely better system. Yes, there are problems. You may have to wait a few months for non-emergency surgery or to see a specialist, but you will always have access to free unlimited quality health care for yourself and your family. Always. Not so in the USA. Not only do we pay a fortune for our health insurance, but it doesn't even cover the essential care that we need as parents of a young child. Last week we received a bill for $500 because Kellan apparently used up his annual well baby allowance at his 9 and 12 month appointments, and thus, his 15 month check up and injections are billed entirely to us. I'm talking about MMR and chicken pox vaccines. Not covered. And his 18 month visit also falls within the year, so will not be covered. Which means that, in all likelihood, I'm going to have to cancel that visit and simply take him in when our next "year" of coverage begins. I can't afford to pay out of pocket for pediatrician visits which amount to, "Yes, he's big and healthy, see you in three months". I am a research scientist and I don't earn much. And right now I am a very angry and frustrated mother. In Britain, my son would have had the best care, constant care, much more thorough than the every three months appointments here, and all of it would have been free. But here, in the USA, my son will be skipping appointments and receiving only partial care, all of which I am paying for at great expense. The next time that I hear a member of my family back in Britain complain about the NHS, they're going to get an earful!


betty said...

I work in the health care industry myself, and I've always wondered how the free universal health care coverage systems worked in other countries because it's so different from the way we operate here in the US.

That's terrible that your employer's health plan does not cover those basic immunizations! I'm really actually shocked to hear that! I've been working in the health care industry for 15 years, and I've never seen a plan's benefit coverage designed like that. But, then again, it could be our state laws are different. In California, basic immunizations are mandated benefits, and all health care plans have to provide that minimum level of coverage.

If I received a bill for $500 from a provider, I would just pay $40 a month til the bill was paid off. I recently started doing this, and they didn't even question it. When I spoke with someone from the Billing Dept., they told me that a lot of the patients do that, so it's quite a common practice. And, they don't care as long as there is a payment that is made each month.

Nicola said...

Apparently our health insurance covers only $300/year in well baby costs. That's equivalent to one visit and a couple of shots. But he's already had three visits and lots of shots. We actually found out that we owe even more than originally anticipated. Apparently you can go to the public health department for immunizations and they may be a lower cost than at the pediatrician, but we'll have to look into that. Its a little late now though, as I think that he's pretty much finished.