BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
« Previous | Main | Next »

Health care heartbreak

Justin Webb | 07:28 UK time, Monday, 5 January 2009

Apologies for the long break in posts. My son fell ill over Christmas and has been diagnosed with type one diabetes.

He can still have a long and happy life but no longer a care-free one and nor can his parents!

So we find ourselves at the receiving end of the health service I have heard George Bush describe as the best in the world and Barack Obama describe as seriously flawed. Both are right of course.

I desperately want a cure to be found and I have every confidence that if it is found it will be found HERE - in a nation that creates the wealth, and fosters the humanity, necessary to do the job.

But to arrive back from the hospital - confused and, frankly, a bit heartbroken - to find a bill already in the letter box, that's tough. And we are insured so the next day a letter from the insurers arrives telling us they have reviewed the case and decided to pay (note the language - how kind of them!) but if we hadn't been insured or if the insurers had behaved differently .......

The amount by the way for a night's stay and associated treatment is nearly $3,000. Even the co-pay which I handed over in the pharmacy on Christmas Eve (for the kit which is now part of our life) set us back a couple of hundred.

Of course the Obama reforms would not necessarily change this - his plan is not for a European style national health service. But as a user of the current US system I have to say the bills feel cruel, particularly when they apply to sick children.


  • 1. At 08:26am on 05 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Welcome back.
    No apologies necessary for your absence here, while caring for your family.
    As any parent understands, the world around us takes second place and can go its own way when our children fall suddenly ill.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 08:39am on 05 Jan 2009, gourdguy wrote:

    Justin Webb is so far off the mark with a comment that America has the best health care in the world.

    I believe American health care is at the bottom of the list of industrialized nations. The US had, before the last round of lost jobs, about 50 million uninsured.

    Vast numbers of Americans are using their meager income to purchase food rather than medicine, or they are reducing their medication inorder to pay for fuel and food.

    For the 5 to 10 percnet of the US population with unlimited funds, I guess they can purchase the best health care in the world. For the remaining 90 to 95 percent health care in the US sucks.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 09:24am on 05 Jan 2009, british-ish wrote:

    I only wish one of the BBC blog editors (overseers? Whatever the BBc calls them) had thought to post a note about your absence.

    I know what a shock a diagnosis like that can be, but a journalist colleague of mine has pursued a very long career while being diabetic. The only thing is, your son will have to make sure his friends know what to do if he shows symptoms of low blood sugar. I discovered years ago that very few people have any idea what to do.

    But I am shocked at the cost. A couple of years ago i had to rush a French friend's teenage son to the local London A&R with a crippling headache and a very high temperature . . , He was seen by a doctor within a few minutes and after blood tests, a scan a saline drip and a day in hospital, some medication from the hospital pharmacy . . . no bill. And he had phone calls from my GP who told us to take him in during the following week to ask if he was recovering OK.

    To have to deal with a bill within hours of an experience like yours is indeed brutal. Or at best, inconsiderate.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 09:32am on 05 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Further to my initial posting of support for your son and family during this initial imbalance, I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding the shock one experiences when confronted by the heartless financial attitude of either the hospital or insurance company. Comparisons with circling hyenas and vultures, the one wearing hospital greens, or white coats, and the other a three piece suit to demand pre- payment can be the norm these days.
    However, despite the cold clinical "greeting" from the administrative face of these institutions may I re-assure you that warm red blood does flow through the veins of at least all the medical working staff involved, and their commitment to the health of any patient, especially a child knows no bounds.
    We may not always radiate this at times to the accompanying parents when making the initial diagnosis, which gives rise to misconceptions of appearing to be either superior or as an absent-minded professorial geek with their head in the clouds.
    You are in very safe hands there in the USA, where research developments lie at the highest level.
    Should this thread develop into the expected financial path as suggested by the remarks from gourdguy # 2, will throw in my 2 cents worth later.
    Regards from me and love from the Mrs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 09:47am on 05 Jan 2009, LesstimethanIdlike wrote:

    I have a relative who is a GP in the States. Although originally fully in favour of the American Health Insurance system, after 30 years of practice there he feels that the English Health system is the only way to go.
    "I am fed up" he told me, " of Insurance Companies telling me what treatment I can give my patients. I have watched people die because the insurance company has decided that they will not pay for the treatment that will save their lives".


    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 10:28am on 05 Jan 2009, Schwerpunkt wrote:

    5. LesstimethanIdlike wrote:

    ""I am fed up" he told me, " of Insurance Companies telling me what treatment I can give my patients. "

    My father in law was a GP in England until last Summer when he took retirement. He was under similar restrictions due to the government deciding what the focus of his practice's efforts should be. All so they could have quotas of how many people were reffered to anti-smoking clinics &c. The English system nowadays is ruled by government wanting to be seen to meet certain self set targets.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 10:29am on 05 Jan 2009, Rachelbri wrote:

    My baby was poorly over Christmas. My GP ordered an immediate referral to the John Radcliffe in Oxford, the baby had blood tests done the following morning, and we had the results before dinner. The team in the Children's hospital were wonderful - taking blood from a year old baby is not a pleasant experence - they made it as easy as possible. I know the NHS doesn't always get it right (we have been waiting two months for a referal for our daughter) but credit where it is due, this experience was outstanding. My husband is American and some of the reasons we're living here are issues like healthcare...

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 10:29am on 05 Jan 2009, vagueofgodalming wrote:


    I'm sorry to hear that. My best wishes to you and your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 10:29am on 05 Jan 2009, pragmaticaldo wrote:

    So sorry, I wish you well.

    Health care in the USA? Contradiction in terms, another example of the failings of the profit motive in general & America in particular.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 11:23am on 05 Jan 2009, dceilar wrote:

    Justin, sorry to hear about your son.

    Getting the bill in the post so quickly is a shocker. Talk about kicking a man when he's down - especially when a child is involved. Thank heavens for the Beveridge Report and the Welfare State that's all I'll say.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 11:27am on 05 Jan 2009, frayedcat wrote:

    The best player on the local HS soccer team has type one diabetes - he just trots over to the bench to check his levels every once in a while. As for the US health care system...and the insurance company industry...and the medical sales and supply industries-- costs to the average Joe are too high but then again is excellent health care a right, or a luxury?

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 11:31am on 05 Jan 2009, lochraven wrote:

    Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 11:53am on 05 Jan 2009, Adam Ant wrote:

    My Best wishes to your son and your family and prayers that a cure is found to alleviate the suffering.

    The US's lack of a national health service is quite startling for the most advanced and wealthy country in the world. Especially when you consider how many trillions have been spent on their illegal wars, or the billions in "aid" that is given to dictators in Egypt and Jordan, and the billions of aid and weapons given to the illegal occupiers Israel. With the recent attacks on Gaza, and the images of tiny sisters laying dead under the rubble of an Israeli attack, I can't help but wonder: The US taxes used to build and supply these weapons to Israel's use on Gaza's children, could easily be used instead to treat America's children.
    The American people need to look at their priorities and take stock of where their taxes are spent: Abroad filling the coffers of murderers and dictators? or at home curing the sick and feeding the poor?
    Just like the dying children of Gaza, every American child that suffers because of the prohibitive cost of treatment, is a victim of a flawed policy that spends more on death abroad than on cures at home.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 11:57am on 05 Jan 2009, Heiserer wrote:

    One of three main reasons that US health care is not what it could be is litigation. US politicians are unwilling to reform the legal system so that health providers can get on with what they do best and not need to worry about law suits first. Second is a paperwork bureaucracy that could be standardized and save Billions of dollars. (Grace commision report) The third is back to the ones who can but are unwilling to do anything about it because they get campaign contributions from the trial lawyers association and are in most cases are they themselves lawyers... The Politicians!

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 12:04pm on 05 Jan 2009, Lewis-Kelly wrote:

    The fire service used to be private, if your home was on fire the fire service would check to see if there was a plaque outside, showing you'd paid insurance, if not, they let your home burn down with you inside or not. Many people would rightly see this as pretty disgusting way for a service which saves lives to operate, yet it seems not many people in america view the health service in the same way, why is that Justin? I found it bizarre during the election campaign how one service, health, being national is solialism, yet another, such as the police, isn't.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 12:05pm on 05 Jan 2009, Andrew Prescott wrote:

    Justin I am so sorry, as a parent I can imagine how awful this must be.

    You mention a cure. Although just the other day I saw an article regarding cells being reinserted into the panceas unfortunately this kind of high-tech cures are often a long time coming - I have just read Michael Crichton'n Next and although I am somewhat critical of his stance over global warming I must say he did deal with a lot of issues very well and the distortion that is occuring in research and studies is well attested in the medical field.

    It is true that the NHS like any government health care must do a cost benefit analysis - thsi is what leads to the favourite buzz word among the anti universal health care lobby - 'rationing'. I recognize the practical necessity of this.

    From a political point of view I like many of Tom Daschle's policies, but he does talk about 'evidence based medicine'. Unfortunately this is a two edged sword. As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine I also have some unease about this. Current research and studies of medical care are based upon a particular paradigm and there are many aspects of health where 'double blind controlled' studies give the wrong answer - or at least fails to identify the right one. Biochemical individuality tends to be the factor that makes such research flawed outside of a certain (narrow) range of applicability. 'Evidence based medicine' sounds very laudable, but this mantra was used in the begining of the last century to close down many medical schools in the US - see the Flexnor Report. In the UK there is a National Institute of Clinical Evidence. Fans of C.S. Lewis's science fiction trilogy will love the irony of that name.

    There is no doubt that many of the chronic 'Western' illnesses have increased following the change to a modern Western lifestyle and diet, this has been obeserved for at least 100 years, and such illnesses (including auto-immune) are now increasing in many non Western populations. And yet our current Western research processes have a hard time confirming what exactly are the factors involved. Refined carbohydrates, are clearly a factor - (although more so with type II diabetes). Mass immunization and the 'side effects' of such 'tampering' are probably another. Our over hygienic life style is ironically another.

    It is probably in our power to prevent many of these conditions, but as Tom Daschle rightly points out the high tech tip of medical care tends to get the vast bulk of resources and the bottom of the pyramid gets the least. High tech cures are always possible, like high tech cures for global warming, but prevention would reguire huge political will and social changes that the right would also resist as social engineering. The flaw in their argument is that we already being manipulated by social engineering that has got us to where we are now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 12:07pm on 05 Jan 2009, metric tonne wrote:

    The interesting thing about the US health care system is the incredible amount of money spent on it. The US government spends the same per capita on healthcare as the British or French governments. The private sector then spends the same again. This means that the total per capita spending on the US healthcare system is double the UK spending. If you have decent health insurance in the US (as I do) the healthcare system is no doubt better than the UK system, but not twice as good. There is certainly a value for money issue within the US, as well as a fairness issue where access to good healthcare is proportional to wealth.

    Justin, just think if this had happened a few months after getting made redundant (as is happening to a vast number of Americans every month). Without your existing work based insurance you would be left with the stark choice of going bankrupt or not treating your son. Equally bad would be if you got made redundant now, and most non-work related insurance schemes won't cover pre-existing conditions.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 12:16pm on 05 Jan 2009, kat1130 wrote:

    In response to comment 12
    "Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are."

    We are interested in your health care system because we are not generally a self absorbed nation, we hold a belief if a concern for our fellow man.
    We look at your health care system to learn; to look at the good points as well as the bad. The NHS is not perfect, anyone who works in the medical profession will tell you that.
    However you are right, our system is superior in one respect, we do not deny the basic human right of access to health care to anyone. Which is why the WHO ranks the British Health Care system at 18, while the US is ranked 37 along side Cuba, Costa Rica and Slovenia.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 12:20pm on 05 Jan 2009, NeverHeeded wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 12:32pm on 05 Jan 2009, lynfrommemphis wrote:

    I have enjoyed reading your posts, and I am very sorry to hear about your son's diagnosis. As an American nurse, I have worked with many children with diabetes. It is amazing how quickly they learn to manage their disease. I hope there is a diabetes support group in your area.

    It's true that our health care system needs an overhaul. Insurance premiums and fees are too high. But, let's be honest. The NHS isn't really free - your workers are paying for it through taxation. I think Americans are reluctant to add to our tax burden, and we are afraid of what the government would do if they were totally in charge. They certainly have mismanaged the medicare insurance scheme for older Americans!

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 12:32pm on 05 Jan 2009, Peter_G wrote:

    I always find that the most interesting point, that the US government actually spends more per head on healthcare than the UK government but for a poorer free service which must be topped up privately at great expense. This is a case of the market being less efficient than the state and therefore requires state intervention.

    And in reply to comment 12, it's about comparison with the rest of the world to try and make sure we pressure our politicans to make our healthcare better, not about superiority.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 12:35pm on 05 Jan 2009, howardfolden wrote:

    As a parent I am sorry that your child is ill, but your complaint about American health care is that you had to pay something? Well food is much more essential to life than health care, so you must really be chagrined when you have to pay for groceries, especially for your hungry children.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 12:38pm on 05 Jan 2009, Michael32bc wrote:

    There seems to be this fallacy going around that an ill person in America wont get treatment unless they have insurance. That is a lie. You will get treated but if you don't have insurance you will go into debt. And on this point I agree, it shouldn't be like that.

    The solution isn't as simple as it may seem though. There are drugs available here in the U.S. that you just will not be able to get from a government run health system because they have rules regarding what they will spend. Among the many examples there is a kidney cancer fighting drug available here (very expensive) that is not available in the UK NHS.

    I believe we need a balance between government run help for the poor and what we have currently for those with the means. And I think that is what Obama is shooting for. At least I hope he is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 12:43pm on 05 Jan 2009, yankinspain wrote:

    Can we please dispel two myths?

    National Healthcare if free. It is not. If you are a taxpayer then you are paying for it every single day weather you use it or not.

    In the US they deny you service if you do not have insurance or cash. Untrue. A pennyless illegal immigrant can simply walk into any emergeny room and they cannot refuse treatment.

    That said, the US system is a mess and needs a complete overhaul.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 12:52pm on 05 Jan 2009, hontogaijin wrote:

    [i]As a parent I am sorry that your child is ill, but your complaint about American health care is that you had to pay something? Well food is much more essential to life than health care, so you must really be chagrined when you have to pay for groceries, especially for your hungry children.[/i], that's... not that relevant.

    justin: sorry to hear about your situation. i wish your son well.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 1:08pm on 05 Jan 2009, mikeonfreeserve wrote:


    Best wishes to your son and your family.

    How American doctor's square the Hippocratic oath beats me. Nationalisation of drug companies and the removal of most intellectual property rights in drugs may help. Insurers must make money out of illness which is surely morally very wrong.

    I hope Obama tackles this big issue head on.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 1:21pm on 05 Jan 2009, SaintDominick wrote:

    Justin, I sincerely hope your son overcomes his ailment and is able to lead a long, healthy and happy life.
    I am diabetic, and had a kidney with a malignant tumor removed a few weeks ago. I too had the unpleasant experience of having to deal with high insurance co-pays even though I am covered by MEDICARE and have supplemental insurance. The bill for my 3-day stay in the hospital was over $26,000 and that doesn't include the surgeon fees. Fortunately, my insurance covered most of it.
    The main beneficiaries of our healthcare system, I prefer to call it healthcare ripoff, are the insurance companies. I don't blame the doctors and have no problem with them living in mansions and driving luxury cars, but I resent the intermediaries who benefit the most from our medical scam and do nothing to earn what they get.
    Unfortunately, Obama's plan has as its centerpiece the use of insurance companies to manage the public funds he proposes to allocate to make healthcare available to all Americans. Obviously, suggesting a government-managed system would kill his proposal before it is written. We rather go broke and die than accept anything that resembles socialism!

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 1:26pm on 05 Jan 2009, justcorbly wrote:

    The purpose of a nation's health care system should be to provide health care to every resident. The health care system in the U.S. fails to provide health care to a significant portion of the population. Assertions, even if true, that the world's best care is available at some facilities are irrelevant.

    European-style health care, whatever its problems, does ensure that care is available to everyone. Is anyone in the EU skipping their pills in order to eat, or vice versa? Is anyone in the EU avoiding taking their sick kid to a doctor because they know they can't pay?

    I'm glad Obama will attempt to reform our health care system. But, I no longer have faith in a system based on insurance. I have had the experience of seeing seriously ill loved ones discharged from hospital against the expressed wishes of physicians solely because an unknown and invisible and unreachable corporate bureaucrat decreed it otherwise.

    Tell me, what are you supposed to do when an insurance company gives you the choice of paying several thousand dollars per day out of pocket to keep your mother alive in a hospital with hope for recovery or taking her home to watch her die?

    Who here argues that an insurance company's right to make a profit takes precedence over a patient's right to receive care and to stay alive? Yet the consequences of a system that has, in fact, answered that question in the affirmative face people every minute of evey hour in hospitals across the nation.

    Bureaucrats may gum up the works in the UK's heath care system, but they ultimately work for politicians who stand for election. In contrast, corporate-style profit-driven health care in the U.S. has given us Pay-To-Live health care and we patients cannot vote those bastards out.

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 1:27pm on 05 Jan 2009, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 24

    "In the US they deny you service if you do not have insurance or cash. Untrue. A pennyless illegal immigrant can simply walk into any emergeny room and they cannot refuse treatment."

    Anyone in the US does have access to emergency care, but not preventive care.

    Universal healthcare is, indeed, not free. Every citizen must pay taxes to fund the system, but unlike our system, everybody is eligible to the same level of care including preventive medicine.

    I think it is important to mention that private care is available in the much maligned European "socialist" nations to anyone who prefers that type of care to government provided services.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 1:42pm on 05 Jan 2009, jon_bath wrote:

    My sympathies for you and your son.

    I couldn't help remember this blog you made way back last summer though, where you implied you'd prefer to live in the US medical system unless you were very very poor.

    I'm curious as to whether you still hold that view. Or whether the costs of ongoing treatment, the no doubt increased insurance premiums and the difficulty your son will find in getting insurance of his own when he grows up has altered your perspective somewhat?

    The american system has its benefits mostly in the sheer quality of care is hospitals provide, but I would think this situation underlies the fundemental justice of a system like the NHS where there are no 'cruel' medical bills awaiting the parents of a sick child, only treatment free at the point of use.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 1:46pm on 05 Jan 2009, pswaddle wrote:

    Justin, sorry to hear about your son. My 4 year old has had type I diabetes since he was diagnosed with it a 15 months. Due to an initial misdiagnosis (oh, it's just a virus) he ended up having to stay 5 days in Boston Children's Hospital which would have cost us almost $30,000 but fortunately our insurance paid for all but $200.

    I feel fortunate that we have health insurance so that we can receive probably the best care in the US for our son, but if should fall victim to the current economic climate and lose my job I won't feel quite as fortunate when I have to come up with $500 every month for his insulin and test supplies.

    Your son will be fine, just give him the support and love that he needs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 1:50pm on 05 Jan 2009, beeb4ever wrote:

    Shocking. Both the news about your child, boasts about being No.1 it's a surprising blind spot--that is, if it is a blind spot. What kind of people ?

    Our best wishes to you and your family during this difficult time.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 1:59pm on 05 Jan 2009, aga6943 wrote:

    I join you and your wife in hoping for advances against this disease and for your son’s successful treatment. The reason that we in the US have such a predatory health care system is that lobbies run our government. The laws that congress votes on are written not by elected representatives but by people paid by private corporations. Nothing is voted on that doesn't include a financial benefit for industry. Other countries should look at how money and lobbying has corrupted our government and fight against it happening to them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 2:05pm on 05 Jan 2009, Roy Brookes wrote:

    Hi, sorry to hear that your son has Diabetes. However it is something that you can manage and live with over many years, as I do and have done. There is no cure but research is going on and within your son's lifetime there may well be very much more effective treatment than we have now.

    As regards paying for health care, that is the case in Germany for those with higher incomes. People with low incomes are insured by the State and contribute if they earn above the threshold, but higher earners have no choice but to go private. You then pay all your medical bills and claim back from the insurer. In my case the insurer does not pay the first EUR 2500 in a year and then can apply a scale to items so you do not get everything back. I had a major operation 1 year ago and my finances have still not recovered. Another one right now would bankrupt me. Who says we Europeans are doing any better than the US?

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 2:12pm on 05 Jan 2009, lonestarlimey wrote:

    As a UK transplant to Texas I have my experiences of the health care system. When you go to the ER you have to register first and you ARE asked about your ability to pay beforehand, they will, of course treat anyone who hasn't been scared away.

    When my daughter fell out of a third floor window we received the absolute best care I could imagine. We also found out that it would have cost $26000 without insurance.

    Another problem missed here is that insurance companies get 50-90% discount on the billed rates, meaning that you have to have insurance to get a negotiated reduction.

    There's much less incentive to prevent illness here because there's more money to be made in treatment. The health care providers on the ground floor all do a wonderful job. The people who count the beans are the thing that needs to change.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 2:27pm on 05 Jan 2009, Restecp wrote:

    Obviously, if you want something, you have to pay for it and it would require substantial tax increases to avoid this situation. Unfortunately, the right is against any attempts to change things and health legislation in the USA is controlled by lobby groups.

    However, I think the NHS is a far better system than the US one. The Americans spend more than twice as big a proportion of their income on health, but they still have a lower life expectancy. I am therefore inclined to conclude that the British as a nation is getting much better value for money. If the Americans could suddenly halve the amount of money they spend on healthcare, they could then spend the money on other things, resulting in general economic improvements.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 2:45pm on 05 Jan 2009, dceilar wrote:

    I come across this article that suggests that the USA suffers from a 'health famine'.

    We don't have a health-care problem. We don't have a health-care crisis. What we have is a health-care famine.

    I realized this when a friend told me that she was not in favor of universal health insurance. She was opposed to paying for health care for all. She has a little boy with cancer. She was afraid that universal health care would mean her little boy would not be able to get an appointment with the oncologist.

    "But all those other children with cancer deserve treatment, too, don't they?" I asked. "I guess so," she grudgingly admitted, "but I have to worry about my little boy."

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 2:52pm on 05 Jan 2009, outherebrothers wrote:

    Ironically it's Cuba, the constant thorn in bully America's side that has by far the best healthcare system in the world. If a handful of the multi-billionares parted with about 40% of they're immoral gains (They'll NEVER miss it anyway!!) for a few years then America would be well on the way to having a decent healthcare system.

    Will it happen? Nah never, the government too busy throwing even more billions to the thieving bankers to be bothered with healthcare.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 2:55pm on 05 Jan 2009, gtkovacs wrote:

    2 things.

    People can lead successful lives with diabetes. No personal experience, but as a Spurs fan I point to Gary Mabbutt.

    The UK NHS deals very well with this type of situation. My daughter developed a condition of a similar type (not diabetes but one which can be properly managed) and the NHS service has been excellent, down to sending a specialist nurse to brief staff at her school.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 3:16pm on 05 Jan 2009, miamipaul wrote:

    Glad that your son got the treatment he needed and presumably will benefit from it. The way services are delivered in the USA is often either exemplary or bad. No doubt much can be improved. That category often includes official communications.
    That said, it seems you had a less than 10% co-payment to make on a $3000 cost, for services received promptly (I assume, since you did not complain about delays). Sound like a good deal. Prompt billing is good, otherwise hospitals need still more financing. Prompt payment is even better for this.
    Reactions to your report remind me of the complaints about airport security.
    Neither seems balanced, based on my reading of your story nor my own experience in hospitals and airports in the USA.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 3:29pm on 05 Jan 2009, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 37

    Goebbels must be turning in his grave with envy at the huge success of one of the best disinformation campaigns in history.

    You are absolutely right, many of my fellow citizens are convinced that switching to a "socialized" healthcare system will deprive them of the substandard care they are receiving...and don't even try to convince them of the contrary!

    Unfortunately for American consumers and taxpayers, whenever this topic is approached attention is quickly diverted to inadequate systems in developing nations, while comparisons with healthcare systems in Western Europe or Japan is avoided at all cost.

