Friday, September 21, 2012

Keep Government Out--A Personal Experience

Recently I received an e-mail from the Romney campaign pointing out the main difference between his campaign and Obama’s:

Mitt Romney's vision for America is an opportunity society, where free people and free enterprise thrive and success is admired and emulated, not attacked. President Obama's vision for America is a government-centered society, where government grows bigger and more active, occupying more of our everyday lives.”

I think one of the areas we see this most obviously lately is healthcare.

My husband has cancer, and like most people in this economy, he can’t help but worry about job security. Yes, it’s true, I would love to be assured that he will always be able to get health insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and be assured that my family’s health care will always be covered.  But at what cost?

I had to laugh to myself while watching the Olympics this summer.  During the opening ceremonies dancers and performers were celebrating all things wonderful about England, including their famous health care system. Well, my family lived in England for a while and experienced their system first-hand.

First, I will say that it was quite generous of the National Health System to include us, even though we were not British citizens.  However, the NHS facilities and services were a less than optimal.  On different occasions I had to spend some time in the local hospital with my children. I felt I was in something from an old , worn-out World War II movie hospital ward. Fortunately, my children were both fine, and for that I am truly grateful.

But when I found out I was pregnant, I admit that along with my excitement, I was terrified. I had heard stories that women were kept waiting in the halls, delivered their babies, then were sent home right away. When I asked my friends if those stories matched their own experiences, they said yes. “But, you wouldn’t want to stay in the hospital more than six hours anyhow,” they said, “because it’s impossible to sleep in the maternity ward with eight other women and their babies lined up in the beds next to you.”

I had confidence in my midwife (at least until she recommended I have my baby at home), and I must say that most of the midwives in England are highly skilled. But I was terrified to have a baby in one of the NHS hospitals.  I was faced with the decision to either have my baby at home, at the NHS maternity ward, or fly home and be without my husband for several weeks to have the baby back in the States. None of those options was appealing.

Another option came available—private insurance. We realized our private insurance would cover the private hospital in London. I could deliver there. I was so relieved. I was even excited when I heard that this was the finest, fanciest hospital around; that people from all over Europe went there to have their babies.  Royalty from the middle east would rent out an entire floor to bring their entire entourage for when a new prince or princess was to be born.  Victoria and David Beckham were even having there baby there at the same time I would be!  Well, that clinched the deal.

I have to say, I had wonderful midwives (and a great doctor who had long since lost his New Jersey accent and replaced it with something a little more posh). 


Even with the best facilities in London, I was a little disappointed. I have had three other children in the U.S., and all three hospitals were much nicer and better equipped and more comfortable than even that fine hospital my private insurance covered.  Fortunately, all went pretty well with the pregnancy and the delivery of my third son.

But I do cringe when people talk about health care reform and government involvment. I wonder how many people asking for more government regulation or socialized medicine have ever received health care from a system utilizing those standards? On paper it all sounds wonderful. But I have lived in various countries with this sort of government regulated system. And it seems quite clear to me that when government gets involved,  the personal cost may go down initially, but so does the quality of both the care and the physical resources.  And in order to try to get better quality care, the cost jumps significantly higher. 

Who suffers the most then? The poor that the government was trying to help in the first place. 

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