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US comic Rob Delaney writes powerful open letter in praise of the NHS

From an American in Britain

US comic Rob Delaney writes powerful open letter in praise of the NHS
19 January 2017

Rob Delaney has one of your favourite twitter accounts and a hugely successful comedy show (Catastrophe). He also has a thought-provoking opinion on the NHS, as an American in Britain.  

While he doesn’t claim to be an expert in the field, he has had his fair share of healthcare. He was an alcoholic and once crashed his car into a building which resulted multiple surgeries through the American system and maxing out two credit cards to pay for them. 

He experienced the flaws of the systems across the pond, and consequently praises the NHS as ‘superior’.

In the letter, he wrote:

“The purpose of this piece is to tell you that the NHS of this exact moment in 2017 is better that the private healthcare systems in the US. I have to pluralise 'systems' because there is, sadly, no one unified 'system' in the US, much to the detriment of so many millions of Americans.”

One of the problems with those systems, is that:

“The American doctors and nurses are mostly kind people, working hard, sincerely interested in helping others.

“Unfortunately these doctors and nurses are paid with money the hospital receives from health insurance companies. And health insurance companies are motivated by profit, not by successfully setting your broken shoulder or curing your daughter’s leukemia.”

Demonstrating what he means, he went on to share:

“My wife and I, who had what’s considered excellent insurance in the US, received bills for about $1,300 after each of our first two kids were born. When we were in the US on holiday recently, our youngest required an emergency ultrasound on his kidneys.

As we’ve been in the UK for years now, we don’t have American health insurance anymore and I had to pay a $500 deposit before they would do the test. On my baby’s kidneys. In the richest country in the world, in which I still pay plenty of taxes as a citizen. Also it was my baby’s kidneys if I haven’t already said that.”

His main point was that the stress of crippling debt or being unable to afford treatment is a lot worse than having to wait a while for free care from the NHS:

“If our bodies and minds are connected as modern medicine insists, the stress one feels as an American worrying about how you’ll pay for your healthcare – or whether you can even get it – shortens your life and reduces its quality much more than the wait for knee replacement surgery on the NHS does.

I used knee replacement surgery as an example because if you need emergency surgery on your brain or your heart, you won’t wait on the NHS; you’ll have world-class doctors doing their best to fix you right away.”

He ends with a poignant call to action:

“I know what I’d do if I were a U.K. citizen and something as remarkable as the NHS were under threat. I pay taxes here too, but I’m not British, so it’s up to you, if you care.

If you think that there are those in government or on the boards of private healthcare corporations who might be okay with that sort of future unfolding [an American system], what might you do about it? Anything?”

Read the full piece here.