    The argument that "universal" healthcare is a burden to US businesses is absurd, if anything it would reduce operating expenses and make our corporations more competitive or at least at par with foreign firms.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 3:30pm on 05 Jan 2009, scottishkatharine wrote:

    Hi Justin,

    The direct costs of medical care the USA are indeed high. There are however advantages over medical care of diabetes there compared to the UK NHS facilities, provided your insurance will pay out.

    Firstly, you are usually provided with more choice over insulin delivery devices eg pump provision is generally higher than in the UK.

    Secondly, monitoring is generally more thorough and treatment targets are tighter.

    Thirdly, there seem to be less barriers to patient choice over dietary regimes than in the UK. There is a huge gap in the dietary education that works for blood sugar and metabolic control compared to what is delivered.

    I am a UK General Medical Practitioner who also has a son with type one. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you find out more about the restricted carb dietary options for diabetes and the advanced insulin techniques that will make meal/insulin matching more effective and smooth.

    If this is done at the outset of diagnosis it will make your family life much easier and the threat of complications almost disappear.

    There are several on line sites that I could recommend to you. As a start Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution and the Nutrition and Metabolism Society sites.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 3:47pm on 05 Jan 2009, MiguelMN wrote:

    I'm an American currently living in the UK ( I've been here since 1991). 15 years ago my 7 year old daughter (she's 22 now) was diagnosed with type I diabetes.
    Even though I really don't like how the health care is administered here in the UK, and at times my wife has had problems dealing with the staff and the GP at her local health care facilities when dealing with issues concerning my daughter, my wife and I are grateful for being here in the UK rather than living in the USA (my wife is British, by the way).
    If we would have stayed in the USA I'm sure we too would have had high medical bills where my daughter is concerned.
    What would have been worse is the fact that my wife suffers from a congenital heart defect, which means her medical care would have cost us quite a bit over the years if we had stayed in the USA.
    And, to top all this off, I was diagnoses as having type II diabetes about two years ago.
    As I said, I really don't care much for how health care is administered in the UK, but I am grateful that the UK does have a national health system. It's not be best, but hell of a lot better having it compared to having nothing in America.
    Considering the costs of having three family members needing medical care for life, I'd be bankrupted if I lived in America. Oh, I forgot, my oldest daughter also suffers from medical problems.
    Oh, my cost for paying for doctor visits, blood tests, and medication (I need for my diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol)? It comes to 0. Nada. Zilch. I did have to pay for a blood tester. What, £15.00? Almost nothing compared to what an average American would have to pay if they had the same condition as me.
    Despite what the American politicians and so-called experts may say about the cost of having universal health insurance, paying extra taxes is far worth the expense than suffering from the cost of paying for your own medical care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 3:50pm on 05 Jan 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    It's lucky for you justin that you have a back-up plan, you can go home and get care for your son if all fails here.

    It is very sad when people who live in a supposed superpower country have to compromise so much just to receive the most general layers of health care.

    Looking at some of the world photos of the year, you could say that comparatively Americans live in a protective bubble, but those counrties also don't claim to be the greatest country in the world. It's insane that it's cheaper for friiends of mine that live in Latvia, Lithuaina, and even Australia to fly home and back to get the care they need, than go down to your local hospital or dentist even.
    Most of the women on my mothers side have died of anyurisms in their forty's and fifties. My mother had two already, but luckily my father worked in the printers union and had good insurance,or she would be dead now. I am forty in six months and am getting very nervous. I suppose i'll have to commit myself to getting the full body scan, at one to three thousand dollars, or maybe Australia will recognize me since i've loved one of thier own for ten years. Sad!

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 4:07pm on 05 Jan 2009, kenneth jessett wrote:

    First; thank you for sharing your child's concerns. Never an easy thing to have one's child become sick and you feeling you can do little to help him. I wish him well.

    Second; To become sick in America is a frightening event unless you have insurance, and even then, the co-pays can be steep. But I live in America and fortunately have always had company insurance ($600+ monthly premiums) so we have had our two boys go through various ailments and conditions (heart for the oldest) and survived well enough.

    Growing up in England we made few demands on the NHS but I remember enduring long visits in GP's waiting room full of dusty books and even dustier patients.

    I don't know which is better, the American system if you have the good fortune to have insurance - you will surely live a crippling life if you become ill if you don't - or the British NHS which our friends tell us is abysmal these days.

    But it is a fair comment to say that if a child becomes debilitatingly ill, the parent will move heaven and earth to get him or her the required treatment regardless of the system under which they find themsleves.

    The best approach to obtaining good medical care is to become an informed consumer.

    America will never have a national health service, the insurance lobbies and those who can afford to pay simply wont stand for it. Anyway, a 'national' anything is an anathema to conservative America.

    It also helps the industry that a congressman, even if for one term only, has free health insurance for life - so no grass roots knowledge of the need of indigents there. "let them eat cake", indeed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 4:16pm on 05 Jan 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    Best wishes for your son, Justin, but neither universities nor pharmaceutical companies - the places where most medically-relevant research gets done - are part of "the health service". Moreover, science is international: wherever a cure for type 1 diabetes first appears (and I'd be fairly confident it will within the next two decades), it will be the outcome of scientific endeavour in many countries. It may well derive in part from work on embryonic stem cells, which has been seriously hampered in the USA by the Bush regime.

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 4:17pm on 05 Jan 2009, Nick-Gotts wrote:

    "Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British?" - lochraven

    How wicked that we should be concerned about people wherever they are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 4:27pm on 05 Jan 2009, KathyinTN wrote:

    Speaking as an American, yes, our healthcare system needs an overhaul. But, yes, there is also a lot of misconceptions and ignorance on this board (no!) about our healthcare. Ultimately, I just can't help but see most of these comments as another example of the mentality that everything about America is evil, Americans are evil, etc.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 4:27pm on 05 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "12. At 11:31am on 05 Jan 2009, lochraven wrote:
    Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are."

    I think Justin just experienced the system and with good reason he is looking at it in a more critical light.
    He did say the best.

    Really do you have no sympathy, your posting is as offensive as the letter sent so promptly demanding money.Justin makes many valid points including that the cure will probably come from the US.Give the man a break.
    It is indeed a bit confusing that if you are paid up that the company will condescend to "agree" to paying.

    It would seem they need to hire a bunch of lawyers to defend against people suing for care,( if they could afford the lawyers etc.) a stupid circle of waste that should be left out and the money spent on doctors.
    Who as Waterman points out mostly just want too help people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 4:28pm on 05 Jan 2009, CSafranek wrote:

    I assume you wanted immediate care for your son; why shouldn't the hospital want payment?
    The UK medical system includes private service. If the public system was so good, why would you need the private system?
    When we were visiting several years ago, the wife of a friend ended up waiting 3.5 weeks to get a gall bladder problem taken care of. My mother was just diagnosed with the same problem here in the states and her surgery was completed the next day.
    Guess you sometimes get what you pay for?

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 4:29pm on 05 Jan 2009, iamajesuit wrote:

    My best wishes to your son and you. My daughter, who is now 34, was diagnosed at the age of 4 with type I. After turning 21 and finishing her Master's degree the biggest problem became finding health insurance at any cost. When she could find a company willing to sell her insurance the premiums were prohibitive. She now works for a very socially conscious company, in California , which provides good coverage at work. She,however, cannot tolerate Humalin so must import animal insulin from England at over $800 per shipment, which, of course, her insurance will not cover. Good thing she earns an excellent salary.

    I have a Master's degree in International Business and feel that all health insurance firms in the US should be turned into non-profits such as my HMO is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 4:33pm on 05 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "22. At 12:35pm on 05 Jan 2009, howardfolden wrote:
    As a parent I am sorry that your child is ill, but your complaint about American health care is that you had to pay something? Well food is much more essential to life than health care, so you must really be chagrined when you have to pay for groceries, especially for your hungry children."

    Boy you could make an EMT think twice about helping you.

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 4:47pm on 05 Jan 2009, super_snickers wrote:

    I am a Brit. living in the USA. I would take the British system over the American. Can you imagine going bankrupt over your health? People here do all the time, even those with insurance. The Americans who don't want to change the system are those who have never been in dire straights, have always been in work and had good insurance. They are in incredibly selfish, and I have been told many a time and I quote, "I am not paying for others out of my taxes" Not a very Christian attitude from those who profess to be Christian.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 4:52pm on 05 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:


    this line is one that some here would seem to think only happens with a nationalised system, but it seems that even here in america it can happen.

    Good luck to your Kid (and yours Justin)

    "Due to an initial misdiagnosis (oh, it's just a virus) he ended up having to stay 5 days in Boston Children's Hospital "

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 4:58pm on 05 Jan 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    Best wishes for you and your family,especially your son.
    my daughter, ill for some time,was eventually diagnosed with an abysess between her voicebox and her spinal cord,very difficult to operate on and cured by the right anti-biotics. Fifteen days in hospital,with four days in intensive care.totally cured by our nhs.. It saved her life. They are world class and dedicated. Total cost, nil.
    I used to grumble about taxes,but not any more.I am not smug re our system,I'm just saying how it was for us..

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 5:00pm on 05 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    "Of course the Obama reforms would not necessarily change this - his plan is not for a European style national health service."

    True and sad, so sad!!! The only way to rid the nation of having to pay for treatment along side ensurance providers (that is if one is so fortunate to have one!) is to completely perge the nation of ensurance companies in the first place. And of course Obama will never, and presumeably can never do that, because he'll risk angering too many wealthy Americans who are happy with their ensurance providers. So he would rather apeas them and let the ensurance companies continue to victamise and take advantage of one third of the United States's population than completely overhall the system from top to bottom as is necessary and despritly needed!!! He says that those without health ensurance can buy into the same health care that congressmen get, but congressmen still have to pay for their treatment don't they?

    We'll never get universal health care!!! Its just a promis made during election seasons to drum up votes like some believe the issue of abortion is!!

    What ever miner flaws the UK's NHS may have, from what I know of it it is practicly perfect in every way--literally--and is a God-send when compared to that joke that is the US's health care system!!

    Justin, my only suggestion is that you find another ensurance provider that better suits your needs both physically and financially. Either that or move back to the UK!!

    O, and don't let the Republicans manipulate you into believeing that our health system is the "best in the world"--anyone in any country with enough drive and determination can find cures to ailments.

    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 5:04pm on 05 Jan 2009, mike wrote:

    Best wishes for you and your family!

    Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are.

    Some of us have been citizens of both countries. I hold a British passport, I was born and raised in Britain-my father (American) served with the US Military in Britain. I now live in the US with my American wife and family. So this is something that is of concern to me and something which I feel I can comment upon-many on this blog are citizens of both countries. So yes, we feel we have opinions and comments that are of concern.
    Health care access is seen as a basic human right in Europe, whereas in the USA it is becoming the privildge of the healthy and wealthy. A 21 year-old diabetes sufferer in the US will struggle to get comprehensive insurance that covers 'pre-existing conditions'. The vagueries of your HMO plan will ensure you never fully understand what is covered and what is not. And certainly you will never be quite sure what a doctors visit or treatment will cost.
    For most of us ordinary working Americans(insured or not) we live in fear of just breaking a leg, which would cost most of an arm and leg. This is also why the US is so litigious, you have to litigate to recover medical costs.

    People who have had experience of other health care systems understand this. When, in life, people are insulated from other view points then they will truly believe there is nothing wrong with what they have. Ignorance can be wonderfully bliss!

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 5:06pm on 05 Jan 2009, rahul_iyer4977 wrote:

    I am responding as an American, and what I have seen through my unique perspective in the USA regarding healthcare:

    1) Unfortunately the USA has a good "sick care" system, not a good "healthcare" system.

    2) Every paycheck that I get, I do pay a significant amount for healthcare insurance. I am at present time one of the lucky Americans that is not unemployed, though that can easily change.

    3) My father is a medical doctor (specialist) in the USA, practicing since 1975. My mother is a medical doctor (specialist) in the USA, practicing since 1976. Both of them have said that they have their issues with the current medical insurance system in the USA, but they DO NOT want a government run system like what is done in Europe. They are not ready for "socialized medicine".

    As far as me, I am kind in the same boat as my parents. I do not want government running the medical system like what is in Europe, but the status quo in the USA has issues also. I am hoping that the USA takes some kind of middle road between the European example and what we have now.

    If we take the European example, we are going to end up where President Clinton ended up...with a program that is "Dead On Arrival" as far as it passing into law. Recall what happened in the initial years of the Clinton Presidency, and what the First Lady championed at the time.

    Rahul Laxman Iyer

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 5:07pm on 05 Jan 2009, richardinbermuda wrote:

    One of the most depressing things I've ever heard was in California when an elderly man I was talking to said, "I'm retired now, but thankful my wife has managed to get a job, otherwise we wouldn't be able to get health insurance."

    I live in Bermuda, that has health insurance. The hospital is awful, and the health insurance is more expensive than national insurance. Also you still have to pay when you are ill. Recently I was hit on the head during a sailing race. I paid half the medical costs, so I was charge $150 dollars at the hospital to have 3 stickies put in and then a week later $35 to have them removed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 5:10pm on 05 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Amazing thing is there is a link between this and the economy.

    apart from cost too high for companies to pay for healthcare there is the fact that as the prices of health care went up, as the vampires of the healthcare industry squeezed more profit and less care into their agenda's, the rest of the economy started going down.
    There was less money and houses got foreclosed and the greedy little bankers and the greedy little HMO and the greedy little mortgage lenders got together and tried to figure out how much more the could squeeze,in order to throw it away on the stock casino.

    The first attack on the world economy was by the american healthcare industry.

    but thats just a rant and not relevant

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 5:10pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:

    To Justin Webb:

    I am so sorry to learn about your child and the troubles you have with our system of care here in the US. We are raising a young grandchild with serious chronic health issues. She was in the hospital for ten days just before Christmas.

    We know exactly your feelings of frustration. In addition to our anxiety about her condition we had to fight with the insurance company over treatment recommended by her doctor. I am sure that you can appreciate how angry we became when one callous person I spoke to said "let us wait until the situation becomes more acute."

    To all of our American posters:

    We already have 'national health care.' It is controlled by insurance companies and drug companies whose bottom line is PROFIT and not the welfare of the patient.

    Doctors and health care workers cannot be healers. They must first consult with some insurance company troll to find out what they can do for a patient.

    How much longer will we allow this to continue?

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 5:19pm on 05 Jan 2009, NaptownSailmaker wrote:

    Nothing to do with comparisons of healthcare systems. Here in the US, one of my son's best friends recieved a similar diagnosis at age 15 (now 18). Fascinating to watch all the boys learn about the disease and act continuously to protect him. They watch for behavioral signs, carry juice in cars, etc. Also, they are all that much more mature now about alchohol as relates to the body. Typical teens, they don't feel they're being "good", and are embarrassed if adults make a big thing of it.
    We all wish you the best. I hope that you, like we, find some unexpected silver lining to this cloud.

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 5:19pm on 05 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    here is an example of good money spent on health care.

    Notice the railings , done by a blacksmith(in texas) because the bidding for the railings was in Austin despite the hospital being here in springtuckey.

    :( as a local blacksmith but that is not the objection I have.Though what?They're not very good.

    the objection is ,this is a very nice place for the few .

    Or the extra money could have been spent on healthcare. wow what a concept, instead we have a 3 star hotel for them who don't have to eat cake.

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 5:21pm on 05 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    lochraven #12: '"Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are."

    You're just jealous of their "superior" health care system!! Admit it! You're jealous that the world's richest, most powerful nation can't provide for its sick and volnerable!!! And for the love of God shut up!! You'll make them think worse of us than they already do!!!!!

    kat1130 #19 Don't let 'lochraven's comments get to you. Not all of us are selfish and self absorbed. Some of us care about our fellow man as well.

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 5:51pm on 05 Jan 2009, jimjoy wrote:

    I agree the US system is the best and the worst, it is a matter of perspective. It is the best at medical research and providing the most advanced care. But you only get the benefit of that advanced care if you can pay for it. It you have no insurance or shallow pockets you are likely to fall through the cracks.

    Because of the above overall or average outcomes are poorer. Mostly because preventive care does not happen for the poor and when they do finally go for care it is for something emergent.

    In other industrialized countries it is a settled issue that modern health care is everyone’s right. In the USA this is by no means a settled issue. The health care industry represents 20% of the GNP and the inertia of the status quo is staggering.

    Single payer systems like the UK are not perfect either. To provide care without breaking the budget access to costly advanced technology is limited and strictly regulated. A cost benefit approach is taken and overall outcomes for the society are always being weighed against the cost for each individual patient.

    A system like the UK’s would fail in the US. Lawyers would be all over cases where a terminal patient is not given the most advanced care to prolong life just a few more days, and hence cost benefit approaches would fail. Even cases where life was not on the line would be fraught with litigation. In the US system a patient that would have wait for non-critical care could bring lawsuits that would cripple any UK style system. Serious tort reform would have to go with a single payer system.

    Complain about this comment

  • 66. At 5:51pm on 05 Jan 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    All ideology aside, here are best wishes for your family this year and hope that this new burden becomes managable and strenghtens your ties together.

    On the health care topic, one of the many, many reasons I would like to return 'down under' is the kindness shown to strangers by a small hospital in S.A. We were on a family vacation when my unspoken concern about what any 'out-of-system' treatment would cost was met by the surprise of not being billed for an outpatient exam and a supply of antibiotics. The 'golden rule' is alive and well there.

    I think we have a 'Medical-Insurance Complex' in the USA that has grown to rival the others we were warned of 5 decades ago, and that is ripe for overhaul. There are parallels with Wall Street in lack of oversight or inspection, and in abstract finances more and more separated from actual services. Many stories of tainted medicines and illegal or unethical cost-cutting practices that lead to multiple infections, and fights for insurance coverage, are examples of the drift to for-profit and away from for-care. The medical insurance industry as policy-setting middleman is reminiscent of the convoluted trading schemes for repackaged debt...

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 5:53pm on 05 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    I'm sorry to hear of your son's medical problem, Justin, and I wish you and your family well as you deal with this. But it is eye-opening to deal with the health care system in the US, and with the financial consequences of illness in this country. Most people don't really pay attention to this problem until it affect them personally, and unlike you they don't always stop to think of how it must be for those less fortunate than they are.

    It's useful to remember that the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US is medical debt. And that most of those medical bankruptcies are people with health insurance. Middle class people with jobs and homes and college educations.

    In the US, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all potentially one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

    A large part of the problem is greed on the part of physicians, hospital administrators, insurance company executives, drug company executives and others in the health care industry. They are all too insulated from the consequences on others of their decisions. How any of them can go home to their affluent, comfortable lives knowing that this problem exists in their country and that they are contributing to it is beyond my understanding.

    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 6:03pm on 05 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    48 KathyinTN
    "another example of the mentality that everything about America is evil, Americans are evil, etc."

    The Americans I know are some of the most generous and kind hearted people I have met, which is perhaps why non Americans wonder why this does not extend to health care. It just puzzles us - that is all.

    When we find ourselves spending the night in hospital with a sick child, one thing we do not have to worry about is how we are going to pay for it, or how much our health care provider will cover. It is a blessing which, due to our affection for Americans, we feel they have the right to experience.

    That along with our fear of traveling in the States without sufficient coverage!

    Justin - my best wishes to you and your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 6:06pm on 05 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 58. rahul_iyer:

    Why is it somehow better to have health care determined by private medical bureaucrats than public medical bureaucrats?

    Americans seem to assume that people in the for-profit sector are somehow superior to those working in government. Looking at how messed up the US economy is at the moment, is there really any reason to continue to believe that?

    I really don't see that a health care system devoted to making money as much as to healing people is in the best interests of the patient.

    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 6:26pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:



    Our county hospital is not that 'pretty' but the good people who care for patients are first rate. I favor good people over pretty facilities.

    Complain about this comment

  • 71. At 6:44pm on 05 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    Welcome back, Justin. Best wishes for your son.

    I don't think that many people here are happy
    about the health care system, and want something
    better. Whether or not the Obama administration
    can fix things is, of course, a big question.

    Complain about this comment

  • 72. At 6:52pm on 05 Jan 2009, R-Snail wrote:

    Justin, I too am sorry to hear you had a family medical emergency, but thankfully your son is has received the treatment he needed in the USA. Imagine if you were the correspondent to Malawi or Chad.
    Your misfortune has had one positive benefit. You have changed the subject and we are now talking about something new.

    Healthcare is not really my area of expertise, so I'll limit my comments to what I believe is the most important point.
    Someone above already posted that the US has the finest medical care in the world. I agree. It is the financial availability to access that medical care that causes so much angst.
    From an economic perspective, the US healthcare system has a fiscal malignancy in that malpractice litigation/insurance costs have grow out of control, and are still growing. The only course of action that will keep costs within reason is drastic tort reform. Unfortunately the ambulance chasing lawyers have made so much money that not only are they lobbying politicians, they are becoming politicians. Senator John Edwards is a good example.

    I read somewhere that malpractice insurance is so expensive in the entire state of Mississippi that there are currently zero (0) ObGyn specialists practicing in that state.

    I also listened to a report on NPR about a year ago where an HMO had a responsibility to provide coverage for a retired autoworker, living in the Carolinas who needed a hip replacement. It was going to cost them 250,000 dollars to have the surgery done at Duke Medical Center, a top class institution. The HMO telephoned the man and made him the following offer:
    “We will fly you First Class to India, have the surgery performed in a hospital built and kept to US standards and staffed by English speaking doctors and nurses who have been trained in the US, at the finest medical schools. After the surgery we will put you up for 3 weeks in a 5-star resort hotel across the street from the hospital, with maid/room service, physical therapy staff on site to assist you in your recovery. We will include a package coach tours to local attractions in the last week, before we fly you back to the US in the First Class cabin… and just to sweeten the deal, we’ll give you 40,000 dollars.

    The HMO didn’t make that offer because the gent had won the lottery. It was cheaper for them to offer that deal… not because Indian doctors work for free, but because US doctors often pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for malpractice insurance.

    Complain about this comment

  • 73. At 7:08pm on 05 Jan 2009, super_snickers wrote:

    In response to Dominickvila #29 and others with similar comments, yes you can walk into an emegency centre and not be denied.
    But heres the kicker, if you have any assets they will come after you. Thats why illigal immigrants come to the USA to have their babies. They have no assets to be stripped of. Hence Americans and legal citizens can and do loose everything and pay a percentage of their insurance premium to cover the cost of others getting free care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 74. At 7:36pm on 05 Jan 2009, kidwaifaisal wrote:


    Best wishes for you and your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 75. At 7:37pm on 05 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    "The amount by the way for a night's stay and associated treatment is nearly $3,000. Even the co-pay which I handed over in the pharmacy on Christmas Eve (for the kit which is now part of our life) set us back a couple of hundred."

    Consider how fortunate you are to have the means to pay - and realise that millions in America are not. Since you will be returning to the UK in the not-too-distant future, it would be interesting to read how your son is treated "back home" where treatment is free at the point of need. A comparison between the two healthcare systems would be of interest, especially since you are so enamoured of all things American and rarely, if ever, find fault with anything on this side of the Atlantic.

    Complain about this comment

  • 76. At 7:40pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:

    I would like to add to my post #61

    Our grandchild could have been out of the hospital much sooner if the insurance company had initially agreed to the recommended treatment. The doctor refused to discharge her because waiting for more "acute" symptoms outside the hospital would be "dangerous."

    We wasted time fighting with the insurance company so our child's stay was much longer than it needed to be.

    Does this make any kind of sense?

    Complain about this comment

  • 77. At 7:59pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:

    I have something else to add.

    We have had the same insurance company for our vehicles, home, liability and business for over eight years. We have had the same person at this company for these years with whom we communicate when we have problems or need information.

    We have had the same health insurance company for about the same amount of time. During our recent dealings with this company, I talked to nine different people. Each time I had to start over, regarding the needs of my grandchild. After each fruitless conversation when I was told that this would be considered, none of these people would provide a way to call them back. I was told he or she had "made a note." However, each time I called I had to do everything all over again.

    I will ask: What is wrong here?

    Complain about this comment

  • 78. At 8:03pm on 05 Jan 2009, ArcticFrog wrote:

    Sorry to hear about your son. Our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 11months, and had to spend 10 days in hospital after diagnosis to get his blood sugars stabilised and his insulin regime sorted.

