Peter Guest, our columnist of all things Non North American, was a bit defensive this month as he had a medical issue and compared his experience with mine. From what I could understand he had all the benefits of a state run health system with the "operating theater" availability the only that that set the date for his surgery. He noted that he would rather have a medico set the urgency of his surgery than an actuary. (This has been edited from his column, I felt the field of battle should be here on the blog, not in PT.)
First, I’m happy that Peter came through his event and is doing well. However he should understand that my jokes aside, dealing with the bureaucracy of an HMO was for me minor. The professionals who ran the surgical and hospital teams did so without much if any intervention from me. The doctor and I selected the date, and that was the date that my surgery took place. I was fortunate enough to have "elective" surgery — that is, I wasn’t in a life threatening situation, but nevertheless, the procedure was on my schedule, not an actuary.
Insurance companies are "for profit" organizations and need to be certain that one’s stay in hospital, or as an outpatient, for that matter, is appropriate. Overwhelming emergency rooms or doctor’s offices for sore throats or cut fingers is absurd. But its a medical staff that makes that decision, not a numbers guy.
Of course there is free market pressure and there should be more. If I had any clue what my operation cost (and I don’t) I’m sure I would have perhaps ‘shopped’ the hospital to find not only the best, but the one that met my financial needs as well. The cost of medical care in the US (and UK) is absurd. Stories about people waiting months for operations and seeing consultants in the UK are in every paper. The fact that I had a choice of three "operating theaters" on the date of my surgery and the biggest concern was which was more convenient for my family visits
I have no complaints. The system worked as it should. I had my surgery when it was needed and follow up and postoperative care has been outstanding.
There are stories about national health care for all, in the UK and Canada, which are legend. I’m glad Peter had a good experience.