The brutality of the business of medicine has just been ruthlessly exposed in the cover article of the current edition of the popular magazine, Time. In an article entitled Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us, a mirror is held up to what can befall you if you become sick in the land of the free. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (engraved in the Bill of Rights) pretty obviously does not include universal health care.
This has culminated in what has been described in the article as ‘the ultimate seller’s market’ where the hapless buyers (also known as desperate patients) can go into life-long debt just because they have a strong desire to stay alive. These poor sick people (about 16% of the USA population which means about 50 million people) are those who don’t own that ‘get out of death free’ card, Americans call ‘Health Insurance’. If you don’t have Health Insurance in the home of the brave, you had better be very brave indeed.
So what has this got to do with us on the other side of the Atlantic? Well, news like this should make us all be enormously grateful for our universal health care in the form of the NHS. The case studies in the Time article simply could not and would not have happened here. Private medicine in the UK has certainly become more expensive and ‘business-like’ with patients often being asked for credit card details before seeing a doctor. However, this is merely uncouth because the alternative is the NHS – not unnecessary suffering or death.
Last year I produced an animated little cartoon on the worrying state of medicine in the USA. In the light of the life-destroying cost of medicine making the cover of Time, I think it timely to revisit it.
(Disclaimer: For entertainment purposes only)