    It was such a shock and I'm so glad we didn't have an extra worry about how to pay for it all!

    The NHS staff have been brilliant here - from the diabetic specialist nurse who is always a phone call away for advice, to the consultants who see our son every 2 months, not to mention the paediatricians and paediatric nurses who look after our son on the various occasions he has to have overnight stays in hospital. It is something that gives us confidence in treating our son's illness.

    The only advantage I could see to the US system is that most children with type 1 over there are on insulin pump treatment which I gather is more effective. Over here it's harder to get due of course to the higher costs.

    I wish you all well as you deal with this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 79. At 8:23pm on 05 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #72. R-Snail: "Healthcare is not really my area of expertise"

    Along with a number of other subjects . . .

    Complain about this comment

  • 80. At 8:41pm on 05 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    outherebrothers #38: '"Ironicly its Cuba, the constant thorn in bully America's side that has by far the best health care system in the world."

    O no! Not "bully" America!! Not anymore, not under the soon-to-be president Obama!! Why haven't you seen his Cuba plans?

    Looks like you may have to start thinking of new nick names to call us, huh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 81. At 8:42pm on 05 Jan 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    Where do some of these A#1 citizens think welfare comes from? Taxes, thats right. So really they are already paying for the poors housing, foodstamps, and medical plus paying a bunch extra for their own private insurance. I guess the problem might be if medical is somehow socialized that they might have to sit by a poor person, and that would be gross! Maybe when they end up losing their job, which scraps your medical and then a family member get sick,and they take your house and anything of value, maybe then when it's too late you'll see how crap our system is in the U.S!

    Complain about this comment

  • 82. At 8:49pm on 05 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 72. R-Snail:

    Considering how many Indian doctors there are in the US, it's amusing that it's cheaper to fly someone to India for treatment by an Indian doctor than to have them treated in the US by an Indian doctor.

    However, I don't think that malpractice insurance is the main culprit. The reason why there are so many Indian doctors in the US is because they can make much more money here than in India. Otherwise more would complete their medical training and go back home. Face it: health care in the US is a lucrative industry. There are many good caring people in health care in this country, but there are also a lot who are in it for the money.

    And malpractice lawsuits exist because the medical profession has for a long time refused to adequately police itself.

    Complain about this comment

  • 83. At 9:07pm on 05 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    And you know the worst part of all this is that in 4 years time, when the Republicans have a new nominee eager to take back the reigns of the white house, what will their argument for health care be? Nothing but to keep on letting those who can't aford it get sick, go banckrupt and die, all the while calling that "moving this country forward." In a panel of prominant Republican figures discussing the come back of their party, one painted very tellingly the Democrats as "making government dictate the winners and losers," and stated that he wanted to see the Republican party let people succeed or fail on their own marit, and not have their success be dictated by "government." Implying that "government" had malicious intent toward its citizens. Because God forbid we be selfless!! So my guess is that while he didn't specifically mention health care, these phelosophies apply to his, and the party's health care policy as well. No wonder the rich love Republicans!

    If the US is to get any semblance of a universal health care system, my guess is our best bet is to try to push it through congress before too many Republicans are voted in in 2010 or take the white house back in 2012 like the UK had to do in 48.

    Complain about this comment

  • 84. At 9:28pm on 05 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 73. super_snickers:

    People forget that every hospital and every doctor's office has a department or a person dedicated to billing. It's a business; they expect to make money. And they aren't always terribly conscientious about what they bill for. When my son was born, the hospital billed for a Cesarean section and a circumcision. It was pretty easy to prove that neither had taken place. But someone at the hospital billing office had been sloppy, and if my wife hadn't looked over the bill, the insurance company would have been charged. And not knowing, they would have paid. And that drives up costs.

    The physician who treats you doesn't have to get ugly about payment, they have someone else who does it for them. And that person will refer you to a bill collection agency if you don't pay what they think you owe. I was once referred to a collection agency when a physician's office billed the wrong insurance company. Even though I pointed this out and it was clearly their mistake and they re-billed to the correct insurance, they still referred me to the collection agency rather than wait for the correct insurer to pay.

    Physicians and health care executives benefit from the system as it is. They have little incentive to change, but they have to shoulder some of the blame for the consequences on their patients.

    Complain about this comment

  • 85. At 9:34pm on 05 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    David Cunard #75: We don't need to compare and contrast the US's and UK's health care systems anymore! Not only have we debated this endlessly and have always come to the same conclusion, I.E. UK = good, US = bad, but what, tangably, would come out of raking this issue over the coals again? All it would do is remind Americans of how truely dredful our health care system is again, and make us utterly embarrissed to be part of the world's richest nation that won't care for and look after its own vulnerable and sick citizens, while simaltaniously making the British so glad to be British!! No, I think our time would be better surved debating something else. Its no fun when everyone always arrives at the same consensus.

    But since you do seem to have a wealth of knoledge on both nations's health care systems, a British aquaintance of mine, who surpriseingly prefers the US's health care system go figure! claims that proscription drugs in the UK are expensive, while I was always under the impression that they were free. What do you know of that?

    Complain about this comment

  • 86. At 9:37pm on 05 Jan 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    I am hoping that your dear son, is getting the medical care that he needs for his medical condition...

    I am very understanding about diabetes in one's family; In my family, I have many relatives with this condition....

    I hope that you and Mrs. Webb and your son...will get thru this time....

    ~Dennis Junior~

    Complain about this comment

  • 87. At 9:38pm on 05 Jan 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    the way you said that is very Ben Stilleresque. Funny.
    I have to say my last statement#81 was alittle out there, but i have been sanding plaster all day, and am stressed about how I'll pay for my lung cancer treatment.

    Complain about this comment

  • 88. At 10:20pm on 05 Jan 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Justin, sorry to hear of your son's difficulties. Back in the UK I used to work with 2 people with diabetes. One seemed very stable and had few noticeable concerns. The other was very prone to going hypo, particularly when he delayed lunch. He needed people to be aware of his condition and for us to look out for him. We all had stocks of sugary food and drink on hand to almost force on him when needed. So in my limited experience, it's a pain in the backside, but not life-limiting.

    Here in the USA my perception is that diabetes is a bigger problem in the UK - or at least, there is a much bigger diabetes industry. Prescriptions can very expensive, prohibitively so without insurance. My wife pays between $30 to $90 a month on drugs with insurance (for a condition unrelated to diabetes). I once went to pick up a prescription for her when the pharmacy didn't have her new insurance details. They wanted something in excess of$1000, until I produced the insurance.

    To those in the UK coming to the US on holiday - take out travel insurance! 13 years ago on oldest son, then aged 1, was taken ill when we were visiting the USA and we took him to Stanford University hospital ER. They gave him some drugs, and told us to come back the next day if he didn't improve. The next day, xmas day, we went back and he stayed overnight. Upon his release the next day, I had to sort out the bill. Our travel insurance paid all but $30 of the $2500 bill. The staff there couldn't believe we had to pay so little, and I am a firm believer in travel insurance (which had cost me around 40 quid).

    Complain about this comment

  • 89. At 10:23pm on 05 Jan 2009, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 82

    "The reason why there are so many Indian doctors in the US is because they can make much more money here than in India. Otherwise more would complete their medical training and go back home. Face it: health care in the US is a lucrative industry."

    The reason so many Indian and Middle Eastern doctors come to the USA is because the medical field is, indeed, very lucrative; but I am not so sure they are finishing their medical training in the USA. My Primary Care Physician (GP) is from India, and so is her husband, they sent their only son to medical school in India because they wanted to make sure he got a good education! Obviously, there are some good medical schools in the USA, but the tuition is prohibitive.

    We like to think our healthcare and education systems are the best in the world, and find comfort in that notion when wealthy foreigners go to specialized hospitals and doctors in the USA, but the majority of our hospitals, and definitely our public schools, are increasingly having trouble keeping up with foreign institutions.

    In addition to greed, our government has neglected science and education for years in favor of military might and guaranteeing corporate profits. Sadly, a lot of people remain in denial and comfort themselves with platitudes that do not reflect reality.

    Complain about this comment

  • 90. At 10:25pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:


    My sympathies for your little one. We also have had wonderful doctors and nurses. These good people can be such a comfort when you have a sick child.

    However, even though 'better or more effective drugs' may be available here in the US, this does not mean that an insurance company is willing to pay for it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 91. At 10:34pm on 05 Jan 2009, droliviachapple wrote:

    I am so sorry that your son has developed Type One Diabetes. My 10 year old son has been living with it for two years. The initial shock, disbelief and stress do calm and eventually you start, as a family to adjust to a new life where, with meticulous planning your son can do everything he ever wanted to do despite his diabetes. It is a tough journey for everyone and no one can underestimate the huge change diabetes imposes on the whole family.
    We found that Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or was the most enormous support both with information and hope - JDRF give real reason to be optimistic that with continued funding a cure will be found in our sons' lifetime.
    Best Wishes to all your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 92. At 10:37pm on 05 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:


    You have made a very good point. We all must be vigilant and proactive about our health care and the costs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 93. At 10:42pm on 05 Jan 2009, rebeltrouser wrote:

    Deepest sympathies Justin- as an American expat though I'm not at all surprised. My stepdad was in a dirtbike accident 10 years ago and broke pretty much every bone down the right-hand side of his body- to the tune of $30,000 in hospital bills! When the doctor found out we weren't insured they did some financial fiddling but we still ultimately owed $10,000. And as self-employed people who had to pay car insurance over health insurance...well, he's still paying it off.

    I miss America terribly, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to grow old there. For every state-run hospice that gives you quality care when you're on your deathbed, there's an insurance company that won't pay for preventative medicine and forces you to wait until you're crippled or in a life-threatening situation to step in...

    Complain about this comment

  • 94. At 10:51pm on 05 Jan 2009, Alba37 wrote:

    As a Mum of a Type 1 diabetic son, I want to say how sorry I am to hear of your son's recent diagnosis.

    I feel it's a blessing you're out with the UK at present as the Department of Health has recently commenced a massive media awareness campaign blasting their message through newspapers and TV ads of the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle for our children. Nothing wrong in that.... no, it's a great concept with eye catching adverts and there is no doubt the country as a whole needs to be made aware of the future consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and bad diet. But, as time goes on you will notice that the UK rarely distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In this campaign they are telling us; parents caused their children to have ‘diabetes’, being fat causes ‘diabetes’.

    It has been noted that a series of adverts will feature children saying they will die early of heart disease or diabetes because of their parents' actions.

    Our 20,000 Type 1 diabetic children in the UK are being subjected to hearing loud and clear how their life expectancy will be shortened by diabetes. This campaign insinuates diabetes in a self inflicted condition, and at no time do they mention that only Type 2 may be linked to obesity and lifestyle choices. Our children have to live with this difficult and challenging condition 24/7, relying on multiple daily injections for survival and no thought has been given to their feelings, as if their life isn’t hard enough already.

    The public inc, GP’s, teachers, acquaintances, even friends and family know little about Type 1 diabetes. The little knowledge they have is based on campaigns such as these saying being fat causes diabetes. I have lost count of the times children have said to my son; you must have been so fat to have diabetes.

    The diabetes journey is a long and bumpy road. Care, management and treatment is a postcode/consultant lottery in the UK. Schools are another constant battle.

    We have a great parent group in the UK, but we could benefit from a loud voice that would be heard. When are you coming back to the UK???

    I wish you, your family, and especially your son, all the very best for 2009, and hope he gets the care and treatment every Type 1 deserves.

    Complain about this comment

  • 95. At 10:59pm on 05 Jan 2009, Old-Man-Mike wrote:

    To: my many American blogging friends I would like to say two things regarding health care.

    Firstly, as in America in Europe we have mixed Public and Private systems.

    Secondly the British National Health Service is not the model for the rest of Europe.

    I have lived near Barcelona, Spain for the last 12 years. We have a Public system provided and paid for Region. As a pensioner may only contribution is the 2 cents a litre charged on petrol (gas) levied to help pay for the medical cost of treating road accident victims. The service is provided through a network of modern hospitals and Health Centres. The service is first class although you may well have to wait for none urgent treatments and operations. About 20% of the cost of medicines are charged to the patient but a free to pensioners and for children.

    For about 120 Euros a month we get full private cover through a Mutual society in which we are part owners. Through the mutual, we are also part owners of a modern private hospital in Barcelona. Accommadation is in individual rooms with private bathrooms and facilities. A sofa-bed is provided for a partner, relative or friend to sleep. Needless to say, as I know from personal experience, the treatment and attention is excellent and rapid. I had a varicous vain operation 6 day ofter consultation.

    Private and Public Serices work closely together and there are no middlemen. This must save a great deal in costs. Also malpractice is a matter for investigation by the Courts and not for individauls or thier representative. Another great saving.

    Even in G B Amalance chasing and no-win no-pay is not permitted.

    Just a quote: Of course we have private medicine in Russia. Communism has been dead for 20 years. Said to my wife from by a friend from Siberia.

    Complain about this comment

  • 96. At 11:11pm on 05 Jan 2009, happyskeptic wrote:

    "As regards paying for health care, that is the case in Germany for those with higher incomes. People with low incomes are insured by the State and contribute if they earn above the threshold, but higher earners have no choice but to go private."

    This is simply not true. Even if you're over the income threshold (currently pre-tax income of ~47000 euros) you have to explicitly opt to transfer to private. Even then they make it extremely difficult - you in fact need to prove that you've been over this threshold for 2 or 3 years before they'll let you leave the public system.


    "In my case the insurer does not pay the first EUR 2500 in a year and then can apply a scale to items so you do not get everything back.."

    For us expats (assuming that's what you are) it seems a bit different. On starting a first job in Germany you can seemingly opt straight into the private system (if the income from that job is over the threshold), this is what I did. If you count as having just been 'seconded' to Germany working for an international company, or are self-employed you can even opt out of the German system altogether and instead get international private insurance, although there's a lot of argument over whether this fulfils German legal requirements that everyone have health insurance to a certain standard.

    It's the international private insurance or German private insurance that would give you the option of high (eg. 2500 eur) excesses in exchange for lower premiums.

    Complain about this comment

  • 97. At 11:12pm on 05 Jan 2009, canadacold wrote:

    It is so different to other industrialised countries and all parents and indeed anyone could manage much better without the extra stress of payment possibilities or not.
    In Ontario we have sometimes been given a list of how much the care has cost and been paid by the government at a later date. We then of course realise how lucky we are not to have had it as an added worry at a time of extreme stress.
    As the mother of a daughter who needed a pacemaker from the age of 15, I was relieved to be in Canada at the time. It is, I suppose unllkely she would get coverage should she ever want to move south.
    Best wishes to the family in moving on. I wanted to wrap in cotton wool - it did not work!
    I am now a proud grandmother

    Complain about this comment

  • 98. At 11:15pm on 05 Jan 2009, ladycm wrote:

    I am so angry the G Bush called our health care system the best in the world. Agian, it shows how out of touch he is will Americans. A good health care system does not discriminate against mainly poor people by letting them have no coverage at all. 48 million of them, and I am one of them. Harvard must be TOTALLY embarrassed that they GAVE him a masters in business management. He is the worst manager/president. What a complete idiot. I just cannot believe he said that, things like Katrina and this statement show that he is on another planet of thinking. A cold dark small far away planet like Pluto. 15 more days, I cannot wait.

    Complain about this comment

  • 99. At 11:20pm on 05 Jan 2009, robloop wrote:

    Best wishes to you regarding your son.
    Shameful cost aside, the best healthcare (though not system) in the world.
    I've lived in Canada and England and to Americans who think otherwise, believe me, you pay for it (no, not as much as you do, and that is a great relief), but you pay for it through high taxes - and it's 'super market healthcare', if lucky pretty good and if unlucky pretty lousy. The Canadian provincial healthcare systems are often so overloaded through lack of doctors, many of whom moved to the U.S., that you can die waiting for treatment. So some provinces, like Ontario, sometimes fly patients to the U.S. where treatment is provided far more quickly and in some cases it superior.
    I wrecked my one knee playing rugby in Canada, had two less than satisfactory operations, as a consequence had to have reconstruction which was done in South Africa - and largely sorted the mess of the first two ops.
    Other than the cost there is something to be said for private healthcare, but the insurance companies are a vile lot, and even after ripping you off they are now in financial trouble. Work that one out. Bad management.

    Complain about this comment

  • 100. At 11:34pm on 05 Jan 2009, kecsmar wrote:

    Hope all works out ok for your son Justin.

    85 NRD
    For someone who does not wish to continue to rake over old coals, you are doing a very good job.

    As for prescription drugs, from memory, one pays GBP6.10 for drugs. No matter what they are or how many you need. It is a flat standard cost.

    If Justin had been here, in Japan, the cost would be around US200. The Japanese health care system is a mix of UK and US. It is excellent, efficient, and not cost prohibitive either. Insurance premiums are low and DONOT increase after a claim, nor restricted to "perfectly healthy" people. The patient pays for just 30% of the costs too, the Govt picks up the rest of the tab.

    Complain about this comment

  • 101. At 00:10am on 06 Jan 2009, kballantyne wrote:

    Hi Justin,

    On December 14, 2007, our lives were forever changed when our 1 year old son, Richard, was diagnosed with Type 1. You are in for a rollercoaster ride of emotions, which I hope that you will chronicle on this blog, as you already have a wide audience. Type 1 is a scary disease to be sure, and even scarier in young children who can't tell you what they're feeling at the moment -- but rest assured that your son can and will have a healthy and full life.

    A few quick recommendations for you: I HIGHLY recommend the Joslin Diabetes Center for your son's care -- there are locations throughout the US, and they are at the forefront of diabetes care in the US. A pediatric endocrinologist is a must.

    Second, you might get a lot of good information and support from a Type 1 parents online forum, such as The folks there have been a lifeline for me as I have come to terms with my son's disease.

    We're here for you. God bless, and good luck.

    Complain about this comment

  • 102. At 00:17am on 06 Jan 2009, DougTexan wrote:

    Justin, sorry to hear that,.. I can relate to the expense, I have two sons with Muscular Dystrophy. and Blessed we are for the Shriners and the support and assistance we received from day one,.. from the doctors whom donated hours of time and the nurses and assistants that 'gave that extra smile, along that very long road'.

    As to the end result of surgerys and medicines, doctor visits and hospital stays, my wife and I just went through five years of bankruptcy to clear over two hundred fifty thousand dollars in medical bills alone.

    The boys are fine, the youngest is twenty and a programmer, while his brother is an A/C tech with the local school district. I couldn't be prouder of either one. And Justin, the extra blessing is the many people you'll meet on the way,.. some of them will break your heart, others you'll never forget, all will teach you a new meaning of humility and love.

    May God bless you and yours,.. he did everyone I met on the way.

    more than 'just words'

    Complain about this comment

  • 103. At 01:01am on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #85. NoRashDecisions: "We don't need to compare and contrast the US's and UK's health care systems anymore!"

    I didn't select the topic of health care - that's Justin's call, not mine!

    "a British aquaintance of mine, who surprisingly prefers the US's health care system go figure! claims that proscription drugs in the UK are expensive, while I was always under the impression that they were free."

    I think there may be a confusion about the term used. An individual prescription, say for a blood pressure drug, would be seven pounds and ten pence, about $10.50, regardless of the price paid for it by the National Health Service. However, the body whcih controls what may be prescribed, "NICE", has decided that certain drugs are too expensive and/or may not be effective; Aricept (for dementia) comes to mind. The "expensive" drugs may refer to the latter rather than what one picks ups from the pharmacy. Of course, there was a time when everything provided by the NHS was free, but that was long ago!

    As for the preference for one system over the other, it greatly depends on the insurance or HMO one has. I belong to Kaiser-Permanente here in California and recently had cancer surgery together with a femoral bypass (a replacement artery), at the very least $75,000 worth of care. A follow up CAT scan indicated a DVT (clot) and I was then rushed back and had immediate anti-coagulant therapy. The charge for all this - zero, not even a co-payment. My normal co-payments would be $5.00 for a meeting with my doctor and $7.00 for prescriptions. There are others who pay rather more for the same thing, but that's my experience - and far speedier than anything the NHS could provide.

    By coincidence I had a note from a UK friend to say that her brother had died having had DVT which his local hospital failed to recognise. In my case, after the scan showed it, my surgeon called at 6:45 and I was back in a hospital room by 7:15 - I had a series of subcutaneous injections for three days and then was prescribe Coumadin. If your friend has had any kind of similar experience I can see why he or she prefers American healthcare. I hasten to add that, unfortunately, my experiences are not typical, and I recognise that I am particularly fortunate. Kaiser-Permanente is of course and non-profit group and promotes prevention rather than cure - but when cure is necessary, they do not stint. Whether I would have received the same care in Britain, and so swiftly, appears to be doubtful.

    Complain about this comment

  • 104. At 01:24am on 06 Jan 2009, kecsmar wrote:

    #103 D_C
    As you say your experiences are not typical. My father had DVT like you, as soon as diagnosed by the GP was rushed to hospital and had treatment; he had 3 clots. He received excellent medical attention, no waiting either...that was in the UK i should add.

    Complain about this comment

  • 105. At 01:27am on 06 Jan 2009, Wingsonwinds wrote:

    It rips our hearts out to see our children suffer. When we are hurting for those we love, the farthest thing from our mind is the "business" involved with their treatment. When a dollar value is placed on the health care of those closest to our hearts, it makes us angry.

    Our anger is justified because the value and quality of a human life should never be quantified into a dollar amount.

    Unfortunately, health care has become big business in America and its difficult to find the heart we believe should exist in caring for human life. Except for a few lights shining in the darkness, it seems to be all about making money.

    This being said, yes America's health care system does need an overhaul, but its not an overhaul in government mandates and more laws that will make the difference over the long run, it is simplification that comes from a change in heart.

    On another note, the smaller country will always have a better chance of making their government run systems, including health care more effective and less costly because there are less factors keeping them from maintaining accountability in that system. The main problem with the US system is that everything its too large to monitor until its too late.

    This is one reason why a government take over of the health care system is not the solution in America, even though it may work out well in other countries. Although initially a government take over may bring about some improvements, as time goes by it will become a detriment because government is already too big to monitor what systems they currently have now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 106. At 01:48am on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #104. kecsmar: "My father had DVT like you, as soon as diagnosed by the GP was rushed to hospital and had treatment; he had 3 clots. etc"

    My friend's brother in the UK was actually at the hospital and sent home! So I guess it all depends on who you deal with. But even with a note for "immediate attention" care is not always available - as this report indicates.

    Complain about this comment

  • 107. At 02:05am on 06 Jan 2009, kecsmar wrote:

    #106 D_C
    There are always exceptions to the rule...but in general, the US and UK systems have very different mind sets in their approach.

    Complain about this comment

  • 108. At 02:55am on 06 Jan 2009, Jeebers76 wrote:

    "they have reviewed the case and decided to pay (note the language - how kind of them!) but if we hadn't been insured or if the insurers had behaved differently"

    Mr Webb, I doubt that you'll read this far down into the blog, but I think I can help explain somewhat. I've been doing a lot of listening in the past year, and one of the major topics was health care. I went to a several hour long seminar in the local DFL office that was given by a MD who had made it one of his life's works to study the problem of US health care.

    The reason why preventative care is so ill covered is that most insurance companies assume you'll switch to another company before they see a profit from the expense of things like immunizations and medication. Yes, it would save money overall to go for preventative care, but not for the HMO's who pay for it unless you are a particularly stable resident of an area or career.

    I was horrified, to say the least, when I learned this.

    Why is regular care so damned expensive? Sigh. Most of the expense of medical insurance has nothing to do with the medical care itself. It has everything to do with the amount of administration that must be endlessly duplicated with each HMO company. Basically, the redundancies inherent in having competing HMO's means money goes out the window to pay for secretaries etc. Now throw in lawyer costs because some people sue for incredible amounts because of medical boneheaded mistakes (for example, the sheer number of sponges and instruments left inside people after surgeries on a yearly basis boggles the mind).

    That was what the doctor said. I was quite incredulous personally, but he went on to say that what should be done is actually quite simple.

