L’il Boo, as I mentioned, has only recently come out of hospital. He was in for a week; for most of that week (after finally escaping resus), he was in a private room (due to being officially contagious). Doctors dropped by twice a day, more if I made it known I had a specific question or concern to be answered. Nurses came by every hour at least, to do his obs or give him his meds. Tests were run as needed. X-rays were taken as needed. His room was cleaned once a day. He was fed three times a day. I was given a bed with clean sheets, blanket and pillow. A ‘play specialist’ popped by every day to provide fresh toys from the ward play room (which, being contagious, he couldn’t visit).
In short, he was well looked after. And he was looked after for no money whatsoever from me. Oh, of course, I pay taxes to contribute to the NHS; I’m not a simpleton, I get that I ‘pay’ for the NHS like everybody else, but you know what I mean. His care was assured without any financial effort on my part whatsoever. Fighting rising panic as he struggled to breathe and I struggled to get us to the hospital, I didn’t for one second have to consider the financial implications of going to hospital. I could concentrate my energy purely on L’il Boo without worrying if the whole experience was going to bankrupt me.
Uh-huh. The NHS. You will not get me to say a bad word about the NHS. Although.
I am particularly lucky. My local hospital is fairly new, well-equipped, has a dedicated paediatric A&E and is, without a doubt, one of the better hospitals in the country. I have heard many a tale – some from members of my own family – of NHS inadequacy, woe and neglect. The NHS is not perfect, for sure. Fo’ sho’.
Although this lack of perfectness is of course mainly because a succession of governments just keep fucking with it, rather than because there is anything wrong with universal, free healthcare as a concept. Yes, yes, it’s starting to cost more as the population ages and no, no, you don’t have enough money to allocate to it, but yes, yes, you fucking would have if you hadn’t given it to all the banky wankies. But in any event, you per se fuck with any public service – health, transport, rubbish collection, whatever – when you forget that its purpose is not to make a profit and, ergo, that it is not somehow failing if it makes a loss. That is the whole point of a ‘public service’: it is provided to the public even though its worth cannot be measured in money – by god, it’s actually designed to cost money! – but in other, more nefarious, ways like quality of life, happiness, satisfaction and other concepts that are now considered to be virtually communist in nature. We have, of course, roundly forgotten this basic principle in regard to almost all our public services. Much to our shame. And we are, once again, trying to be made to forget it in regard to the NHS. It’s a fucking crime. And it’s what happens when the economy stops serving people and people start serving the economy. And the richest 1% who dictate that economy, of course.
And I’ve just been reading through We Are the 99% tumblr. And frankly, it breaks my stone cold heart. What immediately strikes you about the stories posted there is that almost everybody has an issue with healthcare: the vast majority on there just can’t afford it. Amazingly (for some naive soul not au fait with the American healthcare system), there are people who have health insurance (which seems to cost an arm and a leg) but still can’t afford healthcare because they can’t afford the deductible. I am completely flummoxed by the inequity of the American health care system; I just don’t get how it’s got to the point where even if you have health insurance, you still often can’t afford to actually access healthcare..? Hey, I live in Conservative Britain – I get inequality. I get that unfettered capitalism destroys people’s lives. What I had never got – never appreciated if you will – is that in America that destruction can follow a direct A to B path of such startling simplicity that it will leave you breathless. Which, for a huge number of Americans, will be a respitory problem you’ll just have to DEAL WITH! You got nothing fuckin’ coming is what you got!
I am not smug. Do not think I am smug. I could not be smug because do you know the other big piano around the necks of ordinary Americans besides health insurance? Student loans. Thousands – in many cases hundreds of thousands – of dollars in student loans, taken out to pay, largely, tuition fees. Which we have just introduced.
How can I feel smug when it’s just same bullshit, different day?