An International Healthcare Plan

You knew it was only a matter of time before I posted about National Healthcare…

(My American readers may know it as “free healthcare”, although anyone paying taxes in the UK knows it’s anything but… )

We had our first encounter with it last weekend when we took Avery to the A&E (emergency room). He was coughing and congested throughout the day, but started wheezing heavily towards the evening.

Having had a very bad asthma attack prior to leaving the States, we didn’t want to take any chances of him getting worse thorough the night and our GP’s (doctors’) office was, of course, closed.

Other than the cold that triggered the whole mess, he wasn’t in terrible shape. He certainly had plenty of energy (and toddler attitude) to be a total maniac the whole day, but we went anyway as a precaution.

One of my favorite blogs, Stuff White People Like, did a great post about National Healthcare (#94) earlier this year which nicely summed up my feelings towards socialized medicine…

If you need to impress a white person, merely mention how you got hurt on a recent trip Canada/England/Sweden and though you were a foreigner you received excellent and free health care…

Though their passion for national health care runs deep, it is important to remember that white people are most in favor of it when they are healthy. They love the idea of everyone having equal access to the resources that will keep them alive, that is until they have to wait in line for an MRI.

This is very similar to the way that white people express their support for public schools when they don’t have children.

Given that it was the Sunday prior to a national bank holiday in a country that pretty much closes shop at 4:45 in the afternoon, I did NOT have highest of expectations. Especially since Avery wasn’t “critical” when we arrived.

I imagined a long night and a long line at a grubby waiting room, GERMS, surly staff, and quick turnover…

I’m talkin’ BLEAK!

Instead, we were seen right way in a separate children’s ward. The nurses and doctors were extremely attentive and friendly, even taking the time to look up the American brand names for the generic meds in order to “speak our language”.

When Avery’s condition didn’t improve, we were given the option to stay overnight and the following day for continued care and observation. Mike and I were fine with that, however the doctor had his reservations about sending us to a room in the hospital.

As he put it, “It’s probably not anything like what you’re use to in the States…”

There is very little here that is, but the hospital turned out to be just fine. It was clean and tidy, only a bit dated (like most of London, so historical, maybe?) We even managed to finagle a pleasant little private room across the hall from the playroom.

Hanging around a hospital all day is certainly not my idea of a good time, but the “ward hostess” kept us in tea and biscuits and plenty entertained throughout our stay. Avery improved rapidly and we were all home by supper.

He’s still doing great today, except for the cold which they couldn’t do anything about anyway…

Overall, we really can’t complain. The care and medications Avery received were indeed excellent and all without the hassle of dealing with insurance…

However, you have to understand, Mike and I have unusually high expectations when it comes to medicine. It comes from having immediate access to the very best healthcare in the world. Family.

A sniffle, a headache, a cough… my mom, a pediatrician, would race right over with a stethoscope in one hand and a bag of antibiotics in the other. She’d be there even faster if it was for Avery.

Mike’s dad and brother (both excellent and brilliant surgeons) were a mere phone call away. If we ever need their help, I know they wouldn’t hesitate to hop in the car/take the first flight to get to us.

In fact, Mike’s dad personally removed my wisdom teeth shortly before Mike accepted the job in England.

They are all still a phone call/plane ride away, but being halfway around the globe makes things a bit more difficult.

Because of the time difference, I emailed, instead of called, my mom with the weekend’s play-by-play. She and my dad were on the phone for an immediate consult as soon as they read it… six hours later.

It’s not quite the 45-minute driving distance she used to be to us (or even the three hours to Mike’s dad), but it’s comforting to know that they’re still there for us no matter where we live.

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1 Comment

Filed under Family, National Healthcare

One response to “An International Healthcare Plan

  1. Paul Hayes

    The only time I have ever had to go to an A&E department was the best part of a decade ago, when I went along with my mother after she had badly hurt her ankle. Like you, I was expecting a crowded waiting area and massive queues, but when we went in through the doors we were fairly stunned to find absolutely nobody there. She had the full attention of two doctors – I think they were quite pleased to see us, as they were fairly bored just sitting around doing nothing!

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