    Put the HMO's out of business. You do this by expanding the Medicare and Medicaid programs to all Americans. This is what is known as a "Single-Payer system." It isn't even remotely socialism, which really is ironic considering that the USA is a socialist flavored capitalistic economy.

    People complain that this idea would be expensive, but it won't given the sheer amount of money and time we'd save (he gave me a lot of evidence I've forgotten at the moment so I can't cite him properly).

    Convincing the average joe taxpayer will be difficult in the extreme, since the HMO's will move Heaven and Earth to ensure that it never happens. They've used Washington DC with their lobbyists to block this idea at every turn. In my home state of Minnesota, it seems that the local Republicans are the main opponents of the single payer system idea, but I have no idea what it's like in other states. They continually use the label "socialism" as a moniker for Evil Government Control Of Your Life. Basically, they argue using emotions, not logic nor intellect.

    All of this is a pretty sad post, so I am deeply sorry if any of this depresses any who read this. I only call it like it is, to the best of my knowledge. I'm no expert in this idea, but the man who taught it to me seemed highly intelligent and concerned for the whole population. His brother apparently has some grave illness, which is why he got involved.

    Please feel free to research this topic/idea, if you ever manage to read this post so far down on the forum thread. I could definitely be wrong, so I'd rather that you used your connections to get the skinny rather than trusting or blowing off some kid from the Midwest USA.

    Complain about this comment

  • 109. At 03:24am on 06 Jan 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    [So we find ourselves at the receiving end of the health service I have heard George Bush describe as the best in the world and Barack Obama describe as seriously flawed. Both are right of course.]

    i think that the united states of america health care system is overdue for a massive overhaul; since it has many problems...

    ~Dennis Junior~

    Complain about this comment

  • 110. At 03:25am on 06 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    I was saddened to read that your son has diabetes. In my opinion health care for children should be free in all systems.

    My husband had a minor operation and was not hospitalized for it..but did use the facilities in the hospital.

    At that same time someone with my husband's name, but older, died in the hospital. The hospital tried to bill us for the dead man's hospital expenses. Finally the bill was given over to a collection agency and the man representing the collection agency, on the phone, asked my husband to pay for the services he had received before he died. : )

    I tracked down the hospital area that was involved with the billing and went there in person to clear this up. They promised it would be cleared up but it went on even after I went to see them. and I had pointed out the difference in the social security numbers.


    The problems are so big for America...I hope Obama can at least get the nation going in the right direction.

    I'm glad you have good insurance and wish only good things for your family.

    Complain about this comment

  • 111. At 03:27am on 06 Jan 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    [The amount by the way for a night's stay and associated treatment is nearly $3,000. Even the co-pay which I handed over in the pharmacy on Christmas Eve (for the kit which is now part of our life) set us back a couple of hundred.]

    I know, the cost is some high; but, someday the costs of this and all types of medical care will be lower!

    ~Dennis Junior~

    Complain about this comment

  • 112. At 04:15am on 06 Jan 2009, application_writer wrote:

    The main problem with the US health system is disproportionately expensive. Let us take the example of an MRI scan. In US it might cost any where between 2000-5000 USD. The same MRI costs anywhere between 200-300 USD in Asia. The machine is the same everywhere. This is just a tip of the iceberg. The biggest problem is that there are no set rules or guidance for the charging system.

    Regarding the insurance system majority will eventually end up paying from their pockets whatever type of insurance they have.

    I have seen the functioning of health care in UK, USA and developing countries. I feel that the health care system in the UK is the best system. Yes there might be waiting periods but one should remember that for emergency there is no waiting period, patients are seen and treated effectively. One should take a note that in most cases its the emergency treatment which is more expensive than elective treatment.

    Some body as posted that in USA you can get emergency health care free. There is law in USA which states that one needs to accept all emergency cases and treat them irrespective of the insurance status. Yes its true but there is loophole ie doctors liability ends after the emergency care. Once the doctors decided that there is no threat to life if a patient doesn't have insurance they can refuse treatment. This is the reason why some hospitals dont have any emergency room. Medical treatment is an continuos process, the end point being complete healing of the patient.

    Regarding the research, how many ground breaking technologies have been discovered in the USA? Somebody pointed out that there are wonder drugs which fight against kidney cancer which is available in USA and not in UK or else where. If you do a trial I am very much sure that there wont be any difference in the survival rate.

    Regarding my experience, dealing with insurance people is headache. You will be at their mercy. they are the drivers.

    Having seen both systems I feel that health care in USA is a hype. The same quality of treatment in majority of cases is available free in Uk and much cheaper in other developed and developing nations.

    I feel that health care should be made universally free to all children in USA and I hope the new government should review the problems in the present health care and compare with the other systems around the world. Health care should not be burden to people and should not be a reason for bankruptcy

    Complain about this comment

  • 113. At 05:28am on 06 Jan 2009, Peter Dewsnap wrote:

    Bush is entirely wrong. The health care system in this USA is the worst in the so-called advanced countries. Quality of care is as good as anywhere but the charges are extortionate and in no way can be justified.This last year, both my wife and I required out-patient surgery. This took one one hour in each case and another hour, or less, lying on a bed recovering from the anaesthetic before being allowed to go home. The hospital charge in each case, excluding doctor and anaesthetist fees, was in excess of $22,000. Something drastic needs to be done and soon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 114. At 05:53am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 115. At 05:56am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    $150=5 minutes. just to get a prescription for anti biotics.

    the doc said (for 50$ that he knew some docs thought they would bemade paupers like the docs in the UK.

    Lol being a doctor in the UK is still considered a good job.

    Complain about this comment

  • 116. At 05:56am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Aquagirl that hospital was ,"a not for profit' ie they must make some "not profits" to waste that much on the new building .

    Complain about this comment

  • 117. At 06:09am on 06 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    There are many stories comparing the health care systems..but if you look at statistics the US is not doing well for a wealthy nation.

    If you look at the chart at the bottom of:

    Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis

    The US is last in mortality rates amenable to health care. France has the best record and it is also reputed by many to be the best health care system in the world.

    And the US has an infant mortality rate of 6.3 out of 100,000 as compared to most western nations that have a rate of under 5 infant deaths per 100,000.

    Imo the problem is that money is going to the bureaucracy and not enough is being done in preventative health care.

    How to change that is very difficult though within a governmental system that is dependent on politicians raising money for political campaigns. But imo the government will have to intervene to change how health care is run in the US.

    Children should be a first and top priority for any society's health care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 118. At 06:22am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    "Healthcare is not really my area of expertise""

    That's for sure.So how did you write so much. Given such a lack of knowledge maybe this will help down the path of enlightenment.(yea I know you can't teach a rock to think)

    You are the biggest propaganda sucker ever.
    stupid little stories about this one person and that one person.

    all this info is free thanks to the kind contributors to your local public broadcasting station.
    though it will make no experts there will strangely be very little mention of those high costs of being sued for being more interested in a game of golf than the patient on the table.

    When all health care is private there are bound to be higher prices for a law suit.

    When things go wrong you may need treatment for life. At the price the vampires set. Even though it was those same vampires that got you sick in the first place.

    Complain about this comment

  • 119. At 06:23am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    bethpa so good to see you after so long..jacksforge says hi;)

    Complain about this comment

  • 120. At 06:28am on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Someone above already posted that the US has the finest medical care in the world. I agree. It is the financial availability to access that medical care that causes so much angst.

    NO S T

    Complain about this comment

  • 121. At 06:30am on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #112. application_writer: "Let us take the example of an MRI scan. In US it might cost any where between 2000-5000 USD. The same MRI costs anywhere between 200-300 USD in Asia."

    I recently had an open MRI at a facility not owned by my HMO and subsequently saw the billing - $1,300. How an Asian hospital can charge $200 is difficult to understand since the machinery involved costs the same, somewhere between 1 and 3 million dollars. The labour to operate it may be cheaper, but the capital cost would be the same - so from whence comes the price differential per scan?

    "I feel that the health care system in the UK is the best system. Yes there might be waiting periods . . "

    If one is diagnosed with cancer, how long a wait is acceptable? I was diagnosed and the offending mass removed within eleven days -and the subsequent clot (DVT) addressed within hours. I'd rather have had the surgery in California than have been in the same circumstances in Britain - I could have been dead by waiting!

    Complain about this comment

  • 122. At 07:19am on 06 Jan 2009, keithhatter wrote:

    Hi Justin

    Our son was diagnosed with type 1 in the summer - it was a real shock and there were lots of tears and uncertainty - I'm sure you have lots of people you can speak with though having been through the same thing, if you want to chat about anything, then find me on facebook (Keith Hatter) and I'd be happy to talk about what we've learned...

    Our UK experience in terms of care has been nothing short of amazing - anyone who doubts that the recent investment in the NHS has made a tangible difference would think very differently if they'd experienced what we did in the UK - the quality of the humanity as well as the care and equipment was superb - we are truly lucky to live here...

    Complain about this comment

  • 123. At 07:21am on 06 Jan 2009, ladycm wrote:

    121. At 06:30am on 06 Jan 2009, David_Cunard

    "I'd rather have had the surgery in California than have been in the same circumstances in Britain - I could have been dead by waiting!"

    This happens in America too! If you are breathing, good luck in the ER. I have waited for hours in the ER after I cut myself deep on accident at work. On the good side LNI covered it and I got paid. Something has to be done about this health care system. Maybe we don't have to do what Canada or Britain does. I have read that the Japenese have an interesting system but, something has to be done soon. I don't have the answers, this is why I have elected officials who most of the time seem to do nothing. Yes the economy is down but, healthcare is still at the top of the list. People who have gone broke due to health issues have helped to contribute to this economic mess.

    Complain about this comment

  • 124. At 07:34am on 06 Jan 2009, ladycm wrote:

    12. At 11:31am on 05 Jan 2009, lochraven wrote:
    "Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are."

    Because Americans deserve better. I don't want some suit behind a desk deciding what I need and what's "preexisting" or not. It’s 100 dollars for me just to walk in to a clinic. I would need to be dying to go to the doctor, however then I would wait in the ER forever while I filled out TONS of paperwork as is what happens when I go. The British health care system is better, those of you who aren't American and have some sort of real health care system, feel lucky. I happen to think we don't have the best care as people say. Look at the stats; we have higher infant mortality than many other countries etc... Possibly because mothers don't have insurance??? No prenatal care??? Who knows? Even if it is good or "the best" no real person can afford it. We are nothing but a social security number that pays taxes to the government.

    Complain about this comment

  • 125. At 08:22am on 06 Jan 2009, kecsmar wrote:

    #123 ladycm & 121 D_C

    I live in Japan, I had an MRI on my knee last year. Cost..???....approx $60.!....And no cheap labour as DC suggests. Total cost of x-ray and MRI with 3 consults with specialist, around $, you make up your own mind what is wrong with the US health care system!

    And if you are wondering, i didnt have to wait more than 90mins for my 1st appmt. I just walked into the hospital off the street...

    Complain about this comment

  • 126. At 09:42am on 06 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Excellent informative heart-warming stories from all.
    The much maligned blogger MarcusAurelliusII, suggested during an earlier discussion - "American medical care is the best money can buy. American doctors and hospitals practice "defensive medicine" to avoid lawsuits. Therefore, testing patients for every manner of disease including the most improbable is relentless. These are some of the reasons American medicine is so expensive..".
    He is perfectly correct.
    Health care costs are a bottomless pit, where there will never be enough money to fund all and every failing in the human body, but many strive for and expect immortality, and with researchers discovering new techniques to prolong our healthy lifespan, this will only become worse. A multi-facetted approach is required that necessitates making dramatic unpleasant decisions. It is all about the money available, how and where the individual chooses to spend it to obtain above average basic cover or not, and whether extra premiums should be made compulsory, in respect of "extras" and old age?
    Good health is a gift from the Gods, and unfortunately some have drawn the short straw, and are unlucky enough to require various treatment through life to keep the machine, our body, running smoothly. We abuse it daily with our eating, drinking, smoking habits combined with lack of exercise and yet living a fit lifestyle is still no guarantee for a smooth ride, and longetivity increases the chances of getting cancer.
    To make a new American system viable to include all for "free" basic treatment, I believe it has to become multi-tiered. There will always be the haves, and have nots in this world, and waiting list healthcare to provide a emergency safety net is the only possibility.
    Going from a starting point that all kids are sacrosanct and should receive free treatment until 18 / 21 years of age, for how long should we adults expect to remain alive without having to pay extra premiums above the basic premium for health cover. Nothing is free in this world, and unfortunately we are responsible for our own lives in a world that is rapidly approaching breaking point.

    Complain about this comment

  • 127. At 09:48am on 06 Jan 2009, omaurhie1 wrote:

    As a doctors who worked in both systems....

    Like all things in America. Its great if you've got money and completely awful if you havent. The American dream is come here and be a success. The American Nightmare is ten times worse. Individually most Americans are great if you are on their (financial) level.

    In the UK, the NHS is good. The people that complain about it are usually the ones that uses it most and contributes the least.

    The NHS could be great if there were more doctors and nurses and less administrators.

    If believed Labour propaganda you will believe that the NHS is bursting with doctors and nurses.

    The next time you read about the greedy doctors and nurses in the DM or BBC bleeding the NHS dry. Think, they are the ones who's sole aim at work is to care for sick patients and look after their relatives. This obviously includes OTs, physios and other front line staff who believe it or not are drastically understaffed.

    Everyone else's job title involves achieving a target. I definitely wont miss the arguments with those administrators.

    Finally I might suggest that instead of hiring 3 beaureaucrats whose sole aim is to get a doctor or nurse to work harder or quicker than its humanly safe or possible to do. It might be cheaper and more sensible to hire another doctor or nurse.

    Complain about this comment

  • 128. At 10:12am on 06 Jan 2009, SaintOne wrote:

    The NHS is extremely good value for the tax payers pounds, especially compared to other systems. Sure it's not perfect, especially as the elderly, obese and more illness prone pay the same amount as someone that may never need to go to hospital for over 40 years. But at least we don't have to worry about the finance of being ill. I cannot imagine the discomfort of being ill AND frustration that you may not be able to afford to pay for treatment.

    Another good point is that in Britain, you can choose private health care. Private health care has an obligation to be far superior to the public system as otherwise you wouldn't buy it. This additional incentive makes our private hospitals hold extremely high standards. Having worked at a private hospital for several years, I choose to obtain private health insurance, but I am safe in the knowledge that I can go public at any time should I financially need to (in fact I anticipate in the not so distant future!).

    Complain about this comment

  • 129. At 10:30am on 06 Jan 2009, dixhuit wrote:

    My sympathy to you all. However although I was only diagnosed as type 2 a few months ago as I soon found out its a condition not a disease. You and more importantly your son will learn to "manage" it. After a while you realise just how many people have one form or the other. If Steve Redgrave can win 5 gold medals with diabetes then what have I to complain about. I will never complain about the NHS. They have been superb since my diagnosis with free prescriptions and monitoring. As a peviously fit and healthy individual with a good diet I found it hard to accept but now everything has settled down. Your son will be able to lead a full and active life. with a bit of careful management

    Complain about this comment

  • 130. At 10:54am on 06 Jan 2009, Roy Brookes wrote:

    Re #96, in answer to my own comment #34, I am self-employed in Germany and was never given the choice to go into the state system but was private from day 1. Health insurance and health care taken together cost me more than anything else, including my house and 2 cars. OK, I earn very good money and can afford it, but a couple of families could live on what my health costs me in a year.

    Having said that, the standards of care I have experienced in Germany are of the highest. Doctors here have saved my life twice by first diagnosing and then swiftly treating cancers. In the UK I would have been on a waiting list and died before receiving treatment. My father died earlier than he should have because the treatment he got for cancer was too little and too late on the NHS in the UK.

    Complain about this comment

  • 131. At 11:21am on 06 Jan 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    # 12 lockraven.

    Over here we have no reason to feel superior
    about any thing.Very greatfull for some things.
    In my case Carmarthen general hospital,
    Merlin ward, who saved my daughters life.
    Yes Merlin ward, named after the famed
    wizard,who had some conection with this town,Dont ask.
    So best wishes from the land whos roads go around things that used to be there...

    Complain about this comment

  • 132. At 11:29am on 06 Jan 2009, magnanimousrogera wrote:

    Hi Justin,

    I am sorry to hear abut your son. My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 6. As a strong-willed girl, it has been a struggle to keep her on the straight and narrow but we managed to get her through her schooling and university and she is now completely independent. Despite the difficulties, it as been a rewarding experience so I am sure you will find it the same, although the costs may be daunting. I wish you, your wife and son all the best for your future.

    Complain about this comment

  • 133. At 11:31am on 06 Jan 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    What are you complaining about? In the UK you might have been put on a waiting list. Same in Canada. Under socialism, when they get to you, they get to you and there isn't a thing you can do about it. You'd pay for it one way or another anyway. There are no free lunches.

    Complain about this comment

  • 134. At 11:36am on 06 Jan 2009, Colombiantaxpayer wrote:

    Dear Justin,

    Im sorry to hear about your son falling ill. Im sure as technology advances a cure shall be found or atleast some new medication to make life easier for your son.

    I think you rightly point out that if you were not insured things would be alot worse. Basically in the USA the poor die younger because healthcare is too expensive.

    I don't understand why Obama is not changing the system completely so it matches what we have in most of Europe. Ralph Nader seemed to be the only candidate that truely offered Universal Healthcare.

    Actually what I found rather dissapointing with the BBC's election coverage was that the independent, third party candidates got basically no air time what so ever.

    Ralph Nader may not be an angel however he rightly points out that the election debates did not cover anything about US support for Israel. Which I found mind numbing especially since that is the primary recruitment tool used by Al Qaeda to radicalise.

    Complain about this comment

  • 135. At 1:27pm on 06 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    Last Monday I fell and created a gash above my eyebrow. Since I am in Canada I went to the local Canadian hospital..where there were so many patients in the emergency that the wait would have been 5-6 hours.

    So we went over the border to the US and in an emergency waiting room waited for 6 hours to have 6 stitches put in. Both hospitals had an unusually large number of people waiting and my stitches were reasonably a low priority.

    There have been comparisons made of the Canadian and US system for wait times etc.

    The real differences imo between the two systems are the amounts of money spent for the care given and in the accessibility of health care to all segments of the population. Statistically a Canadian will live linger than an American.

    Its important to look honestly at health care systems and make changes ...and not to cover up deficiencies with nationalism. Reality exists and even if everyone in America says the US is number one..that will not make it true.

    Canadians are making changes based upon their knowledge not only of the Canadian system but other health systems also...

    One difference between Canada and the US is that Canadians want to help all their people...while Americans seem more willing to accept that some Americans will get less than others.

    Hello jacksforge : )

    Complain about this comment

  • 136. At 2:06pm on 06 Jan 2009, blogginthenog wrote:

    Very best wishes to you and your son.

    Politics aside for the moment, my son was diagnosed Aug 2006 , aged 5, it came at us like a bolt out of the blue, we still need to pinch ourselves sometimes to believe it's true.

    All I can say is it gets easier with time. Right now you'll be heading for a long series of firsts, his first day back at school, first overnight stay away from mum and dad etc, etc. You'll have your heart in your mouth and recall how trivial all those things that you used to worry about, pre diagnosis, now seem.

    Type 1 is a very serious chronic condition. Here in the UK it's considered so serious that it is a registered disability and children are entitled to Disability Living Allowance, but ironically, right now, you're probably in the best place for cutting edge treatment, insulin pumps are used far more widely used in US than than here in the UK.

    I have great admiration for those that work in our health service, but we've had to fight our NHS Trust for the past year to support this pump therapy locally, it's been a slog, but we will get there. Schools here in the UK are sometimes also no better, I have just returned from my son's school after overseeing his lunchtime insulin injection as they are currently unable to support his special medical needs, and that's from a school that received an "Outstanding" in their most recent Ofsted report .

    I also have private medical insuance with the biggest and most well known company here in the UK and as you'd expect they won't touch this with a barge pole.

    We try not to let our son's condition stop us from doing anything and with the odd exception that has been true, the only difference is that days out now need to be planned with military precision, but as we look around the world we're still able to count our blessings!

    Once again, our thoughts are with you.

    Complain about this comment

  • 137. At 2:09pm on 06 Jan 2009, SaintDominick wrote:

    Obviously, there are many factors that influence the length and quality of life, such as diet, exercise, work habits and living conditions, but access to good healthcare, including preventive medicine, ranks high among them.

    As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the low life expectancy and high infant mortality rates in the USA, which are among the worst in the industrialized world indicates something is amiss in our system.

    Complain about this comment

  • 138. At 2:13pm on 06 Jan 2009, Andywooabc wrote:

    Hi Justin,

    Sorry to hear about your son.

    Excellent blog, really enjoyed hearing about the process over there.

    I think what you meant by agreeing to the fact the US has the best Health Sytem in the world is based around the treatment available to those that are in a position to pay for insurance (or as you go onto mention, when the insurance company decide they will not pay, individuals rich enough to still fund it).

    You may well be right. However you in turn would have to compare the US Health System with that of the UK's Private Health Care System would you not? In which case "pound for pound" I would probably disagree... (Note, I am not sure about the private systems in the rest of the world but would guess somewhere like Switzerland is A1).

    As for the Obama comment I think he was talking about the Insurance side of the Health System when making those comments about being seriously flaud. He was talking more in terms of making the system available to all, not making the health care provided i.e level of doctors and operations etc... better.

    So it would probably be unfair to use the two quotes from both in the same paragraph to sum up a much bigger argument. Not sure though.

    Anyway, best of luck to you and your family, do not let it hold him back in anything.

    Complain about this comment

  • 139. At 2:24pm on 06 Jan 2009, create_anew wrote:

    There is no need for your son to suffer from diabetes for the rest of his life. It is a curable disease. You might want to check out "Raw Family" by Victoria Boutenko. Her 9 year old son was diagnosed with diabetes after he passed out in the bathroom. She was not willing to have him be sick and on insulin for the rest of his life. She studied everything she could get her hands on, did massive research in every direction she could think of, and eventually shifted the whole family to a raw diet. Not only did her son recover from diabetes, her daughter recovered from asthma, she from heart disease, and her husband from major thyroid problems. Theirs is a very interesting and extrememly helpful storyfor anyone in this situation.
    A second source of very useful information comes in "The 80/10/10 Diet" by Doug Graham. He discusses how diabetes is not primarily a malfunction of the pancreas, but that high fat intake is behind the problem.
    Also "There is a Cure for Diabetes: by Gabriel Cousens, MD. He has a whole protocol for curing diabetes that he has been using for years with his patients. It is also based on raw foods.
    If you can't get these books locally, they are all available on
    I wish you and your son the best. There is no need for him to contend with this problem for the rest of his life.

    Complain about this comment

  • 140. At 2:46pm on 06 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 128. SaintOne:

    "...the elderly, obese and more illness prone pay the same amount as someone that may never need to go to hospital for over 40 years. "

    The same is true for private health insurance provided by employers in the US. There is usually a standard contribution by the employer and a standard deduction from the employee's paycheck. There is no practical way to charge on the basis of actual use. And really, you don't want to. There would be no point in having either private insurance or a public health service if you did. The concept is that health care is provided for all members of the group by taking the total cost and dividing by the number of people in the group. But it would seem that you would have economies of scale with a group as large as a national population that you wouldn't see with a single company, even one as large as an auto manufacturer.

    HMOs and PPOs are getting involved in preventive care, at least in monitoring conditions like asthma and offering smoking cessation help. I have asthma, and when I went to see a specialist about it, it triggered the insurance company to send me information and suggest that I enroll in a special program. There is probably a similar program for people with diabetes.

    With private insurance, however, an insurance company can decide at the end of the year to raise the rates enormously--which is happening every year in the US. That's really the root cause of the problem for most people. When rates go up, employers have to decide whether to absorb the cost, reduce coverage, or give up insurance for their employees entirely. And often it means that the payment by individual employees goes up or things like the deductible (the portion of the charge that the patient covers) goes up. And each time a companiy moves from insurer to insurer in an attempt to keep their insurance costs level, their employees are often forced to move from physician to physician, because the new insurer doesn't include the old physician in their network. Is that good health care practice?

