If you listen to the right-wing pundits, you might think that socialized health care, such as found in Canada, Britain, and lets see…virtually the entire developed world, is nothing more than dark concrete dungeons, months of waiting for either the simplest or most urgent procedures; rusting, antiquated tools; and unresponsive, indifferent staff.
Doubtlessly every one of those nationalized health-care systems have their share of problems. But I’ve little reason to believe any of these foreboding scenarios are remotely accurate. After all, notwithstanding Walter Reed, evidence suggests that the VA provides a higher quality health care than the civilian, private health care (and it is worth considering that the problems at Walter Reed might well be attributed to the extended and apparently unforeseen foreign occupation which our military is performing, for which this sort of planning and preparation was botched).
Despite the dire warnings of the conservative talking heads, I hear plenty of positive remarks from those who use the socialized health care of other nations—and no more complaints than I hear about our system.
Jim Wallis himself recently had the opportunity to avail himself of the British health-care system.
“What do you need from me?” I asked hesitantly. “Just your name and address,” she replied with another smile. “Oh…OK.” She told me it would be about 10 minutes to see the nurse. “Yeah right,” I thought to myself…
…It was five minutes before the nurse called me in to a little office adjacent to the waiting area, which seemed to be an intake room. She was pleasant and professional as she asked me what was wrong, and how long I had felt the soreness. She gently examined my foot and then told me I would be called in to see a doctor in about 10 minutes. “Sure thing,” I thought. So I went back out to the waiting room and settled in again to read my novel.
It was five minutes before a young woman appeared and called my name, “Mr. Wallis?” She was a young Asian doctor named Dr. Gillian Kyei. She was also very pleasant and professional, taking time to ask me lots of questions about how I might have hurt my foot, etc. She examined the injured foot carefully, told me that it didn’t necessarily look broken, but that we should get an X-ray to make sure. I waited in her examining room for a couple of minutes while she called down to the X-ray department to say that I was on the way. Then she came back and escorted me herself.
When I got to X-Ray, I checked in by just saying my name and took a seat in the waiting area. Finally, I was going to get to read my book! But five minutes later, the technician came out to bring me in. She took her time with me, taking several different angles of my foot. When I was done, she sent me back to my young doctor, with another smile.
This time the wait was a full ten minutes because, I later learned, Dr. Kyei was reading the results of my X-ray, which had already been sent to her computer. She showed me what looked to her like a fracture of my fourth metatarsal bone, but said she wanted to consult with the orthopedic specialist. I waited about ten minutes more while she did that and so got a few more pages read.
Dr. Kyei then came back with the definitive diagnosis—my fourth metatarsal bone was indeed fractured. She went over their preferred treatments and my options with me…I chose the boot and she told me she would be back in a minute.
It was actually about two minutes before she got back, and I was getting nowhere with this novel!
…“How can I call a cab?” I asked. “Oh, I’ll do that for you,” she said. “Just take a seat over their and the cab will be here in about 10 minutes.” As I sat there, I realized something. Nobody had ever asked me to pay. Everything was FREE, including my nice new boot. How about that? They think health care is a right for all citizens, and even foreign visitors like me. Amazing (“My Encounter with [Insert Scary Music]…Socialized Medicine!”).
It may not be perfect, but it just may be that socialized health care isn’t the nightmare conservatives would have us believe.