    Or an insurer can drop the company entirely. That recently happened to my employer with our dental insurance. The insurer just said they didn't want our business and my HR department had to find a new insurer. I hadn't noticed that our teeth were all that bad, but apparently the insurer decided that they couldn't make a profit off us. That wouldn't happen if you had either national health insurance or a national health service.

    I really don't understand the people who say they don't want a government bureaucracy determining health care. Is it really better to have private insurers determining health care based on their profit margin?

    Complain about this comment

  • 141. At 3:05pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    The country is so large that a massive overhaul is almost impossible. Perhaps Washington could introduce a program that would assist each State to form their own. Small steps, State by State. Petition your politicians.

    Someone should get Kiefer Sutherland on board. His grandfather, Tommy Douglas introduced it to Canada. He speaks very highly of his grandfather, perhaps he inherited his courage.

    Interesting that the people with sufficient coverage maintain it is the best in the world while we are not hearing from any of the people who died due to lack of insurance. Although we have heard from some who have gone bankrupt.

    Complain about this comment

  • 142. At 3:20pm on 06 Jan 2009, OldSouth wrote:

    Dear Mr. Webb:

    First and foremost, above all else, our very best wishes and prayers for your son and your family, from all corners of the globe and every shade of political opinion.

    It is a blow to receive such news about one's child, even with the knowledge that he is in the very best of hands.

    You demonstrate courage in sharing this news with us. Most understandably, you could have deemed this as 'no one's business but ours', and carried on as a professional.

    Your account of dealing with our health care system strikes a real chord, and hopefully will prompt us all to think carefully about a path forward that works in the interests of all (except, perhaps, trial attorneys!).

    There is so much more to say, but not today.

    Again, our heartfelt sympathies, best wishes and prayers go with you, your son and your family as you go forward together.

    Complain about this comment

  • 143. At 3:24pm on 06 Jan 2009, SaintOne wrote:

    Re 140 Timohio

    You speak the truth, however, in Britiain you HAVE to pay taxes for the health care system. It would be silly, but you don't have to in America. Similarly, the people that use the NHS the most are also the ones more likely to be on benefits (e.g state pensions). I personally don't have a problem with that (I guess i'm a bit, dare I say it, socialist!!!), but I can understand why people would be.

    Similarly, the rich can afford private health care (I only have it as I worked at a private hospital), thus it is the middle class that really loose out.

    As for the Canadian health care system, I'm not 100% sure, but is it not private with certain things publically funded? And is itself alarmingly inefficient?

    Complain about this comment

  • 144. At 4:14pm on 06 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 143. SaintOne:

    The rich will always be able to afford the best of everything, including health care. In the US, everyone else is struggling or about to struggle. Since health insurance in the US is usually offered through employers, the rising unemployment rate is going to have a big impact on health care in this country.

    I'm not at all clear on how the Canadian system works. I think it is a publicly funded system with services offered by private entities. But I know that physicians are not nearly as affluent as those in the US.

    Health care by its nature is never going to be truly efficient. That would require everyone to keep their weight down, not make stupid lifestyle choices, never take up smoking, stop riding motorcycles, etc. Then only the unavoidable illnesses and injuries would have to be treated. And doctors would have to be always correct in their diagnoses and delivery of services would have to be always on time and without error. People complain about waiting in a doctor's office in allhealth care systems, but they would be unhappy at being shuffled out of the examining room at the stroke of the hour in the middle of a consultation because others were waiting. And in order to have the capacity for a surge in use of the system, you need to have an oversupply of hospital beds, some specialists, etc. Our military health care got swamped at the beginning of the Iraq war because they hadn't built capacity for the kinds of casualties the military was experiencing. That's bad enough; it would be catastrophic if it happened for the general population during an influenza epidemic, for example. But an oversupply of anything is inefficient.

    One of the oddities of the US system (and perhaps others) is that most of the health care money is spent during the last several months of a patient's life. How do we deal with that? Refuse treatment for terminally ill patients and send them off to hospices? I know that when my father had prostate cancer, he enrolled in an experimental program designed to give him a longer life, but more importantly a quality life. When he was diagnosed, he was originally expected to live 6 months; he lived another 5 years. He was a guinea pig for new treatments, and they worked. But when the treatments began to fail, he didn't want extraordinary measures. He accepted that his time had come. I hope I have that kind of courage when my time comes.

    But the US health care system isn't, by and large, comfortable with that approach, and neither are most patients or their families. You can't really blame them, but that's part of why costs are going up as the population ages. Are baby boomers going to go quietly to hospices to avoid burdening their children? I don't know.

    Complain about this comment

  • 145. At 4:16pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    143 SaintOne

    In Canada each Province administers its own system under Federal guidelines, with approx. 95% coverage.

    One of the biggest problems, which leads to overcrowding , is that many doctors and nurses are lured to the U.S. As a result there is a chronic shortage of medical staff.

    Obviously a national system cannot compete. One of the side effects of living next door to the most powerful country in the world.

    Complain about this comment

  • 146. At 4:34pm on 06 Jan 2009, R-Snail wrote:

    Jack and David

    Happy 2009, and I'm sad to see that you've sobered up, and returned to your grumpy old, going at it hammer and tongs selves.

    The whole point of blogs is to leverage the input opinions of the masses. Jacks of all trades as it were. I'm glad it amused you that I acknowledged a lack of expertise in the healthcare arena. That does not mean that my opinions are null, void, and without merit except perhaps to the aged, smith producing medical expert communities.

    Perhaps some elderly, infirm and/or weak of mind folks can gather a large amount of data based upon personal usage of the medical facilities in various countries around the globe. I can only say that the US medical treatment I've received has been consistently first class (Ed, I guess I am first class in some aspect after all). My US doctors have performed miracles. I've seen that Humpty Dumpty really can be put back together again.

    When I took my job, I knew that the wages were lower, but the medical coverage was great. It's not about the money, it's ALL about the money.

    Complain about this comment

  • 147. At 4:43pm on 06 Jan 2009, Chicoan wrote:

    Many, many people believe that in America, anyone without health insurance can find treatment at hospital emergency rooms. This may be true in the cities, but in my part of the world (rural Northern California) one corporation bought every single hospital in a radius of fifty miles from Chico and shut down all but one. Now there is no hospital emergency room in Gridley, Live Oak or any other community near here.
    I had to be driven forty-five minutes in a speeding automobile to have a third degree burn treated: not because I had no insurance, but because the hospital in my community was bought and shuttered by those who wanted to make a bigger profit.

    Complain about this comment

  • 148. At 5:00pm on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:


    Well I suffered from a burst appendix when I was 9 and guess what, the British system saved me. so they both work.
    In the states they might have been still waiting before phoning the ambulance or they may have tried taking me in without the knowledge of the ambulance staff.Worried about the cost.

    I temporarily misplaced a finger in Romania in the 70's guess what?
    I've got it still. The Romanians put it back on, back in the days of the dictator.

    I had two operations when a child in the UK and here is a laugh. Many times when on private insurance (which my school had taken out on all of us(must have been cheap)) the patients are operated on by the very same surgeons that would be operating on you when the state was paying.
    In believe it or not the very same surgical wards.

    Two tier, the system was, so all you that like to think you are rich and that money is everything can still feel superior.

    Now onto the NHS and drugs they provide.

    it is funny that some drugs used in the US are not prescribed under the NHS because no one has proved they work , or that the side effects are not worse than the original illness, and as america over prescribes to the point of causing many problems.

    The NHS would prefer the preventative measure of not messing around too much.

    Sometimes they are slower to respond to the problems.

    Why are there so many killed by these prescriptions. Could it be because american Doctors only have a limited amount of patients available to them so they over work

    If they spread the load out we could all suffer from their prescriptions.

    Did you read any of them links?

    Not a lot about the insewerants rates.

    (lol SIR Terry Pratchet for that one)

    Complain about this comment

  • 149. At 5:09pm on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:


    I linked above (63) to our new hospital . The people of Eugene fought by tooth and nail to keep the hospital emergency in town. They did get that concession from the "not for profit" hospital. keeping the a/e in town is pretty sensible .
    the new site is built on the flood plane and were there ever to be a dam burst they would be inundated with both logs and water and people.

    Smart move but then the relaxing hospital by the river is so much better as a Spa resort for privately insewered people to relax at.

    Complain about this comment

  • 150. At 5:10pm on 06 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    David Cunard #103: I know you didn't bring up the issue of health care! But, silly me, I got the impression you wanted to compare and contrast further the two systems when in your post #75 you said, "A comparison between the two healthcare systems would be of interest, especially since you are so enamoured of all things American and rarely, if ever, find fault with anything on this side of the Atlantic.", and I was just merely pointing out the fact that this issue has been beaten to death, and that we won't get anything new out of debating it...again...that is except, of course, for yet more heart brakeing stories of people being ripped off by their insurance providers and nearly, if not totaly going bankrupt as a result.

    I'm glad to hear that your case terned out to be one of the few successful cases involving a US insurance company, and to learn, much to my astonishment, that surprise surprise your insurance agancy doesn't seem like a bunch of selfish greedy theavs!! But you're right, your case is--all to sadly--not typical as the rest of the posts on this board clearly point out, and still at least one third of the US's population are always and constantly embroiled in lawsuits, paying off medical expenses for the rest of their lives, go bankrupt because they can't aford to pay them off, or worst case scinario die. But I'm glad to see you had a rare good experience with the United States's health care system.

    I'm sad to hear you probably would've died having had the same cancer in the UK, and that is I think the second only bad thing I've heard come out of the UK's health care system. I guess 'Kexmar at #107 was all depends on who you deal with in the UK, but at least your always covered free of charge!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 151. At 5:34pm on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    145 similar problem for Brit doctors and dentists.
    solution is to say free collage but you serve a 5 year term of practice at a respectable(not greedy rate) in the public sector.
    Thinking of dentists how come so many americans spend so much on getting braces?
    Crooked teeth get over it!

    saw another saying average 4000 per treatment so in 96 (i am sure the figures went up for a while) america was spending
    17,600,000,000 Dollars on getting a better smile.

    Some were needed but the fad of braces is a joke.
    Fixing holes that is what them dentist are for;)

    Complain about this comment

  • 152. At 5:34pm on 06 Jan 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    omaurhie1 #127: "As a doctors who worked in both systems....

    Like all things in America. Its great if you've got money and completely awful if you havent. The American dream is come here and be a success. The American Nightmare is ten times worse."

    Just where did you work as a doctor in America? And I'm afraid I have to contend with you that our health care is like all things in America, I.E., if you can pay for it its yours. That is why I fail to understand all those who are so vieamantly aposed to universal health care! Their taxes already go to wellfare, schools, etc etc etc, so why not health care?

    "Individually most Americans are great if you are on their (financial) level."

    Again, who did you asociate with? If its any compansation, I'm certainly not like that!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 153. At 5:44pm on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    I had a good experience at a US hospital the down town slum version before they moved to the nice new place, by the river.

    They only took 3 hours on a dull tuesday morning to get around to 5 mins of nurse (see if I needed to see the doc) time and 5 mins of doctor time for anti biotics I had asked for after an animal bite, all for the generous non profit price of $150.

    I offered them $50 and said that is generous.

    I pleaded poverty (true) and they ended up dropping it after several hours of expensive financial calculations.
    I filled in forms they had to read tem get back re read etc.

    Now I think it would be real easy to save money.
    Hell if they hadn't wasted three days of my time proving my wealth they would have got $50

    GREED that is the problem.
    as always.

    Money" true" thinks is all it is about.

    No that would be GREED.

    Complain about this comment

  • 154. At 5:51pm on 06 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    152 I like the fact that you draw people to that ultimate hypocritical stance here in the states about paying for health care is socialist but Cops isn't.

    Here in Eugene the Cops face budget cuts because the PEOPLE think they stink(the local ones really do). Most would rather keep the money so they can pay their bills including their health care.

    Why should I pay for the socialist army to be fighting wars I did not want.That are not in the defence of America.
    (terrorist attacks are not meant to be some way of taking' America ' is not at risk just a building or two and some lives,sorrey but true sad and wrong but true)

    But seeing as we are talking funding how is it we pay taxes when not all the states ratified the law that we are paying taxes under anyway?

    Seems to me it is time for a tea party.

    Complain about this comment

  • 155. At 6:29pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    151 "free collage"

    University is virtually "free" in Canada. A resident of Quebec can attend McGill ranked 1st in Canada 12th in the world (2007) for approx. $3,500./yr. That of course would be Canadian $ !

    Every taxpayer contributes to ensure their fellow Canadians have health coverage and access to education. We would not have it any other way. We do not consider ourselves socialists nor think of it as a "bad" word.


    After the last tea party Colonists came pouring over the border. Many can still trace their roots back to the American Revolution.

    Complain about this comment

  • 156. At 6:32pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    happy, I'm sure that your Romanian friends
    were unfavorably impressed that you
    tried to give them the finger, so that's
    why they fixed you up.

    And, everybody else, you've got it
    all wrong. The solution to the healthcare
    mess is to become filthy rich, reside
    in a tax haven, retain UK citizenship,
    fly back there for routine medical appointments,
    and just crash into an emergency room
    in the States when the NHS is too slow.

    This entire trade embargo with Cuba
    is another case where we are shooting
    ourselves in the foot. Instead of having
    to fly to India for our operations, we
    should be able to zip over to Cuba and
    have Uncle Fidel take care of us, braces
    and all.

    Think of how much less CO2 we would
    generate by only flying 1,000 or 2,000
    miles to get a cavity filled instead
    of having to go 9,000 miles.

    Complain about this comment

  • 157. At 6:38pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #154, Happy, we happen to have this wonderful
    thing called the Supreme Court which has the
    power to make something legal even though
    it is not.

    That's why the income tax is legal. It also shows
    how bad lawyers and politicians are at
    arithmetic and other simple tasks, like balancing
    the budget.

    Complain about this comment

  • 158. At 6:59pm on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #156. gunsandreligion: "The solution to the healthcare mess is to become filthy rich, reside
    in a tax haven, retain UK citizenship, fly back there for routine medical appointments"

    Regarding retaining British citizenship and flying back for routine medical appointment - can't be done. To use the NHS one must be "normally resident" in the UK. This was introduced to stop "healthcare tourism", by which visitors to the UK arrived specifically to use the services of the NHS at no cost.

    Understandably, a stop was put to that, but it also affects British citizens who live abroad. Justin and his family are probably considered to be "normally resident" in the USA and on return will need to re-register with their GP. Emergency care would have been provided but for all else, a bill would have been rendered, but perhaps not so swiftly.

    Complain about this comment

  • 159. At 7:17pm on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #127. omaurhie1: "As a doctors who worked in both systems....

    Like all things in America. Its great if you've got money and completely awful if you havent. The American dream is come here and be a success. The American Nightmare is ten times worse. Individually most Americans are great if you are on their (financial) level.

    If you really are a doctor, heaven help the patients you tend since your spelling and grammar are abysmal. A trained professional should at least be able to write with clarity - I hate to think how your notes and prescriptions read.

    "In the UK, the NHS is good. The people that complain about it are usually the ones that uses it most and contributes the least."

    What do you mean, "contributes the least"? The NHS is primarily funded from general taxation and was instituted so that the public could have medical care without regard to means. I would go so far as to suggest that it was aimed at the poorest in the UK who, like so many now in the USA, could not afford medical care. Since the introduction of the NHS in 1948, the wealthier members of British society have always had private insurance available (e.g. BUPA) but of course, many prefer to get their care free - a penny saved being a penny earned.

    Complain about this comment

  • 160. At 7:24pm on 06 Jan 2009, north_of_49 wrote:

    Re comment 133 from MarcusAureliusII.

    From his message it is evident that he know SFA of what he speaks. Ever Emergency room has someone doing triage. The need for 5 or 6 stitches, unless there is significant bleeding or some other complication is hardly a life threatening situation. there is no way that a hospital can provide diagnosticians and facilities to get instant service and like any other queue there is a beginning and an end.
    USA spends more per capita and receives a lower level of service than does Canada. Why this should be presents an interesting conundrum. Could it be that there is profit to be made and more overheads to make sure no one gets anything they might not be entitled to. It is truly a sad state of affairs if someone might get a few extra toilet tissues without paying the appropriate premiums.
    So as to improve MAII's knowledge of Canada where I live I'll give him a short and possibly erroneous of how Canada's Health Care system works. Each province (= state) receives a certain amount of federally collected tax revenue . Most but not all Provinces supply additional funding and in some provinces there is 3rd level of funding from specific health care taxes based on income. After that provincial government agencies hand out heaps of money based on budget submissions and population. After that the money is paid out by the hospitals to its various suppliers doctors, nurses janitors,lab techs etc. Neither the federal government nor the provincial ones are directly responsible for most services. There are health care insurance plans which cover drugs, medical devices etc. In some provinces such as the one where I live the family pays the first $100 of annual drug costs, then the province pays the rest. I'm on a drug which costs $3900 a month. Since I'm over 65 I pay $6.60 part of which is paid by the private insurance plan. You tell me if that's a badly organized and run health care scheme.

    Complain about this comment

  • 161. At 7:24pm on 06 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:


    Happy New Year Malarcus,

    Wrong again. Remarkable.

    In the UK (and Canada, but I'll stick to the UK). You go and register and join a list. For life threatening stuff (heart attack, intensive care etc) you typically get treated pretty quickly. For other stuff (hip replacements, quality of life) you join a list. If you work for a company in a management position you typically have health insurance that lets you 'go private' and jump the line. Or you can just pay. One UK issue I have heard is once you pay for something on a particular condition you cannot get National health Service treatment for that condition.

    All the socialist / non socialist discussion is a red herring. The simple facts are in most Western Economies the system is mixed, with multiple providers and either a multiple payer private funding source (the US) or a large single public payer (the Health Service) plus additional private providers. In all countries the population will consume as much health care as they can get, so the real question for society is how much do you want to spend and who pays for it.

    In most countries this is done through a tax and paid centrally. In the US we pretend we are not taxed, take the money out of your pay packet visibly (your contribution) and invisibly (your employers). Which is better?

    The numbers show that the US spends far more on health care than other Western nations and gets about the same level of care. Why?

    I would opine 3 reasons:

    The multiple payer system is hugely complex, costs a lot of money to run and has to provide shareholders with a return on their capital. As a nation we spend way more on administration and management than otherwestern countries.

    The Bush prescription reforms included a clause that says the government will not negotiate the price of drugs with the providers. This was followed by rampant inflation in drug prices in the US which is passed on to consumers, hence the disgusting scene of pensioners taking busses to Canada to buy drugs.

    Litigation. Put simply, we sue doctors for stupid stuff so they are ultra careful. I recently had a medical which turned something tiny up, basically a benign and untreatable condition. In the UK the doctor would just say 'Let's keep an eye on that'. Here I had another 6 blood tests to tell us 'Ah, let's keep an eye on that'. Oh, and $700 charged to my insurance company. Limit folks to sueing for gross negligence only (Surgeon leaves wristwatch in pancreas, for example) and let us take our chances with the rest. You'd eliminate doctors insurance and a hell of a lot of testing.

    Doctor Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 162. At 7:51pm on 06 Jan 2009, seanspa wrote:

    NHS - cure or kill.

    I had the pleasure of a stay in a world famous hospital in Aylesbury a few years ago. I'd spent the previous week visiting my GP with an increasingly painful headache. Having been put on a full dose of paracetamol, then also a full dose of aspirin, the doctors ignored my claims of stomach upset and refused to give me antibiotics to clear up the infection that was causing the initial symptom.

    I was eventually admitted to hospital where I languished for 24 hrs getting steadily weaker. Only when I passed out, getting a 6 inch gash in my scalp, and then spending what seemed like eternity calling for help did they think of sorting out the problem. Antibiotics, 6 units of blood to replace that lost through internal bleeding and a weeks stay soon sorted me out. One junior doctor apologised to me as my treatment started, and said that it should never had happened. She was never seen again (by me, at least).

    Don't get admitted to hospital on a Friday evening - my experience is that doctors don't work over the weekend. I had a narrow escape.

    Complain about this comment

  • 163. At 7:56pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    I believe that now I have come up with
    a personal plan. Not having attained my
    financial goals, I am concocting a plan
    to wriggle myself across the Canadian
    border before my next major check-up
    is due.

    I've even started practicing my Canadian.
    Now, I can say, "It's aboot time for another
    beer, eh?"

    Complain about this comment

  • 164. At 8:12pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    161, to add on to what you have said, Sam,
    the Bush administration has tried to end this
    horrible abuse of drug companies' rights by
    putting pressure on Canadian pharmacies
    to not dispense drugs to Americans.

    Apparently, free trade is not something
    which was a universal principle of the
    Bush administration.

    Bush also ended a horrible practice whereby
    Americans could buy their drugs over the
    internet from foreign sources, claiming
    that it was "unsafe." These are, of course,
    drugs that are made offshore by these same
    American-based companies, and sold here for
    3 times what they retail for overseas.

    I say, forget about minor stuff like Iraq. Let's
    send Bush and his cronies to jail for their
    deals with the drug companies.

    Complain about this comment

  • 165. At 8:13pm on 06 Jan 2009, Wingsonwinds wrote:

    I am opposed to the government's involvement in health care, but everyone seems to agree that the US health care system, whether better or worse is a mess in some form or another.

    Also, many people are looking to Obama for some kind of solution and Obama seems determined to meet that Challenge.

    Since, Obama wants government to be involved in health care and since the current condition of the health care system is focused on making and protecting money, more than caring for the sick, perhaps one possible solution could be having government subsidize several non profit hospitals through out the US, without restricting current health care.

    if enough non profit hospitals were established, this could give people in need more options, this could allow those in favor of government intervention a solution, without overtaking the current capitalist system that many Americans feel so strongly about.

    In additional non profit medical institutions would take business away from profitable institutions, giving those for profit more incentive to find way to become competitive. This may help lower costs for everyone!

    Complain about this comment

  • 166. At 8:36pm on 06 Jan 2009, Agent 00Soul wrote:

    In general, I'm impressed that this discussion hasn't degenerated much into the usual fracas of us vs them. I think in this instance, everyone agrees that our health system is seriously broken. For the historical record, according to both my parents and grandparents the traditional private insurance/cash for service model worked fine until around the end of the 1980s. That's when the costs began to spiral out of control and the insurance companies themselves became more picky and litigious with their customers' ailments.

    I do think that reform of any kind would require a sea change in the cultural psychology. The huge majority would need to start considering health care at the basic level a fundamental right and not a commodity. A comparison would be with education, which is considered a fundamental right and therefore the government provides free schools for all children whose parents can't afford a better private school or choose not to spend the money. As of now, that kind of mentality simply doesn't exist for health care. Maybe as more and more upper middle class people like Justin can't afford services or aren't getting what they feel they are paying for, then there will be the kind of psychological will needed for a major overhaul.

    Either way, I doubt there would ever be a true national system like the UK or Canada has. The German or Dutch mix of private and public services with regulation would seem more logical. Even a leftie like myself admits that government agencies tend not to run very well and the people who work for these agencies - however well intentioned - tend not to be the best and brightest. Besides, does it not give all readers a chill to imagine people like Dick Cheney involved with something so personal as our indiviudual bodies LOL?

    Complain about this comment

  • 167. At 8:47pm on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #150.NoRashDecisions: "I got the impression you wanted to compare and contrast further the two systems when in your post #75 you said, "A comparison between the two healthcare systems would be of interest, especially since you are so enamoured of all things American and rarely, if ever, find fault with anything on this side of the Atlantic."

    Apologies for the tardy response, but that was directed at Justin - he rarely finds fault with anything American and, since he is returning to London, I would be interested in his observations about British (NHS) care and that which he had to pay for with his insurance.

    And for a New Year's resolution, please remove "got" from your vocabulary - and never, ever, use "gotten"! :)

    Complain about this comment

  • 168. At 8:49pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    162 SamTyler1969

    Do premiums increase? And.... what approx. does sufficient coverage cost per year?

    163 gunsandreligion

    Very amusing !! Just make sure to call ahead for an appointment. As previously mentioned most of our doctors now practice in the States. Forging the medicare card might prove a difficulty so you had better incorporate that into your plan.

    Your Canadian speak is dead on. Congrats.

    164 I believe we were running out of drugs, the demand was so great.

    Complain about this comment

  • 169. At 8:59pm on 06 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Reading your medical "history" The Netherlands is definitely the place for you.
    A few years ago they combined the provincial health care organisations with the provincial elite private insurers to produce the New Folks Insurance Medical Care packet to cover the whole country. Took them 12 months of wrangling.
    Contributions to this compulsory insurance for all who are residents [or can show residence like me] begins at 18 years of age and one is covered for everything. All meds, medical, dental, physio, acupuncture etc etc. Income related, with the head of the family's contributions covering the whole family, and the possibility of paying for higher level care or extended cover if desired. Top of the range [hot and cold running nurses on tap] costs about 1800 euros.per year. Payment includes a small percentage to protect the oldies who may require more treatments, and the cover extends through all European community lands with an extra form to be filled in for UK or far-away visits.
    Believe it or not, we place any Brit holidaymaker who needs treatment in quarantine, if they have visited an English hospital even as a visitor during the previous 6 months. [No MRSA in the brand new hospitals there!]
    The system works a treat for all, except in the case of top criminals about to be tried, who require open-heart surgery where they gain preference over the reserved appointment. [5 day wait] { Dutch justice means better to keep em alive , sentence them, and lock them away in the 5 star prison suite, where they can recover at their leisure for the week or two punishment that is given } [Compassionate private visits from the girlfriend too. Boy do they suffer!]

    Still, no worries for the patient, whose appointment has been delayed.
    With the ability to buy the good stuff you like, at any of the nearby "coffee shops", after the first puff or two you think - a few days wait?, a week?, a month? - who cares!. By the following few puffs you are wondering why you ever turned up at the hospital in the first place.

    Complain about this comment

  • 170. At 8:59pm on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #162. seanspa "NHS - cure or kill."

    I was about to post the same link!

    "Don't get admitted to hospital on a Friday evening - my experience is that doctors don't work over the weekend. I had a narrow escape."

    Two years ago, immediately before Christmas, I discovered that my elderly aunt suffered what appeared to be a terrible gastrointestinal problem - she called an emergency number (in Reading) and was told to to take pain killers. From Los Angeles I phoned a niece (my cousin) and asked her to visit ASAP, which she did and said our aunt was vomiting dark blood. After Christmas she was admitted to hospital, was operated on and thereafter died of a massive stroke. Had she been admitted immediately - not an option given to her - she might possibly still be alive today.

    Apparently seanspa's caveat applies to Bank (public) Holidays as well as weekends.

    Complain about this comment

  • 171. At 9:12pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #168, timewaits, I believe that I've got the
    forgery part down now. I saw a rerun of
    "The Great Escape," and now all that
    I need is a great motorcycle.

    Complain about this comment

  • 172. At 9:16pm on 06 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    Don't forget that in the UK there is a thriving private medical care system too and that the same problems viv-a vis changing jobs apply.
    I was faced with a 7 fold hike in BUPA premiums if I renewed my policy after switching jobs.
    Naturally I told them to shove it as I had never used the policy. But I do miss the security it provided .
    The original family of 4 cover seemed good value but the exclusions were horrendous.

    Also if you are disabled and on the poverty line in USA you might qualify for medicare and entitled to treatment in hospitals of a far higher standard of care than in the UK.

    Complain about this comment

  • 173. At 9:17pm on 06 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:


    Excellent post!

    Your comment about a person like Dick Cheney making health decisions for us gave me the shivering shudders!

    However, if you read my first post on this thread, I think I already encountered his mutant clone at our insurance company 'help line.'

    Complain about this comment

  • 174. At 9:31pm on 06 Jan 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Guns, I thought you would be going for a shot, not to get shot.

    Complain about this comment

  • 175. At 9:39pm on 06 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:


    I agree that we seem to have developed an obsession with straight whiter than white teeth in the US.

    However, I totally disagree that all tooth straightening is just cosmetic. Many times it is necessary to prevent years of pain and suffering due to improper bite and misaligned teeth.

    Complain about this comment

  • 176. At 9:43pm on 06 Jan 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    seanspa, if things keep going the way they
    are here, pretty soon the Canadians will
    have to be the ones worrying about illegal
    immigrants, not us.

    I'll just blend in with the rest of the ruckus.

    As far as putting up a 3,000 mile long fence,
    they might as well forget it. If all of their
    laborers gets free medical care, then their
    fence will cost trillions of dollars. The obvious
    tactic at that point would be to pose as
    one of the fence-builders. They won't be
    suspecting that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 177. At 9:49pm on 06 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #172. onward-ho: "if you are disabled and on the poverty line in USA you might qualify for medicare and entitled to treatment in hospitals of a far higher standard of care than in the UK."

    One's financial circumstances (let alone "poverty line") has nothing to do with Medicare:

    "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers Medicare, the nation's largest health insurance program, which covers nearly 40 million Americans. Medicare is a Health Insurance Program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant)."

    Complain about this comment

  • 178. At 9:56pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    171 gunsandreligion

    You can buy one in Canada if you come in the late fall - they'll be going for cheap - with the money you save on medical insurance.

    Are you planning on wriggling your way under the border? There was a tunnel between Washington and B.C. but those mean DEA agents destroyed it! Not sure where the RCMP were at the time - out getting their man, I guess.

    Complain about this comment

  • 179. At 10:08pm on 06 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    Don't forget the glove.

    Cooler Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 180. At 10:10pm on 06 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    No idea!

    Sorry Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 181. At 10:14pm on 06 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:


    Just remember to sign up as a "labourer" if you want to blend in or they might suspect you are American!

    Americans are welcome in this country just as long as they leave their "gunsandreligion" at home! We have a thing aboot that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 182. At 11:41pm on 06 Jan 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    You know, i would gladly wait a bit longer and pay a bit more in taxes for free care and cheaper medicine. The problem with most Americans (and i am one) is that we can't wait one second for anything w/out throwing our hands in the air and start complaining.
    If i want to see my obgyn, i have to wait 3-4 months anyway just to get an appointment and pay top dollar.
    I'm not sure with our me, me, me, now, now, now, attitudes, public health would take hold for some, so let them have their private insurance, and reflect that on their tax bill, but let the willing participants such as i have a choice to live a life free of this worry of will live or die sooner than later.
    I'm sad to say having a child never fit into my budget either and i've recently given up on the idea. Now i need a shrink, but can't afford one.

    Complain about this comment

  • 183. At 11:42pm on 06 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    Justin,3 5 678 11 18 25 all spot on
    I wrote "and "not "or", and defer to your knowledge, but a family member has just received such care.
    In UK, where we all have crooked teeth, no-one suffers any pain from crooked or mal-aligned teeth, apart from impacted wisdom teeth.
    That is a fact. You are all being conned.
    However it is a fact that years of having to wear orthodontic braces do cause pain and playground taunting, infection and damage.
    I have read some nonsense but that takes the biscuit....utter arrant baloney. Emergency weekend care and surgery is available in UK.
    169 Don't whatever you do take a sick kid with an ear infection to a GP in the Netherlands.They withhold antibiotics in an institutionalised and research based form of sadism.
    Their quarantine system is bonkers and a waste of cash and as for Dutch is like school dinners in an orphanage.
    Complainers come from every walk of life.But their complaints should only be listened to on a fee-paying basis as they are a complete waste of resources.
    150 dollars is about right and what patients are charged in UK in private clinics. Because it is free, patients in UK regard healthcare as being like unmetered tapwater that they consume at leisure. And maybe it is what GPs should be charging the NHS for if they were being paid fairly in UK.
    160 Sounds great, but what about your you pay her healthcare or do you not give a stuff?
    Please everyone ignore this nonsense about diabetes.
    In Britain, most of the rich do not pay taxes.They are called Tory tax dodgers.
    Most of the poor do not pay taxes either.The suckers in the middle pay all the tax.
    130 Waiting list and cancers.
    Glad to hear you recovered but you would have been treated promptly in Britain with a cancer.
    126 re Marcus Aurelius...Over investigation is not good medicine.It involves over exposure to radiation and invasive surgery and is not safe at all.Their complications rate must be horrendous.
    121It might be a cheap scan ,but was the report about you....what is the internal quality auditing and control and what are the qualifications and experience of the person doing the reporting?If I need a cup of tea in Paris I pay a heck of a lot more than the cost of a teabag in Tesco. But if I really need a cup of tea on the Champs Elysees then I gotta have it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 184. At 00:19am on 07 Jan 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    Justin Webb: I don't know how old your son is, but in the case of a friend of mine who developed type 1 diabetes as a young child, she had a spontaneous cure two or three years later. No one had an explanation for it, but it happened, and she did not suffer diabetes again in her life.

    How a one-day hospital stay can cost $3,000 is mysterious. As for the kit and the medications, that is not mysterious. Lobbyists in Washington, pharmaceutical corrupt practices, and profit-taking middlemen.

    I hope your son does well and I wish him the miracle of a spontaneous cure.

    Complain about this comment

  • 185. At 00:33am on 07 Jan 2009, Noliving wrote:

    Justin webb if I were you I would request that you get your bill to be itemized that way you can see if there are any errors on the bill. I know of one woman who was mistakenly charged for 3,000 disposable gloves. I'm not kidding either. Hospitals here make mistakes on the bills all the time.

    Complain about this comment

  • 186. At 01:29am on 07 Jan 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Is European medicine any good? I don't think so. The British doctors took forever to find out what was wrong with the Russian spy even though they knew he'd been poisoned. The French doctors never figured out what Arafat died from or if they did, they were playing dumb. I for one don't think they were playing. For better or worse, I'll take my chances here where they'll find a disease to fit you no matter what it costs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 187. At 01:43am on 07 Jan 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Onward-ho, I can confirm that my experience as recounted in #162 is accurate. Your dismissal of my experience as baloney is based upon your own ignorance of what happened. You weren't there. I was.

    If the doctors were around, it was not anywhere near me. Medical staff watched as I lost 6 pints of blood over 24 hours (so I was later told - I certainly know I received 6 units transfusion) and despite my claims of feeling weaker and weaker throughout the day they only acted once I collapsed.

    I was only in the situation because I was denied antibiotics. I understand why there are not used every opportunity, but I nearly lost my life over this.

    I do not claim that this is typical, but it most definitely did happen.

    Complain about this comment

  • 188. At 01:52am on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:


    Having given this some thought I believe there are real opportunities to embrace simple, homeopathic self administered medicine and reduce the costs to ourselves and our insurance companies, reducing the rates for all. For example:

    - Stomach upset? Chicken Vindaloo
    - Overweight? Vacation in Norway. Or eat 'western' food in India or Pakistan (Don't let the bottom fall out of your world, let the world fall out of . . .)
    - Toothache? A heavy door with a knob and a piece of string
    - Common Cold? Chicken Vindaloo
    - Stress related illness? Amsterdam coffee shop
    - Thinking cosmetic surgery? Try a bottle of Cabernet for your chum. OK, you may need a little blue pill as well. But those are cheap. In Canada. Guns can send you some.
    - Hair loss? Deal with it. You're fat anyway

    The possibilities are endless.

    Doctor Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 189. At 02:28am on 07 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #183. onward-ho -

    I think you should stick to oil futures rather lecture us on the NHS; many of us here have experienced healthcare on both sides of the Atlantic.

    "In Britain, most of the rich do not pay taxes. They are called Tory tax dodgers."

    Seems to me that Labour has just as many rich supporters - tax dodgers cross party lines.

    #121 It might be a cheap scan ,but was the report about you....what is the internal quality auditing and control and what are the qualifications and experience of the person doing the reporting?"

    My scan wasn't a "cheap scan" and of course it was about me - what do you think scanners do, forge the film with my name on it? The party who read it (not "reported") was the senior oncological surgeon with my healthcare provider. She subsequently removed the mass, about 5mm, the size of a lemon. Since there were only eleven days between diagnosis and surgery, I suggest that such swiftness would not have been available through the NHS - and getting an MRI (and CAT) scans would have taken much longer. The time would have been shorter had it not been for my request for a further consultation.

    Complain about this comment

  • 190. At 03:36am on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    We spend twice as much per capita as Europe on healthcare. We live shorter lives, with a lower quality of life. We spend more time with doctors. We take more drugs, and we pay more for them.

    Open heart surgery, gene therapy, penicillin, insulin. European.

    Although, during the civil war we did come up with a very fast way to lop off a leg.

    Surgery anyone?

    Chopper Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 191. At 04:04am on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    My Dad had a similar experience on the NHS. GP was worried, asked for a similar MRI. It did take 2 weeks, it was benign, and they did whip something out about 5cm big (a lemon, but not 5mm, a pistachio). Life threatening, NHS, no worries.

    On the flipside. With a bottle of Brandy, a chisel, a stick with some leather wrapped round it and a couple of friends you could have done it for free.

    Alternative medicine works.

    Druid Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 192. At 04:07am on 07 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:

    To #188 Samtyler1969

    I do enjoy your posts!

    If it was only myself and my dear one, your remedies would be enough but we have a young grandchild to consider.

    Hostages to fortune can make a person bow to anyone who holds power for life or death.

    Complain about this comment

  • 193. At 04:34am on 07 Jan 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    188, Sam.

    Another natural treatment and dirt cheap:

    -chronic bronchitis - vitamin B5
    -clogged sinuses/sinus headache - vitamin B5

    It works by reducing or elininating inflammation. Quick result.

    Complain about this comment

  • 194. At 05:29am on 07 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #191. SamTyler1969: "My Dad had a similar experience on the NHS. GP was worried, asked for a similar MRI. It did take 2 weeks, it was benign, and they did whip something out about 5cm big (a lemon, but not 5mm, a pistachio). Life threatening, NHS, no worries."

    Last sentence first - I mistyped when I wrote 5mm - I recently saw the MRI scan and it wasn't a pistachio! I should have typed '5cm'.

    After the MRI for your father, how long did it take to have the operation done? And why wasn't a biopsy made, which would have revealed whether or not it was benign or not.

    Unfortunately, the alternative remedy you suggest would have been less than satisfactory since an artery had to be severed which, had a chisel been used, would have resulted in death; with the brandy though, quite possibly a happy exit. Speaking of which, of the discoveries you mention, you omit anaesthesia, the discovery of which is credited to the American, William Thomas Green Morton, early 19th century.

    Complain about this comment

  • 195. At 09:03am on 07 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    I apologise for being rude and offhand... .....your experience was genuine, but the idea that there are no senior doctors on duty at the weekend is what I do not agree with.
    There is in medical mythology an investigative tool called the retrospectoscope which magically produces clear hindsightful images and views of what ought to have been done.
    I am sorry to hear of your ordeal , but it sounds as though it was not obvious at the time that you were losing blood.
    I am glad you have recovered and wish you well.
    But if US medicine is so great , how come there are so many lawsuits for negligence?
    I am not saying your US scan was cheap, I am saying that the cheap Asian one is cheap to us but maybe not for the Asians.....and it is the back of house quality stuff that you do not see that contributes to the cost of the scan. I have heard of fake scans and fake reports.....sometimes if something looks too good to be true......
    And I am glad that you recovered, but for every tale of US efficiency there are ones of systemic neglect of ill poor people or people caught short without insurance....and that makes America seem like a third world country to Europeans.

    Complain about this comment

  • 196. At 09:27am on 07 Jan 2009, booda30 wrote:

    Very sorry to hear the news. Myself diagnosed type 2 recently and the care in the uk has been awful.

    Rationing of blood glucose testing strips, a one size fits all solution for diabetes, where every diabetic is called "Norm" and assumed to be obese.

    But at least no bill to pay for in the end, and I know get "free" prescriptions.

    Complain about this comment

  • 197. At 1:00pm on 07 Jan 2009, andysue12 wrote:


    My wife and I are sorry to hear that your son has been diagnosed with diabetes type 1. Our eldest daughter was diagnosed 2 years ago and, although, it takes some getting used to, she now has a normal life. If anything, a healthier one, because you have to reduce the amount of sweets etc.

    My daughter now has a pump, which automatically injects her with the right amount of insulin - there is no need to inject and since starting with the pump, she has not had one hypo.

    In case you didn’t know, you can obtain a huge amount of support and information from the diabetes UK – the main charity here in the UK. As a father, I have found their support invaluable.

    The important thing to remember is that you control the condition. Do not allow it to control you (your son)

    Wish you all the best

    Complain about this comment

  • 198. At 1:37pm on 07 Jan 2009, SaintOne wrote:

    186. At 01:29am on 07 Jan 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Is European medicine any good? I don't think so"

    That "russian spy" would not have been able to afford medicine in the States, at least here he got some treatment and was cared for. Plus, he was poisoned by a radioactive-isotope, no way anyone could cure him of that.

    Regardless, both your examples were highly politicalized events and for that reason offer a fairly poor arguement.

    Perhaps you could perform an experiment on yourself with a radioactive-isotope and see if you would survive on the American health care system. You seem rather confident about it

    Complain about this comment

  • 199. At 1:56pm on 07 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    onward-ho # 195,
    Pleased to read your dismissal of the absence of senior medical staff being on duty, but do feel that Sam's DIY approach [# 188 and 191] to the work of a physician or surgeon has its merits.
    For too long doctors have been placed in the position of superheroes, where our individual experiences prove otherwise.
    Brain surgery could be carried out by a telephone engineer or electrician. Just a bit of new wiring required. Have a feeling the microscope the surgeons use is just for show and they are really looking at golf or basketball replays.
    Heart surgery is a garage job. Replace the valves, clean the plugs, distributor check, antifreeze and done.
    Urinary, gyno and prostate surgery is just a bit of plumbing. Choose the correct size pipe and couplings, and no torch necessary.
    Orthodontics and Dental care. A scaffolder and builder would fill the bill.
    Could Mccain have been on the right track?. Bring in a few Joe the plumbers, carpenters and the like, to fix the problems in Healthcare and get America back on it's feet, so ending the litigation mentality.

    Complain about this comment

  • 200. At 2:03pm on 07 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    Re Marcus Aurelius11
    From Wikipedia re: the original Marcus Aurelius
    The significance of death was very important in the philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. He didn't believe in the afterlife. He wrote: 'We live for an instant, only to be swallowed in "complete forgetfulness and the void of infinite time on this side of us." "Think how many ere now, after passing their life in implacable enmity, suspicion, hatred... are now dead and burnt to ashes." According to Marcus Aurelius everything will be turned in absolute oblivion, even legends. "Of the life of man the duration is but a point, its substance streaming away, its perception dim, the fabric of the entire body prone to decay, and the soul a vortex, and fortune incalculable, and fame uncertain. In a word all things of the body are as a river, and the things of the soul as a dream and a vapour; and life is a warfare and a pilgrim's sojourn, and fame after death is only forgetfulness." 'Everything existing "is already disintegrating and changing... everything is by nature made but to die." 'The length of one's life is irrelevant, "for look at the yawning gulf of time behind thee and before thee at another infinity to come. In this eternity the life of a baby of three days and the life of a Nestor of three centuries are as one." 'To desire is to be permanently disappointed and disturbed, since everything we desire in this world is "empty and corrupt and paltry." For Marcus Aurelius, death was desirable, because it would make an end to all desires.[9]

    Despite these thoughts on life and death, Marcus Aurelius was an advocate of rational virtue. According to Jonathan Dollimore, Marcus Aurelius had a kind of indifference towards the brutalities in life. As an emperor, he persecuted Christians and went frequently on military campaigns. He justified his deeds by pointing at the insignificance of worldly affairs.[10]

    ie not a very cheery git , who did not give a toss about anyone else.....sounds like his successor MA11 and American Healthcare!

    Complain about this comment

  • 201. At 2:27pm on 07 Jan 2009, Roy Brookes wrote:

    #183, please note that in my post #130 I referred to my father's dying because his cancer was NOT treated timely or well on the NHS. In fact I advised my mother to bring a malpractice suit against the doctors involved but she was too upset at the time to do anything. I have watched the NHS going slowly down the pan all my life. It's one of the reasons I live in Hamburg.

    Complain about this comment

  • 202. At 2:55pm on 07 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 194. David_Cunard and 191. SamTyler1969:

    I'm sure that if we polled everyone who comments on this blog we could come up with a number of anecdotal successes and horror stories in the US, UK, and Canadian health care systems. That's not really the point, though, is it?

    A national health care system, whether public or private, should be judged on its ability to deliver good-quality health care to the overwhelming majority of its citizens at a cost those citizens can afford. Not Cadillac or Rolls Royce health care with gourmet food and private rooms or the use of every test and machine known to medical science--good outcomes for the vast majority of its patients--at a price the country can afford. That is mainly a matter of sufficient numbers of well-trained general practitioners who make decent livings actually seeing patients, not high-tech hospitals or high-priced specialists. Good outcomes really happen when you have good front-line care and you never have to get to the high-priced hospitals or high-priced specialists.

    I'm not particularly concerned whether a system gives de luxe care to the very affluent or the wealthy. They will always be able to buy what they want. I'm more concerned that the rest of the population has access to good affordable medical care. On balance, I would have to say that the publicly-funded systems (whether delivery of care is public or private) do a better job of it than we do in the US.

    Complain about this comment

  • 203. At 3:01pm on 07 Jan 2009, travellingM wrote:


    why on earth do you think a cure will be found in America - you've been there way too long. Come home and take a look at what they rest of the world actually do!

    the history of anaesthesia can be found here:

    It always amazes me at just how much progress is science is allegedly from America.

    When I lived there, I was continually being informed that Americans had invented roads, TV, antibiotics etc, etc. The only thing they didn't lay claim to was fresh air.

    You'll note that few researchers in the US are actually American - no self respecting American family would dream of allowing their kids to study for so long and then earn so little with dreadful career prospects.

    I marvel at their ability to be so great at all things science including the age of the planet, their outright anger and evolution etc etc. Stunning, amazing, forever bizarre people. The Europeans and Asians do the research for them.....

    Best wishes to your son - he'll be fine once he settles down to a routine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 204. At 3:12pm on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:


    Hi David,

    Re anaesthesia, it's over rated. A big rubber mallet is what you want.

    I think you would have been OK with a 3mm Sash Mortice Chisel. Definitely. And a router.

    I'm going to set up a new retail business, maybe called 'Health Depot' to sell all this kit.

    Now if I can just get a new business loan . . .

    Entrepreneur Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 205. At 3:58pm on 07 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    Sorry about your dad ,and I lost mine too to cancer and I felt quite disillusioned about it too. I do not know the ins and outs of your dad's case and wouldn't presume to know, but I do wonder whether having an ealier diagnosis in a terminal illness is always a good Japan they think it is better to shield information as the prognosis is thought to be better in ignorance than with insight.
    Also many patients shy away from referral , and if not shielding, do not like complaining about their symptoms.
    As for German medicine, German medical students in Britain display a shocking lack of clinical insight and grasp compared to their UK contemporaries (in fact not contemporaries, the Germans do not seem to finish their medical training before their hair has fallen out, I am not sure if thereis a specific learning difficulty or an addiction to student life!) but know all the small print.

    Complain about this comment

  • 206. At 4:21pm on 07 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    169 Waterman

    Lol Strange I have lived in the Netherlands ,a few times.
    I had only one occasion to visit the emergency (work related) and it was very pleasant , nice Doctors etc. great experience.

    I did try looking for a dentist once but got confused . Every time I saw what lloked like it could be something to do with Dentists it was on the side of a truck.
    Big signs with smiling people and a word something like "DIENST" I think they were removal trucks lol

    Complain about this comment

  • 207. At 4:32pm on 07 Jan 2009, Flossyuk wrote:

    I wish people would stop refering to the NHS as free, because to the hard working tax payer it is anything but free. The NHS framework is good but unfortunately it is abused by anyone and everyone and used as a bartering tool for MP's, there are far more administrators than beds all on high salaries. The money squandered by the NHS could and would pay for better treatments and drugs.

    All this said in times of emergency I am so glad we have our system and not the American one, in these cases you are seen, diagnosed and treated very quickly other then that you have to wait and see if there is a bed available!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 208. At 4:33pm on 07 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    202 timohio

    The comments here offer up: "It's the best / worst, It saved my life / bankrupted me", etc. but no solutions other than, "I hope Obama does something about it."

    Demand it of your State politicians - you did place them there to work on your behalf - to introduce a State plan.

    Canadians may complain about our health care system and wonder why the government does not put more money into it (we ask not why we are not taxed more!), but we would not for one moment contemplate scrapping it.

    Insulin was discovered by two Canadians - Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best.

    Complain about this comment

  • 209. At 4:57pm on 07 Jan 2009, rootsandculturestyle wrote:

    My sympathies during what is obviously a horrible period for parents and child.

    I can't see any adequate justification for the profit-hungry, seemingly callous insensitivity of the American health care system. For the richest nation on earth to feel no obligation to go to great lengths to keep its citizens healthy (whatever their means), is an alien concept to me.

    However, I speak as an outsider to the US and its systems. Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in my early teens, about 10 years ago, I can speak in glowing terms of the care I have received from the NHS. Your example of the testing equipment (not cheap on the free market) is striking - whereas the average American might have to scrimp and save to afford this necissity, I have received perhaps 10 to 15 different makes and models, all free of charge, to grant me choice over which fitted my needs best. If freedom of choice is one of the core arguments for privatised medical care, then it certainly doesn't seem to be in evidence here.

    In addition to years of excellent care, I was recently invited to attend a week-long DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) course. The goal of the week was to find a personal ratio for carbohydrate intake to insulin dosage. In addition to learning a great deal, we were able to have daily interaction with nurses, consultants and dieticians who specialise in treating diabetics. Although my diabetes is something I prefer to wear lightly in my daily life, the opportunity to spend a week with other type 1 diabetics was genuinely enjoyable. From what I've gleaned here, you are likely to return to the UK at some point, where I am sure this facility will be available to your son. The basic principles are well worth investigating in consultation with a doctor and have certainly improved my control measurably.

    Your son has youth and modern technology on his side, fantastic developments have been made in recent years and research is plentiful and well funded. There is definite reason for optimism that within his lifetime we may even have a cure, and it is a certainty that medical breakthroughs will lessen the impact the condition has on his day to day life.

    Best wishes to your son and the rest of your family as you tackle this together.

    Apologies if I have strayed off topic or rehashed previous points, haven't had time to read every comment.

    Complain about this comment

  • 210. At 5:02pm on 07 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    PS next time I accuse Truely wrong for only joining us on one topic look at this or the next post.

    Troll Troll Troll
    Troll Troll Troll Troll

    Complain about this comment

  • 211. At 5:10pm on 07 Jan 2009, sforrest3 wrote:

    Dear Justin,

    I'm sorry about the diagnosis for your son. It isn't a death sentence, but it does contribute to your family's worries. I'm sending you and your family positive thoughts and prayers.


    Complain about this comment

  • 212. At 5:25pm on 07 Jan 2009, dceilar wrote:

    #208 timewaits

    May I suggest the French system? If my memory serves me right it is a State system that commissions the private sector to provide healthcare. I think Australia have a similar system. The downside is that it costs more than the NHS, but as much as the US pays.

    Complain about this comment

  • 213. At 5:32pm on 07 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    208 lol thats the same in the UK, they will debate all sorts but I suspect if you polled the uK to see if they should scrap it there would be very few.
    No politician will mention scraping the NHS("reforms" yes) ,they would get no where .

    Americans seem to think that British and Canadian folk always complain about their system.
    That is because a lot more have a system to complain about.
    In the US there is no SYSTEM. there is an industry.
    Industry of making money not fixing people up or God forbid preventing problems.

    Link to

    Shows how Primary care givers are running low on supply.
    Everyone wants to be a millionaire.

    Some however are happy with low wages$180 000 a year because they feel they are helping,(good on them). Others want to be a millionaire , now.So they go for the 3 times the wages job of proctologist or something

    I would suggest they give Grants to people to study if they will become Primary care givers for15 years at market rates(same $180 000)

    Not a bad rate.
    By most peoples standard.

    Complain about this comment

  • 214. At 5:38pm on 07 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    happylaze # 206,

    You were almost there checking out the "dienst" removal trucks, when searching for a dentist in Holland. Dienst translates as service, aid or care.
    How do you think those who work in the dental or medical profession are able to take all the money they earn home?

    Complain about this comment

  • 215. At 6:19pm on 07 Jan 2009, ChicagoDB wrote:

    I was on the NHS when I lived in the UK for three years, and I miss it.

    Back in the US now, I feel very fortunate to have health insurance. However, just because I'm insured doesn't mean everything is all roses.

    I have just recovered from an illness that ended up costing me over $1000 out of pocket. I feel punished for being ill, and now I'm completely stressed out trying to figure out how to pull an extra $1000 out of nowhere.

    I also feel like my hospital is run more like a business than a care center. Twice on the phone they have referred to me as a "customer" instead of a "patient." That's America for you!


    Complain about this comment

  • 216. At 6:22pm on 07 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #199. watermanaquarius: "Heart surgery is a garage job. Replace the valves, clean the plugs, distributor check, antifreeze and done."

    How many garages actually deal with spark plugs and distributors these days?!

    #207. Flossyuk: "I wish people would stop refering to the NHS as free, because to the hard working tax payer it is anything but free."

    NHS funding primarily comes from general taxation, but the services of the NHS are "free at the point of need". Granted, things like prescription drugs have a small charge attached to them, but otherwise, for the user the cost is nil.

    #205. onward-ho: "I do wonder whether having an ealier diagnosis in a terminal illness is always a good idea..."

    In the case of cancer, if it's diagnosed early enough, then steps can be taken to ensure that it's not terminal. Cancer does not have to be a death sentence if diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

    Complain about this comment

  • 217. At 6:45pm on 07 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    214 Waterman.

    I found their "arts" galleries were a bit sterile.

    But found a nice smile smith in the end.

    Though i never got no braces.
    Lol Aqua.

    I realise that teeth sometimes need to be fixed and braces are needed, but not by all who reach puberty as it is in the states.
    just because it is one of them things that is allowed on many plans.
    "For Marcus Aurelius, death was desirable, because it would make an end to all desires.[9]"

    lol we wish.

    Complain about this comment

  • 218. At 6:46pm on 07 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    213 happylaze

    You are quite right. You do need to first have something to be able to complain about it. We just as often, if not more, sing its praises.

    We often point out its deficiencies so as not to appear superior with "our system is better than your (lack of one").

    This is from Health Canada:

    First and foremost, Canadians support their health care system. As The Conference Board of Canada has noted: "Of all of Canada's social policies, [the health care system] is the most prized, and it is central to Canadians' views of what is necessary for a high quality of life."

    US doctors probably need all that additional money for malpractice insurance! Suing is virtually pointless in Canada. If they make a mistake, they fix it for free. End of story!

    Complain about this comment

  • 219. At 6:47pm on 07 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Some have no need for a free lunch they are so rich they are "out to lunch" all the time.

    Complain about this comment

  • 220. At 7:13pm on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    Insulin is over rated. Beer and those Cadbury chocolate egg things are all you need.

    Sick Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 221. At 7:31pm on 07 Jan 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 213. happylaze:

    "I would suggest they give Grants to people to study if they will become Primary care givers for 15 years at market rates(same $180 000)"

    In fairness to physicians, many need to take out enormous loans to pay medical school tuition, then take out more enormous loans to set up a medical practice once they graduate. By the time they have paid off those loans, they probably need to take out loans to pay for their childrens' college educations, since public higher education in the US is almost as big a shambles at the health care system.

    I think your suggestion is exactly what's needed, but I would add that the new doctors would be required to join clinic-like practices in areas needing health care. The US government already does something like that to supply physicians for the military. They pay your med school tuition in exchange for a set number of years in the military as a physician (at military pay rates, which aren't exactly in the $180,000 region you cite). And it's not all for the treatment of battle injuries; there are military physicians in all of the specialties on US bases treating both the members of the services and their families.

    So that would keep health care a private delivery system (which Americans seem to want, for some reason). The other likely part of the fix is to create a government mandated insurance program similar to what Massachusetts has. I think the insurance coverage (in terms of the percentage of the population) there is similar to the coverage of the population in the Canadian system. It's new, so we don't really know how well it works, but it would be a start.

    Complain about this comment

  • 222. At 9:48pm on 07 Jan 2009, happyskeptic wrote:

    "Re #96, in answer to my own comment #34, I am self-employed in Germany and was never given the choice to go into the state system but was private from day 1. Health insurance and health care taken together cost me more than anything else, including my house and 2 cars. OK, I earn very good money and can afford it, but a couple of families could live on what my health costs me in a year."

    Ok, I've looked into this more (I may become self-employed soon in Germany) and it seems you can only go into the public system as self-employed if you can prove you were part of the public system in another EU country in the past 12 months or something. Germans love their insanely complex laws! I'm not sure about the high costs though - my current (private) insurance costs me 13.8% of my income if I go self-employed (half that currently with employer contributions).

    Post 165: "perhaps one possible solution could be having government subsidize several non profit hospitals through out the US, without restricting current health care.
    if enough non profit hospitals were established, this could give people in need more options, this could allow those in favor of government intervention a solution,"

    Why do Americans never look beyond their own borders when trying to solve these problems? Just about all other Western nations that have public healthcare also have healthy private insurance sectors - supported by the large percentage of middle-class and wealthier people who're prepared to pay extra for that extra care (mainly skipping the queue on non-urgent procedures and so on). There's no need to step tentatively into this - a handful of govt. run non-profit hospitals is not going to make a huge difference - why don't you just catch up with Europe, Canada and Australia here in the 21st century?

    Complain about this comment

  • 223. At 10:19pm on 07 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    220 SamTyler1969

    Oh - very funny!! Not sure if Justin will be amused so perhaps we won't tell him.

    You seem to have become very flippant. Maybe you should check your sugar levels. Or have a "beer and those Cadbury chocolate egg things."

    Complain about this comment

  • 224. At 10:24pm on 07 Jan 2009, aquarizonagal wrote:


    I have some family members living in Massachusetts. They are very happy with this system but perhaps that is only because they have twins with special medical needs. Both parents work and they have some health insurance through work, but if I understand correctly, the state program also helps with their little boy's extra medical needs. I know they get really good care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 225. At 11:05pm on 07 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    David # 216 replying wrote
    "How many garages actually deal with spark plugs and distributors these days?!"

    David. Big 3 mechanics need not apply. Obviously those of vintage and veteran cars will be required, because we are an old model, free of modern day junk.
    As a gardener this is not really my field, but I envisage a minimal invasive procedure using a sharp screwdriver.
    [1] Valves .- Aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid. [2] Sparkplugs - SA node {sinoatrialnode] and AV node [atrioventricularnode] [3] Distributor - Bachmans bundle, Bundle of His, Purkinje fibres, muscle cells. [4] Antifreeze - intravenous medications.
    God knew what he was doing when he made us. Just don't look at the bodywork.

    Complain about this comment

  • 226. At 11:17pm on 07 Jan 2009, seanspa wrote:

    Happyskeptic asks "Why do Americans never look beyond their own borders when trying to solve these problems?"

    Because if they are going to make a mess of anything, it's damn well going to be their mess!

    Complain about this comment

  • 227. At 00:40am on 08 Jan 2009, onward-ho wrote:

    In the case of cancer, if it's diagnosed early enough, then steps can be taken to ensure that it's not terminal. Cancer does not have to be a death sentence if diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

    Of course that is true.

    Complain about this comment

  • 228. At 01:07am on 08 Jan 2009, MidknightKiss wrote:

    Justin, be sure to keep item-checking the hospital bills as US hospitals have been known to add on charges for services the patient didn't receive.

    Complain about this comment

  • 229. At 01:31am on 08 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    #163 guns and religion

    And if you are asked to say the sure to say x, y zed

    And when writing its colour and centre.

    Complain about this comment

  • 230. At 01:42am on 08 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    A clear way to bring down costs in health care is by using computers in hospitals.

    This has been looked at by an agency in the US Department of Health and Human Services and a quick read of what is recommended can be found at:

    "Using computers in health care can improve the quality and effectiveness of care and reduce its cost. However, adoption of computerized clinical information systems in health care lags behind use of computers in most other sectors of the economy. "

    Complain about this comment

  • 231. At 02:38am on 08 Jan 2009, ladycm wrote:

    At 01:52am on 07 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969:

    "- Hair loss? Deal with it. You're fat anyway."


    Complain about this comment

  • 232. At 03:28am on 08 Jan 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:



    Agreed. I prescribe myself a darned good spanking.

    Oh yeah. Now we're talking.

    Deviant Sam

    Complain about this comment

  • 233. At 03:29am on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Tim 221
    I would fully agree about the giving back clause there.i didn't include it because i thought I would provoke some of them commie calls;). The education system would have to be overhauled as well to make sure the was not excess profiteering for the subsidised places.Like the health care industry today.
    Though maybe it wouldn't matter.that would be a case of market forces maybe.

    Complain about this comment

  • 234. At 03:31am on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Time waits 218
    "US doctors probably need all that additional money for malpractice insurance! Suing is virtually pointless in Canada. If they make a mistake, they fix it for free. End of story!"

    Yep that is the way to sort it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 235. At 04:14am on 08 Jan 2009, smileytm303 wrote:

    Poor Justin and family--this is bad news indeed. And as an ex-pat I know about the hospital thing. I was hit with an ambulance bill for $12 000 when I had palpitations in Philly a couple of years ago! My insurance covered it--but what of those without it or with limited insurance? How come a trip down precisely two city blocks cost that much?

    Complain about this comment

  • 236. At 04:27am on 08 Jan 2009, smileytm303 wrote:

    12 wrote:

    Why is the American health care system such a concern to the British? What is it to you, other than to point out how superior you think you are.

    --Well, to some of us who live in the US, it's truly disturbing to see the richest most powerful country in the world with one of the worst health care systems in the Western world, and distressing to see how confusing and oppressive it is compared with what we grew up with. Simple.

    Complain about this comment

  • 237. At 04:55am on 08 Jan 2009, timewaitsfornoman wrote:

    234 happylaze

    It's a simpler way of life. Things seem so much more complicated in the US.

    Medical costs are high because education costs so much. Simple - make education cheaper.
    So many tests are done to avoid litigation. Simple - cut out the lawyers.
    Five star hospitals are built - well I'm not too sure why? To attract better quality patients? Isn't the purpose of a hospital to cure sick people? Well whatever the reason. Simple - bring back hospitals that are functional and look like hospitals.

    Oh - and regarding that beyond belief hospital in your part of the world. The glass artist is listed as working in Winnipeg Ontario. Someone should tell the people of Winnipeg they're not in Manitoba anymore. They could try following a yellow brick road home but right now it's under two feet of snow.

    Complain about this comment

  • 238. At 05:15am on 08 Jan 2009, application_writer wrote:


    Open MRI usually has a very low strength magnet ie 0.3 Tesla. This is advisable in patients who are claustrophobic. This is very bad machine with poor resolution

    The routine MRI scan has 1.5 tesla magnet. The resolution is very good. Almost all the university hospitals in UK in NHS have a 1.5T MRI scans and some NHS hospitals even have 3 Tesla machines. I have rarely seen any doctor in UK advising 0.3T scan unless some reason like claustrophobia.

    The fact that you have been charged 1300 $ for open MRI is expensive indeed. I heard that in australia the cost is between 175 to 300 dollars. The cost for open MRI in India is any where between 50-60 USD and 1.5T MRI is between 150-200 USD. In some of the hospitals you have UK trained and US trained radiologist who report the scans hence you cant really doubt the authenticity of the reports.

    I really cannot explain why the cost of the MRI scan is cheap elsewhere across the world and exuberantly high in US. It is bubble, I would call it as medical bubble.

    Regarding the waiting time for cancer treatment in NHS, patients will be seen at priority and GP refer them to specialist on urgent basis.

    Again I would like to reiterate that cost of medical health care is disproportionately high, like the housing bubble it might as well burst.

    Complain about this comment

  • 239. At 06:17am on 08 Jan 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #238.application_writer: "Open MRI usually has a very low strength magnet ie 0.3 Tesla. This is advisable in patients who are claustrophobic. This is very bad machine with poor resolution."

    An open scan was at my request and used to confirm the CAT scans previously taken and which in fact had showed the mass in the first place. I understand that the magnet strength of the scanner involved was 0.7 Tesla, which I suggest is not "a very bad machine".

    "I have rarely seen any doctor in UK advising 0.3T scan unless some reason like claustrophobia."

    I could have had a regular MRI but chose the open, although I had agreed that if the images were unsatisfactory I would subject myself to the closed type, with the proviso that some kind of fast-acting sedative be administered. As it was, the images were deemed to be of sufficiently high resolution. I recently saw them and even to the untrained eye, the mass and its location was very evident.

    Incidentally, I wasn't charged a penny for any of the scan - my healthcare provider paid. And remember, in the USA, medicine is a business and this was done at a separate facility. For good or ill, there has to be a profit!

    Complain about this comment

  • 240. At 09:28am on 08 Jan 2009, bethpa wrote:

    If an American has good health insurance many doctors will ask for unnecessary tests to make money from the insurance company.

    So some patients are overly examined and tested while others are ignored...depending upon the insurance they have.

    Complain about this comment

  • 241. At 3:16pm on 08 Jan 2009, kizmo92 wrote:

    dont some european countrys have free heath care or at least very low payments
    there is no reason that we couldnt have it we are told that we are the greatest country hows bout we show it and have free heath care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 242. At 3:47pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    237 you saw our local hospital then.It is lovely. they built it to provide a better recuperation environment. It is no doubt, but most are in and out as quick as can be because of costs,."go home and wait" approach that it is not like they are there for that long.

    I know of one old lady here that died recently not because of early release but that sure did speed things up. Not good.

    At least the Doctors make the decision in the UK....I hope.

    241 that's the reason I do live here.I know there are always some that think like that.

    We wanna claim "can do" then "do",easy, then no need to feel bad about saying it anymore because it is true.

    Complain about this comment

  • 243. At 3:55pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    237 lol on the geography report.

    Complain about this comment

  • 244. At 4:11pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    We got a big new court house , a FEDERAL court house no less no need to use the old one.Not secure enough, forced on us in Eugene(turned down by local ballot)by the feds but they could not have said.

    "OK you want to build a big Hotelospital. How about we take this money for the federal hippie hotel(court house) and give it to you for a bit of space for a public hospital here.
    Hell seeing as we are breaking loads of environmental rules to let you build there how about we keep the money to fund the doctors and you the so called"non profit" build us some space for free.Seeing as we have to build a new bus route out to the boondocks for you."

    Complain about this comment

  • 245. At 4:15pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    We got Obama in. We can, we did.
    We want health care. We can.It just takes a change of mind then it will happen.
    If America was polled on health care how many want universal health care?

    If enough want it then surely in a democracy it should be done.

    All that is needed is a decision really the rest will flow.

    Complain about this comment

  • 246. At 4:20pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:


    MA lol this is good humour. thanks (yuck shower time)
    "For better or worse, I'll take my chances here where they'll find a disease to fit you no matter what it costs."

    Even if they have to dream one up,eh.
    I think that was what you were implying.

    Complain about this comment

  • 247. At 4:31pm on 08 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    222 happyskeptic
    " why don't you just catch up with Europe, Canada and Australia here in the 21st century?"

    1 We done seen it on FOX, they said that it don't work ;)

    2 That pinko commie M.Moore want it so it got to be bad for you.

    3 Canada don't count;)We can't see them places from our states.

    That is about the sum of the arguments I have heard against something.

    Complain about this comment

  • 248. At 7:02pm on 08 Jan 2009, TiredOfHotAir wrote:

    It is good to hear that your son has been seen to and will do well, although obviously the experience and the aftermath have been unnerving.

    The U.S. health care situation is probably the most expensive per capita in the world but does not produce results of the same quality as systems in some other countries. As the health insurance industry generally is for-profit and because of inept legislation dealing with health care for senior citizens quite a lot of the money spent ends up in the pockets of insurers. The Washington, D.C. politicians have favored the enrichment of the insurance people and the drugs makers over and above the quality of medical care and good economic stewardship. We lived in the U.K. for years and had good care under the N.H.S. although sometimes it was somewhat slow.

    The U.S. "system" is badly in need of reform. The number of people without insurance is growing. They often seek government-mandated treatment in hospital emergency rooms, overloading them, and often without the means to pay the hospital passes the cost onto insurance providers of other patients and even other patients who can pay themselves, resulting in an upward spiral in the cost of insurance and an obviously unjust situation.

    Complain about this comment

  • 249. At 09:00am on 09 Jan 2009, Lee Roy Sanders, Jr. wrote:

    In my humble opinion the priority of any nation of people is to care for the aged and disabled. I don't see that happening. Not just health care but the income they have to exist on. Medical Companies and Doctors
    pricing squander the money of the poor.

    The United States Government take money from the Social Security to pay for their debt and I have been told it is well over $4 Trillion Dollars reported 10 years ago and it hasn't been paid back yet.

    Because Medicare doesn't pay all the bills, supplemental medical insurance is forced the Retired and Disable. This burden taxes the already poverty level income of the disabled and retired.

    Supplemental Insurance together with Medicare still does not pay the total debts of ambulance, hospital, pharmacy, doctor bills and other services because of the very low price ceiling that insurance sets to pay for each item billed the citizen.

    Even living below the poverty level, no other resources are available if one is lucky enough to own a home and vehicle to drive.
    The US Citizen has become throw away citizens once they can no longer work to gain a living. Their funds are stolen from by the very government they have lifelong supported. The Government saying that Social Security is going broke is just a ball face lie. At the very least 1/6 th. of the people paying into Social Security never even get to retire and those funds are retained in the balance of the Social Security's funds. That's a lot of money..

    Complain about this comment

  • 250. At 11:29pm on 09 Jan 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    On the UK news, they have just revealed a case of genetic "manipulation" where separating the gene that gives a greater chance for developing breast cancer has been irradicated from a new born daughter, in a family where the condition unfortunately prevails. Scientific discoveries can be amazing.
    Unfortunately, ethical questions will always occur in research medicine, and realising the sad situation that many hospitals guard their individual progress and findings for fear of being beaten to the finish post by other hospitals following a similar course of investigation, the advice from posters on this thread is worth it's weight in gold. Secrecy of diabetes research progress falls into the same category, so check out everything you can find, all around the world.
    I do hope you are slowly adjusting to your son's newly discovered condition, and not wrapping him in cotton wool as all caring parents tend to do. My own experience is that the first 28 years of worrying about each child are the worst, though the situation has now changed. As I enter my second childhood they now start to worry about me.
    All our kids are more resilient than we imagine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 251. At 3:16pm on 10 Jan 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Just to add my best wishes for you and yours. Hurry home to the NHS

    God Bless

    Complain about this comment

  • 252. At 11:12pm on 10 Jan 2009, turriffic wrote:

    It is something that most of us in the UK struggle to understand, that the USA have allowed a health system to evolve that is unfair to so many.
    I once heard a stat, (which the Americans like so much), which was that only 35% of the population of the States has adequate medical insurance. Yet we are told this is where nearly all of the break throughs in medical advancement comes from. The BBC did a number of programmes on radio 4 about the 60th anniversary of the start of the NHS some of these programmes looked at health systems in other countries, one was the USA. One lady interviewed had been knocked over in the street by a car and had nearly lost her home paying for the health costs.
    The NHS is not perfect but i will take it any day over a insurance backed scheme like the one in the States.

    Complain about this comment

  • 253. At 01:07am on 11 Jan 2009, chronophobe wrote:


    My best wishes to your youngster. Courage to you and your missus.

    Canadian Pinko (aka Lawrence Stuart)

    Complain about this comment

  • 254. At 4:31pm on 11 Jan 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "FOR ALL THE UNCERTAINTIES IN today's world, there's at least one safe bet: Unhappy patients will continue to sue their doctors. And that is excellent news for American Physicians Capital , a specialized provider of malpractice insurance for doctors.
    [amerphyscap insur]
    William Waitzman for Barron's
    Malpractice insurance is a $10 billion-a-year industry. APC averages one lawsuit a year for every 10 doctors it insures.

    "It's difficult to find any company more insulated from economic weakness than this one," says Michael Nannizzi, an analyst with Oppenheimer. Doctors, he points out, have little choice but to buy malpractice insurance, and that has made for a $10 billion-a-year industry in the U.S."
    Hope you don't have any cause to sue...


    Complain about this comment

  • 255. At 5:08pm on 11 Jan 2009, dajsmith wrote:


    My support goes out to your son and your family.

    I am a Type 1 Diabetic myself and have been since I was 5 years old. My younger brother also developed Type 1 DM only six months before me.

    I was in a primary (elementary) school at the time in the Highlands of Scotland of 120 pupils. I was the only diabetic pupil and 6 years later, there were 8 diabetics. The nearest hospital for me was 45 miles away in Inverness and over my 6 years in the north, the paediatric diabetes unit developed from 3 rooms in the paediatric unit to a dedicated, separate 3 storey building.

    My family then moved to central Scotland and I joined a high school of 900 pupils - again I was the only diabetic pupil. 6 years later again, there were 6 diabetic pupils - all type 1.

    Now, I don't think that I am a "bad luck charm" but hope that I've illustrated type 1 diabetes mellitus is on the rise and as more money and research goes towards diabetes therapy, the better it will be for everyone.

    In my experience, the best way to maintain a good control on diabetes is knowledge. The knowledge of what to do when having a big meal, sports day, birthday cake, if an injection is a parent, your child will rely on you (much more that they will ever know) and though it is a great responsibility, it is extremely rewarding.

    I am now a 2nd year medical student in one of the country's top schools (and will doubtless end up in the NHS machine!) and my brother is currently applying to music schools across the country.

    Diabetes has never been a limit in my life - in fact I feel it has made me a fuller person.

    Complain about this comment

  • 256. At 7:17pm on 11 Jan 2009, happylaze wrote:

    so a friend I mentioned before suffering from cancer has had to work during recovery because that is how the insewerants is paid.No work no insurance. They were getting disability but that will be taken away because they can go to work and if the remission keeps up they will have to go back full time despite that not being what the doctor recommends.

    Immediate withdrawal of ALL elected officials health care plans.

    Funny how many newly olders are wanting it now they are old. Selfish expletives.

    Complain about this comment

  • 257. At 4:33pm on 12 Jan 2009, petertelford wrote:


    I am a UK barrister working with cancer and rare disease charities.

    This is pro bono work.

    I am in Washington D.C. Monday through Saturday 12 January 2009 to 17 January 2009.

    I am addressing a National Conference of the Cancer Leadership Council on Tuesday 1.13.09 9.30 am at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel.

    The members are the heads of all US national cancer charities.

    The subject matter is whether any future US Medical legislation should include "Comparative Effectiveness".

    In other words, should the US adopt the approach of the UK government and set up it's own National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness (NICE)?

    This will have fundamental implications for the Private health care system as well as any government funded national health system.

    A download of the kind of documents which people in the UK need to obtain controversial treatments due to lack of evidence of cost effectiveness (NICE refusal) is available at; follow NEWS to "Treatment We Need".

    There is a draft of what I will say on this subject which will be available midday Tuesday 1.13.09.

    Thanks for the opportunity to let people know about this.

    Peter Telford

    Complain about this comment

  • 258. At 5:35pm on 17 Jan 2009, phileuro wrote:

    You might want to watch 'Simply Raw - Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days' ( [ not affiliated to me in any way! ] which is this astounding documentary about the treatment of Type 2 and 1 diabetes. It will blow your mind! It did mine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 259. At 6:49pm on 17 Jan 2009, cottonmather wrote:

    Dear Mr. Webb,

    Thank you for this piece. You clearly understand many Americans' frustration with our health care system.

    Even the insured are often forced to deal with an expensive and byzantine steeplechase.

    Anyone who expresses fundamental, structural criticism is liable to be accused of socialism, whatever the **** that means anymore.

    Anyway, my best wishes foryour son and your family. May you all live long and prosper.

    -Ian in Bloomington IN

    Complain about this comment

  • 260. At 00:06am on 18 Jan 2009, Australiano wrote:

    Hi Justin,
    I apologise for your son getting type 1 diabetes. Its not the best to get when you are living in the states. I was lucky as I was diagnosed in Australia where we too share a similar health system like the Brittish. Shortly after I was diagnosod I managed to go with my father to visit his father who lived in Boston, Mass. Diabetes is genetic in my family amongst the boys, my grandfather had it, my father has it and I have it too. What I was shocked to see when I was there that my grandfather had lost his eye sight due to not keeping up with the bill payments of seeing an optometrist, this scared me as well. As you´ll find out that not only does diabetic need to see a regular doctor, but also a dietitians, diabetologists, podiatrists, endocrinologists and the list goes on. I feel sorry for you Justin to have to be in such a situation. And upon reading your article I found that I wasn´t the only one in this world who sees some of the rich living a life of carefree as while some of america´s poor needs their help. Why can´t they introduce a social security system that gives out free health care? That is my question.

    Complain about this comment

  • 261. At 00:09am on 18 Jan 2009, Australiano wrote:

    That 30 day Raw diet actually only applies to some type 1 diabetics. Most of those people in the video were type 2.

    Complain about this comment

  • 262. At 12:01pm on 18 Jan 2009, haselyny wrote:

    Very sorry to hear about your sons illness and the stress this whole situation has caused. Worrying solves nothing.

    Definitely watch the Raw for 30 Days - an independent documentary film (that chronicles six Americans with diabetes who switch to a diet consisting entirely of vegan, organic, live, raw foods in order to reverse diabetes naturally). You may also want to check out "Bruce Lipton - The New Biology - Where Mind and Matter Meet" on google video and then decide weather the doctors who do not know the basics of how nature works are really competent enough to treat your son. And read the book Bruce Lipton mentions - "You can Heal Your Life."

    Once your knowledge in these matters is sufficient, it will be time to ask for forgiveness from your son for not knowing about the laws of nature before and relying too heavily on the fragmented medical science that fails to appreciate the wholeness of his being.

    Om Shanti

    Complain about this comment

  • 263. At 2:35pm on 18 Jan 2009, one_under_god wrote:

    comiserations re your son
    but your faith in western medicine is misplaced, [you see your lear jet setting elite are cleaning up from not treating the disease but the symptom

    i suggest googling type 1 diabetus dr mercola

    you should get something like this, sadly you report not investigate [typically like most of the media]

    Potatoes May Cause Type 1 Diabetes - Articles28 Jun 2003 ... A toxin in vegetables such as potatoes and beets may trigger type 1 diabetes. Pregnant women who eat these foods may increase their ... - 48k - Cached - Similar pages
    Cure for Insulin-Dependent Type 1 Diabetes - ArticlesPig insulin cells could lead to a new treatment for diabetes. Find out how this breakthrough experiment could potentially cure diabetes. - 55k - Cached - Similar pages
    More results from »
    Q and A - Natural Treatment for Type 1 DiabetesAre there any cutting-edge, natural means such as systemic enzymes of fighting type 1 diabetes? - 93k - Cached - Similar pages
    Q and A - Type 1 diabetes and dietRead the breaking news about type 1 diabetes. ... a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. ... - 93k - Cached - Similar pages
    More results from »
    Joseph MercolaType 2 diabetes, of course, is already virtually 100 percent curable with ... Glutamine - (makes autism ... - 8k - Cached - Similar pages
    Dark Deception: Discover the Truths about the Benefits of Sunlight ... - Google Books Resultby Joseph Mercola, Jeffry Herman - 2008 - Science - 240 pages
    1 Joseph Mercola, Jeffry Herman 2008 Thomas Nelson Inc ... The effects of type 2 diabetes are similar to type 1 diabetes, although often milder. ...
    Diabetes - Type, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment8 Nov 2007 ... You Can Make Your Diabetes Disappear by Mercola ... Type 1 diabetes happens when your body's own immune system attacks the insulin-producing ... - 25k - Cached - Similar pages
    Red Hot Chili Peppers May Cure Type 1 DiabetesThis goes against the previous conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes ... If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required. ...

    ps check out obama web site

    if you want to really report on something just as important

    Complain about this comment

  • 264. At 9:21pm on 18 Jan 2009, TravelR wrote:

    As one of the millions of uninsured Americans it is a vexing situation. Further, that’s terrible about your son and your medical bill is obscene. However I would like to point some things out. Though I was surprised from reading your article that Miami has the greatest disparity of wealth in America it is ironic to note that Miami is the most international city in America with the greatest number of foreign residents. Further, while staying in London, I saw a recent article about an English city which had applied to become Welsh because of the healthcare disparity between England and Wales. Further, even though Canadians have free healthcare, many of them travel to America because specialized healthcare is unavailable.

    Complain about this comment

  • 265. At 11:03pm on 18 Jan 2009, laurenmdtwilliams wrote:

    Hi Justin, I'm sorry to hear about your son. I am an Anglo-Brazilian living in Miami and my parents saw you and your family at the Four Seasons on December 31. I believe the main challenge America faces in implementing a national health care system, is the political weakness and extremely powerful lobbies from the health care industry, who do not want to lose their profitable business. An example of overspending is indicated by the industry ads (obviously expensive) by spending large amounts of money advertising their health plans on TV etc. This is unproductive and wasteful as it does not help one bit in resolving the American health care problems. The Democrats have reduced their plans for a full National Plan due to the pressure from the above lobbyists. Despite this fact, the American people have clearly showed they want a better health plan. It appears to me that the U.S. government and possibly the new Democratic Government do not have the political courage to move in this direction. A comprehensive health plan is not a socialist tendency but just common sense, as every person should be entitled to the fundamental right of health care.

    Complain about this comment

  • 266. At 05:15am on 20 Jan 2009, moionfire wrote:

    Justin Webb,

    I realize you live in the US, but don't you still have insurance from Britain???

    Complain about this comment

  • 267. At 05:44am on 20 Jan 2009, hannahceri wrote:

    I am a brit living in the USA. My daughter aged 5 was diagnosed with Type 1 at Thanksgiving, so our journeys seem to be on parallel - bumpy - tracks as I also used to work at the BBC!

    We have good insurance, but are beginning to hear the stories of people not taking blood samples (testing strips are $1 a strip) and skipping insulin at the end of the month.

    Surely given Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic disease and should be entirely covered by medicare or health insurance? And beyond the rights based approach, not to do so must be economically insane, given the cost to the system of dealing with the complications down the road.

    In the meantime I'll be thinking of you as you count the carbs, measure out the insulin and think of ways to make jabs seem more appetising and normal. We're right there along with you.

    Complain about this comment

  • 268. At 05:34am on 21 Jan 2009, Zvonko wrote:

    "If one is diagnosed with cancer, how long a wait is acceptable? I was diagnosed and the offending mass removed within eleven days -and the subsequent clot (DVT) addressed within hours. I'd rather have had the surgery in California than have been in the same circumstances in Britain - I could have been dead by waiting!"

    My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had surgery exactly a week later. Seems she didn't have to wait as long as you.

    My uncle (who lives in Germany) visited his GP with a chest complaint on a Friday, was referred to a hospital that same day, and had his heart bypass performed on the Monday (three days later). Like my aunt, he didn't have to pay a penny for his operation, nor did he pay for the three month therapy sessions he received afterwards.

    It is true that in some cases, you may have to wait a long time for an operation. But the vast majority of these cases are for non-life threatening conditions. I had to wait 6 months for my tonsillectomy. As it wasn't a life threatening condition, I didn't mind waiting. Complications during surgery meant that I had to spend an extra day in hospital. Had I lived in the USA I would have faced an astronomical bill. The British system is by no means perfect, but I would personally take it over the American one.

    I'd also like to say that my mother was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago. She is now exempt from prescription charges. Not just for her diabetes, but for any other non related medicines her doctor prescribes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 269. At 2:07pm on 22 Jan 2009, glossydemon wrote:


    My wife, a teacher, became diabetic 35 years ago, after the birth of our second child. A few years later (significantly from the US health insurance point of view, when she was out of a job), it became apparent (I was going to write "she developed", but that would be misleading) that she had some degree of personality disorder that we realised could explain earlier "quirks of character". This meant that she wasn't as careful about diet and medication as she should have been, and as she got older from time to time needed to be admitted to hospital for a few days. Nonetheless - my first and personal to you point - she died only three years ago at the age of 70.

    My second point is to imagine what her life would have been like if she had lived in the USA.

    My main point, though, is to ask you to consider whether you agree that the BBC (never mind the other media, or the many, esp Radio, programmes touching on health, or medicine, as a science ) has never (I'm 67 and have been an avid consumer of Current Affairs programmes - if that's the right category - for most of my adult life) in any way attempted to give a comparative view of how life is affected by the healthcare systems elsewhere in the EU - and perhaps a couple of countries further afield, inc a proper look at much-cited Cuba. For instance (and I'm not considering technical or pharmaceutical advances), how would your family's experience have developed elsewhere, or one where the illness, cancer perhaps, was also manageable but at much greater cost? Do other countries provide equally good clinical care without the apparent trade-offs - queues (hours/months), inconvenience (GPs doing office hours/not being pro-active, hospital atmosphere/accommodation)? This would need to be on the scale of Schama, Starkie, ... - probably TV and Radio, many weeks, an hour per country and perhaps longer for a (panel?) final programme. But what other subject (Education/Schools?) so concerns the average family and is so amenable to comparison (in a country whose governments like us to believe that they keep us as well-served as any we might compare ourselves with)? I do hope the BBC will find this subject worth considering, though I know it would be expensive to research and make.

    My elder daughter moved with her family to France a couple of years ago. She knew that healthcare depended on a kind of social insurance system, but was taken aback, not at the "premium" but at the up-front costs, and especially that these were payable for her children's consultations and prescriptions and not refundable, because of her ordinary middle-class income. I was a lecturer in Romance languages, and could tell you all sorts of things about history, culture and current affairs in France and Spain, the countries I had most studied and lived in, but I too realised how uninformed I was in this literally vital sphere.

    Your American bloggers also seem to show there is much more ignorance there about UK/EU healthcare (inc that a socialised healthcare system and private provision are mutually exclusive) than the other way round, which mainly seems to concern a mistaken belief that if you're poor and uninsured in the US, you can't get medical treatment at all. This is surely a subject where you could provide Alistair Cooke-style two-way illumination. Equally on their almost paranoid view of government, state or federal, being in charge of anything other than "kick ass" institutions, readily supporting illegal (by US law) behaviour by the Army against foreigner, the National Guard against citizen dissidents or the Police against undesirables (inc by being black) in general? Why? (Oh, of course there's the Fire Brigade.)

    Complain about this comment

  • 270. At 2:59pm on 22 Jan 2009, glossydemon wrote:


    It sounds as if it might be cheaper to fly to Romania for your scans.
    My wife is Romanian and while we were there at Xmas 2007 I got two stabs of very sharp pain in the shoulder/arm I had recently had an operation on, such that I thought we'd better go to the biggest of the public hospitals in the city.
    A Specialist gave me a quick check and ordered X-ray, CT and MRI scans, which were done the same day and cost the equivalent of £110. (I might have got them for less, as I'm British and have an EU health card, but that would have involved more bureaucracy and time than I wanted to bother with at Xmas.) Next day, the Specialist, with a surgeon colleague, gave them to me on CDs, saying they showed I needed further investigation, not necessarily related to my op, but that he assumed I'd rather wait till I got back to UK, where I've had further scans and consultations with specialists - all free, of course.
    You might not like the neglected appearance of most buildings and their surroundings in Romania, inc the sparse interior public spaces of the hospital, but it had all the necessary equipment and I learnt from my wife's doctor brother-in-law that the specialist was a consultant to the national gymnastics team.
    Would it still be worth a try, along with airfare and hotel costs? The country has some interesting tourist sights.

    Complain about this comment

  • 271. At 9:25pm on 24 Jan 2009, ranter22 wrote:

    I recall in 1986 when healthcare was exactly that. Now it seems that the language of words has taken a full turn at least 180 degrees. All that keeps happening is that all healthcare is getting disproportionate so if you get to keep on living it is because you do so in spite of the present lack of quality offered by the diminishing levels of care.
    It is not enough that the leaders of our country say that "we" or "Us" please define what it all means to people. For instance we will continue to provide for the sick. Provide what? and who is we? and which sick? What diseases, what cures what medicine how much and all this without needing prescription glasses of a 3.0 magnification which I would have to pay for myself taking preventive efforts and prophylactics. Clear is not enough visible is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 272. At 3:39pm on 05 Mar 2009, wavingdrowning wrote:

    Hello Justin
    I know this is a very old post, but wanting to avoid the hoo-ha over on the Mail on Sunday site , I thought I'd try here just to say two things slightly more discretely:

    1) very much appreciated the Mail article. our son was diagnosed in mid-Nov 08 in the UK.

    2) I'm an american writer living in the uk, teaching writing at university. Am beginning to put together ideas for a book about the impact of t1 diabetes upon the family -- *not* a medical book, but a book about experiences. What I looked for upon our son's diagnosis and couldn't find. Would you be interested in having anything to do with it? I'm investigating funding.

    All best wishes. It's hard.

    Complain about this comment

  • 273. At 11:51pm on 05 Mar 2009, seanspa wrote:

    This may not help Justin's son, but it looks a further step towards preventing type1 diabetes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 274. At 11:05pm on 26 Mar 2009, mikelawtons wrote:

    Justin thank you to you and Sam for being on the radio today. I have two children with type 1; I don't need to tell you what that is like. Both of you made it seem so manageable and I agree that we all need to hear more about people who have lived long lives with type 1. My 9 year old boy is coping well and does his own injections; my 17 year old daughter is managing well too and is about to learn to drive. What I say is that they are children with diabetes, not diabetes with children; its important to keep it in perspective. All the best to you and your family - well done for keeping the silent nightmare in the public eye. Did you see what Dr Denise Faustman is doing in Boston with BCG injections? .. its very promising. Cheers, Mike

    Complain about this comment

  • 275. At 9:00pm on 27 Mar 2009, biodianne12 wrote:

    What do you make of the suggestion of nitrates being implicated in type 1 diabetes? There is some research but as usual nothing conclusive. We don't know the full implications of chemicals in the food chain or of petrochemicals used in food packaging. So called 'safe levels' of chemicals is unacceptable, particularly where children are involved and when we really don't know how these chemicals interact. The precautionary principle should be exercised in food production and environment. I read somewhere your wife is a biochemist? I have a biology training which has helped my understanding but which also leaves me with many more questions and worries - I find acceptance of a situation where there are so many children now being diagnosed a great cause for concern, this has nothing to do with better rates of detection. My daughter was diagnosed last yr and life has changed for her (and us) dramitically - we have no history in the family. She copes very well but goes through phases of denial and anger. Puberty throws a whole different set of problems into the equation, growth hormone and insulin don't get on and my daughter struggles to keep her blood glucose under control, she started on 2 injections a day 8 months ago and is now on 4 or sometimes 5. Her BG is seldom below 10 and often in the 20's. She looks like a different person compared to this time last year.
    I know that many people manage to live long healthy lives with diabetes but it doesn't take away thet helpless feeling. I have faith that there must a cure for diabetes but lets not forget to keep looking into the cause too - so often we just treat the symptoms.

    Complain about this comment

  • 276. At 3:16pm on 22 Jun 2009, harry_keen wrote:

    A moving and perceptive account of the child's reaction to being diagnosed diabetic and of the parents' response to this diagnostic thunderbolt. Life for the young person with type 1 diabetes in the US has improved greatly over the past decade or two and there is now a much keener appreciation of the emotional needs of 'the patient' and the family. Awareness arrived early in Britain. In the early 1920s, a youthful Dr R D Lawrence developed diabetes before the arrival of insulin and went to Florence to end his days in beautiful surroundings. A telegram from London announced the arrival of insulin. In very poor shape, he made his way back to King's College Hospital where insulin saved his life. In 1934, along with H G Wells, G D H Cole and Hugh Walpole, he formed 'the Diabetic Association' - the first in the world, later to become the British Diabetic Association (and now Diabetes UK) as its lead was followed in country after country. The membership of the Association was unique in including not only people with diabetes but also their relatives and the doctors, nurses, dietitians, chiropodists and the multitude of health professionals involved in diabetes care. S began a two-way discussion between the professionals and the patients which has revolutionised not only the care of diabetes but also the 'therapeutic partnership' between patient and professional which has become a central feature of modern medicine. Another major contribution of the Association is to support diabetes research in the UK. The American Diabetes Association was made up of doctors only and id not support research. It was not until the parents of diabetic youngsters and people with diabetes themselves formed the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in 1970 that this form of scientific self-help was established in the US. Its branches now also collect research money in the UK, The power of the parents of children with diabetes is immense. Diabetes UK has harnessed that to excellent effect since 1934 and continues to lead the way in the growth of knowledge and improvement of care for all with diabetes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 277. At 08:29am on 23 Jun 2009, MayflyJames wrote:

    Hello Justin

    I have been trying to get in contact with you through various channels, so I will try this one next!

    I have read with sympathy the various articles about your son's diabetes and I will say up front that I'm sure this is a very distressing time for you. I hope that things are better.

    Unfortunately, whilst doing a great deal to bring diabetes type 1 to the attention of the general public, you have been doing a great deal of harm to type 2 sufferers. You wrote :-

    "one friend of ours comforted us with the news that she had a diabetic cat - that's type-two, you idiot, and it came from overeating! And it's a cat!"

    I know that you feel that your son is now going to lead of life full of misery and upset, and it may be hard for you to take on board the fact that many type 1 sufferers simply incorporate this into their lives - harder for a child to do in the sense that he won't understand why he can't eat sweet things and so on.

    But you must understand that type 2 sufferers do not always contract type 2 from "overeating", and it is rather more complicated than just "overeating". There are various reasons behind everyone's situation, which need to be understood, rather than swept under the carpet with a simple 'you're fat'.

    Alse, you are implying that type 2 sufferers do not have as serious a condition as type 1. I have nearly been hospitalised twice this year due to illnesses that my body can no longer fight properly because of my immune system. A number of type 2 sufferers have been alerted to their condtion only by the fact that they have woken up blind. We can all look forward to many, many years of discomfort, tiredness, depression, possible amputation, heart attacks and strokes. You learn to tolerate the stabbing pains all over your body, you learn to cope with the colds that are now overwhelming, you take on board that swine flu might kill you because you have "Underlying medical condition". Don't get me wrong, there are many type 2 sufferers who have full and healthy lives - my type 2 probably saved my life as I was heading for 20 stone and more due to emotional overeating. But it IS as serious as type 1, there is currently no hope of a cure for us and people must be made aware of this in case some people suppose they don't need to get type 2 treated.

    As a respected journalist, people listen to you, they take your opinion to mean something. You could do the cause of diabetes a lot of good, but at the moment, you are ruining it for type 2's - and possibly type 1.5's as well. Did you know that they existed?

    I would really like to get this point across to you, because those articles are still on line, uncorrected. I will have to write as my next step, to try and ensure that you understand what you are doing with such generalised statements. You get air time, you get to write in newspapers but when you're wrong, how does one correct you? I was extremely upset and angered by the comments from you that I read, plus the fact that one article has the comment "It's easy to cure diabetes. Don't eat refined sugar, but do eat fruit". I can tell you that diabetics even have to watch the type of fruit that they eat, so this statement is just ludicrous in how wrong it is, and should be corrected. However, as my comment has not been printed, it will continue to sit there, misleading people, giving them wrong information.

    Please would you read this, and give us some hope that we will not start being looked upon as people who have contracted this through some kind of carelessness?

    Complain about this comment

  • 278. At 3:19pm on 26 Jun 2009, rmbowen wrote:

    Hi Justin:

    I'm new to this blog. I was visiting the BBC website and noticed your posting on diabetes. It struck a chord because my son, Blake, also was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 4, he is now 25. It's a tough disease. I was wondering if you are aware of the work of Living Cells Technologies (LCT) in New Zealand. It involves the escapulation of pig islets, that requires no immunsuppression. Some early clinical trials have produced remarkable results. I've been tracking cure research since Blake was diagnosed. Nothing so far is as close, in my view, as this research. I'm surprised, it's getting so little notice. I wish Sam and your family the best.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.